A castle fit for a captive queen.

We travelled the road to our last walk in thick white mist, fearing a dank and gloomy day.  But the higher we climbed, the more the mist fell away, and the brighter the sun shone.

Looking down over Wensleydale from Castle Bolton.
Looking down over Wensleydale from Castle Bolton.

This was the scene as we arrived at Castle Bolton, the village where you’ll find Bolton Castle:

And as we began walking, Daphne shared some of the castle’s history with us.  It has belonged to the Scrope family since the time it was built in the 14th century, and has always been admired for its high walls.  It’s a proper castle, looking exactly like the ones you will have drawn when you were eight years old.

Bolton Castle
Bolton Castle

But that’s not why it secured its place in the history books.

Tudor history is largely about the constant religious and temporal battles between the Catholic  and the Protestant church, which Henry VIII had made the Established Church, with the king as its head: the Fidei Defensor – Defender of the Faith (unbelievably, Henry hung onto this title, awarded him in his pre-Protestant days by Pope Leo X, in recognition of his book  Assertio Septem Sactramentorum which defends the supremacy of the pope).  His son Edward briefly succeeded him, and then his daughter Elizabeth, and both were Protestants.

But Elizabeth’s rule was threatened by the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots, and she was held captive first at Carlisle Castle, then at Bolton.  Here she was attended by 51 knights, servants and ladies-in-waiting, not all of whom could be accommodated in the castle itself.  She also had cooks, grooms, a hairdresser, an embroiderer, an apothecary, a physician and a surgeon, while furnishings fit for a queen were borrowed from nearby Barnard Castle.  She went hunting, learnt English – for she spoke only French, Scots and Latin – and spent time with local Catholics.  She made an unsuccessful bid to escape from captivity.  It’s said she climbed from an upstairs window in the castle, and fled on horseback past the nearby market town of Leyburn.  It’s here she dropped her shawl and so was discovered and recaptured.  And that is why, so they say, the long escarpment above the town, nowadays a playground for walkers and sightseers, is still called ‘The Shawl’.

As we enjoyed our history lesson, we passed a field of Wensleydale sheep.  We very much admired their sultry fringes.

Wensleydale sheep
Wensleydale sheep

And onwards.  Autumn colours.P1160847

A completely pointless stile in the middle of a meadow.P1160853

Then Aysgarth Falls.  What a wonderful lunch spot.  The crashing waters made conversation quite impossible, but we sat enjoying the surging waters, the coppery leaves above our heads, and the all-encompassing percussion of the tumbling River Ure.

And then it was time to turn round and head back by a different route.  Another great day’s walking, with an added history lesson.

Journey's end in sight.
Journey’s end in sight.

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

12 thoughts on “A castle fit for a captive queen.”

  1. I love the Wensleydale sheep – they have a touch of the Rastafarian about them! I hope the fog stays away today for you – although it does make for such beautiful, atmospheric photographs.


  2. ……….dear Margaret – you’d never know how much I’m waiting for your reports and pictures of the beautiful area you are living in now….

    Just found a similar gate here (keeping Camargue horses in) – wishing you a lovely time together, love, anna


  3. This walk had it all! I love the history you provided–it add to the drama of the setting and the structure. And, of course, you know I think the sheep are very cool. I envy you these walks!


  4. Fascinating walk and talk and fun to be surrounded by so much history. I enjoyed the list of the queen’s staff – imagine having your own embroiderer!


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