Setting for Eden Chronicles.

Northern England Topographical Marked.jpg

Northern England

London is just out of eyeshot, bottom right.

My Eden Chronicles books are set on the edges of the Yorkshire Moors in the county of North Yorkshire in England, UK. The edges of these moors are studded with rich scenery; heather-clad hills, great rocky cliff-faces. and gnarled monuments.

The history is immense. Bloody battles were fought here through the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War, and the landscape boasts tumble-down monasteries like Riveaulx, Byland and Fountains Abbey (obliterated by Henry VIII during the Reformation), to the dramatic, sweeping vistas over the Vale of York towards the Yorkshire Dales on the other side (see map above).

I used to drive past the moors every day to work and notice something different every day. The light bouncing off the higher hills. The leaf colours in autumn, the wild-flowers in summer. This is an ancient, beautiful and varied landscape right in the heart of England. I thought it might be helpful to provide a small map for those of you who are unfamiliar with North Yorkshire in the UK.

This area is well-known as the location for the writings and TV dramas of the famous vet, James Herriot, (All Creatures Great and Small) whose veterinary practice was in the town of Thirsk, near Upsall. He used to attend to my wife’s grandparents livestock. Some of the characters in Herriot’s books are - so she says - based on her family, who have farmed these parts for centuries! My brother-in-law farms below the Moors to this day.

Oh, and by the way, the village of Upsall actually exists. It’s a tiny hamlet, perched on the edge of the moors. A medieval, now renovated, castle overlooks the expanse of the Vale of York below and, on a fine day, you really can see across the Vale of York to the Dales on the peaks on the other side.

Here's the view, I'd like to think, from Eden Cottage:

 View over the Vale of York from Sutton Bank

View over the Vale of York from Sutton Bank

I liked the name of "Upsall", so I knocked on the castle door one day and asked them if it was okay if I used the name in my books. They agreed! Upsall school, however, is made-up, although I'm pretty sure there was a school there once upon a time.
In the Vale of York below Upsall are the market town of Northallerton and Thirsk. Keep going west and you'll pretty quickly end up in the Yorkshire Dales.

One of the towns you'll discover there is Masham (pronounced mass-um) and a short distance above this is Swinton Park, which of course, is where Stone and his cronies make their headquarters to deal with the flood and pestilence. In real life, Swinton Park is a marvellous country hotel boasting all sorts of beautiful spas and walks and dining delights. Have a look at it here. Impressive. Picture below.

 Swinton Park Hotel, the real one, where my headquarters of the disaster is based!

Swinton Park Hotel, the real one, where my headquarters of the disaster is based!

The cliffs and forests and rugged villages and rustic stone farmsteads dotted here and there are typical of my idea for the setting of the Eden Chronicles.

And as for the school, it might be worth looking at the monasteries of Riveaulx, Byland and the World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey. While these are now ruined (I've spent many happy hours picnicking, playing hide and seek among the fallen boulders at Fountains - a must see BTW - and generally losing myself in the medieval ruins, letting my imagination wander off…) I see the school rather like the York 'shambles' area, below.

 The York ‘Shamble’, an idea of the village of Upsall. Note the ‘kissing’ houses, where Kemp meets Cain.

The York ‘Shamble’, an idea of the village of Upsall. Note the ‘kissing’ houses, where Kemp meets Cain.

And here’s a picture of the ruins at World Heritage site Fountains Abbey followed by a farmstead in the Dales. You can really understand the ruin near Eden Cottage with a picture like this.

 UNESCO World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey

UNESCO World Heritage site of Fountains Abbey

These craggy buildings are what I had in mind for the ruins above Eden Cottage.

What do you think? Was this what you thought?

Yorkshire folk are very proud, and very pleased with their county often referring to it as 'God's own country'. (Makes sense to start the storm here, then:))

I hope this snippet gives you a tiny insight into the immense character of this evocative landscape of North Yorkshire.

Let me know if you've been here and what you thought of it.

 Byland Abbey

Byland Abbey

 More Ruins at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire.

More Ruins at Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire.