We departed our new Windlesham base early, with some trepidation at our first coach trip for 18 months, a full coach up close for long journeys and excursions, trusting each other to take coronavirus precautions. We appreciated that we were almost pioneering in organising and running a holiday before there was a roadmap and the uncertainties of social distancing continuing.
The break on our outbound journey was at the Crich Tram Museum – a collection of about 60 vintage trams – a wide variety from all over the world. Not only the opportunity to visit the extensive museum, but also to experience a nostalgic short journey with memories of changing the seat-backs at the terminus.
Our base for the week, the Cedar Court Hotel, an historic building evident in the dining and reception rooms, but tastefully modern bedrooms with all mod cons. Overlooking 200 acres of pristine Stray parkland. A three course evening dinner with choice, and the last night in the Green dining room was excellent.
Time set aside to explore Harrogate’s many attractions including Bettys famousTea Rooms. Its heritage as a fashionable spa resort continues in the Montpellier Quarter with the Royal Pump Room Museum. Nearby was the restored Moorish-style Turkish Baths and the Valley Gardens were all visited in this easy to walk fashionable town.
A walking tour of Saltire, a self-contained town built to serve a large woollen mill with 1200 looms, to house the workforce locally, educate their children, feed the workers, within a religious discipline. This very impressive UNESCO World Heritage site, was described in depth by our two very competent guides.
On the way to Pickering, the terminus of the North York Moors Railway, the weather was just right for viewing magnificent rolling Yorkshire hills and dales, plus the added bonus of taking the full coach up a steep 25% grade. At Pickering, we found a very crowded platform (contrasting with other attractions) waiting to greet the vintage steam engine. The 16 mile trip in the vintage carriages suited the rail enthusiasts. We left the train at Grosmont -a small backwater town, with access to the main road along a 6-mile narrow, winding and hilly road. On to our destination of Whitby, where we stopped at the Abbey for the views of the Ruins. Several hardy members made their way down to the fishing town, where the heavy rain prevented much exploration. More views on the return journey – the moors at their atmospheric, wet, best.
Harewood Hall turned out to be a surprising gem, with plenty of unique features (including Wedgewood pelmets) in the many rooms inside the Hall itself . Plus the varied aspects of the extensive gardens, a prime example of Capability Brown’s planning, with controlled views right to the horizon.
Arriving at York, we surprisingly found an empty coach park and fewer tourists than expected. The Minster was as magnificent as usual and the recent extension to the excavations of the Crypt and Undercroft were very impressive. Others found the Shambles, but none ventured to walking the walls.
Gardening experts had a (wet) treat at the RHS Gardens at Harlow Carr. Most sheltered in Betty’s tea room but just a small gap in the rain revealed the splendid tracks, display trees and plants to their advantage before the rain descended again.
The monotony of the return journey by motorway was relieved by a break at Nottingham for a short cruise on the river Trent -not the usual standing in an open windy boat, but a luxury inside seated emporium, with a generous cooked lunch served at your table, whist the boat cruised slowly in sunshine, viewing the luxury riverside flats and football stadiums.
Everything ran to schedule and we combatted the petrol shortage. Members thoroughly appreciated the wide range and variety of attractions visited, the entrancing conversation and companionship of other Probians It was agreed that it was the Probians who made the holiday so successful .