Our second day in Hawes and Aysgarth was action packed to say the least. We started with a sugar rush, peaked with tears and ended with a hangover.
The first stop for the day was Aysgarth Falls, a collection of waterfalls on the River Ure. We nabbed a spot in the car park, paid, and made our way to the Information Centre. There we were advised to see the top waterfalls first as they are the most magnificent. And they would have been, had we not seen so many waterfalls that week!
We made up for the possible lack in awe by stepping out into the falls, although it is ill advised, and explored the undergrowth along the banks. There we discovered a handful of different mushrooms – don’t touch – and were thankful we were wearing walking boots. We definitely misjudged some of the depths!
There’s a mill in between the falls, which acts as a gift shop, so I couldn’t not pop in. I feel lucky we did, as I managed to buy a signed copy of the Inn on the Top by Neil Hanson. We then made our way to the bottom of the Falls where we deliberated our next stop. I love a castle, and had been aching to see one, so as Bolton Castle is only a 10 minute drive away from Aysgarth, we settled on an afternoon exploring the history of the Yorkshire Dales.
I was pumped to visit the castle, and just as soon as its stone walls came into sight, we had to make a diversion. Our route was blocked by a small, fluffy creature in the road. I stopped the car to wait for the rabbit to hop back into the bushes alongside the road, but it didn’t. That’s when I realised something was wrong.
We darted out the car and tried to usher the bunny back into the bushes, but he still didn’t go. He didn’t even seem to realise we were there. The poor thing was panting like a hot dog in a park. His eyes were swollen to the size of golf balls and coated in a thick layer of gunk. We couldn’t just leave him there, so I called the nearest vets to ask them for help.
‘He probably has Myxomatosis,’ was the diagnosis over the phone. ‘If you bring him in, we can put him out of his misery’. We scooped the little fluff ball up in my walking jumper and with tears literally tumbling down my cheeks, I drove him to the vet. I guess the only consolation was that he wouldn’t be in any more pain, and I think we did the right thing.
With my throat in my stomach, we went back to Bolton Castle. It was a struggle to keep smiling, but as we parked, the historian got the better of me and I was desperate to get inside.
As it happens, Bolton Castle is partially intact. The website says about one third of the rooms are fully intact, which includes Mary Queen of Scots’ bedroom. I was not expecting this juicy nugget of history when I arrived, so finding that felt like a total treat. Moreover, you can climb to the battlements which offer a fantastic view of the rolling English countryside.
The highlight for me was the bird of prey display, which I also absolutely did not know about until we got there. They have a range of raptors including harris hawks, owls and kestrels and display them at 11.30am and 3pm. I love birds of prey, so ironically, finding the rabbit meant that we didn’t have to wait two hours to see the display.
It’s not just birds at Bolton Castle. By the car park, at the top of the hill, you can see the resident wild boar. My, these things are noisy! We made feeding time and got to listen to the ear piercing screeches of the babies fighting for snacks, not noticing the pheasant pinching their pellets from behind them!
We then made our way back to The Board Inn for a delicious dinner cooked by Jane, and a few drinks. The best part about The Board Inn is where it got its name. Slotted behind some of the seats are board games: chess, draughts, dominoes, and probably more that we didn’t dig out. As I had annihilated Dan in our last chess game, he challenged me to a rematch, and we subsequently drew the attention of half the pub, because apparently, no one ever plays the board games! Before I knew what was going on, I was playing chess against Dan and a ton of pub locals. I lost! We were taught how to play dominoes the Yorkshire way, and were up until gone 12am drinking. It was the best night I’d ever had on a holiday
Previously: Hawes – a relaxing day wandering the countryside.
Next stop: Nidderdale – another castle and another market town.