01 January 2011
We all need the odd moment of tranquillity and reflection, perhaps never more so than now. Silence the electronic games, and go out to breathe fresh air. North Yorkshire is full of quiet places where you can escape the crowds and enjoy quiet contemplation. Here are just a few:
Nestling in the peaceful Hambleton hills, gothic Byland Abbey is one of the great Cistercian monasteries which once housed over 200 monks and lay brothers.
Situated on the banks of the River Derwent and backed by woodlands, the ruined Augustinian Kirkham Priory is a site of tranquillity and beautiful views. Amongst its fine architectural features are an ornate gatehouse, monastic buildings and a church.
The impressive ruined Rievaulx Abbey is sited in a secluded wooded valley in the North York Moors National Park and is the perfect place to escape the crowds. Founded in the 12th century, the remains of the spectacular series of arches that form the presbytery make Rievaulx one of the most beautiful and spiritual ruins in England.
Rievaulx Terrace and Temples are perhaps Yorkshire's finest 18th-century landscape gardens, containing two classical Georgian temples set on an elevated grass terrace with one featuring an exquisite ceiling painting depicting mythological scenes. The landscaped garden, renowned for its beautiful spring flowers, has been designed to have stunning vistas over the Ryedale Valley and Rievaulx Abbey far below offering visitors the opportunity for a gentle contemplative walk.
The North York Moors National Park has fine landscapes with its unique combination of wild heather covered moor land, secluded beaches and towering sea cliffs, forests and grassy dales. A paradise for walkers who take advantage of the long distance routes, it's also ideal for shorter strolls in one of the ancient woodlands or picturesque sandstone villages. Get away from your hectic normal life and simply stand and breathe in the fresh air.
Founded in the 7th century by St. Hilda, there can be few abbeys as wild and haunting as Whitby Abbey rising majestically from the east cliffs above the town with spectacular views out to sea. Generations have been drawn to this dramatic headland over the years and it has been the site of a bustling settlement, king's burial place, an historic meeting between Celtic and Roman clerics and an inspiration for Bram Stoker, author of Dracula.
The pretty, quiet village of Ampleforth is on the edge of the North York Moors National Park and a few miles from the white chalk horse that can be seen from many miles away. It has a tiny Saxon church and the college and Benedictine abbey with its cider producing orchards is within a mile of its centre.
The forest at Dalby is so much more than a sustainable source of timber. It is also the home of important and diverse wildlife and offers its visitors a great range of recreational activities. From those who want the thrill of cycling through the woods on one of the award-winning bike trails to the person that prefers to stroll along a woodland trail enjoying the seasonal changes followed by a tasty meal at the Treetops Restaurant and visit to the eco-friendly visitor centre. There are even monthly opportunities to enjoy the night skies with a starlit walk in the company of Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society.
Mount Grace Priory is an atmospheric 14th-century ruined Carthusian monastry set amid woodlands below the escarpment of the North York Moors. Here the monks lived as hermits in cottage-like cells and it is the best-preserved of the ten British 'charterhouses'. A reconstructed and furnished monk's cell and a recently restored herb garden offer a glimpse into the lives of the medieval residents. The gardens are a haven for wildlife, including the famous 'Priory Stoats'.
Situated in the lovely village of Coxwold, Shandy Hall is a lived-in house formerly the home of the parson Laurence Stern, famous for his books,Tristram Shandy and A Sentimental Journey. The 15th century house is surrounded by two acres including a beautiful walled garden full of old-fashioned roses and rare cottage plants and a wilder one set in a disused stone quarry that feels like a secret garden. You can be sure of a friendly welcome in this quirky and unusual home.
Sheriff Hutton village is the perfect place for walking from. It has everything a visitor could need including pubs, shops and a village hall whilst being situated in beautiful countryside with the remains of a motte and bailey castle, the stone ruins of a second castle and Sheriff Hutton park and house dominating the area with awesome grandeur.
The five-mile stretch of award winning sandy beach at Filey is protected by the rocky splendour of Filey Brigg, a promontory rising from the sea and marking the southern end of the Cleveland Way. It is a haven not only for the variety of birds and wildlife that inhabit the area but for the fishermen, fossil hunters, naturalists and visitors looking to relax away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.