Saturday, 4 March 2017

Oh Abbey day...

Today's lovely thing for free? A walk around Kirkstall Abbey

How did I get that? It's always free - go for it!

 I am a walker, it's my joy and my escape. I'm lucky enough to live on the edge of the Peak District so beautiful walks are easy to come by. Last weekend, though, I fancied seeing something new. Kirkstall Abbey is a place I've driven past several times but I have never ventured in. A quick check on the website for opening times and I find it's free - perfect for the blog!

An hour's drive later (with some classic prog to accompany me) and I pull up at the FREE car park. A quick visit to the Abbey House Museum shop (cos it has FREE, very clean toilets) and it's across the road to the Abbey.

The Abbey was founded in 1152 by the Cistercian order and the building was largely completed by 1182. How good is it to live in a country where buildings nearly 1000 years old are still in abundance all over the land and in some cases are completely free to enter?

Kirkstall Abbey is one of the best preserved Abbeys in Britain. Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries removed the power of the houses and the buildings were sold off to fund military campaigns. Some were converted into private houses, others left to ruin or to have the stone taken away for other purposes (bits of Kirkstall went to bridge building in Leeds), yet Large elements of Kirkstall have survived.

Entry is through a shop and visitor centre and a map can be borrowed to direct you around the ruins. Information boards are dotted about to give a potted history of each part of the Abbey. The most interesting fact to me was that the main road into Leeds from this direction ran straight through the aisle of the church and the carved signatures of travellers are still seen.

Once the main road into Leeds

Being free this is a popular site for families. It's been a wet and windy few weeks so the play area was too soggy to coax kids onto it but who needs it when hide and seek is there? The whole site is surrounded by a fence so children will get a bit lost, but can't leave the ruins themselves. With so  many walls and rooms around there were quite a few hide and seek games going on.

I made the most of being in the area by walking a few miles along the Leeds - Liverpool canal nearby. Kingfishers, marsh tits and many other birds serenaded the walk up to Bramley Fall park and back. I'll be back to see this is Summer when the trees are in full green, although the number of cyclists will also increase at this time. This is a VERY popular cycle route but the cyclists were all courteous. Back at the Abbey there is a lot of open green space inside and outside the ruins and picnic benches aplenty.

Hide and seek

The people of Leeds are very lucky to have all this on their doorstep.

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