Yesterday night it felt cold but this morning it feels really warm when we get up, although the sun refuses to shine. When we are busy packing our things we sweat like we are in a tropical country. It is 25 degrees and very humid. Our destiny today is Wales, but first to Helmsley where we buy the last bags with my favourite candy.
At Ripon we make our first stop. We have a coffee somewhere near the classic cathedral. There used to stand a cloister here and we learn that Willibrord, who went to the Netherlands in the 7th century, was born here. We also drive to the ruin of Fountains Abbey, one of the most impressive of the country as we are told, but we don't agree and not even make a picture of it.
Then we continue our way through the country and pass through Brimham Rocks, an area with fields of heather and very special rock formations. Our thermometer tells us it is 27 degrees, very nice weather to walk around in the beautiful nature here.
The area lies east of Pateley Bridge and there are many rocks with different shapes to admire. The wind and the rain has carved the rocks into imaginative figures and the most impressive rock weighs 200 tons and balances on a small basis.
We make some detours but finally we arrive at Haworth, where the sisters Brontë have lived, well-know female writers from the 19th century. Haworth is a charming town with a steep road in the old centre. The surroundings apparently can be very depressing and was a great source of inspiration for these remarkable sisters.
Next to the church where father Brontë held his sermons is an old and neglected cemetary which could be used in a vampire movie without any alterations. The vicarage where the family used to live is now the Brontë-museum.When we drive away the sky turns black within a few minutes. A heavy lightning breaks out and in the downpour we drive on towards Lancashire. We will look for a hotel tonight, no campsite! The traffic almost comes to a stop on the roads and in a line we drive less than 30 kilometers an hour since the visibility on the road is almost zero. The storm goes on for at least half an hour before it becomes a normal shower.
We start looking for a hotel near Ingleton, because we ant to see the Ingleborough Cave there tomorrow. But all hotels are full or too expensive, so in the end we drive back to Settle where we find a small room. Well, that is all we need and it feels good to have a real shower again after 3 days, since it was quite primitive on the last campsite.
Thursday 01 September 2005, via Chester naar Wales
After a delicious breakfast (very soft fried eggs for Elisabeth, scrambled eggs for me, as always when we are in Great Briatain) we drive to Ingleton to visit the White Scar Cave. The tour takes about 80 minutes, but we are spoiled a bit; we have seen so many beautiful caves over the last few years that we don't find this one very special. Our travel guide states that this cave is spectaculra, but although the cave is more than a kilometer long, there is only now and then something to see, like the silhouette of a witch, on the right picture. But the area is very nice and a footpath leads along 6 waterfalls.
After this visit we drive towards Wales and stop for a while in Chester, a charming town on the border with Wales. We skip places like Liverpool and Blackpool, we can't see everything (although we would like to). The rain just stops falling when we park the car and get out, but we need to wear a sweater. Lots of people are walking in the center of the town, as if people are still on holiday.
Here again, we see a lot of houses with the typical building style where the tarred woodwork is visible on the outside. And there is the usual cathedral in this town, but we skip that today; there are enough other typical buildings to see and we walk around for some time. The medieval wall is still totally intact and we can walk on it.In early times it could be dangerous in Chester, bordering Wales that was often the enemy. There still seems to be a local law from the medieval times which states that inhabitants of Chester have the right to shoot an arrow (at the height of the leg) when they meet at least 2 Welshmen on a satruday night after 9. We couldn't find when that happened for the last time.
When we see an internetcafe, we go inside to check our email and notify our family that all is well, we haven't met any hostile Welsh yet. The last few years we used to do that with our laptop and mobile phone, but after our last trip (Scotland in May) we got such a high bill that we don't do that anymore.
In the center of Chester we see a great eample of a British roundabout which can be photographed easily; Great Briatin seems to have invented the roundabout, for more than a decade now they are very popular and there doesn't seem to be a village without at least one. They have the most weird and phantastic forms and sizes, from a point on the ground (like this one) to very complicated and entangled roundabouts with sometimes 8 exits. The roundabout density is probably in no other country higher than in Great Britain. Since a few years Holland has also adopted this ingenious invention.But when we leave Chester we end up in a traffic jam, yes, before a roundabout! There has been an accident and people who are going in the 'wrong' way block the roundabout so people who go the 'right' way can't cross and drive on. On all outgoing roads the traffic is totally blocked and it takes us more than an hour to leave the city. When we finally pass the border the landscape immediately changes and we see it change into a hilly and even mountainous scenery.
But we drive directly towards the setting sun and the later it gets, the more difficult it is on these sometimes busy roads. Around 6 we decide to look for a hotel, since it is much too cold to sleep in a tent, even at this time, but all hotels are full, too expensive or smoking isn't allowed. It is half past eight, when the sun has already set, that we find a hotel in Harlech, just beneath a castle that is build on a steep face.The hotel also has a pub and the owners are very friendly. They first have to clean a room, so we wait and have a drink in the bar. But the moment we enter our room, we feel how tired we are and we go to bed very early. Just a quick look at the news to see what the weather forecasts say and maybe we could go to a campsite for a couple of days, it looks allright. But first we are going to have a good sleep.