A Castle Fit for a Captive Queen Revisited

North Yorkshire, Walking, Wensleydale

We seem to have been to Castle Bolton quite often recently. It reminded me that shortly after we came back from France, one of our early walks was here. Maybe it’s time to revisit my blog post about it, to remind myself, if nobody else, about its history.

A CASTLE FIT FOR A CAPTIVE QUEEN

October 2014

We travelled the road 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

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

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

And onwards. Autumn colours.

A completely pointless stile in the middle of a meadow.

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.

But wait! This post was all for Fandango’s Flashback Friday, when we’re invited to dig up a Post From the Past. But Becky’s Past Squares demands a look at the past too: here’s Bolton Castle, square style:

Then there’s always Jo’s Monday Walk

An ordinary outdoor café …

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

… doesn’t look quite so ordinary when viewed in its reflection in the Airstream trailer which multi-tasks as kitchen, serving hatch and till.

And here’s a view as I walked past – for Past Squares

And just to be really cheeky, as there’s not a pane of glass in sight, I’m including it in Monday Window, as it really is a different window on that lunch time pit-stop.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #169: The Ordinary

Photos taken at Paradise Food, Daleside Nurseries, Killinghall

Revisiting A Sheep is a Sheep is a Sheep

Blogging challenges, Festivals, Heritage, North Yorkshire

Somehow, we forgot all about Masham Sheep Fair last weekend. We forgot about the dozens of different breeds of sheep on show; the sheep-shearing demonstrations; the sheep dog competitions; the children, some really quite young, demonstrating their knowledge and prowess as sheep-handlers. There’s no help for it. We’ll have to revisit this post from October 2014 instead. And by the way. Please don’t show yourself up. Pronounce Masham correctly. Mas-ham. Anyone who lets the side down and calls it Mash’em is immediately recognised as an outsider.

And let’s include this blast-from-the-past in Becky’s Past Squares, as well as including it in Fandango’s Flashback Friday, a celebration of past posts which deserve another outing.

A SHEEP IS A SHEEP IS A SHEEP …

… or not.

On Saturday we called in, far too briefly, at the annual Masham Sheep Fair. This is the place to go if you believe a sheep looks just like this.

Saturday was the day a whole lot of sheep judging was going on in the market square.  Here are a few of the not-at-all identical candidates. And yet they are only a few of the many breeds in England, and in the world. There are 32 distinct breeds commonly seen in different parts of the UK, and many more half-breeds.  I was going to identify the ones I’m showing you, but have decided that with one or two exceptions (I know a Swaledale, a Blue-faced Leicester or a Jacobs when I see one), I’d get them wrong. So this is simply a Beauty Pageant for Masham and District sheep.

And if you thought wool was just wool, these pictures may be even more surprising.  Who knew that sheep are not simply…. just sheep?

An inveterate food forager

Ariège, Food & Cooking, North Yorkshire

I was brought up foraging. At four years old, I’d get up with my mother at half past five in the morning and go scouting for mushrooms on the now-deserted wartime air-strips near our house. At five years old, I went as part of the autumn school day to gather rosehips for Delrosa. Expert pickers got a tin badge. Smaller fry like me got nothing. Blackberrying of course we took for granted.

Later, much later, Malcolm and I moved to France. There, foraging is a way of life. Nobody leaves the house without their ‘Au cas où’ bag – ‘just in case‘ they find something for the cooking pot. It might be wild asparagus, wild garlic or Alpine strawberries in spring, cherries later, then blackberries of course. Autumn was bonanza time. This was the time to stagger home with sacks full of walnuts, of chestnuts, of sloes, of mushrooms of every kind. Autumn hikes were constantly interrupted by the need to squat down and fill a bag with yet more free food. You can read all about it here, for Fandango’s Flashback Friday, when I described how ‘all is safely gathered in’.

Sweet chestnuts

Now we’re back in England, the custom continues. I’ve discovered that locally, we’re regarded with good-humoured curiosity because of our inability to pass free food by without snaffling it. It starts with wild garlic, sometimes dandelion and nettle leaves in spring. During the last month we’ve picked several kilos of bullaces (wild plums) from Nosterfield; ditto blackberries from wherever there have been good supplies; windfall apples and crab apples from beneath village trees; a magnificent puffball weighing in at more than a kilo, which – thickly sliced and dredged first in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and grated parmesan and fried in butter – made splendidly tasty steaks. Finally, this weekend, I glanced upwards on a familiar woodland path, and spotted golden mirabelles winking down at me. I summoned reinforcements (Malcolm, with bags, boxes and a useful stick) and now there are jars of tart but tasty mirabelle jam to see us through the winter, as well as plenty more waiting to be made into tarts and puddings.

Simple, but very real pleasures to add interest to our daily walks.

Lighting our way home

Blogging challenges, London, North Yorkshire, Poland, South Korea, Spain

Electric light outside – as streetlights, spotlights, making our streets and subways safer: an undeniable blessing. But spotlights, bright and colourful advertising? The featured photo is of a rainy night in Busan South Korea. Cheery colours certainly, but far more than we needed to find out way round. And look at this. These hotels are out in the country, in a small mountain resort, surrounded by forest. The lights went on as dusk fell, and remained on till morning …

The JaJa, Gyeryongsang

All the same, it’s hard not to enjoy streetlights reflected in the water while mooching round a city. Here are a couple of shots near the river Guadalquivir in Seville.

It’s mood-enhancing to see the city become a playground at night. Here are the fountains of La Alameda, also in Seville. And the neighbourhood of la Viña in Cádiz, where post-Christmas groups relax over a meal or a few drinks in the still-decorated street.

La Alameda, Seville
la Viña in Cádiz

But metro stations and subways need lighting too. Here’s Barcelona, and London.

But the other evening, taking a late walk round the village, best of all was the glow surrounding the houses as families wound down for the day. A cosy, comforting and gentle radiance.

North Stainley: an evening in September

Lens-Artists Challenge #166

Window Shopping in Harrogate

Blogging challenges, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

When Sheree read my post about window shopping last week, where I’d included a stop-off in Harrogate, she was disappointed I hadn’t included the windows of tea shop and bakery extraordinaire, Betty’s. I was in Harrogate again last week, and realised I had to put this right. But the sun was so high, and the light so bright that my camera got clearer views of Parliament Street behind than of the window display. Never mind. Two for the price of one.

My favourite display was in the Oxfam second hand bookshop. Here’s what the signage says:

‘How bad are books? The carbon footprint of reading. A year of driving (average 1600 miles) – 4000 books. Veggie burger – 1/3 book. Cheese burger 3.2 books. Fly to New York and back – 1800 books. 1 pair of men’s jeans – 19 books. It takes 1kg of CO2 to make a book. A second hand book is almost zero carbon.’

Oxfam Books, Harrogate.

I can’t comment on the scientific observations, but I hope it’s true: I’d sooner have a book than a burger, any day. And I liked the reflections in the window too.

I think I’ll leave it at that – or no, let’s just look at this antique shop, where dogs are apparently welcome. Why the bear?

West Part Antiques, Harrogate

Farewell Harrogate, for the time being. Back soon.

Monday Window

Window Shopping

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Ripon, South Korea

Just before winter kicks in and we all hunker down, let’s have a trip to the shops, and spot a few windows.

Are there enough windows here for you, in the featured photo, at the entrance to one of South Korea’s bigger shopping complexes? Once we’ve looked round, it’ll be time for a coffee: who knew that Starbucks had spread its reach so far? Not that we actually went inside here – independent coffee shops for us, every time.

Gyeongju, South Korea

Let’s come back to England now, and stay local, in Ripon. We’ll pop into our favourite bakery, then saunter along to the pie shop. In both cases, reflections will offer us views of the street too.

Let’s go to Kirkgate, and more independent shops: You’ll get a mood-improving slogan at Karma, and if you’re lucky, live music to cheer you along.

A few miles away is Pateley Bridge. I wonder if the shops there still have the displays they had when the Tour de Yorkshire was in town?

We’ll finish off by going to Harrogate. From behind other shop windows, we can get a snapshot of Starlings, the bar where we could finish our day with a drink and a very tasty pizza.

Starlings, Cambridge Street, Harrogate.

Thanks for coming along!

Monday Window

From Bolton Castle to ancient lead mines and back

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Wensleydale

The landscape in the featured photo shows the bucolic beauty of Wensleydale, still green and welcoming at this time of year. And look! Here’s Bolton Castle, one time prison of Mary Queen of Scots: where she was obliged to stay for six months with a retinue of 30 servants, permitted to go hunting, and receive English lessons This is where we began and ended our walk last week.

Most of our hike wasn’t in such favoured countryside. We slogged up to the bleaker moorland where once lead was mined, and no farmer could make any kind of living, unless he kept sheep. Here there are no villages, no houses or farms, and few roads.

We’d hardly been going more than a mile when we came upon a shooting lodge, now set up as a resting place for the weary traveller. Here’s the view through one of the windows:

There was buffeting wind, and the smallest hint of rain, so we were glad to shelter for a few moments, and look at the view from inside, through that welcome window . But then out we went again, to the windswept landscape. It’s easy to see traces of the old lead mining industry: the grassed over spoil heaps, the ruined stone sheds, the pits where once a mine was sunk.

Lead was found here long before the Romans came. By the Middle Ages, blocks of land known as meers – roughly the size of a cricket pitch – were leased out to the miners who, if they were lucky, could find lead almost at the surface: or by running shafts below ground. The process only became industrialised, and mining companies developed in the 18th century. The last mine in the Dales closed in 1912, and for the first time in hundreds and hundreds of years, no one quarried for lead.

This is a bleak landscape, austere and unforgiving: open to winds coursing across the Dales, and to lashing rain. I love its ascetic grimness and the beauty to be found in its treeless simplicity. The time of year when the hillsides are cloaked in purple heather – August – is not to be missed. We caught the end of this glorious display.

Though our day had been one of grey skies, at the end the sun came out, as was fitting for the gentler Wensleydale landscape near Bolton Castle

Here’s a video of our twelve mile walk: https://www.relive.cc/view/v8qkk45PxKq

Monday Window

Start Walking – Keep Walking!

Ariège, Aude, Blogging challenges, France, Laroque d'Olmes, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

I’ve only been a walker – a proper walker, yomping over moor and mountain, hill and dale – for the last fifteen years or so. It happened when we went to live in France. What better way to discover the secret paths of the Pyrenees, and get to know our French neighbours, and improve our French too, than join the local walking group?

So we did. At first it was les Randos de’Aubo in nearby Mirepoix. We explored the foothills and higher slopes of the Pyrenees, we investigated the nearby Aude, and enjoyed the fellowship of scouting new paths together. What I remember most was the achievement of climbing, climbing, often through seven or eight hundred metres before lunch, while constantly rewarded by mountain views, colourful plant life and changing vistas. Because of these calorie-busting achievements, we might walk as few at five or six miles. But it was harder – much harder – than walking ten to twelve miles round here, and I know I couldn’t do it now. But after the effort, there was a shared picnic lunch with a splendid view thrown in, a downhill walk back to base, and a convivial drink, in whatever bar was to hand near the end of our walk.

On Thursdays I went walking with a smaller group – mainly women – who’d got to know each other either through walking or singing together – I ticked both boxes.

Then we were among the founders of the walking group that developed in our own community, Laroque d’Olmes. We had the confidence by then to offer to reconnoitre and lead walks ourselves. And this group had even better picnic ideas than the last one. Marcel, our local butcher brought sausage to share, as did a local amateur charcuterie enthusiast Michel. Sylvie’s daughter was a sheep farmer, so she’d bring along sheep’s cheese. Someone brought a few baguettes, Yvette and I always had homemade cake. Jean-Charles had a bottomless bottle of wine in his rucksack. And everyone brought sugar lumps. Sugar lumps? Well, yes. Someone or other would bring a bottle of grandfather’s home-made digestif, heavy on alcohol and locally harvested fruit, and would dribble just a few drops of it onto your sugar lump for you to finish off your feast in style. And we would sit for an hour or more, chatting and relaxing before continuing our hike. I miss those moments as much as I miss the countryside and mountain views we shared together.

Now we’re in our local walking group here in Yorkshire. Again, we wanted to discover Yorkshire better by walking its footpaths. At midday, we eat our own pack of sandwiches and that’s that. But the comradeship is as good as it was in France.

Since lockdown, I’ve appreciated the pleasures of walking alone. Undistracted by companions, I notice the sounds around me – the calling birds, the running water, the sighing wind, and observe more closely the changing seasons. While I’ll always enjoy a walk with a friend, I suspect that my love of solitary walking will continue.

It was Amy who invited us to Keep Walking! for this week’s Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #143. Thanks for this opportunity to indulge in a spot of nostalgia, Amy.