The Great Holiday Home Show, formerly known as the Lawns Show, is held at the Great Yorkshire Showground, just outside the famous spa town of Harrogate.

After a very long pause, mainly thanks to Covid-19, the event, which showcases the latest tourers from some of the best caravan manufacturers, returned last year. Of course, we had to be there!

Kay and I had a few choices to make for our trip. Harrogate is within travelling distance from home, so we could just go to the show for the day, although it would make it rather a long day.

Otherwise, we could have an overnight stay in a hotel, or make more of a break of it and take our Coachman Laser 575 Xtra.

You’ll have guessed that the latter option won, so it was then a case of finding the best caravan site for the trip. The Cud Life, at Killinghall, just north of Harrogate, a former Camping & Caravanning Club CS, has recently become a licensed campsite, accommodating up to 15 units at any one time.

Cud Life
The Cud Life hosts up to 15 units

We arrived on a lovely sunny day, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting outside the caravan enjoying a cup of Yorkshire Tea (what else could we drink here?) and taking in the fabulous view – we could see the White Horse at Kilburn, on the edge of the North York Moors, in the distance.

Next morning, enjoying a leisurely coffee and planning a lazy day, we got chatting to Mark, brother of campsite owner Tanya. He asked if we’d been to The Coldstones Cut. Been to it? We’d never heard of it, but the more Mark told us about it, the more it sounded like somewhere to visit.

The Coldstones Cut

The drive to The Coldstones Cut took us along beautiful Nidderdale. Parked in the small car park at the bottom of the hill, we made the walk to the place itself.

It is most bizarre! Walkways and viewing points have been constructed right on the edge of a large (still operational) quarry. The views of the quarry and in the opposite direction are incredible. RAF Menwith Hill, with its golf ball domes, is in the distance, and Harrogate just beyond.

The Coldstones Cut
Public art at The Coldstones Cut

There’s also a huge bike, which is part of the artwork of The Coldstones Cut, the brainchild of artist Andrew Sabin. Although access for the less able might be a bit too challenging (there’s a steep walk up), if you are in the area, I’d recommend visiting.

Kay’s preference is to wander around stately homes, and as luck would have it, Ripley Castle is barely a couple of miles up the road from The Cud Life. It’s part of the Historic Houses organisation and only open for guided tours of the house.

While awaiting the time for our tour, we enjoyed an excellent coffee in the café. The 45-minute tour took us through various rooms, where we were told often hilarious anecdotes by our informative guide, Sylvia. We heard about Ripley’s turbulent history from the 15th century to the present.

After a wander around the grounds, we made our way through the village of Ripley (pausing to buy a sandwich from the Ripley Store) and back to the car. From there, we retraced our steps from the previous day, before turning towards Brimham Rocks.

Before we got there, Kay thought that Brimham Rocks would just be a small pile of stones commemorating some event or other, but she was in for a surprise.

Brimham Rocks
Strange formations at Brimham Rocks

It’s many years since I last visited there (I seem to recall it was with my parents, when we were staying in Swaledale in our 1975 Ace Courier!), and I had forgotten just how spectacular some of these very strange rock formations are.

Set high up on a hill, Brimham Rocks is a weather-eroded outcrop of Millstone Grit and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s amazing to see huge boulders perched on top of what appear to be impossibly small bases, and visitors are free to walk and climb among them. After the unique experience of The Coldstones Cut, the equally striking Brimham Rocks began to make us think there must be something in the water of the River Nidd!

Castles and gardens in North Yorkshire

Next morning, after meeting up with my parents in Betty’s Café Tea Rooms at RHS Harlow Carr, on the outskirts of Harrogate, Kay and I made our way to somewhere we’d not visited for many years: Knaresborough.

My parents are very keen gardeners, so Harlow Carr is their ideal destination, but not of so much interest to us.

Knaresborough and the River Nidd
Knaresborough and the River Nidd

In Knaresborough, parking in the large Pay and Display car park at York Place, we walked back into the town, where Kay had a browse around the shops and I watched the world go by. It was lunchtime for the local school, with many students making a beeline for one of the pie shops on the market square, and seeing that it appeared to be popular with them, we joined the queue. Thankfully, there was a plentiful supply of goodies when it was our turn!

Food in hand, we made our way to the nearby castle and grounds, where we found a seat in the shadow of the castle keep ruins, overlooking the view of the railway viaduct crossing the Nidd in the valley below. Of course, we’d chosen a day to visit Knaresborough when things were closed, so we missed out on the Courthouse Museum, and owing to the weather taking a turn for the worse, Mother Shipton’s Cave, too, the legendary birthplace of England’s most famous prophetess. For us, it was back to the caravan for the rest of the day.

The Courthouse Museum
The Courthouse Museum, Ripon

Although we had passes that allowed us entry to The Great Holiday Home Show on any of the days, we planned to go on the Tuesday. Despite the fact that over the weekend, it had been hot and sunny, Tuesday was of course the day that the heavens opened!

Thankfully, the rain abated, so we were able to have a look at all the 2024 caravans, motorhomes and holiday homes that were on display. This time, my wallet remained well and truly closed for business.

Luckily, the following day, normal (sunny) weather resumed. We both love the ancient cathedral city of Ripon, which was a short drive from The Cud Life, so that was our next stop. Parking in the large Cathedral/St Mary’s car park, which is almost in the city centre, we walked into Market Square, where we enjoyed a coffee in our usual place, The Wakeman’s House café.

Ripon shops
Browsing the Ripon shops

For a thousand years, Ripon policed its own streets, and from the 13th to the 16th century, the Wakeman was the man who was responsible for the town’s security, issuing fines to offenders, and held accountable if any burglary were to happen on his watch.

At 9pm every night, the Ripon Hornblower sets the night watch, blowing the horn at the four corners of the obelisk in Market Square, a tradition that apparently dates back to the times of the Viking incursions.

Later, we walked down to the canal basin before going up the hill to the cathedral. As many of you will know, I love church choral and organ music, and I have fond memories of being in the organ loft at Ripon ‘assisting’ one of our sons while he accompanied several services there. Although it’s relatively small in the great scheme of things, Ripon Cathedral does have a lot of historic charm.

The nave of Ripon Cathedral
The nave of Ripon Cathedral

One of the most unusual sights in the cathedral is the wooden hand, built into the organ case in 1695, when a rebuild of the organ meant the organist could not conduct the choir himself. The hand was used by the organist to conduct the choir via a lever at the organ console.

Back on the beat

After enjoying a picnic in a small park, we visited the Prison & Police Museum. If you’re in the area for a day or two (or likely to revisit within a year), you can buy a joint ticket covering the Prison & Police Museum, the Courthouse Museum and the Workhouse Museum, which is valid for a year.

Police bike
The Prison & Police Museum, Ripon

Wandering around the Prison & Police Museum, there were many familiar artifacts that made me feel old! I lost count of the number of times I said to Kay, “We had those,” or “We did that,” recalling my policing days. In one room, there was a picture that had been brought from the former Police Training Centre at RAF Dishforth, showing new recruits the police rank structure, something I must have seen there (just a few years ago now!).

When I commented on it to a member of staff, she told me she hadn’t realised RAF Dishforth had been a training centre for civilian police, she thought it had just been military. She was fascinated to learn that it was a regional centre taking in new recruits from about 10 different counties. I can still see the trainee RAF pilots doing ‘circuits and bumps’ along the runway while we were in classrooms learning different aspects of the law!

After being put in the stocks (for photographic purposes, you understand), we made our way to the Courthouse Museum, which stands in the shadow of the cathedral.

The place was tiny, but was still used as a local magistrates’ court until 1998. It brought back memories from my early police service, when most towns had their own courthouse. Speaking with one of the guides, she said she’d worked as an usher in that very court before going on to do administrative work there. We spent quite a while reminiscing (while Kay stood patiently in the dock!).

Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit the Workhouse Museum on this occasion, but we’ve got the 12-month tickets, so we’ll be back in Ripon before long.

Our final day saw us making the drive to Skipton. Parking at the spacious Bailey car park (£4.50 for all-day parking or £2.50 after 2pm), it was then only a short walk to Skipton Castle. This is one of the most complete and well-preserved medieval castles in the whole of England.

Skipton Castle
The 14th-century Skipton Castle

You enter the beautiful castle grounds via the fortified gatehouse, from where you can visit various rooms, from the Banqueting Hall to the dungeon and everything in between. The castle was granted to Robert, the first Lord Clifford of Skipton, by Edward II in 1310.

Although ‘slighted’ (deliberately destroyed) by order of Oliver Cromwell following the Civil War, the castle was later restored by Lady Anne Clifford and remained the Clifford seat until 1676.

Skipton Castle courtyard
Peaceful courtyard at Skipton Castle

I remember a childhood visit to Skipton with my parents, when we saw two cars at the castle, bearing the numberplates FAT 1 and FAT 2. When I mentioned this to one of the guides, he said they were still on cars used by the current owners of the castle, the Fattorini family. After visiting the castle, we walked down the main street to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Basin, where many narrowboats were moored.

Leeds and Liverpool Canal Basin
Leeds and Liverpool Canal Basin

On our way back to the site, we called in at Embsay Station, one end of the heritage Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway.

Although we were staying just on the outskirts of Harrogate, we never actually managed to go into the spa town during this trip. However, as The Great Holiday Home Show will be there again in 2024, I’m sure we’ll be back for a return visit.

Embsay Station
Embsay Station

Get further trip inspiration by finding out how Elaine and Joe Ormerod got on when they set off on a tour to Newark. Victor Charles also fills us in on how his trip to the beautiful Isle of Purbeck in Dorset went.

Planning a tour to North Yorkshire

Way to go to North Yorkshire

From the roundabout junction with the A59, turn onto the A61 towards Ripon. In 0.8 miles, turn right onto the farm lane (signs for Cooking Fantastic on the adjacent fence). Continue along the lane for 0.3 miles (ignoring the lane off to the right leading to an adjacent farm). Stop outside the Cookshop and don’t drive onto the site.

From the A61 north, drive through Killinghall and after passing the last properties, the farm lane is on the left in approximately 200m.

Where we stayed for our tour to North Yorkshire

The Cud Life

Located on a working farm, The Cud Life is a small and immaculately kept campsite overlooking the Vale of York. It is slightly sloping and there are a number of hardstanding pitches. All pitches have access to EHU. The site has a small amenities block and there’s a Cookshop, selling a range of delicious homemade wares.

The Cud Life, Ripon Road, Killinghall, Harrogate HG3 2AU, 01423 565 855. 

Our outfit

Land Rover Discovery towing a 2023 Coachman Laser 575 Xtra

Caravan on site
Pitched up

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