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

Wild-ish Walking in Wensleydale

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Weather, Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales

The red tops blazed next week’s news: ‘A September Scorcher! 30º!

Anyone living north of Watford Gap, or west of Slough knew better than to believe it, because only south-east England counts if you’re a London-based hack.  We Yorkshire types needed to read the small print to discover that northerners could merely expect pleasant warmth, a gentle breeze and no rain whatsoever.  Which was fine for a Sunday walk in Wensleydale.

On the way over there, it rained.  Getting ready for the walk, it rained.  The wind snatched urgently at our waterproofs and blew our hair in our eyes.  Mist rose from the valley bottom.  Grey cloud descended and thickened.

We didn’t mind.  The rain soon stopped: it was warm, and those grey skies made for moody, atmospheric scenery.  But our friend Gillian, who’d planned the walk, doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘stroll’ and had us battling boggy paths, and huffing up rough pastureland on semi-vertical hillsides.  We took it in good part.

But what rewards.  We had the constant backdrop of the Wensleydale hills.  Semerwater glittered at us from a distance: but close up, insistent waves rushed constantly towards our toes.

We had a march along a Roman road.  And at the end, blue skies, sunshine, and a relaxing cup of tea on the village green at Bainbridge.

 

This week’s photo challenge is to make use of empty, unoccupied space in our pictures : to make it part of the story.  As I walked yesterday, I tried to use negative space: in this case, mainly the sky.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge  #114 – Negative Space

And another walk for Jo …

Jo’s Monday Walk

 

 

A Nice Day Out .. or Six Months Inside

Blogging challenges, Heritage, North Yorkshire, Wensleydale

Ah, how idyllic … Bolton Castle in Wensleydale.  Perfect for a summer’s day out.

Not if you were Mary Queen of Scots though. She spent six months imprisoned here in 1568.  Although even that incarceration was relative.  She was attended by 30 of her household, which included  knights, servants, ladies-in-waiting, cooks, grooms, a hairdresser, an embroiderer, an apothecary, a physician and a surgeon.  The remaining 20 or so lodged in the nearby village of Castle Bolton.  She went hunting.  She had her hair done.  She learnt English, since up to this point she could speak only Scots, French and Latin.

Imprisonment.  It’s all relative.

Square Perspectives

The View from the Train Window

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Wensleydale

These days, weeks and weeks into Life-with-Covid 19, I crave a nice quiet dinner with people I know, tea parties with friends, or a chinwag in town over a good cup of coffee and a fresh-from-the-oven buttered scone.  And I can’t have any of them.

Instead, I’ll settle for memories of a tea party from a few years ago, when we met with good friends to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  No tea shop for us, but instead a jaunt on the Wensleydale Railway, a Heritage Railway which runs in normal times through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales .

As we rattled along, enjoying countryside views, smart serving staff plied up with elegant little sandwiches, properly fattening cakes, and the all-important scones served with jam and cream.  And tea, of course.  And prosecco.

It’s not often that afternoon tea with all the trimmings includes an ever-changing bucolic view through the window.

Read the whole story here.

Monday Window.

The Tree House. Just One Window, Just One Door.

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Wensleydale

If you go walking in Wensleydale: if you go for a walk from Jervaulx to Jervaulx via Thornton Steward, you’ll come across this tree home, at the edge of a field, commanding views over the valley.  It has just one door and, importantly for Monday Window, just one window.

It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I always like to imagine a doting grandfather, tall and rangy from a tough life’s farming and probably reminiscent of the BFG, lovingly creating a little refuge for his grandchild in this hollow tree.

I couldn’t fit in it, neither could you.  Perhaps the grandchild is too big now.  But I know a couple of young people who’d love to play there.  Perhaps you do too.

Ragtag Tuesday: Wensleydale Show

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Wensleydale

The show at Wensleydale in full swing.

Summer in the countryside is show time. Here in Yorkshire, Harrogate kicks it off in July with The Great Yorkshire Show.  Then week after week until the end of September, villages, towns and whole Dales follow on with theirs.

This is when farmers, breeders, stock men, makers of agricultural machinery and equipment and The Great British Public all get together to celebrate all things rural, and in the case of farmers, normally so isolated in their day-to-day working lives, simply to meet and have a chin-wag.

Emily wanted to take City Boy Miquel to a proper country fair.  So the Wensleydale Show in Leyburn it was.  He saw more sheep and cattle in a single day than he’s probably seen in a lifetime.

We began with the sheep dog trials.  One expert dog, guided by the whistles and calls of its master, has to encourage a small group of sheep down the hill, through a gate, up the hill again and through another gate, round and back again to finish up closeted in a small wooden pen. Those dogs and their shepherds were pretty good.  But from the sheep’s point of view, why go through a gate which has no fence on either side of it?  Why not just go round?  And certainly, why go into a small pen when there’s all that hillside to enjoy?  Fun was had by all but the frustrated shepherds, none of whom completed the course with a full scorecard.  But that didn’t stop them being pretty damn’ good.

Off to inspect the sheep themselves.  Some had dense clouds of thick warm wool, others rangy dreadlocks.  Some had squat round faces, others magisterial aquiline profiles.  Miquel was astonished to find that sheep weren’t simply, well, sheep.

Swaledale sheep.

Poultry.  Large hens and ducks, small hens and ducks, sleek hens and ducks, messily-feathered hens and ducks, long scaly legs, short feather-trousered legs. White eggs, brown eggs, blue eggs, speckled eggs …..

Hens, ducks and eggs in the poultry tent.

Cattle with beautiful hides, and bulls looking unusually complacent in this showground setting.

Best of all, a heavy working horse, a Suffolk Punch, just the one, a reminder of what crop farming and ploughing used to involve.  This splendid beast was traditionally tricked up in her party clothes, reminding me of Whit Mondays when I was a child, when the shire horses employed for delivering beer and ale to pubs were dressed in all their finery for this one special day of the year.

And in among, we watched displays in the show ring, sampled local cheeses and pies, bought decadent and wholly nontraditional treats like gooey chocolate brownies, and generally enjoyed All the Fun of the Fair.

Hungry yet?

Not a bad view from the car park.

Today’s Ragtag Prompt is ‘Fair’.  Yesterday’s was ‘Coddiwomple’ – to travel purposefully towards a vague destination.  Well, we – Miquel especially – were a bit vague about how we’d spend the day…… until we got there.

Click on any image to see it full size.

Forces of Nature

Walking, Weather, Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales

Nature has had the upper hand lately. Snow, and plenty of it, disrupted our daily rhythms a few times in recent weeks. Rain, and plenty of it, has swamped fields and tracks, making a walk in the country an utterly unreasonable pastime.

The other day though, cabin fever got the better of us, and we made a break for the countryside near West Witton, reasoning that some of the tracks there would be more or less passable. They were. More or less.

But Nature made its presence felt in full force. Here was almost our very first sight on our walk – a mother ewe with twin lambs so very newly born that she was still calmly licking them clean as they tottered beside her, looking for their very first feed of milk.

The weather was mild. Surely the snow would be long gone? Not up here. Bitter howling winds a week ago had snatched the snow into deep drifts at the edges of fields, or pounded it into hillside crevices.

Redmire Force lived up to its name. Look at the waters swirling, frothing and plunging over the boulders in the River Ure. Look at the tree torn from its cliff side, now hanging precariously over the river.

And as we came to the end of our walk – look! Is this a river, or is this a field, unusable by the sheep who normally graze here, but forming a stopping off point for the occasional passing water bird?

We’re not quite as in charge as we like to think.

Click on any image to view it full size.

Snapshot Saturday: A house on the hill: only a child need apply

Walking, Wensleydale, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

If you go walking in Wensleydale: if you go for a walk from Jervaulx to Jervaulx via Thornton Steward, you’ll come across this tree home, at the edge of a field, commanding views over the valley.

It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but I always like to imagine a doting grandfather, tall and rangy from a tough life’s farming and probably reminiscent of the BFG, lovingly creating a little refuge for his grandchild in this hollow tree.

I couldn’t fit in it, neither could you.  Perhaps the grandchild is too big now.  It’s all a question of scale after all.

This post is in response to this week’s WordPress Challenge: ‘Scale’.