Travel Journal March 16, 1999
The Yorkshire Dales and beyond


Well, it was finally time to leave York. I had planned on taking the train to Edinburgh, however two things changed my mind. First, I wanted to see the English countryside at close hand, and also I wanted to go to a particular place which could only be reached by car, specifically a particular Neolithic site that I had read about in the book I had bought at the British Museum.

I rented this car, a Fiat Punto.

Driving was a rather scary experience at first. Not only did I have to drive on the left-hand side of the road, but I had to interpret strange road signs, I had to drive a stick shift (which I had not done for almost two decades) and I had to shift with my left hand.

When I first got the car, I unlocked it and sat down, only to discover to my dismay that I was sitting in the passenger seat. "I must be completely out of my mind", I said to myself, thinking that there was no way I was going to get out of this with my skin intact. But by following other drivers and imitating what they did, I was able to get acclimated in a fairly short time.

My route towards Edinburgh was rather circuitous. I decided to cut through the Yorkshire Dales, through winding country roads, just to see what it was like.

Unfortunately, although the weather had been lovely for the last several days, it decided to turn foul today. It was misty most of the day, with some drizzling. Not a good day for picture taking.

Here's some pictures of Yorkshire.

I know Gromit! We'll go somewhere where there's CHEESE!

It appears I'm not the first one to think of this. I bought some Wensleydale cheese and ate it - It was a bit crumbly, with a slight cottage cheesey taste.

One thing that struck me was how similar all of the rural buildings are to one another, they seem to all be made of the same ochre-colored stone, the same stone used in the mortarless walls that seperate the plots of land from one another. I hadn't realized how pervasive these walls are, seems like a lot of work compared to something like a split-rail fence.

The trip through the dales took a lot longer than I anticipated. Worse, an accident had completely blocked the roadway, not twenty meters from the motorway entrance leading to Penrith! I had to take an uncertain detour, but I was helped by a friendly truck driver who let me follow him part way to the next motorway entrance. (For you Americans, motorways are Britain's equivalent of freeways.)

Lesser Salkeld, near Penrith

I had wanted to see "Long Meg and her Daughters", which is one of the lesser-known but better preserved stone circles.

This place was difficult to find. It does not appear on any of my tourist maps. In addition, most tourist sites have friendly brown road signs indicating how to get there - this one does not. After negotiating an 8 mile drive over a maze of country roads (and stopping for directions three times), I was rewarded by the sight of a small, plain sign: "Long Meg Druids Circle, 1/2 mile". (Yes, I know that the druids had nothing to do with the building of the circles, but it's interesting that the maker of the sign didn't.)

When I got there, I was the only person in sight. I walked among the stones for about 20 minutes until someone else showed up. It was really quite a unique experience.

The "daughters" are about 50 stones arranged in a large ellipse about half the size of a football field. Long Meg is a taller, upright stone which is outside the circle.

Miraculously, the weather had cleared by the time I got there, and I was able to take these photos. (It got misty again shortly thereafter).

Long Meg


I had kind of wanted to see Hadrian's Wall, but by the time I got to Carlisle, it was getting pretty dark. Anyway, from what I've heard, what's left of the wall is mostly wrecked (Hmmm, I smell sour grapes...)

I reached Edinburgh a few hours later. Rick had mentioned staying in a place called Sibbett's, but I didn't know the address. Browsing through a local bookstore, I found a reference to a place called "Sibbett House". I drove to the neighborhood, but couldn't find the name "Sibbett" on any of the houses. I inquired at a nearby pub, but they had never heard of it. I finally asked a gentleman who was entering his house, if he knew where I could find "Sibbett House".

He replied, "Oh, that's me. That is I'm John Sibbett. I'm retired now. Oh, but don't worry, I've turned over the guest house to new management."

Anyway, he led me to a house across the street, #26 Northumberland Street, with a little brass plaque that said "Sibbett". It was only three doors down from the pub where I had inquired earlier, you would think that they would have a clue...the manager (I never did catch his name) was very nice, he even took my car keys and re-parked my car in a safe place.