After the wettest August on record (probably) those pesky weathermen promised us an Indian summer. They lied. Still, despite the torrential downpours and occasional flood in need of fording, we still managed to have a lovely few days driving down through the Borders to North Yorkshire. We stayed a night in Melrose, two nights in Danby, an absolutely charming little village at the top of the North York Moors, and a final night in Whitby. Which really is so much better without all those bloody goths...
Our first stop in the Borders was this lonely looking stronghold, Smailholm Tower, a castle which has stood foursquare to the winds since the 15th century and weathered storms both meterological and military.
Next on our route was Kelso, a lovely little market town slightly off the Borders beaten track. There's not much of Kelso Abbey left, but it's still pretty cool. Even in the rain.
About ten minutes drive from Kelso, at the end of a narrow, dead end road, is beautiful Dryburgh Abbey. It's very peaceful and secluded here, a geniune sanctuary, perfect for quiet contemplation. And getting rained on.
Two signicant historical figures are buried in Dryburgh: Sir Walter Scott, inventor of the Scottish tourist trade, and Douglas Haig, the infamous Field Marshal who sent so many young men to their death in the First World War. And his tombstone is appropriately military and scary.
Field Marshal Haig and his wife are buried next to each other. So she gets a soldier's tombstone too.
This rather cool wall plaque is above the tomb of Sir Walter Scott. Scott's tomb itself is rather dull, hence no piccy. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be a place of pilgrimage for tartan wearing romantics - no thistles or haggises left here...
This creepy carving (a death mask perhaps?) lurks in one of the side rooms in the Abbey. I thought it was rather cool..
In the 18th century, the 11th Earl of Buchan, David Erskine, rescued Drybrugh from complete destruction and transformed it into a romantic ruin. He loved his Scottish history, and this is his tribute to James I.
The picturesque North Yorkshire market town of Richmond is dominated by its huge and very impressive castle. Just look at it - with its fierce battlements and sheer stone walls, it's exactly what a castle should look like. Hooray!
The view from the castle, across the River Swale.
Just a few miles away from Richmond lie the ruins of Easby Abbey, and next to it, a lovely little church. This is the graveyard, a beautiful, tranquil place, overshadowed by huge oak trees.
The little church boasts some beautiful frescos. This one depicts the crucifixion.
Like Dryburgh, Easby Abbey is very secluded, and we were almost the only people there. It's also gorgeously photogenic, and I possibly got a bit carried away...
And here we are in lovely Danby. Check out the sheep grazing on the village green - could it be more postcard perfect? Shame about the weather though...
This is where we stayed - the Duke of Wellington, a lovely place which I highly recommend.
A short walk up the road from the Duke of Wellington is the North York Moors Centre, where these two giant wicker otters stand sentry. There are lots of good walks to do in this area, but sadly the torrential rain and consequential flooding rather put the kibosh on that.
Instead, we went to Castle Howard, where lousy weather meant we didn't take any photies. Still, I'm glad I've been there, as the Castle looms large in my mother's history (no, my ancestors weren't Howards - my great grandfather and great uncle used to go camping there with the Boys Brigade when they were wee!) and is shorthand for everything that's grand and important in our family.
We loved the fact that just four miles away from Danby is the village of Fryup...
We haven't been to Whitby for ten years, the last time we went to the Whitby Goth Weekend. The town has actually become much more goth since we were last there, with several specialist shops springing up. The Abbey is as lovely (and as tourist-ridden) as ever, however.
Wonderful Whitby Abbey, silhouetted against the sky. Note the surprising lack of rain - we even managed to have a picnic in the Abbey grounds!
Whitby Abbey is also significant to my mum's family, as her mother's name was Hilda, named after the famous Whitby abbess. My middle name is Hilda too.
Whitby at dusk. These aren't the best photos, but they capture a certain spirit I think.
Okay, so it's not in the Borders or North Yorkshire, but we drove through four (count 'em - four!) deep floods to get to the Northumberland fishing town of Seahouses, so I'm damned if I'm not posting the photos! We discovered an excellent pub there called the Ship Inn, so maybe one day we'll return. But perhaps we'll wait 'til the floods have gone down...
So there you have it, another lovely holiday, albeit short and wet. By 'eck, we're jammy, me and Ian...