What makes The North York Moors special?

 

This week was the 68th birthday of the North York Moors National Park – and since lockdown, we’ve never appreciated living in a national park more.

Now we have to be honest here. Before we moved from Harrogate to Appleton Le Moors, the national park we spent most time in was the Yorkshire Dales. So originally, when we first decided to sell up in Harrogate and escape to a new life in the country, the Dales was where we looked first. At the risk of sounding like Kirsty and Phil, we just couldn’t find anywhere that “ticked all our boxes,” so we expanded our search and started to look at the North York Moors. The rest is history, we fell in love with  the moors,  Town End Farm, and our lovely village.

So what makes “our” park so special? We think a big reason is the unique mixture of different countryside and coast that we have here. We love the atmospheric big skies of the moors, open and spectacular with one of the biggest expanses of heather moorland in the UK.

But what may surprise you, is that we are one of the most wooded of England’s National Parks (almost a quarter) which we think gives the park real character. We appreciate the seasons more than anywhere we’ve lived; seeing the trees go through the changes over the year is quite magical.

We also have dales, green lush valleys that cut into the high moorland, and remind us of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Full of characterful stone buildings and walls (and sheep) we always feel we are properly in Yorkshire when exploring them.

Last but not least is our gorgeous coastline. From sandy beaches, sheltered coves, little fishing villages, towering cliffs and rocky shores, we’re truly spoilt for choice. Whether it’s a coastland walk, surfing the waves, or a traditional seaside visit with fish and chips, there really is something for everyone.

The coast is just 40 minutes’ drive away; the rest is within walking distance from the Long Barn. The only problem is which one to chose to spend your day in….

Stir up Sunday

Today is “Stir up Sunday” and is apparently the traditional day to make your Christmas Pudding. It was started in Victorian times as a tradition when families would get together to get their fruit puddings stirred up, steamed and stored ahead of Christmas.

It’s not one of our traditions at Town End Farm, but we do use the date to prompt us to make our Christmas cake and mincemeat. Last year, we were in the midst of peak disruption in the farmhouse, as we were on the final push to get renovations if not finished, at least to have a working kitchen for Christmas. So our Christmas preparations were pretty cursory, and were all focused on the Long Barn. Jackie loves Christmas and goes to town on the decorations for both barns as well as (usually) our own home.

Fast forward a year and like most people, we are waiting for next week’s announcements to see whether we can open the Long Barn up again for guests. So what better time to focus on what we can control, and get going with some of our Christmas cooking preparation.

This week it’s been making mincemeat and Christmas cake. Our mincemeat is loosely based on Queen Delia’s but with no candied peel (which Jackie considers the work of the devil) and double the booze. For details, take a look at our Facebook/Instagram posts on 16th November.

For our Christmas cake, we look no further than Princess Nigella, whose recipe is a tried and trusted favourite.  We follow the recipe from her Nigella Christmas book, and make the middle sized one. Our top tip is to line the tin as she suggests for the large sized cake; wrap the outside with a double layer of brown paper which stops the sides of the cake getting too dark. As it’s cooking, the house smells wonderfully of Christmas spices from the cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.  Once cooled, wrap in greaseproof/foil…and then, trickle your spirit of choice onto the base of the cake every few days…for our Christmas cake, it has to be brandy. By Christmas Day it will be moist, boozy and delicious.

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Roost Coffee

We passionately believe in supporting local businesses as much as we can from using their produce/services to promoting them to Long Barn guests.

We love great coffee, and part of the Long Barn offer was to have a Sage Bean to Cup coffee machine in the kitchen. Initially we tried a variety of different beans, and then we discovered the brilliant Roost Coffee, who run their operation out of nearby Malton.

 

David and Ruth set up their own roastery in 2015, having had 10 years’ experience in the speciality coffee industry.  They are passionate about coffee, and roast small batches of coffee beans daily. Their state of the art roaster is able to roast beans to a specific roast profile, which means consistent roasts and delicious coffee.

When we went into the first lock down, we coordinated coffee orders for many of the households in Appleton from Roost; we learnt we have a lot of coffee addicts in the village who now love Roost coffee.  The Long Barn Wood store was turned into a collection point, and Roost kept us caffeinated throughout lockdown.

In normal times, Roost run a small café alongside their shop/roastery in Talbot Yard, Malton. Lockdown was challenging for them as for many businesses. One small plus was that it gave David and Ruth time to set their online coffee shop. Here you can buy their full range of coffee, and even an enamel mug with Roost logo or for those of you with your own coffee machines, a professional coffee machine cleaner from Italy. You can buy the beans whole, or have them ground to your requirements.

So, if you are thinking of what to buy the coffee addict for Christmas, we can highly recommend Roost. And you’ll also know you’ll be supporting a small local busines at this difficult time.

We include Tonto Expresso Coffee beans in the Long Barn welcome hamper, as well as selling extra coffee beans from our little dresser shop in the West Barn.  Tonto is described as “a dark roast, with a full body and intense after taste with a dark chocolate hued crema. We think it’s perfect whether you like a regular americano, latte, or flat white. And you can unleash your inner barista using the Long Barn coffee machine – we’ve even included a how to video on the Long Barn tablet.

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Lastingham circular walk

Lockdown has made us appreciate even more the walks that are on our doorstep.

This week, whilst the USA was in turmoil, and our next 4 weeks of lockdown were imminent, we escaped to another great walk we’ve recently reacquainted ourselves with.

It starts from Lastingham, so you can either walk there from Appleton, or drive to Lastingham and park in the village. If you drive, our tip is to follow signs for the Lastingham Grange Hotel, and park on the road leading up to the moors.

The walk is another circular one and takes in some gorgeous “big sky” North York Moors views. It’s about 5 miles (add in another 4 miles if you walk there and back from Appleton)

It’s a good walk to do after it’s been wet, as apart from a couple of places, the tracks and path stay pretty dry. There is a gradual climb up to Ana Cross, which marks a medieval route way across the moor between Lastingham and the site of Rosedale Priory. The current cross dates to 1949 when the original medieval cross was removed to the crypt of Lastingham Church.

We love this walk. When the weather is clear, the views are wonderful, especially looking west from Ana Cross towards Sutton Bank.

Listen out for red grouse, as you’ll hear them before you see them. Their call sounds like “go-back, back, back” and then you’ll probably see their whirring wings as they then glide to cover in the heather.

We timed this walk last week so that the sun was setting as we headed back down to Lastingham; the colours were just gorgeous. In more normal times, we recommend a beer at the Blacksmiths Arms in front of the fire, before heading back to Appleton.

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The Rollercoaster Continues

As we all head into another lockdown, looking ahead to the next few months is challenging to say the least. The Long Barn has effectively been closed since the introduction of the rule of 6 and is now formally closed until the national lock down is eased.

The positive news is that we’ve never been busier for 2021, and when our guests are finally able to visit in large groups, boy is there going to be some celebrating to catch up on!

We are going to continue to blog each week on subjects that will hopefully lift your spirits and help us all look forward to more positive times. We’ll update you on village life and what’s happening as part of our own nature watch in the North York Moors. We’ll share our tips for hosting large groups, and also some of our favourite recipes. Finally, we’ll keep you posted on the updates planned for the Long Barn, including the masses of bulbs that Jackie will be planting shortly in the courtyard.

We are also keen to promote some of our amazing local businesses in the hope that we can encourage you to support some now (for Christmas shopping) and others that you may like to use when you stay with us in the future.

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Take care everyone.

Ian and Jackie