The farmhouse that we were trying to reach didn’t exist according to my road atlas. The directions were crystal clear but where was this unclassified road taking us deep into the North York Moors national park; and with no sign posts and few clues how would we ever get there after hours in the car and two kids in the back eager to have a run around.
Finally we found a clue – a small sign saying ‘High Lidmoor’. Four gates later, which all had to be opened and shut, our home for the week came into view surrounded by fields full of sheep.
Once a thriving sheep farm this beautiful farmhouse, which is in the care of the National Trust, was now a base for tourists keen to explore the wide expanses of moorland or the Yorkshire coast. An abandoned farm across the valley pointed to challenges faces by generations of farmers in making ends meet. But the thriving market towns on the fringes of the national park suggests that there is hope. The spirit and determination of the farmers making a living give you confidence in the future.
Hens from a neighbouring farm came to greet us in the morning and became frequent visitors. A lovely little note left by the cottage caretaker mentioned that a Tawny Owl had taken up residence on the farm: we could only hear its faint hooting in the middle of the night and didn’t manage to catch it as it prowled the landscape looking for prey.
Even though this National Trust holiday cottage was fairly remote the journey to the ‘main’ road became part of the experience. One morning we even managed to witness the wonder of a neabry farmer putting his two sheepdogs to work in rounding up the sheep. Seeing the skill of the farmer and the agility and obedience of the dogs was a real privilege.
The splendid isolation of the cottage meant a view to marvel at and never tire of from the warm evening sunshine casting longing shadows over the valleys or the feeling of cold sleet on my face as a packed the car ready for the days adventure.
Exploring moorland with young children is quite a challenge and we made it to a local ‘beck’ (stream) with the cold, clear water making its way through a wonderful oak woodland. But the path beyond a little bridge was flooded so we had to make the slow journey up the hill back to the cottage.
Arriving in August meant meeting the purple haze of heather which sweeps across the moorland. The red grouse were also in strong evidence as convoys of black land rovers and trucks made there way to the remoter part for a days shooting.
There is plenty to do in the national park from the wonderful North York Moors railway to cycling round Dalby Forest. You’re also a daytrip away from the glitz of Scarborough and the beautiful little fishing villages of Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes.
The rawness and sheer beauty of the moorland has left a strong impression on me; and the place and people give the area a really welcoming feel, creating a sense of being at home. Coming home to the cottage each night, lighting the fire and just staring out of the window looking across the fields gives you an enormous sense of well being and a greater insight into the majesty of our national parks.
More information about National Trust Holiday Cottages can be found at www.nationaltrustcottages.co.uk