Location and Inspiration

It’s not difficult to be inspired by Yorkshire – the stunning countryside, the fabulous people and the delicious food make it very, very easy. My books all have Yorkshire settings, and I’ve combined fictional locations with real towns, cities and villages to give a real sense of place. Here, I’m sharing some photographs of the destinations I’ve visited which have played some part in my stories – whether they’ve been mentioned directly, or whether they’ve simply been the inspiration for “similar” fictional locations. I’m also sharing places I visited to carry out research, or just enjoy some tasty food!


Not based on one particular village, Bramblewick was inspired by several moorland villages that I have visited over the years. I took little bits from Goathland, from Thornton-le-Dale and from Hutton-le-Hole, as well as a few others, and created my ideal little village nestling on the Moors, with a beck running alongside the main street, and a stone bridge to carry you over the water into the village. Sheep wander the streets, just as they do in several of these places. The North York Moors are stunning, and the villages dotted around the area are well worth a visit.

Goathland on the North York Moors. *INSPIRATION* Goathland is one of the villages that inspired me when I created Bramblewick.
Sheep wander freely around Goathland – I love them!
Mummy and baby in Goathland, May 2018
Thatched cottage, Thornton-le-Dale.
Cottages, Thornton-le-Dale


I use Whitby as the anchor in most of my books. It gives a sense of a real location if my villages and towns are near a factual place, and Whitby is the perfect place. Several of my characters visit Whitby in the books, and it’s mentioned many times. I visit Whitby as often as I can, having first set foot there when I was fourteen and falling immediately in love with it.

How beautiful is this scene? Whitby May 2018
You can’t beat fresh fish and chips in Whitby!
Whitby Abbey taken by Michael Beckwith (Unsplash)
View of the sea from the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey.
St Mary’s church, on the cliff top at Whitby
Caedmon’s Cross.
Stunning view from the 199 steps
Church Street, towards the steps up to the Abbey.
Path from the Abbey, Whitby.







Whitby Abbey, October 2017


The setting for my Moorland Heroes series. Both Resisting Mr Rochester and Saving Mr Scrooge were set in Moorland locations. There is a crossover in my books, so locations from one series may well be mentioned in another. For instance, in Saving Mr Scrooge one of the main characters lives in Farthingdale, the neighbouring village to Kearton Bay, and the other lives in Moreton Cross, a village which is frequently mentioned in the Kearton Bay books. The flagship store owned by Mr Rochester is located in York, and York is also visited by characters in one of my Bramblewick books. I like this sense of creating a whole fictional world, rather than just one village that exists in isolation, and of using real places like Whitby and York to anchor them to an area.

Blue skies on the moors. The villages and landscapes of the North York Moors are the setting for my Moorland Heroes books.
B2 Moors above Goathland
The village of Goathland was one of the locations that helped me create Bramblewick, another series with a Moorland setting.
B1 Yorkshire Moors just outside Goathland
The Yorkshire Moors in October


Unlike my other books, Skimmerdale is set over in the Yorkshire Dales. I based Skimmerdale on the real Swaledale, and the village of Beckthwaite is Thwaite in real life, with Muker becoming Camacker and Kirkby Skimmer loosely based on Richmond. Instead of a castle, however, I gave the market town a ruined abbey instead, and I imagined this one standing there – beautiful Rievaulx Abbey, which is one of the loveliest places I’ve visited.

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INSPIRATION! Rievaulx Abbey is how I picture the ruined abbey at Kirkby Skimmer in the Skimmerdale series.
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Beautiful ruins of Rievaulx
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New friends at Rievaulx
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Middleham Castle, Yorkshire Dales. I visit the Dales as often as I can to get back in the “Skimmerdale” vibe!
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Middleham Castle views
Masham, one of my favourite places.
Thwaite, Swaledale
Dry stone walls in the Dales (Pixabay)
Stone barns in the Yorkshire Dales (Pixabay)
Entrance to Richmond Castle. Richmond is the inspiration for Kirkby Skimmer.


Most readers know by now that Kearton Bay is inspired by the beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay, a few miles south of Whitby. Many don’t know, however, that Kearton Hall was inspired by a stunning stately home in East YorkshireBurton Agnes Hall. I visited the hall on several occasions to get a real feel for Kearton Hall, and I totally fell in love with this house. I have to keep reminding myself, every time I go, that I’m not going to bump into Will and Lexi! My Kearton Bay characters often visit Helmston/Helmsley, Scarborough and Whitby, and there are frequent mentions of Farthingdale, Moreton Cross, Bramblewick and Thornley Beck. Many of these villages and towns feature in other books, too.

the reading room
INSPIRATION! This room is the inspiration for the reading room at Kearton Hall in Once Upon a Long Ago, where Will and Nat have their confronation.
The King’s Bedroom at Burton Agnes Hall was the inspiration for the Earl’s Bedroom in Once Upon a Long Ago – a room with a secret!
Beautiful Burton Agnes Hall
Burton Agnes Hall aka Kearton Hall
View of Scarborough Castle, which played a part in Once Upon a Long Ago
RESEARCH! I visited the grave of Anne Bronte and saw this stone laid by the Bronte Society when I was researching Once Upon a Long Ago
Anne Bronte’s grave, Scarborough, which is mentioned in Once Upon a Long Ago
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INSPIRATION! Robin Hood’s Bay ~ or, as I like to think of it, Kearton Bay. 🙂
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INSPIRATION! Robin Hood’s Bay, looking towards what became The Kearton Arms in the Kearton Bay series.
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Sea view Robin Hood’s Bay
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Robin Hood’s Bay landscape
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Robin Hood’s Bay
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INSPIRATION! This lovely waterside walk in Robin Hood’s Bay became Water’s Edge in the Kearton Bay books.
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Robin Hood’s Bay
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INSPIRATION! Beach at Robin Hood’s Bay. This is where I visualised Eddie taking his donkeys to give rides on the sands in the Kearton Bay books.
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Wide sands of Robin Hood’s Bay


York is mentioned in many of my books – particularly in Saving Mr Scrooge and Resisting Mr Rochester, where Ethan Rochester has his flagship department store in the city, and in the third Bramblewick book, Fresh Starts at Folly Farm, where Rachel and Xander spend a day wandering around York, visiting the York Castle Museum and exploring The Shambles. I seem to spend a lot of time in York lately, so it’s not surprising I use it extensively. Plus, it’s such a beautiful city. You can’t fail to be inspired.

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York Castle (Clifford’s Tower)
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York Castle Museum, where Xander and Rachel spent a very happy couple of hours in Fresh Starts at Folly Farm
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INSPIRATION! York’s sweet history. The confectionery producers of York inspired me to write about Carroll’s Confectionary in Saving Mr Scrooge. So much chocolate!
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Street scene, York Castle Museum
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Street Scene at YCM


Mallow Magic is the fictional gourmet marshmallow business run by Eliza and Rose in the Kearton Bay novels. It was inspired by the real life Leeds-based business, Art of Mallow, which I read about in an edition of Yorkshire Life Magazine. I contacted the owner of Art of Mallow, Philippa, asking for permission to mention the business during my launch party for There Must Be an Angel, and explaining the reason why. Not only did she kindly agree, but she donated some gourmet marshmallows to give away as prizes! I had to try the mallows for myself first, of course – and yes, they’re delicious! I was thrilled when, during a follow-up interview with the magazine, Philippa kindly gave me and Angel a mention. My first taste of fame! 😉 To find out more about Art of Mallow, click here.

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INSPIRATION! Reading about the Yorkshire company, Art of Mallow, inspired me to create Mallow Magic in the Kearton Bay books.
A mention for There Must Be an Angel in Yorkshire Life, thanks to Art of Mallow.
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An Art of Mallow Easter egg. A gift from DH who can, sometimes, be quite thoughtful!


Writing Saving Mr Scrooge about a confectionery business, I decided to pay a visit to a nearby factory. John Bull has been making rock and all manner of delicious sweet treats for years, and the factory is open at certain times of the year for people to tour. I watched the rock making process and even had a go at making my own rock! I had a taste of some of the biscuits made on the premises, too, and then treated myself to some rose creams and violet creams from the shop. The chocolates are to die for, and I was very inspired to write about Carroll’s Confectionary – the factory that Marley and Kit are determined to save, no matter how much they disagree on how to do it! Find out more about John Bull’s confectionery here.


Rolling rock. Not as easy as you’d think!
Production in full swing at the confectionary!


I couldn’t write Resisting Mr Rochester without visiting the Bronte Parsonage. Well, that was my excuse anyway, despite having visited it previously! I had a lovely afternoon strolling around the museum, which is a place that – if you’re a Bronte fan – is an absolute must-see. I warn you, it can make you quite emotional! I had goosebumps at times, and the sight of some of the more poignant exhibits moved me to tears. If you’d like to visit the Parsonage for yourself, click here for more details.






Helmston gets a LOT of mentions in my books – with the exception of the Skimmerdale series. In the Kearton Bay books, it’s the home of the Castle Street Practice where Gabriel and Flynn previously worked, and in the Bramblewick books it’s the place where Riley used to practice, until he moved to the branch surgery in the village. Helmston is the market town where Flynn’s friend Maurice lives, it’s where Marley and Kit meet up again after years apart in Saving Mr Scrooge, and it’s the place where Cara heads to find a party dress in Resisting Mr Rochester. Helmston is based on the pretty little town of Helmsley in the North York Moors, but in reality it’s a lot further away from Robin Hood’s Bay than Helmston is from Kearton Bay. I did use a bit of artistic licence! It’s a delightful place, and well worth a visit!

Helmsley market place
Beck cutting through Helmsley.
Pretty market town of Helmsley
There are lots of quaint little shops in Helmsley, as well as the market.


Knaresborough is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever visited, and we try to go there at least once a year as it really is the most picturesque little town. Knaresborough is the birth place of Eliza in the Kearton Bay books, and it’s the place where she grew up, with her mother, grandparents and uncle Joe.  It’s very close to Harrogate, too, which gets an honourable mention in many of my books. Recently, Knaresborough was my inspiration for Castle Clair, the setting of my new series The Witches of Castle Clair. When Sky St Clair, in Belle, Book and Christmas Candle, returns to her home town by train, she looks down from the viaduct at the river and the beautiful buildings, and sees Clair Castle opposite her. I was picturing Knaresborough the whole time. I replaced the legend of Mother Shipton with one of the St Clair Brothers, and I was even inspired by the Oldest Chemist Shoppe in the town, using it as a basis for the family magical supplies shop, The Broom Closet.







The castle keep which became “Clair Tower”
The entrance to the dungeon in the castle grounds.
The view over the river and viaduct from the bench where Jethro and Sky sit in Belle, Book and Christmas Candle.
The Oldest Chemist Shoppe in England. This building is just gorgeous and I used it as inspiration for The Broom Closet.
This building stands in Knaresborough Castle’s grounds, and I used it as inspiration for the Castle Clair Museum of Magic in my Witches of Castle Clair series.


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Couldn’t resist this final picture. Boats in the harbour. Great name! 🙂