Yesterday was foggy. All day. Yesterday, when I took a photo – the header photo – at Fountains Abbey, it was so murky I thought it could pass for a sepia image. I’m going to chance calling it monochrome anyway. And since we could barely see ahead of us, we focussed on the ground below. And were rewarded. This is rather a fine tree trunk, I think.
And these Giant Funnel Fungi are rather fine too. Regular readers know that I am keen on foraged food, but I’m glad I didn’t bring these home. Here’s what the website Wild Food says: ‘A large chunky mushroom which can be found in fairly large numbers and is edible to most but can cause gastric upsets in some. This doesn’t really matter as the mushrooms are usually infested with maggots, even when young, making them more maggot than flesh. Not so appetising then … but look how huge they are! That’s a bit of my boot at the bottom of the frame.
This is the last day of November, a month in which Becky has been encouraging us to get out walking, whatever the weather. I’m glad I’ve joined her, and everyone who’s participated in Walking Squares. Thank you!
I went on a bit of a safari yesterday. Only down the road to Studley Royal’s deer park. Here are some snippets from the afternoon.
Autumn is the time of the rut, when stags compete to get the biggest and best harem of does, to secure their own blood like survives to the next generation. They wallow in the mud to leave their sexy scent behind, score trees and trash vegetation- they may even aim to toss leaves and grasses to their antlers to make them look even more imposing. We saw none of these behaviours. But we did hear them roaring and making that strange loud roaring belching noise that can be heard from quite a distance, and which warns other males that They Mean Business.
It doesn’t pay to get too near to deer at this – or indeed at any other – time of year, so all of my photos use zoom at its highest setting, which doesn’t make for the crispest of images. But you’ll know you’re in the deer park when you see trees looking like this. That horizontal finish you can see is the browse line – the highest that a red deer on its hind legs can reach to get a mouthful of leaves.
We saw these fellahs next. They’re young stags. They know they haven’t got a hope this year of attracting the females, so they just sit it out. Maybe a bit of play-fighting to get a bit of practice in, but really … it’s just not their party. That first one posed for Monday Portrait.
On we walked. Over the old bridge where females often give birth and shelter their young, to the crest of a hill where we have far-reaching views over to Ripon and the North York Moors beyond, And below, deer: fallow deer and sika deer, browsing and grazing together, with their stags keeping a proprietorial eye on them. We kept our distance and just enjoyed watching them.
Younger, older, does and stags …
Then onward, past the sweet chestnut trees they love so much at this time of year, for their tasty chestnuts, past a popular wallowing place (oops, forgot to take a photo).
So let’s finish our walk with a few shots of those views I mentioned.
In the shot above, that’s Ripon down below. The eagle-eyed will just be able to spot the cathedral in the centre of the shot, in the distance.
Kiplin Hall. That was our destination on Sunday. We first went there a few years ago for joyful Shakespeare productions, such as Romeo and Juliet, by the irrepressible Handlebards. These days, we go if we need a quiet few hours at a country house whose grounds are extensive enough to offer a walk, a view and coffee and cake after. Here are my picture postcards – monochrome, as picture postcards always used to be – for Mid-Week Monochrome #110 – and to send to Jo, of Jo’s Monday Walk fame.
Kiplin Hall was built as a hunting lodge in the 1620s by one George Calvert, who was Secretary of State to King James VI. American readers may like to know that he was made Baron Baltimore, and was granted a charter to found a colony in America. This colony became – the State of Maryland.
Here’s our first sight of the hall:
Goodness, it was breezy that day. But walk we would, all the way round the lake -into the wind at first – one of the images give an idea of the scudding waves. We set off to get various views of the lake and hall. Here’s a clutch of postcards.
There are woodlands to explore: but the wind was picking up. Better to find shelter and explore the huge walled garden perhaps, where they grow all the fruit and vegetables used in their tearooms, and to make the jams, jellies and chutneys on sale. But wait! Suddenly it’s quite forbidding … Hallowe’en is on the way…
We’ll take our courage in both hands and enter anyway … there, that’s not so bad …
Although …. who’s that sitting on the bench over there?
We decided the tea room was a better option. Coffee, date and pecan cake anyone? No photo available. We ate every crumb before we gave the camera a thought.
Here’s Harrogate yesterday, enjoying the first true week of spring.
The building with the turreted clock is the famous Betty’s Tea Room. But we won’t go there today. Instead, we’ll have a picnic later, in the Valley Gardens. That white rectangular frame you can see is a favourite family-photo spot. If you haven’t got your family with you, best take a selfie …
Next stop, Valley Gardens. It’s all tricked out at the moment for a Fire and Light Experience. We’ve been to one of these festivals before, in 2016, and it was fabulous. But we’re still too post-covid flattened to feel like an evening out. So we’ll just enjoy the braziers and installations set in place …
… and focus on the blossoms and spring flowers instead.
Just a short walk. But it’s enough to change our mood and lift our spirits.
Over the years, I’ve taken you all on walks around Yorkshire. We’ve strolled along riversides. We’ve had woodland walks at wild garlic and bluebell time. We’ve gone into the Dales, both the gently rolling hillsides, and the bleaker heather-covered moorland, enjoying distant views of the Pennines. But one thing we haven’t done is have a Thoroughly British Winter Walk.
That’s what we did the other day. And by the time you get to the bottom of the page, you’ll be mighty glad you’ve only had a Virtual Walk. Our friend Chris had planned it: just a leisurely six miles or so morning’s walk, taking in three pretty villages between Harrogate and Ripon.
It didn’t begin well. Half a mile in, this was the path.
No, that’s not a stream, it’s the path. Heads bent over the map, we found an alternative, and that wasn’t so bad. Sodden fields, gloopy mud-slicked paths. But passable. Just.
In fact we got used to clambering over stiles that landed us immediately into another muddy hole, before sending us on our way across a field on a sodden path.
We were quite cheery. Until we arrived here. The map informed us there was a pathway across this field. The sheep knew better. They’d churned up the soil good and proper. There was no alternative but to squelch onwards.
Poor old Chris. Her name was Mud.
Arriving back at our cars parked in one of the villages, we were reminded that our day with friends, providing a rueful tale to tell back at home, was nevertheless a happy and carefree one. This Ukrainian flag on someone’s gate was a sober contrast, and provided details of ways to donate to one of the many charities trying to offer support and help to the beleaguered Ukrainians. There are suggestions here.
And I knew that my walk would be a dramatic one. I stopped scurrying as I watched the sun falling gently behind the clouds, behind the trees, as I changed my vantage point with every step. It wasn’t a spectacular sunset, but it was special, as every sunset invariably is. Come with me.
The sheep appeared to have wandered away: the fields were empty.
To the right of me, the river was more delicately tinted:
At every step, a different view: sometimes the vivid fiery tones of the setting sun: at others, the gentler, prettier powdered pinks and blues of the more distant clouds.
My walk was almost over: I crossed the bridge and arriving in the village. The river continued its journey towards the Ouse, then the Humber, without me, and the sun finally disappeared behind the trees.
It’s 7.45. Here’s the sunrise on our way to Studley Royal.
And having met the rangers and our fellow walkers – volunteers on the site, here’s who we’d come to see.
Red deer, but ancient trees too. Cherry trees aren’t meant to last 400 years, but somehow this one is clinging on. Whereas the oak nearby is thought to be more than 800 years old, and dating from the days when the monastic community was at its height in nearby Fountains Abbey.
Come with us as we walk past the entrance to the park, framing the view down towards Ripon Cathedral, before we climb uphill to less frequented parts of the parkland, where deer usually roam free and we could enjoy open views across to Ripon and the North York Moors beyond.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.