It was a weekend and we wanted to go out and do something. But the weather looked threatening and we weren't sure about going out anyway. A friend of ours who lived in England for quite a while had given us this advice before we left: "If you wait for good weather, you'll never do anything." And so, following this advice, we packed up and headed out.
We had decided that we were going to go to Skipton, where there is a really cool intact castle and fun surrounding town. While we were driving the weather turned from threatening into a full-blown gale. And I do mean full-blown; when we were walking into the wind, Adam and I could hardly stand up straight!
On the way to Skipton we were scouting caches and spotted one in a cool nature preserve called Ilkley Moor. We got out of the car and walked towards the rock formations, all the while being pelted with rain and fiercely blown about.
In America, in that sort of weather, most places would be desolate. Not so here! The boy scouts were having some sort of rock climbing activity and there were people everywhere. The parking lot was full by the time we got back into our car.
We continued on to Skipton, after Adam had finished gathering what he needed to complete the earth cache. Thankfully the rain died down as we were arriving in the town. After securing parking, always a challenge in small British villages, we walked down to the open air market and wandered about.
It didn't take long to get through the market, as the fierce weather had dissuaded some merchants from attending, and so we were quickly back at the castle and ready to tour around inside.
Skipton castle is still lived in, though not by any royalty. In the late 1940's the last of the family passed away and the castle was not in great shape. The will of that family member said that the castle should be kept open for the public to enjoy, but the Skipton City Council and the National Trust did not want it! So the estate went up for sale, with the caveat that part of the property had to be available for people to tour. Finally, there was a family interested in purchasing it and they bought it and created a fund. They still live in part of the castle all of the year. The rest of the castle is open for people to tour.
Skipton was originally a Norman castle that was then partially dismantled and rebuilt during the Tudor years. There are parts where you can see the original four foot thick walls and then other parts where you can see how the original walls were dismantled to create the *new* Tudor walls.
I think the most interesting part for the kids, was when a docent taught us where the phrase "sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" came from. The kids each got to pretend to be a bed post, on a four poster bed, and I was the chamber maid who tightened the ropes on the bed (holding up the mattress, they didn't have slats yet), smeared animal fat on the bottom of the posters, put bowls of blood on the floor under the bed and drew the curtains on each side of the bed. Whew! The kids got a big kick out of it AND it really made an impression.
After touring the castle we did a multi-cache that took us on a beautiful hike around the canal that runs behind the castle and through the town. It ended up being a beautiful day and an exciting adventure!
This is the courtyard of the castle. The tree was planted in 1659!