By the beginning of August, I realised that it had been over four months since I last spent a night away from home. Day trips are all very well, but I decided it was time to take the next step in the slow process of restoring something resembling a normal travel pattern. I had originally planned to take a short (3nts) road trip to selected parts of NW England in the week following Easter. Like so many other plans for 2020, this had become a lockdown casualty. What I had in mind now was a slightly extended version of my cancelled plan, to include an extra night away and several new destinations, to take place in the week commencing Monday 10 August.
The road trip began with a pleasant run down the A68 from Edinburgh, eventually reaching Scotch Corner, near Darlington. From there, I spent the afternoon visiting two completely new destinations in North Yorkshire. Coincidentally, they were ‘alphabetical neighbours’.
Richmond, North Yorkshire (not to be confused with the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames) is a pleasant market town of around 8,500 people. It stands on the River Swale, on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Walking around the town, I quickly realised that it was one of the hilliest places I had ever visited! The main attraction, the Norman castle, was not available to tourists at the time of my visit. As an interesting piece of trivia, the local MP is Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
Ripon (approximate population 16,500) is one of England’s lesser known cathedral cities, situated 26 miles northwest of York and 15 miles directly north of Harrogate. It is the third smallest city in England, after the City of London (think about it!) and Wells, Somerset. Standing on the River Ure, Ripon was historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but transferred to North Yorkshire when the formerly huge county was split up. Its best known features are the cathedral and the racecourse. The cathedral no longer has its own diocese, being now one of three seats available to the Bishop of Leeds. Sadly, I didn’t have time for a visit to nearby Fountains Abbey, which in any case would probably have required booking in advance.
My journey south and afternoon sightseeing over, I returned to Scotch Corner for a one-night stay at the Holiday Inn. I don’t know if it was local pride or a more general celebration of the Chancellor’s Eat Out to Help Out programme, but Mr Sunak seemed to feature heavily. This included having a chicken burger named in his honour!