Travel blog aimed at mature, independent travellers who like to plan their own holidays. The blog is based on our own travels and walking holidays in beautiful places such as Iceland, The Azores and Peru, and contains accounts of our experiences, advice, links to resources and lots of photography.
Burton Agnes Hall in East Yorkshire has a lovely walled garden and woodland paths to enjoy The post Burton Agnes Hall, East Yorkshire appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.
Burton Agnes is a lovely Elizabethan hall in East Yorkshire, which is still a lived-in family home. The hall is full of character, and contains extensive collections of furnishings and art works. The Long Gallery, which runs the entire length of the third floor, is particularly impressive, and has great views.
The Walled Garden
Of course, being outdoor lovers we usually visit to enjoy the gardens and woodland. We particularly love the Walled Garden. This contains a fantastic mix of vegetable plots, flower beds and fruit trees. Being novice vegetable growers ourselves it is always interesting to see alternative ways of doing things.
In summer the garden is a blaze of colour, and it is a great place to see bees and butterflies as well as the lovely flowers. We have even seen a lovely hummingbird hawk moth here. And there are quirky features like a maze and giant games.
The Lawns and Pond
Adjacent to the house there are extensive lawns – great for picnics. A large pond contains fish and waterlilies, and there are attractive topiary bushes.
There are also artists in residence who will be happy to chat about their work.
There are pleasant paths for strolling through lovely woodland with views over adjacent fields. Amongst the trees are hidden sculptures of woodland creatures, and some nice shady benches to relax on.
Burton Agnes Hall is well worth a visit if you are in the area, and exploring its gardens and woodland is a very enjoyable way to spend a summer afternoon.
The hall is situated in the village of Burton Agnes on the A614 York to Bridlington road, about 6 miles from Bridlington.
The courtyard contains a very pleasant cafe with indoor and outdoor seating as well as plant sales, a gift shop and original art works for sale.
The garden is a partner garden of the Royal Horticultural Society, and RHS members are entitled to free access on Mondays and Fridays during the open period. Follow the link for information about RHS membership.
For more information about opening hours, facilities, access, special events and prices for non-RHS members, see burtonagnes.com.
If you would like to stay in East Yorkshire you can search for accommodation using this page at booking.com.
For more great places to visit in Yorkshire we recommend the Rough Guide to Yorkshire.
Burnby Hall in Pocklington, East Yorkshire, is home to beautiful gardens and a national collection of water lilies The post Burnby Hall, Pocklington – A Peaceful Haven in East Yorkshire appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.
Pocklington in East Yorkshire is a great little market town. As well as a pleasant town centre with good shops, eateries and an excellent arts centre, it is surrounded by great countryside. There is easy access to the hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Wolds, and abundant wildlife along the Pocklington Canal (see photos of the Pocklington Canal in the post Around My Yorkshire Home).
Pocklington is also home to the Burnby Hall gardens, which contain a National Collection of Water Lilies.
Over a hundred varieties of water lilies are grown in two ornamental lakes in Burnby Hall’s gardens. There are paths around the lakes, and plenty of benches from which you can view the water lilies which flower in the summer months.
(Note – the photos used in this article are from a series of visits in different seasons.)
The lakes are also teeming with fish, some of them huge, and they just love to be fed! You can purchase bags of food in the shop at the entrance to the gardens.
Moorhens nest on the lakes, and in the summer their chicks can usually be seen. Ducks are often present, and herons and kingfishers are also sometimes seen.
There is more to Burnby Hall than just the lakes. In spring and summer there is colour everywhere, with beautifully kept flower beds and laid out gardens set amongst trees. Even in winter there is colour, provided by some stunning heather displays.
There are plenty of benches and picnic spots where you can relax and enjoy the lovely surroundings.
The gardens are constantly changing. A rock garden with a stream and wire sculptures is currently a work in progress. Another recent addition is the stumpery in the woodland. A stumpery is a garden based on a collection of cut tree stumps. The stumps provide excellent habitats for many insects, birds, lichens and ferns, and the garden will continue to evolve.
There are many other interesting and quirky features, including a giant redwood tree stump, a bug hotel in the Stumpery, various sculptures scattered around the grounds and an attractive small aviary.
If you would like to spend a little time in a peaceful haven surrounded by beautiful gardens, it is definitely worth seeking out Burnby Hall and its lakes.
Burnby Hall gardens are situated close to the centre of Pocklington.
There is a gift shop, plant sales, and a good cafe with indoor and outside seating. Situated in the same building as the cafe there is also the very interesting Stewart Museum dedicated to Major Percy Stewart, who lived at Burnby Hall in the early 1900s. Major Stewart and his wife travelled and explored extensively, and the museum contains many fascinating objects collected during these travels.
For opening times, admission prices and information about events see burnbyhallgardens.com.
Burnby Hall is a Royal Horticultural Society partner garden. If you are an RHS member you can enjoy free entry in April, May and June. Read about membership here.
For more places to visit in Yorkshire we recommend the Rough Guide to Yorkshire.
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The lovely area around Arnside is relatively unknown, but is fantastic for walks and wildlife The post Arnside in Cumbria – A Fantastic Short Break in an Overlooked Area appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.
Matt and I have just returned from a spontaneous short break in Arnside – a place most people have probably never heard of. Arnside is situated on the south side of the Kent Estuary in Cumbria, almost opposite to Grange over Sands and close to Morecambe Bay.
Of course most people visiting Cumbria head straight for the Lake District. But if you prefer something a little quieter, and are interested in estuarine landscapes, fantastic sunsets, gentle walks and abundant wildlife, Arnside has a great deal to offer.
The Kent Estuary
Arnside is situated directly on the beautiful Kent Estuary. This fascinating area has a large tidal range, so the landscape is constantly changing. From Arnside you can walk along the promenade and then follow paths along the estuary all the way to Morecambe Bay. Depending on the tide you can either walk along the foreshore or use paths through the trees at the edge of the estuary and bay.
There are lovely views across the estuary to Grange over Sands on the other side, and the estuary is great for spotting wildlife. We saw herons, a little egret, gulls, ducks, oystercatchers, cormorants and many fish jumping out of the water to catch insects.
Matt and I were lucky – we visited in summer during a period of unusually hot, dry weather. Because of this we were able to walk safely onto the parched sands of Morcambe bay at low tide. The bay is vast and impressive, and not as featureless as the photos may suggest. When we visited the shimmering heat haze made it feel like a desert.
But beware – it is not always safe to walk here, even at low tide. Morecambe Bay is notorious for its quicksand, so it is important to be particularly careful of any damp areas and water channels.
You also have to be really careful with the tides. In this area the tides come in very quickly indeed, and can easily fill channels behind you before you realise what is happening. Always check the tide times before you walk, and heed the numerous boards warning about the dangers in the area. When the tide is coming in a siren sounds several times at the Arnside Coastguard station. It is then essential to return to safe paths.
In fact the tide comes in so quickly here that it sometimes forms a bore wave – the Arnside Bore. We didn’t see this fascinating phenomenon, but apparently it is a fast-moving wave which can be anything from a few centimeters to a half a meter or more high. We would love to return during the spring or autumn high tides to see this!
We particularly enjoyed strolling beside the estuary in the late evenings. The sun sinks below the Cumbrian hills across the estuary, and we were lucky to have fantastic sunsets. With just the sound of the lapping tide and seabirds, it was absolutely magical. Of course it would have been a completely different story if it had been blowing a gale or pouring with rain…..
The Arnside and Silverdale AONB
Arnside is situated within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (see map). This is a fantastic area for walking, known for its woodland, wild flowers, abundant wildlife, and of course the magnificent views over the estuary and Morecambe Bay.
There are many paths within the AONB. You can follow short walks or link paths together to form longer routes as you wish. For suggested walks with routes and maps which can be downloaded see here.
We did the walk up Arnside Knott. The climb was not too steep, the paths were great and the views really were fantastic. We did get a little lost after passing Arnside Tower because the route had been diverted, but we just adapted the walk to take us down to the edge of Morecambe Bay and return along the estuary – wonderful!
Exploring by Train
Arnside is directly on the Barrow-in-Furness to Lancaster train route. The regular trains cross the scenic Kent Estuary viaduct, and stop at several stations including Grange over Sands, Arnside, Silverdale and Carnforth.
This makes it really easy to explore the area and reach the starting points for various walks without using your car. Follow this link for timetables (look for Standard Timetable).
The Arnside and Silverdale AONB is also the home of the RSPB’s wonderful Leighton Moss Reserve.
The reserve consists of a series of lakes and extensive reedbeds. It is home to a very wide variety of wildlife, including all manner of wildfowl, marsh harriers, ospreys, bitterns, bearded tits, otters and many more.
I was hoping to see a bittern, because I have seen bitterns here before when I visited many years ago. Unfortunately we didn’t see one this time. But we did get great views of a marsh harrier, a water rail with a chick, lots of snipe and a beautiful fox. There were many impressive dragonflies and some remarkably tame garden birds.
Of course there are lots of waterfowl on the lakes and amongst the reeds. There are five spacious hides on the main reserve and a further two on the edge of Morecambe Bay. These make it comfortable to sit and watch the activity, and in mid-week were not too busy. In fact we had hides to ourselves a couple of times. In one we were lucky enough to see a cormorant catch, tussle with and swallow a large eel.
The lakes are linked by excellent paths, many suitable for wheelchair users, and there are frequent benches and picnic areas. There is also a visitor centre with a good cafe, sales of gifts, books and binoculars, educational displays, and a great wooden sky tower from which you can appreciate the extent of the reed beds.
If you have any interest at all in birds and wildlife in general you will definitely enjoy your visit.
Note – There is an entry fee for non-RSPB members. Gates are opened early to allow access to the reserve when the visitor centre is closed. If you wish to arrive early just use the honesty box to pay or return to the visitor centre when it opens – see this RSPB page for more information.
Where to Stay
Here is the only downside – Arnside is crying out for a really nice little hotel and decent restaurant.
We stayed in Ye Olde Fighting Cocks – a pub on the edge of the village. We had a room in a separate building to the main pub which was fine, with a view to the estuary and viaduct. The location is ideal – very close to the station and just across the road from the estuary. But the food is just typical pub food, and the advertised restaurant was closed so the only option was the bar (with a screen showing sport – not what we wanted).
There are also several B&Bs in Arnside and another pub serving food. There is a good Asian fusion restaurant which was fine for a visit, and an apparently excellent fish shop (which closed quite early and all day on Mondays).
We would have really appreciated a better choice of places to stay and eat. There are other options in and around the AONB, but we particularly liked Arnside for the evening strolls by the estuary. So if anyone reading this is thinking of opening a hotel, we think the area has huge potential…….
For a wider choice of walks see the Cicerone Guide Walks in Silverdale and Arnside.
This lovely area has so much to offer – we will definitely return to do more walks in the AONB and visit Leighton Moss again. Perhaps next time we visit we will get to see the intriguing Arnside Bore and the elusive bittern!
Please remember that this site is based purely on our own experiences – therefore kindly note the Disclaimer.
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Visiting the peaceful islands off the coast of Dubrovnik The post Excursions from Dubrovnik – Exploring the Nearby Islands and Coast appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.
Dubrovnik is a magical city to visit. Wandering around its wonderful old city walls and baroque architecture, with countless views of the beautiful Adriatic, is just so special. If you ever get an opportunity to visit, don’t miss it!
Of course, like all stunningly beautiful places, Dubrovnik can get very crowded, especially in the height of summer and when cruise ships and numerous coach tours arrive.
But if, like us, you don’t like busy places, don’t be put off. There are several lovely islands close to the city, and when you have had enough of the crowds you can join a boat trip to one or more of the islands or nearby coast. Then you can enjoy Dubrovnik in the evenings when the tours have left. Perfect!
There are many trips available. Just wander around the Old Town port and you will see numerous boards with details of times and prices. Here are some that we really enjoyed.
Lokrum is only a 15 minute ferry trip away from Dubrovnik. There are very regular sailings in the height of summer, so it will probably get quite busy then. But when we visited (in October), it was wonderfully quiet.
Lokrum island is a Special Reserve of Forest Vegetation. It contains diverse plant communities of both natural and human origin. Landscaped gardens and many beautiful trees make it a lovely place to stroll around on a hot day.
There are discovery paths on the island and you can walk through gardens, forest habitats and the remains of the Benedictine monastery that once existed here. And of course you can explore the rugged unspoiled coastline (though be aware some areas are for naturalists – indicated by FKK signs).
The Elaphiti (or Elafiti) Islands are a small archipelago just northwest of Dubrovnik in the Adriatic Sea. There are a range of tours available to visit some of the islands – see for example Viator.
We went on a full day three island cruise, which included pickups from Dubrovnik hotels and lunch. It was a really great day, and we highly recommend it. The tour visited Kolocep, Sipan and Lopud islands, and there was time for a stroll or a swim on each one. They were all beautiful, and the views of the islands from the boat, and of Dubrovnik itself, were wonderful.
Cavtat is a small town around 10 miles south of Dubrovnik. There are regular buses, but we think it is much nicer to go by boat – look out for boards with details of times and prices at the Old Town port.
Cavtat is a very pretty place, and a resort in its own right. We thought that the boat trip along the coast followed by a wander and lunch in one of the waterside restaurants made a great day out. We walked to the tip of the headland in the picture below for a most enjoyable stroll.
If you want to visit a wonderful, historic city, but also fancy some relaxing trips to beautiful, sleepy islands, you really can’t beat Dubrovnik.
There are regular flights to Dubrovnik. To see what is available from your local airport try using Skyscanner.
A regular airport shuttle bus meets all scheduled flights. You buy tickets on the bus, and the journey takes around 30-40 mins. You can be dropped off at the western entrance to the Old Town, or at Dubrovnik’s main bus station if you are staying outside the Old Town.
There is a huge range of accommodation available in Dubrovnik. To search for suitable options see this page at booking.com.
For guide books we recommend The Eyewitness Top 10 Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian Coast and the Lonely Planet Guide to Croatia. Also very useful is the Insights Guide Flexi Map Dubrovnik.
For a large range of excursions in and around Dubrovnik see Viator.
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Yorkshire Lavender, in the Howardian Hills, is a peaceful garden in beautiful surroundings The post Yorkshire Lavender – A Peaceful Haven in the Howardian Hills appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.
Yorkshire Lavender is a great place to spend a relaxing couple of hours in beautiful surroundings.
The family run garden is located just outside Terrington village in the Howardian Hills of North Yorkshire. The setting is marvelous, on a hillside with views over woods and fields as far as the eye can see. In fact if you look carefully you can see the distant towers of York Minster on a clear day.
Of course lavender is a key feature of the gardens, but there is much more to enjoy. There are colourful flower beds, a pond, a small deer park and winding paths on the hillside.
Note that the photos here were taken in June after an unusually hot, dry period. Therefore the lavender is only just beginning to flower, and the grass is not as green and lush as it would normally be at this time of year!
There are also a number of quirky features which give the garden its own unique character. Like a giant game of snakes and ladders, a lavender maze and various sculptures and figures scattered around the grounds.
In addition to the gardens there are plant sales, a gift shop selling all things lavender related (some of which contain lavender grown in the garden), and an excellent tea room with indoor and outdoor seating. The lavender scones with jam and cream are really good!
What a great place to enjoy some peace and tranquility, and of course those wonderful views!
The gardens are open from late March to late September. They are free to enter in March, April, May and September, but there is a small admission fee for the gardens in June, July and August when the lavender is flowering (the gift shop, tea room and plant sales are free to enter all season).
For full details of location, opening times, admission charges and events see Yorkshire Lavender.
There are disabled facilities, and much of the garden is wheelchair accessible. Because of the hillside setting be aware that some paths are steep and uneven, but these can easily be avoided.
If you would like to stay in North Yorkshire, you can search for accommodation using this page at booking.com.
For more ideas for places to visit we recommend the Rough Guide to Yorkshire.
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Nostell Priory near Wakefield, Yorkshire, is an interesting and relaxing place to visit The post Nostell Priory – A Relaxing Day Out Near Wakefield appeared first on Self Arranged Journeys.
Matt and I are members of the National Trust, and we like to visit NT properties whenever we can. A property we visited recently for the first time is Nostell Priory, situated between Wakefield and Pontefract in South Yorkshire.
The house, which was lived in until recently by successive generations of the Winn family, is well worth a visit. It contains interesting decorative interiors and a great collection of Chippendale furnishings.
There is currently (2018) an exhibition about Thomas Chippendale’s life and work, and his dealings with the Winn family at Nostell.
You can join an informative guided tour in the morning if you wish, but we chose instead to visit in the afternoon when you can wander around at our own pace. The guides in the various rooms were very friendly and told us more about some of the interesting items on display.
The Gardens and Parkland
Adjacent to the house there are attractive formal gardens.
As we love growing our own fruits and vegetables, we were particularly interested in the Kitchen Garden. It is beautifully kept and contains a range of interesting varieties, as well as some lovely climbing white roses.
There are lots of beautiful mature trees in the surrounding gardens and parkland, like this huge oak.
Winding paths through trees lead down to the scenic lakes. We saw lots of tame squirrels in the woods, and there were swans, geese, ducks and coots on the lakes. There are plenty of seats where you can enjoy the views and watch the wildlife.
The secluded Menagerie Garden is a great place for a peaceful picnic.
If you wish to walk further, there are paths through the surrounding parkland with far-reaching views over the countryside.
We enjoyed our day at Nostell Priory – a great place to relax for a few hours in beautiful surroundings!
Nostell Priory is situated in Nostell village, reached by the Doncaster Road from Wakefield.
There is a tearoom with indoor and outdoor seating, a gift shop and plant sales.
For access information, opening times, prices for non-members and details of special events and exhibitions see the Nostell page on the National Trust website.
If you like to visit National Trust properties regularly, membership makes a lot of sense.
As a member you get free access to over 500 National Trust properties (including National Trust for Scotland), and free parking in many NT car parks. Just a few visits will recover the membership fee and you will then be saving money. You can visit as often as you like, and you will be contributing towards the care and maintenance of these very special places.
For more ideas for places to visit in Yorkshire we recommend the Rough Guide to Yorkshire.
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