It’s my last afternoon sitting on the little balcony, perched on the bright green bistro set looking out across the fields and it feels very different today.
I’m wrapped in a chunky cardigan wondering how long it will be before I escape inside to the cosiness of a warm armchair.
The wind has really got up today and the temperature dropped to about 18 degrees with a few spots of rain so it feels a little autumnal.
We started the morning at Duncombe Park in Helmsley. Its a grand stately home in miles of parkland grazed by sheep and enjoyed by picnickers. It has a splendid view of the heather clad Moors, the fine Castle ruins and the famous Walled Garden.
The National Centre for Birds of Prey has made it’s home in the grounds of Duncombe Park and we visited this morning just in time for a cappuccino and rather good slice of Treacle Tart at the Owl House Cafe followed by the first Flying Demonstration.
The White Tailed Sea Eagle was out first – the largest bird of prey in the British Isles with a wing span of 8ft. Atlantis was 22 years old and was only just learning to fly after a life in captivity. She hadn’t yet mastered the trick of using the atmospheric thermals so was quite clumsy in the air and made a few close dives towards the audience. Entertaining but quite majestic at the same time.
The Centre was started 3 years ago by local boy Charlie Hemp who has loved Birds of Prey for over 30 year. As well as having a fine collection of Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, Kites, Owls and Buzzards from all over the world, Charlie and his team do a great work of conservation of special breeds and their habitats as well as rehabilitation of sick or injured birds. Atlantis might well live until she’s 65 whilst her wild relatives will only make it to around 25.
I’ve always has a fascination with owls since a young girl but had no idea that there are only 6 species of owls found naturally in Britain: Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl and Snowy Owl.
I’d love to know which breed of Owls make their home in the woods on the Great Orme – the ones we hear hooting to each other at night.
Friday is Market Day in Helmsley so we settled for a tasty lunch in a little mediterranean cafe by the river and then headed home with Little Legs for a quiet afternoon and perhaps a cheeky nap in the Cottage.
Tonight we will curl up on the settee, maybe watch a DVD, read our books, cuddle Little Legs, and enjoy the last night before we head back to North Wales.
I hope you’re enjoyed our travels this week and we’ve given you a little flavour of how wonderful this part of North Yorkshire is to visit.
It’s been fun having your company.
See ya …