3 castles in one day. Not bad for a UK road trip.

Yes it’s raining. Yes, it’s chilly. But if the scenery we were driving through was idyllic English countryside, the Yorkshire Dales National Park must be over the top gorgeous.

I mean, imagine just driving down a slightly larger than single track road, stone walls and grazing sheep, ooohing and aaahing at farmhouses and picturesque views and then accidentally running into this:

View on black

Welcome to Ravensworth Castle. It’s serious head exploding time.

Ravensworth, not only being a fantastic name for a castle, evoking images of dark nights and evil deeds, is the Grade 1 listed ruin of a castle (14th century, my research says) in the village of Ravensworth, North Yorkshire. It’s on your left hand side as you approach the village on Stonygate Bank. (cue collective “awwww”)

The only structure, besides a couple of walls, still standing is its gatehouse.

Here’s a quick view back to the rental car as the getaway driver awaits the guerrilla photographer.

The small, quiet village of Ravensworth has a beautiful village green with an ancient sycamore tree. Winter hasn’t treated that Sycamore well, as the tree in the centre of this photograph illustrates. At least I think that’s the one.

He’s looking a bit sad, old Syc.

Passing through Ravensworth, with a castle like that, I wondered how long the village had actually been there. I am glad to say that I’ve officially been a passenger in a motor car, driving through a village that was in the Doomsday Book. And that was in 1086. Not when I drove through it. Man, do I really look that old? The village itself will have been there long before the book in order to exist to be documented, right? So I’ll just let your imagination run wild with that one, as mine already has.

We continued on our trip, making our way back up to the A66 via roads like this:

Waitlands Lane is a beautiful road, with at least enough on either side of it for you to drive upon should a large vehicle come the opposite way. Because frankly, even though there is a broken line in the centre of it, I am not convinced two large vehicles can comfortably coexists on these country roads. You tell me.

And should you fancy visiting this village and its ruined castle from a slightly larger road like the A66, don’t worry, it’s signed for you:

For those of us who have read plenty of fantasy novels in our time, having been to a castle in Ravensworth is a pretty big deal. It’s bringing all sorts of ideas for novels and short stories to the surface. Pure inspiration, just what I always imagined the English countryside to be.

Lucky for me there was more of that in the next few days to come!

Driving along the A66 in foul weather isn’t the most exciting thing to write about, however at least it can mean some interesting photographs:

Farmland surrounds, and the landscape starts getting a bit hillier…

As roads meander through the rural pastoral scenes, just slicked enough by rain to look like rivers themselves…

As we cross into the county of Cumbria, Brough makes itself known to us with a church spire in the background and signs tempting us off the main road to its castle.

I did mention three castles, didn’t I?

Sadly we kept going, as promises of bubbly and canapes awaited us at our Lake District hotel.

But I digress.

Our road trip continued as we reached our destination: the Lake District National Park. As mentioned in an earlier post, the Lakes is a wondrous place where lakes appear between hills and fells, and walking on private property is expected – and they even show you the way! It’s a delightful place to spend a few days walking, relaxing and holding up a pub stool or two.

But not before you drive through roads like this:

And this…

Does it seem to be getting narrower, or are those mountains getting bigger?

And to prove you can fit two cars on these narrow country lanes, because I knew you doubted it was true, a shot of exactly that.

Can you hear my heart leaping out of my chest and into my throat?

These roads were definitely something I, being an American expat who lived in London, did not have to deal with on an every day basis — especially not at these speeds. If you get above 20mph on most London roads this size it’s a miracle (or three in the morning). Besides, there are usually cars parked on either side instead of ancient moss covered walls so it’s a game of cat and mouse to get from one end of the street to the other. Lots of hand waving and ducking in and out of parked cars to let the car coming the opposite way through. And then there’s the praying.

No, not here. 45mph and higher, these roads, even in the wet. I like to think there are just a lot of travellers holding their breaths and gunning it — hoping to get to their destination as soon as possible, whilst still being able to enjoy some of the scenery along the way.

Because here in the Lakes, it’s near impossible not to bask in the beautiful landscape.

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