SHIVERING at the side of a B-road at midnight and with owls hooting overhead, I did what any self-respecting millennial Londoner would do . . . and Instagram-ed my trauma.
“Car’s broken down, trapped in North Yorkshire Moors, not in London anymore. Send help.”
But, and here’s the thing, it wasn’t that bad . . .
Because even in the pitch black, when you’re meant to be in bed, North Yorkshire is really pretty.
The sky appears darker and the stars brighter.
My boyfriend Mark and I had travelled just over two hours from King’s Cross to Thirsk and then 40 minutes by car to Ampleforth for the annual Dark Skies Festival where the best of the region’s nightlife (think stars and wildlife rather than clubs and pubs) is celebrated.
We were staying at the Carr House Farm Bed and Breakfast Ampleforth, and our host, Anna Lupton, was wonderful.
Online reviews said she had the “softest” beds in Yorkshire — and they might have been right. I’ve not slept that well for years. Shortly after arriving, we travelled the 50 minutes to Dalby Forest, which is 8,000 acres of woodland including mountain peaks and hikes.
A trail was marked with information leaflets detailing the sky and stars — perfect for kids (and we learnt a bit too!)
But the highlight had to be night-time zip-wiring at Go Ape.
Flying across the forest’s canopy on a terrifyingly tiny wire, it was so much fun we did it twice — despite very inelegant bum landings that had us doubled up with laughter.
Driving back took us via the pretty market town of Pickering, on the edge of the moors, where we stopped at The White Swan Inn.
Grilled artichoke was on the menu — but the highlight was the delicious puddings. The next day we headed to Whitby. Normally I find driving dull, but the roads of North Yorkshire were a delight with their miles of purple moorland making the drive a real pleasure.
At Whitby Museum, a 12-minute walk from the seafront, we learnt about dark matter at an exhibition created especially for the festival, than headed to the harbour where we jumped aboard a replica of Captain Cook’s boat, Endeavour.
Next it was time for chips at the Quayside restaurant. In the evening we had risotto at another White Swan, this time in Ampleforth, before heading a few miles to the National Centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley where there was an Owl Prowl evening.
Watching cute little owls swoop around was a highlight of the trip and would be great fun for children too.
Centre director Charlie Heap is an owl expert. His passion shines through and the hours swept by.
There are plenty of other things to do too from visiting Robin Hood Bay — one of the UK’s most beautiful spots, ice-creams on Scarborough seafront and nature walks where, if you’re lucky, you can spot wild deer and rabbits.
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So, even though we broke down on the way back to the station at Thirsk, it wasn’t too bad.
“We could live here,” I said to my boyfriend, as we snuggled on the muddy verge and waited for the AA to turn up. “I’ll look on Rightmove straight away. Let’s sell our flat in London and become Yorkshire folk!”
He wasn’t convinced (I think the distance to Stamford Bridge was a factor) so for now at least we’ll settle for weekends away . . .
STAYING THERE: Rooms at Carr House Farm are from £50pppn based on two sharing. See carrhousefarm.co.uk.
OUT & ABOUT: Twilight zipwires at Go Ape Dalby are on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month from £18pp. See goape.com.
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