In response to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency we regret we are unable to offer tours at the moment. Click for full statement.

My favourite…

Blue Badge Guides show you their favourite places around the UK

VIEW

My favourite view is from Sutton Bank in North Yorkshire. Rising to 1000ft, it offers a superb panorama from the South to the West, the highlight being the wide open spaces of Wensleydale. In the foreground are Thirsk and Thirlby, where novelist James Herriot lived, worked and then retired. It always amazes me how he could walk up the steep path with his two dogs when he was well into his 70s! On a clear day, you can see 30 miles away to the power stations of West Yorkshire. With gliders overhead and Thirsk Racecourse, the ‘Home of the English Thoroughbred’, behind us, it is truly a magical place.

Steve Sutcliffe, Yorkshire Blue Badge Guide

A man in blue overalls holding a rail of Craster Kippers from L. Robson & Sons, in Craster, Northumberland

A man in blue overalls holding a rail of Craster Kippers from L. Robson & Sons, in Craster, Northumberland

WALK

My favourite walk is along a three-mile stretch of the Northumberland coast. Starting at Craster, famous for kippers that have been smoked here for more than 100 years. The village has a little harbour where thousands of tons of the local Whin Sill rock was exported, much of it used to make London’s kerbstones.

The ruined Dunstanburgh Castle dominates the skyline – it was one of the biggest and grandest fortifications in the north of England. Inaccessible by road, it stands on a headland surrounded by the sea on both sides. In early summer, the noise of the nesting seabirds on the cliffs under the castle almost drowns out the crashing waves – there are kittiwakes, fulmar, shag and razorbills. There are interesting geological formations on the beach, where volcanic pressure shaped the rocks into folds and ripples.

There are a couple of lovely pubs in Newton-by-the-Sea, perfect for a lunch of crab sandwiches, kippers or locally caught fish – with chips, of course.

Laura Rhodes, North East England Blue Badge Guide

Ripon Workhouse, Yorkshire

 

Ripon Workhouse Museum, Yorkshire 

MUSEUM

My favourite museum is Ripon Workhouse Museum. It provides a sobering glimpse into the lives of people who fell on hard times. All aspects of the ‘inmates’ lives were regimented, from the identikit clothes they had to wear to the daily schedule of events. The living accommodation is recreated together with the more comfortable rooms of the Master and Matron – often a married couple. Volunteers are restoring the gardens, and there are plans to open up some of the other buildings for community use. Other former workhouses have survived in Yorkshire, but Ripon has the most complete complex, including outhouses and a ‘piggery’ – minus the pig!

Costumed volunteers play the role of the Guardians who were responsible for the overall management of the site. Children enjoy dressing up in clothes provided and can endure a lesson in an old-fashioned classroom.

Rosemary Barnes, Yorkshire Blue Badge Guide

Phone box

Phone box

PHONE BOX

There are over 75 million mobile phones in the UK at present – more than one phone for every member of the population. So it’s hardly surprising that old-fashioned telephone boxes, which require coins or a credit card, are little used these days. Some have found new uses as WiFi hotspots or ATMs, while others provide photo opportunities for tourists. My favourite is in the village of Kenn in Devon, near Exeter. It is a lovely village with thatched roof houses, the old Ley Arms pub and a beautiful church. If you are lucky enough to go there, look out for their red telephone box which is now used as a library. You just open up and take or leave books as you see fit. There is no registration, paperwork or fines for late returns, and it provides a new use for a much-loved local feature.

Ed Lerner, London Blue Badge Guide

Bay and pier in Llandudno, Wales

Bay and pier in Llandudno, Wales

VIEW

My favourite view is from the headland of Llandudno’s Great Orme. It takes in the magnificently oriental Victorian Pier and then stretches away across the bay. Llandudno is often described as ‘The Queen of the Welsh Resorts’ and the pier is her crown. However many times I enjoy this view, walking my dog or with visiting groups, in sunshine and rain, I always marvel at the intricacy of the delicate 19th century iron lace work that continues to support the longest pier in Wales, reaching out to sea for 2,295ft (700 meters) and welcoming steam boats, fishermen, visitors and tour guides alike.

Michael Thompson, Wales Blue Badge Guide

The South Drawing Room. John Soane Museum

The South Drawing Room. John Soane Museum

BUILDING

The Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. I will always remember my first visit to the John Soane’s Museum. I was a young French student of about 18-19, and my feeling of sheer wonder is still very vivid. I had the exhilarating and somehow childish feeling that I had discovered a hidden treasure that only I knew about. Every single room of the great architect’s house was full of aesthetic surprises, and to me, the culmination was – and still is – the discovery of William Hogarth’s series of paintings: A Rake’s Progress. Since then, I have sent all my friends on a visit, and I always urge
them not to read anything about the place beforehand. I want them to experience that ‘wow’ moment.

As a new guide I hope I can share my love of this place. It is at a crossroads between the Enlightenment and the Romantic Age, it is a true work of the imagination, and it has even more to see now that it has been recently and beautifully restored.

Muriel Carré, London Blue Badge Guide