Settle, England, and into Scotland

Some days on our Insight tour are packed with sight-seeing.  Others are quieter days as our bus travels from one area of the United Kingdom to another.  The day after York was a travel day.  We needed to get from York to Edinburgh, which meant we spent most of the day on the bus.

We stopped for a very brief time in the village of Settle, England. Settle is a small market town in North Yorkshire.  It was just a potty break, but we had 20 minutes, so Tom and I decided to walk around.  For such a small town, Settle was remarkably vibrant.  Every storefront had a business in it.

We stopped at a bakery our tour guide recommended and got a piece of caramel shortbread.  Shortbread is a very UK sweet.  The actual shortbread is hard and crumbly, but it is often paired with caramel, chocolate, or some other delicious flavor.  The bakery was called Ye Olde Naked Man.  We debated whether the name helped or hurt business.  But there was a line at the bakery so it didn’t seem to be hurting.

We ducked into a Boots to get a couple of needed items.  Then we walked past the market square which was bustling with several outdoor shops and lots of other stores around it.  Some of the people on our tour were buying fresh strawberries from a fruit stand.


Our last stop was the Settle Parish Church.  It wasn’t grand or particularly historic, but the cemetery was filled with old and interesting tomb stones.  Tom and I went inside the church which had some lovely stained windows and a plain altar.  It also had a gorgeous marble baptistry.  Unlike the older churches, this one was built after the Protestant Reformation, so it didn’t have a lot of flourishes and fancy stuff.  I could imagine the Vicar of Dibley walking through the door.  Time to climb back on the bus.

Our next stop of the day was the town of Grasmere, known for its mint cake and gingerbread.  We were having a lunch break and could also visit Wordsworth’s grave in the parish church cemetery.  It poured down rain most of our hour in Grasmere so Tom and I ate inside a cafe.  We usually order take out and find a park bench.

After lunch we walked across a bridge to the church.  We found William Wordsworth’s grave tucked away in the back of the cemetery.  There were several other Wordsworths and it took us a few minutes to figure out which one was the right one, especially in the rain.

We were wet but not bedraggled when we got back to the bus.  Nigel provided each of us a Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake and piece of Sarah Nelson’s Celebrated Grasmere Gingerbread.  Tom and I ate our gingerbread right away.  It was like an oatcake with a very gingery taste.  Not at all like the gingerbread we eat in the US, which is usually more like a molasses cake.  But still very tasty.

Our final stop for the day was a potty break in Gretna Green, just over the boarder into Scotland.  Greta Green is famous as a place that couples could go to get married under Scottish law rather than English.  Scottish law allowed boys as young as 14 and girls as young as 12 to be married without their parents’ consent.  In addition, just about anyone could solemnize the marriage with two witnesses.  The local blacksmith performed the ceremonies in Gretna Green, which were legally binding.

Tom, especially, wanted to see the blacksmith’s shop and was very disappointed that it was closed.  Greta Green is completely given over to tourism these days, although they still do marriages in the Famous Blacksmiths Shop.  One interesting thing to appeal to tourists is the Courtship Maze.  One person goes in one side of the maze, the other person goes in the other side.  Then they try to find each other.  We didn’t have time to do the maze.

After these brief but interesting stops, our bus finally arrived in Edinburgh.  It was a long day, but Tom and I found some enjoyable things to explore.