Welcome to our home for the next two weeks…… .

After a wander around Chateaudun on Monday and the obligatory stop at the boulangerie for bread and pastries we made our way down to the Loire region for our next Helpx assignment.

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Boulongerie at Chateaudun.

We stopped off along the way for some lunch and a 5km walk around the lake at Chateau la Valliere.

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The lake at Chateau la Valliere.

We parked up for the night at another free aire in Giseux.

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Another free Aire at Giseux.

Giseux, even though a tiny village, also sports a chateau which is the largest inhabited chateau in the Anjou-Tourraine region.  There are more chateaus in this region than you can shake a stick at!

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Chateau Giseux

We arrived at our next Helpx at Chateau de Jalesnes in Vernantes on Wednesday morning and began to settle in.  Later in the afternoon we met three of the owners Jonathan, Michael and Jenny who warmly welcomed us to their chateau.  This will be our home for the next two weeks or so!

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Chateau de Jalesnes, our ‘home’ for the next two weeks.

Well, around the back in the Helpx accomodation will be our home!  Information about the chateau can be found here..  The chateau isn’t open to the public as such but does host public events and we have arrived just in time for their first Chamber Music Festival.  One of our first tasks on the evening that we arrived was to help unload a lorry load of new furniture which Jonathan had driven back from the UK.  There were many helpers roped in and we were so busy I didn’t think to take any photos.  Everyone pitched in to get the job done followed by a barbeque out in the garden.

 Jenny, who’s Australian, showed us how to cook beer chickens on the barbecue.

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Beer can BBQ chicken.

For anyone that’s interested you just put a half full beer can into the cavity of the chicken and stand it upright on the barbeque, put the lid down, and let it do it’s stuff.  Simples!  The idea is that the meat keeps moist and falls off the bone when cooked.  

All the helpers enjoyed the BBQ and it was a chance to get to know everyone and try out our near non existent french!  We are trying to do some french learning everyday when we can so hopefully we’ll get better.

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All the helpers – little ones too!
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View of the chateau from the garden.

On Thursday our task was to take the packaging off all the furniture for one of the apartments and assemble what needed to be assembled.

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Unwrapping and assembling the furniture for one of the apartments.

I offered to prepare ‘le diner’ for the evening using up the leftovers of the chicken from the BBQ.  I played it safe with a chicken pie made with white wine from a handy box on the table.

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I didn’t use all that wine in the food!

Jonathan, meanwhile, knocked up something for the musicians that were here!

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Tim doing his usual ‘stand around and look pretty’ routine!

The chateau is magnifique.  We haven’t seen all of it yet but we will as the days go on.  We were able to go out on to the roof terrace off one of the apartments on the second floor yesterday to have a look see.

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Roof terrace.

The space is fantastic with the views over the garden and surrounding countryside.

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View from the terrace on the second floor of the chateau.

With the music festival going on and apartments to furnish we have been really busy helping out with whatever needs doing including catering for guests arriving for the first concert last night which was a bit stressful but all came good in the end.  

Are we back on the road yet……..?

So…………………did we manage to get fuel in Dieppe???  We decided the best bet was to visit l’office de tourisme’ to ask them if they had any inside info on whether there was any fuel to be had anywhere in Dieppe.  We’d travelled 19 miles visiting all the fuel stations on Sunday so didn’t want to waste any more diesel doing the same on Monday.  We were reliably informed by the lovely lady at the tourist office that a L’eclerc 4km away had been restocked with fuel that morning.  In trepidation, we headed to it with the aid of satty nav.  For once she didn’t let us down and to our surprise there wasn’t too much of a queue.  We were in and out in 20 minutes but with only 30 litres of fuel as it was being rationed!  Still, it was enough to get us back on the road and out of Dieppe.  Onwards South!  We stopped in a suburb outside Rouen to try to get some more diesel.  After a refusal of three cards (computer says no) at one fuel station we found another one and successfully topped up the tank.

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A full tank and two happy bunnies!

Phew, Cinderella will still go to the ball and we have more than enough fuel to get to our next Helpx gig. Sighs of relief all round!  We were heading South towards Chateaudun where we were going to stop for the night at an Aire.  We (read me) decided to trust satty nav with getting us there so I thought I’d take my turn at driving.

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My first ‘go’ at driving on this trip.

Tim isn’t keen on navigating so does tend to do most of the driving.  I’m too much of a control freak to leave it all to the sat nav as she and I disagree on nearly every route she plans for us and I end up taking over using the map.  Tim is frequently heard saying ‘but the sat nav says third exit at the roundabout’ with me saying ‘Tim, just ignore her’!  I do need to learn to be a bit less controlling! We arrived at Chateaudun without incident although satty nav took us on a windy narrow road for the last 20km which, of course, I wouldn’t have done.  I would have stuck to the N10 which was arrow straight, a major road and only about 1km further.  See, she’s got a lot to learn.  Tim was meanwhile mute in the passenger seat!  The approach to Chateaudun was pretty impressive with the Chateau rising out of the hillside in the distance.

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Approach to Chateaudun.

The aire we are staying on is free, yep, FREE! for up to 48 hours with just a 2€ charge if you need to top up with water.  It is situated at the foot of the chateau adjacent to the river.

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Yep, free to stay here overnight – Magnifique!

We had a wander around the town which sports some very historic buildings.

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You can see where Ollie is parked (finger pointing on the right!) in relation to the chateau on this handy drawing!

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Ollie parked here!

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View of the chateau from the other side.

 

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You can just see Ollie in the gap in the trees!

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View of the river the other side of the road.

So today we’re going to have a good look round Chateaudun and then move on down to somewhere near Saumur in the Loire Region which is close to where our next Helpx starts tomorrow.

 

Onwards to France……. .

Well, it’s been a while since I last updated the blog but there hasn’t been much gripping news to report so I didn’t think I’d bore you all too much.  We completed our house sitting assignment with the four wire fox terriers last Thursday when their owners returned from Jamaica.  Three dogs had been bathed as they were beginning to resemble grubby little street dogs!

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Chester ‘enjoying’ a bath!

They all came up a treat though and a quick 10 minutes each in the tumble dryer fluffed them up nicely;) ( JOKE!)

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Molly, drying off in the sun after her bath.

 

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Daphne playing dead.  She is alive, honest!

We enjoyed our time in Norfolk but the open road beckoned once again and we were ready to move on.  We stopped overnight on Thursday at the Rumburgh Buck in, err, Rumburgh which was listed on the Heritage Pubs website so worth a look see.  We had a warm welcome from the landlord and enjoyed a meal and a couple of well deserved pints.  Our plans then were to swing past Stowmarket in Suffolk to see my brother, Richard and his wife, another Jane, before heading down to Newhaven to board the ferry to France.

We met up with Richard and Jane at their house for a barbeque on Friday night and caught up on all the latest news (there was quite a lot of it as we’ve not seen them for, ahem, a few years).  Note to self, we must try harder to keep in touch with people especially now we won’t be in the UK very much.  We then, on Saturday, had a leisurely stroll along an old railway line to Hadleigh for a mooch and a pub lunch.  Lilly, their dog, had a lovely time and enjoyed the muddy puddles!  So we said farewell to Richard and Jane and decided to make the drive down to Newhaven on Saturday.

We arrived in Newhaven and thought we’d ask at the ferry port if we were able to change our ferry booking to catch the 11pm ferry to Dieppe that night instead of waiting until our confirmed booking on Sunday at 6pm.  10 minutes later we were very happy bunnies heading out of the ferry port towards Lidl after having paid a £10 amendment fee to get us on the late night ferry!  Whoop!!  We then stocked up at Lidl on tea bags, fruit tea and pork pies!

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These should keep me going for a few months!

Tim troughed his last pork pie for a year whilst waiting in the queue for the ferry.

P1050685Ollie in the queue for the ferry at Newhaven.

We.  Were.  Finally.  Off.  To.  France. 

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So after a few hours sleep on the ferry we disembarked in Dieppe and drove 500 yards to a lay-by around the corner from the port and got our heads down for a few more hours.

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A few hours more sleep after disembarking from the ferry at 5am.

We woke up refreshed at about 8.00am and moved the van to the seafront , had some breakfast and a stroll around Dieppe, before planning our route South.

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Dieppe seafront with FREE parking!

We were heading for Chartres today to have a gander around the cathedral and then onwards to Chateaudun where we were planning to stop for the night.  We just needed to fill up with lovely French diesel which is significantly cheaper than the UK at €1.12 per litre.

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Mmmm, that won’t get us very far.

We had about an eighth of a tank left and deliberately hadn’t filled up in the UK as French diesel would save us approx £15-20 per tank of fuel.  We consulted satty nav to find the nearest fuel station and after the first three seemed to be closed we were beginning to think this was a Sunday closing thing.  However, by the fifth petrol station we were beginning to think there was more to it.  We decamped to a supermarket carpark to consult Google.  Oh poo, the French, it seems, are currently striking over the new labour reforms.  This has lead to a shortage of fuel and panic buying.  We had come in at the tail end of it and soon discovered there was not a drop of diesel to be had in Dieppe.  Nope. Not a drop. Non.  Rien!!  You’ve gotta love the French.  So……………………..queue operation Plan B.  We can’t risk driving further afield to go in search of fuel so we have decided to stick it out in Dieppe and see what happens hoping that filling stations will start to be refuelled tomorrow…….fingers crossed.  We are currently decamped to a McDonalds using their Wi-fi (wee-fee), supping coffee, contemplating our next move.  All is not lost as there are two Aires in Dieppe to stay at and an outdoor swimming pool I may brave if it warms up a bit!  We don’t need to be at our next Helpx assignment until Wednesday so we have a bit of time to play with and it won’t be the end of the world if we don’t get there.  Best laid plans and all that………………………. .

A day out in Great Yarmouth………………… .

As our current house sit is so near to Great Yarmouth it seemed rude not to have a tootle on the bikes there to have a look at what it had to offer.  Now, this Great Yarmouth website would have us believe that we were in for a real treat on our trip to the seaside. We had actually been to Great Yarmouth many years ago whilst on a cycle tour of Norfolk.  As I recall we didn’t stop for very long as it really wasn’t our kind of place.  So we were interested to see if our perceptions had changed at all after 25 years.

Mmmm, well, erm, I think the answer to that question has to be a resounding ‘NO’!  Try as we might we just couldn’t see through the ‘tat’ to find any redeeming features. The beach huts were, erm, less than colourful.

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Great Yarmouth beach huts??!!

I don’t think they were still in use though, but you never know!

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I’m sure these can’t still be in use?

To be fair there were some attractive old buildings if you gazed upwards ignoring what was housed underneath (night clubs/ strip clubs/amusement arcades/beach shops) and The Winter Gardens would be a fantastic building once restored and has an interesting history having been built in Torquay and sold to Great Yarmouth in the early 20th century for £1300.

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The Winter Gardens looking a bit sorry for itself now.

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Pony and trap rides along the seafront.

The beach itself is very loooong and seems very clean and well kept so we had our picnic lunch having a sit in the sun whilst people watching.  It really is a great place for people watching.  At one point I did catch Tim, with his jaw on the floor, ogling a woman in a thong bikini so I decided it was probably better for his blood pressure and facial features if we moved on before her partner caught him!

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So we had a quick tour of the rest of what Great Yarmouth had to offer and made a speedy getaway back to our temporary home.

Another House sitting assignment………….. .

Last Sunday (1 May 2016) we left Yorkshire, saying goodbye to my Mum and Dad, to move on to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk for another House and Pet sitting assignment.  We are staying near Gt Yarmouth for the next 2.5 weeks looking after four Wire Fox Terrier’s.   We met the dogs and owners last Sunday to make sure we knew the dogs’ routines at home and where the most interesting walks are and to reassure the owners that they will have a house and dogs to come back to in 2 weeks!   More on the wires in a minute though.

We spent the rest of Sunday at the seaside town of Pakefield which is probably more known for the Pontins holiday site than anything else.  Do people still go to Pontins???  I suppose they must do but it all looked a bit concentration campish to me.  We had a long walk along the beach past some colourful little beach huts.

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Beach Huts at Pakefield, Norfolk.

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We took in Pakefield Church which has a couple of sheep grazing in the grounds.

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Sheep grazing in the grounds of Pakefield Church.

I ‘googled’ it and they are apparently called Rodney (black face) and Lucy!  Saves on the mowing costs I expect.  Thanks to google I also discovered that the church has a Pet Service in the summer where everybody brings along their pets to enjoy a service of thanks for their pets including pet themed hymns and songs!  They also do baptism’s in the sea so obviously a progressive church me thinks!

On Monday we had a look round Lowestoft  – definitely not to be done again.  I didn’t bother to get the camera out.  Nuff said!  So we had a relaxing couple of days before our house sit started on Tuesday.

So, back to the wires.  They are Molly (11), Chester (8), Hattie (4) and Daphne (1).

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Hattie, Chester, Daphne, Tim, Molly!

Despite their cute looks they are terriers through and through and they are a handful to say the least!  If you give them an inch they’ll take a mile.  It’s alright, we were warned by their owners before they were unleashed on us!  That said, Molly, Chester and Hattie can be pretty lazy, especially in the morning when we have to tip them out of their beds as they refuse to get up!  Daphne’s the youngest so she’s always up and wanting to go out………………well that’s until  I get the lead out and then she disappears under the table!

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Daphne enjoying a walk.

We’ve now got the measure of them (!) and got into a good routine.  We’re enjoying all the walks out and about with them.

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Hattie and Daphne at the Southern end of the beach.

We generally take two at a time as four is quite handful and Molly and Chester, being older, tend not to want to go so far or so fast!

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Sea defences.

We took Daphne down to the ‘Doggy Diner’ at the North end of the beach at Gorleston on Wednesday.  They even sell homemade doggy treats like Salmon Cakes and Tuna Mash in Yorkshire Puds……………yes, that is for the dogs!!  Totally redic but good fun:)

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Daphne goes to the ‘Doggy Diner’!

We have also had some lovely walks through the woods which are a few minutes from the house.

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Chester and Hattie in the woods.

The weather has been tropical for this area at 21 degrees so we’ve finally broken out our shorts.  We could quite get used to living by the seaside.

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Gorleston seafront.

The Tour de Yorkshire…. .

On Friday after we had walked into Knaresborough along the Harrogate Ringway we got into the spirit of things with the Tour de Yorkshire due to roll through the town in the afternoon.  After fortifying ourselves with a Wetherspoons lunch……………well we did still have some vouchers to use up and they do have a sell by date (!)…………we bagged a spot to watch the tour.

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Knaresborough turn out to support the tour.

We placed ourselves where we had a view of ‘the spotty house’ made famous by the Tour de Yorkshire in 2014.

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The ‘spotty house’
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Yorkshire, now the cycling capital of the UK.

The tour was a bit late due to a strong headwind and a crash near the start but we braved the freezing weather.

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I almost missed the lead riders coming through!
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Go ‘Team Sky’

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They look like they’re out for a training ride with all those clothes but it was freezing.
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And then they were gone.
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Dutch backup vehicles.
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Rubbish picture but just managed to get the Wiggins car!

After it was all over (in about 2 minutes) we retired to Blind Jack’s pub which is my Dad’s favourite pub due to the brilliant range of real ales they sell.

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Blind Jack’s, Knaresborough.

It’s also Bertie’s (their Border Terrier) favourite pub as he always gets treats when he goes in there, as does every dog who visits.  Bertie has been known to make a beeline for the pub door even when the pub isn’t open!  The couple that own it have their own brewery which started off in an upstairs room of the pub.  They now have new premises after expansion and call themselves Bad Co and have won many awards for their beers.  If you’re in the area check them out.

We arrived at the station to see the back end of the train leaving the platform so we went back to Wetherspoons to kill an hour over a coffee.  Tim spent the time updating his numerous spreadsheets.  You’ve gotta love a spreadsheet!

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The most work Tim has done in the last month!

Saturday dawned a beautiful sunny day so I suggested we go for a tootle on the bikes.  Our own Tour de Yorkshire so to speak. Unfortunately one mention of the ‘H’ word had  Tim rootling around in cupboards muttering things about needing to ‘sort things out’ and ‘a backlog of van work to do’. I took it that as the ride I’d planned was going to involve plenty of ‘hills’ he would prefer to stay back at base and well, do nothing.  In those situations it’s best just to leave him to it and go out on my own as I will feel guilty at every hill we encounter, like I’ve got a lead weight hovering behind me muttering expletives under it’s breath.

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Can’t remember where I took this!

As it was, it was just as well I went on my own as my average speed over the 27 miles was about 8 miles an hour.  It was hill after hill after hill………….after hill.

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View to Timble village.
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Mmm, not sure why this ewe had a bucket on her head but she looks quite content!

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Almscliff Crag.

Tomorrow we are leaving Yorkshire to head south to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk for another house sit.  Our charges for the next 2 weeks or so will be four wire fox terriers – Molly, Chester, Hattie and Daphne!  If you know what fox terriers are like we probably need our heads seeing to!

 

Walking the Harrogate Ringway….. .

The Harrogate Ringway trail is a 21 mile circular route around the outskirts of Harrogate taking in Knaresborough along the way.  As we now have more time we decided it would be more enjoyable to do the walk over a couple of days rather than cramming it into one day.  Fortunately, we can pick up the path less than a mile from where we are currently staying so we didn’t have to detour too much.

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Views across fields towards Pannal.

 

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Who can resist a lamb??
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A legacy from the Tour de Yorkshire!

We did the north western route first taking us from Pannal across fields and lanes towards Harlow Carr Gardens.

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Woods beyond Harlow Carr.

The path then skirts around the back of the gardens and leads up to Birk Crag where we stopped for a bit of Yorkshire Parkin!

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Birk Crag.
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Irongate bridge – Harrogate’s oldest bridge.
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Triffids??!
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Spruisty Bridge.

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Eventually the path descends down the Nidd Gorge and follows the Nidd pretty much into Knaresborough.

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Bluebell Wood.
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Nidd Viaduct.
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River Nidd.

It took us about 5 hours and was about 13 miles so was a decent walk for us.  Then on Friday we went the other way taking in the Crimple Viaduct and pleasant paths leading into Knaresborough again.

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Near Fulwith Mill Lane.

A shorter walk which took about three hours.

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Crimple Viaduct in the distance.

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Crimple Viaduct from the other side.

 

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Crossing the bridge into Knaresborough.
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What a place to live!

We wanted to get into Knaresborough in time for some lunch as we had planned to watch The Tour de Yorkshire roll through the centre of town in the afternoon.  More on that tomorrow.