Cycling

Even before the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014, the Brits have been keen cyclists. Since then, the number of cyclists on the road has grown and grown, helped by subsequent Tour de Yorkshires and the general interest in cycling.

We have cycled off and on for years but are 100% fair weather cyclists. Much to the disappointment of our brother in law (a super fit and keen cyclist) we timed our move from Harrogate to Appleton just weeks before the Tour de France cavalcade arrived. Which meant driving back to Harrogate for day trips, rather than being within walking distance from our old house for all the Tour celebrations and races.

From most directions there are some steep hills in Appleton; that combined with being so busy on barn renovations meant our bikes stayed unused in the pig pens. All our trips out to the countryside were walking ones; and why not, with so many fantastic walks from the door.

And then one spring, a neighbour cycled past on a flashy new electric bike. Those who know Ian (or who have stayed in the Long Barn) know he loves the latest tech. The clincher was our neighbour saying that in his opinion, given all the hills around Appleton, having an electric bike made the difference in wanting to go out for a bike ride, or not. I saw the glint in Ian’s eye, and knew resistance was futile. Some weeks later, we became the proud owners of two Haibike electric bikes. And our cycling adventures began.

There have been highlights and the odd low light. I’ll start with the lowlight first. The saddles the bikes came with weren’t the most comfortable, and after a couple of rides out, I decided to invest in one with more cushioning. We have an amazing cycling shop nearby, called Big Bear Bikes, so they were the obvious choice. I explained what I was looking for, and with a glint in his eye, the helpful sales assistant explained that they came in different sizes, and they had a fitting service. Or, as he described it in broad Yorkshire, “I’ll go and get the ‘arseometer’….” I froze and tried to imagine a. an arseometer was  b. how it measured and c. what it would say. Thankfully it turned out that it something you sat on that measured your hip bones, and it was wielded by a very helpful female member of staff. So 10 minutes later, I was the proud owner of a MEDIUM seat. Phew.

Highlights of our cycling adventures have included cycling to Malton and back for the annual food festival (a 30 mile round trip) and our favourite lock down ride which takes you through Hutton Le Hole, Gillamoor, Fadmoor, Kirkbymoorside and home via Spaunton. If we are honest, sneaking into our highlights is also burning off the odd man in lyrcra up a hill as we build up a head of steam and cruise past. 

We highly recommend renting bikes from Big Bear when you stay at the Long Barn (your choice if you want to call upon the arseometer) You really do see a different perspective on the amazing countryside, and can travel further than just hiking. The beauty of electric versus nonelectric is that everyone can ride together. The super fit athletes can stick with their road bikes, and the more recreational cyclists can try out an electric bike. With the hills round here, you still get plenty of exercise. Ian describes how our bikes work as that it’s like you’ve got a lazy Chris Hoy riding in tandem behind you. He’ll only start peddling when you do; but when he kicks in, you do feel the benefit.

We are happy to help you organise bikes from Big Bear for your stay. Or you can visit them in Pickering; they also have bike hubs in Dalby Forest and at Sutton Bank.

And who knows, you may get bitten by the bug and decide to make it part of your exercise/travel routine when you return home.

Rosedale Abbey Walk

Rosedale Abbey village is just 7 miles drive from Appleton and is the starting point for a lovely walk that we’ve done in every season since we moved here.

We love it because it is a circular walk of just under 8 miles through a real variety of countryside and some beautiful big sky panoramic views.

The scenic drive to Rosedale takes you over the North York Moors, and down the infamous Chimney Bank. It shares the title of steepest road in England with the Hardknott Pass in Cumbria. It has a maximum gradient of 1 in 3 (about 33%) and climbs 173m on its 1.3km route. It’s known locally by cyclists as “The Chain Breaker”.

We walked this route earlier this week with some friends, and it was a reminder what a great walk it is. We met at the lovely Graze on the Green Café in the heart of Rosedale. Their home made cakes are epic, they serve our favourite Roost coffee, what’s not to like? We skipped breakfast so we could justify a slab of cake (the Black Forest Roulade was wonderful) and a coffee to set us up for the day.

The walk starts across the fields and winds along the river, then climbs up the side of the valley with lovely views. At the top you cross a lane and dip down through a forest eventually coming out at a farm leading up to the old ironworks railway line. You can’t miss the farm as you’ll hear the cockerels crowing well before you arrive. The owners clearly have a passion for chickens and ducks; everywhere you look are brightly coloured cockerels (which seem to outnumber considerably the rather harried looking hens) In spring the farm yard is full of chicks and ducklings.

The old railway line is probably one of our favourite parts of the walk. It runs down the side of Rosedale with wonderful views and alongside the ruins of the old roasting kilns. It was originally built in the 1860’s and took the processed iron ore out of the valley and on to County Durham. It’s hard to imagine Rosedale as part of the Victorian industrial age. Almost 3000 people were employed to work in the ironstone mines (fewer than 300 live there today) and you can see the ruins of some of the houses they lived in on the walk.

 

You walk along the line until you pick up a sign for the Dale Head Farm and follow the path down into the valley.  Maggie runs the Dale Head Farm Tea Garden, and halfway round the walk, we were ready for a cold drink. The farm featured heavily in the recent BBC 2 documentary, North York Moors: A Wild Year. It is filmed all over the North York Moors, and is a wonderful advertisement for this beautiful area. Apparently, Maggie’s young son (who was filmed a fair bit over the course of the programme) is highly embarrassed when he gets recognised by customers.

 

Maggie sums up the warmth of the Yorkshire welcome you can expect. Everything is homemade and generous. Service is friendly and welcoming with a dollop of humour. The food is delicious and the views down into Rosedale are stunning. In the warm July sunshine, we felt a million miles away from Covid-19 and the strange world we now live in.

The second half of the walk is pretty much all downhill once you’ve crossed the river and head down to Rosedale Abbey. It’s well sign posted and takes you into the back of Rosedale village via the church. Ironically, there’s no abbey in the village of Rosedale Abbey. It was a medieval Cistercian priory, which was pulled down in the 19th century – much of the stone was used to build the present church.

This walk is definitely more than a stroll but well worth the time to do it. It took us 5 hours, but that was allowing time for the all-important café stops. If you have people in your party who are less keen or able to walk this type of distance, we’d suggest they explore Rosedale village and then drive up to Dale Head Farm to meet you. Or drive up and park near the old railway line and walk that short stretch of the walk to enjoy the views.

We were lucky to walk this route last week in hot sunshine and blue skies. Equally, we’ve walked it when there’s snow on the ground and have warmed ourselves part way round with a hot cup of tea and flapjack in Dales Head Farm’s shooting butt. At that time of year, Maggie runs it with an honesty jar for what you eat, and a wood burning stove to warm you up from the elements.

So, another walk we recommend from the many to choose from during your stay at the Long Barn.

This year we’ve started recording the walks we do using the “Relive” app so that you can get a flavour of what to expect,click here to see that. We hope this helps your group decide which walks to do. We appreciate it can be difficult to decide in a large group and cater for everyone’s tastes and abilities.

This is one of the walks we highlight to guests, with full instructions/map in the Long Barn for you to use.

A taste of Appleton le Moors history

A taste of Appleton Le Moors history

Appleton le Moors has a thriving history group; thanks to them as well as several other people, there is an impressive record of village history going back to the 12th century.  In the Long Barn, you’ll find a copy of “A Baker’s Dozen”, detailing the history of thirteen properties of note in the village selected by the history group. Our very own Town End Farm makes it into this publication as the 9th property highlighted.

We are learning about village history as well as that of other villages around Appleton. So below are a few details that we’ve gleaned from the History Groups publications.                                                                     

Appleton Le Moors was established in the 12th century on a planned pattern by St Mary’s Abbey York. It’s thought to have been created out of ploughed land, laying the crofts and tofts over former strips of the east and west fields. The toft is the land on which the house was built, the croft is the adjoining plot of land used for pasture or arable. When you explore Appleton, you’ll see why it’s thought to have been planned in this way; it’s strikingly regular in its rectangular shape, back lanes and house “garths” of uniform size. A garth is a “small grass enclosure adjacent to a house.”

Appleton was originally called “Woodappleton”, reflecting how important woodland was at this time. In the first half of the 20th century, Appleton was principally the main street with 30 houses each side, most facing the road and each with their own private access to the garth at the back of the house. These garths were originally market gardens and fruit orchards, hence the name Appleton. Fruit from the area was sent off to London when the railway came to Kirkymoorside.

The Reading Room is the landmark that for us marks that you are arriving in Appleton. It was built for the village in 1911 and funded by Joseph Page, the resident butler at Appleton Hall. Most people involved assumed it was a philanthropic gift for the community but it is possible it was a condition of a demolition of 3 houses, replaced by one house for Joseph Page. The Reading Room was mainly used by agricultural workers, as potentially a cheaper alternative than visiting the pub. Apparently in Edwardian times, going to the pub was not always considered a respectable activity. The Reading Room fell out of favour after world war 2, and was closed in the 1940s. It was latterly re opened and renovated with various grants. It now hosts a book and film club and is hired out for events.

The Village Hall, between the Long Barn and was originally the village school. It was built in tribute to the man who built Appleton Hall, at the north end of the village. Joseph Shepherd was a prosperous merchant and ship owner; his wife built the school in tribute to him after he’d died in 1867.

When walking up to the Moors Inn, look out for the “3 Faces” house on the right. It has 3 satirical faces carved into the wall above the door representing the doctor, lawyer and parson. The initials TAOTLHTGB stand for “The Art of Treating Life How To Get Bread”. At one point in the 19th century, it was a beer house. Different to the pub, they could serve no fortified wine or spirits, nor could they open on a Sunday. The beer was usually served in jugs or dispensed from tapped wooden barrels on a table in the corner of the room.

The Moors In was built in the late 18th century and is grade II listed. It is shown as being an inn from 1782 onwards and was called the Oddfellows Arms from 1842. It was renamed the Moors Inn in the 1980’s. The story is that the new landlady Ida Moore insisted the name was changed because she said she was already married to an odd fellow, and working in an Odd Fellows pub as well was too much for her.

Our very own Town End Farm House was built in 1750’s and is described as “undoubtably the best house in the village”. It was the first “new style” house built in Appleton with a central entry doorway and set back from the village’s street. The farm buildings are thought to be 18th century. The original carriage house to the barn was sold off in the 20th century and became a separate dwelling. If you look next door, you can see the arched entrances that the carriages would have been driven into. Our neighbour Barry worked in the farm as a boy, and remembers livestock being kept in the barns which make up the Long Barn. The smaller barns opposite the Long barn used to house pigs. He also remembers dances taking place on the top floor of Town End Farm House. The gable window you can see used to be a doorway which hay and straw was winched up through.

 

For those guests who are particularly interested, we can arrange a village history walk with Jim, a local villager and guide, who can bring the village’s history alive.

 

 

The Appleton poultry partnership

The Appleton Poultry Partnership

When we moved to Town End Farm, one of the things on our bucket list was to have chickens. We quickly realised that this was going to be impossible on the land that came with the house; the idea of chickens wandering around the courtyard was a romantic idea, but not practical for guests staying!

Step forward Meg and Simon in the village who had some already had some chickens but wanted to share the work/cost of their current small flock. They were keen to expand the flock and so the number of eggs laid. We leapt at the chance and became the official Appleton Poultry Partnership.

There are only a few rules! “Chicken duty” days are shared out equally. We take it in turns to do the village egg run to the 10+ households who buy organic eggs from us. We aren’t allowed to name the chickens, so saving any potential future heart break! Luckily we have Nigel the local chicken expert to call upon for chicken advice in the case of any emergencies or chicken husbandry issues.

 

We’ve expanded the flock several times over the years since setting up the partnership; sadly chickens live between 3 – 7 years (or less if there is a fox about) We’ve had one fox attack following which a fox proof electric fence went up which seems to have done the trick.

For the first flock expansion we went the purist (and cheapest) route and went to an auction in York to bid for fertilised eggs. Quite an experience, especially seeing Meg with a rush of blood to her head bidding against herself at one point! The eggs were incubated at Nigel’s; out of 32 eggs, 20 hatched. It was then we discovered the world of the chicken sexer – who knew?! It is a highly skilled job, and the best chicken sexers (95% success rate) can command a salary of £60,000. Mind you, to earn this it means sexing up to 1200 chicks AN HOUR! Luckily Nigel sexed ours, and the females came back to the village.

The next time we expanded the flock we decided to go the more expensive but certain route which was to buy birds from a local poultry breeder. Meg and Jackie went with the best of intentions e.g. good reliable layers year-round etc. We then were seduced by some of the prettier breeds and came back with a variety of lovely chickens. So, we may not have the most productive flock, but we do get a variety of different coloured eggs. The one thing that is consistent is that they all taste delicious.

We love the flock; at the moment it numbers 20 girls, and one elderly cockerel. We try not to have our favourites but have to admit that there is one at the moment who we have nick named the Appleton One. She has worked out that if she flies onto the hen house roof, she can then fly over the fence into the field. But as soon as she sees us arrive in the morning, she races up the field to us to be let in to get her food.

We are still far from experts, but we are enjoying learning. Our neighbour Lynne rolls her eyes when we talk about the chickens; apparently birds that lay eggs are called hens, and birds breed for meat are called chickens.

We are happy to take any guests down to collect the eggs with us; it’s lovely to see children especially feed the flock and collect the warm eggs to take back for breakfast. Subject to the time of year (production does drop down a lot in the winter) guests will get a dozen eggs in their welcome hamper. So you can experience how delicious they taste yourselves.

 

Favourite walk

We feel very luck to have such a choice of lovely walks straight from the door in Appleton. When we lived in Harrogate, we used to have to drive for over an hour to find the best walks; now that we live here, they are on our doorstep. During lockdown, many of us in the village have been sharing our favourite walks, so we have even more walking options for guests.

This circular Woodland walk is one of our favourites, and we will feature it along with others we recommend in our new look welcome pack for guests. So, we are just giving a flavour of it in this post to tempt you to try it if you stay with us.

It has a perfect combination of country lanes, fields with views and beautiful woodland. It’s about 2 miles and takes around an hour depending on how often you stop to admire the view. There is a climb up through the last section in Ridings Bank Wood; nothing too steep, but enough so that you feel you have a slight bit of aerobic exercise. This track has the wonderful name of The Thieves Highway.  

We love this walk as it is beautiful whatever the season. We’ve walked it during the winter when the views from the woods down to the river and Appleton Mill are revealed. In fact it’s a great Christmas Day walk. Just long enough to walk off Christmas dinner (or beforehand so you’ve had a walk to justify the dinner…) One November we bumped into guests on this walk all wearing Christmas jumpers; they had an annual meetup every year for a friends “fake” Christmas before the real event!

In springtime, as everything bursts into life the woodland floors are carpeted with wild daffodils and anemones. Nearby Farndale is renowned for its wild daffodils, but we think the daffodils in Hell Bank and Gill Wood are better (and there are no crowds)!

Then comes the pungent wild garlic, perfect for making pesto. We try to pick as many leaves as we can to stash a pesto supply in our fridge for the rest of the year; it never lasts long as we hope as it tastes just too delicious. There are certainly no vampires near the Long Barn when we’ve been eating it!

Then it’s the blue bells, and the woodlands become greener and greener as the tree canopies bring more shade. Late summer means the view from the fields turn purple as the heather comes out on the moor. Finally, Autumn when the russet colours arrive and the leaves begin to fall.