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

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

It’s all about the light

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Weather

Tina’s asked us to consider light, in Lens-Artists’ Challenge #162. I decided I could do worse than wander about our own home patch, and go for a stroll that lasted from early morning to evening, from summer to a snowy day and watch how the light changes as the day wears on.

I got into the habit, during lockdown, of getting up bright and early to watch the sun rise. Here it is, over the River Ure.

And here we are, never more than ten minutes away from home, in the morning, at noon, and at sunset.

The last two are taken, firstly on one bright morning when there’d been so much rain the fields had flooded, and then later, one evening just as the sun had set.

Another Day in the Dales … revisited

Blogging challenges, Walking, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

Since the Yorkshire Dales – or other popular destinations – are understandably still not keen on receiving hordes of visitors, we’ll have another Virtual Walk, and revisit a post written in May 2014, shortly after we returned to England. It’s for Fandango’s Flashback Friday, and for Jo’s Monday walk.

ANOTHER DAY IN THE DALES

Burnsall –  Howgill –  Middle Skyrehome – Gill’s Laithe – Troller’s Gill – Appletreewick (often pronounced Aptrick locally) –  Kail Lane – and Burnsall again

What’s not to like in a walk that passes through places with such enticing names?  It was Rosemary who led the Ripon Ramblers yesterday and she’d organised not only a splendid walk with varied Dales scenery, but a warm sunny day too.  Here are my picture postcards from the day. Click on the images you’d like to see enlarged, or to have a slideshow.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday

Jo’s Monday Walk

Spring is Sprung

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

March was a month like every other since last March, in that every day, I walked. March was a month like no other – except perhaps last March – because spring arrived. And that’s what I’ll celebrate here, in a simple photo gallery that shows the last of the snowdrops, the first of the blackthorn: and all stops in between via primroses and first daffodils and clematis (in the featured photo) and wood anemones and kingcups and cherry blossom.

Last of the snowdrops on the Ripon Rowel

I made a new friend in March, Monty, and he is my Virtual Dog in April. He’ll make sure I’m out whatever the weather. He’ll make sure I work towards my walking goal of 500 miles before June. Actually, ahem, I should make it. I’m on 425 miles now. Which probably means that Monty is on 1000 at least.

Bright as a button Monty, who walks or runs four miles at least to every one any human ever manages.

Here are some of the landscapes I explored. There’s still a lot of mud around. And we don’t have as many lakes and ponds as you might think. They’re just Super-Puddles.

These images are all taken with my not-so-very-smart phone. Just click on any images that you want to see full size. This March showcase is for Su Leslie’s Changing Seasons. All the flower shots – and indeed Monty – qualify as Bright Squares. Another multi-tasking post.

And Last on the Card is … March’s Virtual Dog

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

I have shamelessly engineered the last photo on my phone for February to be the one you see below. I wanted to showcase my Virtual Dog for March. Some of you may remember that to make sure I go out walking each and every day, I’m making sure of having a Virtual Dog who needs to be exercised. It’s a big ask of these dogs, so I think a month is enough.

In January, I had my friend Barbara’s lovely dog Dilys. In February, I (virtually) nicked the dog from Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. And this photo here, the last on my phone, is to be my Virtual Dog for March. I think she could be a bit of a handful, a bit keen on running after rabbits, but we’ll see.

Going out every day with Virtual Dog is definitely working for me. I’m out every single day, whatever the weather, and I now have 252.8 miles (406.84 km) under my belt this year. But I have nine more months after this to fill. I invite applications from interested dog-owners. Your dog will not have to leave your side, whether you live in England, America or Australia, but will join me daily for walks through the Yorkshire countryside, often in woodland, often by the river. There’ll be lots of chances to be off the lead, but especially during lambing season. will have to stay closely to heel across farmland. The only reward, apart from the walks themselves, will be the chance for your dog to feature on this blog.

Last on the Card. Here you are Brian. I know you’ve had a dig at those of us who don’t like to include our less-than-wonderful last images. But to misquote Bill Shankly: ‘Some people think that the last photo is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that.’

Flashback to France

Ariège, Aude, Blogging challenges, Pyrénées, Walking

From time to time, some of you ask me how it was that we came to live in France for about seven years. This post, written on this day eleven years ago, tells the tale.

A WALK IN THE AUDE

February 26th 2010

Last Sunday, we went off as usual with our walking group, Rando de l’Aubo.  We went a mere 20 km eastwards into the neighbouring Aude.  What a difference a few miles makes.  The rugged forests, with hillside pasture for cattle and sheep, fields of maize and feed crops in our own department are exchanged for an almost Tuscan landscape, with little hillside towns overlooking ranks and ranks of vineyards delineating the contours.  Both departments are lovely, but we hicks from the Ariège tend to prefer our less manicured and somewhat wilder countryside.

Still, Sunday’s walk was quite a sentimental journey for Malcolm and for me, because we walked through the village, Ferran, that was our first introduction to this part of the world. A few years ago, an old friend of Malcolm’s sent him an email.  In his letter, he said that it was February, and he’d been sitting outside in his shirtsleeves, gazing out at his perennial view of the distant Pyrenees, at that time covered with bluish-white snow.  Did we fancy a visit to him in Ferran?  We did.  We were of course seduced by those hillside towns, those vineyards, and especially by those views of the Pyrenees.  Not too long after, we came over again, to house hunt, and of course didn’t find that elusive, perfect spot.  Only after we’d returned home did our friend’s wife, who’s an estate agent, spot the possibility that we just might like the butcher’s house in Laroque where we now live.

It was crazy really. We bought it without really knowing the first thing about the area.  But we’ve never regretted it.  We’ll never finish exploring the hillside pathways, always deeply mulched with fallen oak and beech leaves, or the craggier routes up mountainsides, or the gently undulating lower paths through meadowlands, bright with orchids and other flowers, as well as butterflies, throughout the spring and summer.

But that’s the Ariège.  Ferran and the other villages we skirted last Sunday are typical of the Aude.  Colour washed houses and farms in shades of barley, corn and almond perch high on the hillside, looking down over their vineyards, and beyond – one way to the Montagne Noire, the other to the Pyrenees.  The hills roll away into the distance, not so blanketed by forest as our hills are, but at this time of year, green and lush. Though we only walked about 13 km, by the end we were exhausted, because throughout the day we’d been buffeted by the winds for which the Aude is known. But how lucky we are to have two such very different kinds of countryside within such easy reach of our homes.

Sunset over the Pyrenees

.Flashback Friday

Virtual dog goes on a Virtual Walk

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

Virtual Dog has been coming along with me on my Actual Walks for over a month now. She’s been complaining that we have yet to go on a Virtual Walk. She has a point. Let’s go on one today. It’s raining, and there’s mud everywhere. We could do Jude’s challenge while we’re about it, Life in Colour: Brown, and look for brown in anything but mud.

We’ll start off by the village pond. There aren’t usually ducklings at this time of year, but on a Virtual Walk, anything goes. Down the lane towards Sleningford Hall we’ll pass a friendly goat. And a herd of cows. Now I know that this hike is a virtual one. We have no cows at all north of our village, and I’ve never seen a goat either.

We’ll head towards Musterfield, and this involves a walk through the woods, and my favourite ancient oak. Look at the size of it. How many kings and queens, wars and eras of social change has it lived through?

And we’re sure to find some interesting tree fungus too. And butterflies. I’m not good at butterflies. Some kind of skipper? Can anybody help?

There are always a few friendly horses glad enough to wander over and chat. This one has a foal though (Virtual Walk, remember?) and takes no notice of us.

If we’re passing through farmland, we’re near barns. And if there are some (brownish) geese, so much the better.

And finally, because this is a Virtual Walk, just before we turn for home, we’ll visit this tiny dwelling, a home surely to fairies or elves. It’s actually at Nidd Hall, 15 miles from here. But on a Virtual Walk, we can achieve anything.

PS. It IS a rainy day today. A Virtual Walk would be very welcome. But needs must. I will go out with Virtual Dog for an Actual Walk too. And Jo, do Virtual Walks count on Jo’s Monday Walk?

Finding another uplifting companion

Blogging challenges, Walking, Yorkshire

Some of you may remember my first post this month, when I announced my plan to acquire a Virtual Dog to make sure I went walking every single day, come rain, come ice, come mud. My chosen companion was Dilys, shown in today’s feature photo, but she already walks miles every day with her own family. Much as I love her, I think I really do need a Virtual Dog.

Then I remembered Ai Wei-We’s Circle of Animal Heads at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Surely that featured a dog’s head? Up a pole? It did. Here is my Virtual Dog. Sadly, it’s my least satisfactory photo from there, so I’ll include a small gallery of some of the others to give you a better idea of this circle of mainly Zodiac figures up above your head.

My Virtual Dog

I’ve completed 116 miles this month. I felt this was a decent number – nothing to upbraid myself with here. But then I discovered that Jo of Restless Jo and Jo’s Monday Walk fame has upstaged me. She does eight miles a day. Almost every day. I’ll have to up my game.

Square Up

Thank you, Becky, for cheering up a particularly long and dismal January: for giving us the opportunity for uplifting friendships in the blogosphere, and for making us crank our brains up a gear as we tried to measure up to the skills, humour and ingenuity of our fellow participants.