A walk along the Aire and Ouse

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My final day in east Yorkshire and it poured down during the afternoon. But later on it started to brighten up and by around 6 o’clock the rain had gone and it had turned into a pleasant evening. There was nothing on TV I wanted to watch so rather than stay in my hotel room I decided to get out for a walk.

I didn’t have to go too far before I was out into open country. I crossed the main road and turned up a minor road that led to the village of Airmyn. It wasn’t too busy – although the few cars that passed me were in something of a hurry!

The countryside in this part of Yorkshire is very flat and extends for many miles with only the occasional small settlement, wind turbines (lots of them!) and the giant Drax power station to break up the view.

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After about a mile I reached the small village of Airmyn.

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Between 1774 and 1776 this settlement on the Aire close to where it joins the Ouse was a busy port, but today, being close to the M62, it’s a commuter village. Most of the houses looked as if they were fairly modern, although there were some older buildings on the main road.

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This is the entrance to the church yard

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and this is St David’s church, a Grade II listed building originally built in 1318 and extended in 1676

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This clock tower stands at the bend in the road,and is a memorial to the second Earl of Beverley.who funded the building of the local school.

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It’s next to the former school building.

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The village was built right next to the River Aire and, particularly with the flat terrain, it’s very vulnerable to flooding. A flood defence dyke has been built that follows the course of the river.

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There’s a path running along the top of th edyke so I climbed up to take a walk along the river. I followed it until it joined the Ouse and then continued along the path up to Boothferry bridge.

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Even though the busy M62 Motorway was only a few miles to the south, it was very quiet and peaceful and once I’d left the village I didn’t see another soul until I reached Boothferry. I saw plenty wind turbines though!

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The path took me around the edge of a field of wheat

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The confluence with the Ouse

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After about a mile and a half, I reached Boothferry swing bridge. At one time, before the M62 was built, traffic heading east towards Hull had to cross this bridge. It certainly wouldn’t have coped with today’s volume of traffic.

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I climbed up on the bridge. This was the view looking north

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and looking south towards the M62 viaduct.

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To make a circular walk I would have had to walk back along the road so I decided to retrace my steps.  It made a round trip of just over 5 miles. An easy walk, though, compared to our recent jaunts in the Lake District, but still an enjoyable way to spend a pleasant summer’s evening, making most of the long period of daylight.

Howden

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After I’d had a look around the Minster in Howden, I decided to have a mooch around the town starting in the town square, which is immediately in front of the east end of the Minster.

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It was a thriving town in medieval times with a connection to the Bishops of Durham. They would stay in the town when travelling down to London and had a palace built here. The remains, the Bishop’s Manor, is just off the market square and around the corner from the Minster .

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Originally there was a complex range of buildings, inside an irregular walled courtyard. But the majority of these buildings were demolished in the late 16th century. Nevertheless the remaining structure is quite impressive for a small town.

The Minister towers over the buildings in the town centre

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The old streets are narrow and twisty, probably reflecting their medieval origin.

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but many of the buildings are Georgian town houses built for professional men and tradesmen

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With a few grand houses

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This is the town’s war memorial. An ornate Gothic monument.

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During the First World War an airship station was built just to the north of the town, near Spaldington. The airships based here provided protection for ports and shipping along the east coast. After the war the station was closed but the hangers were converted into a manufacturing facility for airships including the R100, designed by Sir Barnes Wallis (who later designed the Vickers Wellington bomber invented the “bouncing bomb” used by the Dambusters).  The author Nevil Shute Norway (better known as Nevil Shute) was part of the team that created the R100 and lived in the town.

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Another day, another Minster

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Starting to feel like a prisoner in my hotel room, I drove over to Howden, a small town a five mile drive from my hotel. It’s not more than a village, really, but it’s dominated by a large Gothic church – Howden Minster.

The Yourhowden website tells us

The Minster was owned by monks from Peterborough Abbey in Saxon times, but in 1080 it was gifted to William of Calais, the Bishop of Durham. The Norman church was rebuilt in the early English style in the 13th century and rebuilding work was completed in the ‘decorated’ style around 1340. A small octagonal Chapter House was built after 1388, the last of its kind to be built in England.

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The church survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries as it was not a monastery, but fell victim to the Dissolution of Collegiate Churches and Chantries in 1548.

It was one of the first Decorated Gothic churches in the north of England

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Over the years the church was neglected and started to fall into ruin lack of funds for maintenance. Today, only the nave survives intact, with the quire and chapter house in ruins, but preserved under the guardianship of English Heritage. The remaining, intact, parts of the building are still in use as a parish church.

I had a look around the outside of the building.  This is the octagonal Chapter House.

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A view of the tower from the graveyard to the south of the building.

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The south entrance. It’s clearly undergone some restoration.

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A view of the tower from the north west

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The view from the south. It’s considerably plainer than the Minster at Beverley

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Although it was early evening the entrance wasn’t locked, so I decided to have a look inside.

Looking down the nave with it’s high ceiling supported by characteristic pointed arches.

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The altar.

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The ornate Quire screen.

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A modern series of abstract sculpture by John Maine R.A. was installed outside the minster 2002 –2008, inspired by the four elements.

The churchyard itself represents “Earth”.

This star like pattern made of granite and inlaid into the pavement in front of the west entrance is “Water”. The granite is from the Himalayas.

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Air” is represented by series of truncated columns of various heights, with patterns inspired by the carved columns in Durham Cathedral,

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This is “Fire”, which stands in the north east corner of the churchyard, in front of the ruined Quire.

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Beverley Minster

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The minster very much dominates the centre of Beverley. It’s a massive building, comparable in size to many cathedrals yet it only has the status of a parish church. The designation of “Minster” may suggest to some that it is a cathedral, especially as the Minster in York has that status, but it isn’t the case. A minster is a designation given to church that was established during Anglo-Saxon times as a missionary teaching church, or a church attached to a monastery. So it’s the origin of the church that explains its designation – the first church on the site was attached monastery founded in Beverley in the 7th century.

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The original building was destroyed by the Danes, but was rebuilt and then refashioned by the Normans. After this burnt down in 1188, the current Gothic building was constructed between 1220 and 1420. This prolonged period resulted in all three styles of Gothic church architecture can be seen in the Minster.  The Quire, which is the oldest part of the church, was built in the Early English style while the nave is the Decorated style with the west end of the church in the Perpendicular style.

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The Minster is mainly built of limestone, mostly from Tadcaster near York so it is a bright creamy colour. However limestone as a soft stone of calcium carbonate is susceptible to damage from acidic rain and the elements, so there are signs of weathering and it has clearly been subject to repair and restoration. Black Purbeck ‘marble’ (actually not marble but a hard limestone from Dorset) has also been used for some of the shafts and columns inside the building.

These extremely ornate twin towers at the west end of the church are an outstanding example of Perpendicular Gothic

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A close up of the west entrance.

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The north west entrance (the main entrance into the church) – more Perpendicular Gothic

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The south east of the building. Much less ornate Early English style

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English Decorated style on the north side of the nave

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The north entrance

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The church is open to visitors until 5 p.m. so I was able to take a look inside. However, there was a Baptism service taking place which meant I had to be careful not to disturb the worshipers and restricted where I could wander.

I did, however, manage to get a quick look down the nave before the service started.

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Typical of Gothic buildings it has a high ceiling supported by clusters of relatively slim columns with pointed arches.

The elaborate carved elements are typical of the English Decorated style

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I rather liked the carving of musicians along the north aisle of the nave

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The ceiling in the nave has relatively simple decoration but there’s a more elaborate section over the alter in the quire

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As we’d expect with a major Gothic church, there’s some attractive stained glass.

The Great East Window contains the oldest glass in the Minster, dating from around 1220-30 to the early 1400s.

Nearby, this attractive modern design in the Pilgrim’s window at the right hand side of the Retro Quire

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Also in the Retro Quire, this modern statue of two pilgrims, heading towards the Pilgrim window

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There’s also several tombs and plaques representing members of the Warton family who were benefactors to the Minster, including this rather elaborate monument.

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More attractive stained glass windows in the chapel at the north east of the building

I rather liked these  lancet windows in the “Retro Quire” at the east end

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The very elaborate Percy Canopy which stands over the tomb of one of the Percy family who were one of the richest and most powerful families in the north of England in the 14th century.

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It’s not certain who is buried here although it is thought that it is likely to be Lady Eleanor Percy who died in 1328.

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These two large wooden doors below the west window were carved in the early 18th century by a York wood carver named William Thornton. On the doors are figures of the four gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Beneath the figures are their symbols – an angel, a lion, a bull and an eagle. Between the symbols and the figures are four carvings representing the different seasons of the year.

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Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to take a photograph from directly in front.

There was more to see, but by now the service was in full flow so I felt it was appropriate to depart quietly.

The Minster’s website tells us

One reason the Minster is judged to be one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Europe is that the different styles have been carefully harmonised.

I have to say I agree. It’s a beautiful building and I was pleased I’d taken time out to drive over to Beverley to take a look.

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Beverley

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I’m working in East Yorkshire this week, staying in Goole. I had an early start on Monday so had booked to stay over on Sunday evening. Sunday looked a promising day and I didn’t fancy being stuck in front of the telly watching the Wimbledon men’s final (I don’t get tennis I’m afraid) so I decided to drive over the Pennines early afternoon and find something to do. The small, historic town of Beverley is about 30 minutes further east from Goole and as I’ve never been there before (only seen it signposted off the motorway when driving over to Hull) I decided it might be a good bet to keep me occupied. I wasn’t wrong.

The town grew up around a monastery that was founded at the beginning of the 8th Century and there’s been a church here ever since. Today the town’s main attraction is the Minster which was built between 1220 and around 1420.

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Although it has the size and grandeur of a cathedral, it isn’t the seat of a Bishop, and only has the status of a Parish Church.

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The town has an attractive shopping street. Unfortunately it is mainly populated by the main high street chains. There were plenty of pubs and places to eat – a reflection of it being a tourist destination.

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Most of the buildings in the town centre are Georgian and Victorian but there are some traces of the town’s medieval heritage. The North Bar is one of them.

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It’s the last remaining gateway that protected the entrance to the town and at one time had  a drawbridge. There were originally five but the other four are long gone.

A short distance away is another Medieval Gothic church, St Mary’s. Like the Minster, a fine example of Gothic architecture. It dates from the 12th century and so predates the minster. It underwent a major restoration between 1844 and 1876 under the successive supervision of Augustus Welby Pugin, his son E. Welby Pugin, and Sir Gilbert Scott. So it’s appearance probably reflects the Victorian take on Gothic like many other churches (including our own Wigan Parish church)

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There’s a medieval building more or less opposite St Mary’s – now converted into an up-market shopping centre

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Lot’s of attractive Georgian buildings around the town.

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There are also examples of other architectural styles. This is the local library built in the early 20th Century. I’d probably describe it as Edwardian Baroque

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The old Corn Exchange, from the same period.

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And an Art Deco style façade in amongst the Georgian buildings on the corner of the Saturday Market and main shopping street, Toll Gavel.

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An interesting town, well worth the diversion (as the Michelin Guide would put it). It rather reminded me of a smaller scale version of York, minus the medieval walls.

Where Romans marched

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Cumbria must have been one of the most wild and remote areas of the rOman Empire. Nevertheless they built forts at Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith and at Ambleside (Galava), no doubt to keep restless natives under control. And being Romans there had to be road to connect them – High Street. Rather than route it along the bottom of the valleys, which at that time would have been covered with thick woodland and were likely to have been boggy underfoot, and where they would have been susceptible to ambushes, they built it over the top of the fells. The high point of the road was on the gentle slopes of a fell with a flat summit plateau, now known as “High Street”. At 2,718 ft, its summit is the highest point in the far eastern part of the Lake District National Park, and that was our destination last Sunday.

We drove up to the small hamlet of Hartsop and managed to find a space in the car park at the far end of the settlement. We’d left home in t-shirts but it was chilly when we arrived mid morning and there was low cloud on the fells.

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We set off following the path along the valley heading towards Hayeswater. Thick cloud was hanging in the valley ahead.

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We passed this interesting old building, covered with vegetation and almost dissolving into the landscape

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After half an hour or so we reached the glacial lake of Hayeswater. The tops of the fells still covered with cloud.

 

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We took the hillside on the path heading up towards “The Knott”, heading into the mist

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Looking back we began to wonder whether we’d made the wrong decision of where to go walking, with sun shining on the fells to the west.

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Looking back Helvelyn and Blencathra were free of cloud and the former was lit up with sunshine.

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We carried on heading up into the mist. We passed the Knott and soon High Street was visible (with cloud covering the summit)

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Starting our climb up the slope there were good views of the dramatic crags on the path towards Kidsey Pike

 

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Looking east along Riggindale towards Haweswater

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Zooming in on Haweswater

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Looking towards Riggindale Crag

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Walking along the ridge, looking north west we had a good view of Hayeswater – the cloud was beginning to clear.

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Not long after we reached the trig point of the top of the fell.

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There’s no distinct summit as it’s a broad, flat fell. At one time locals from the surrounding valleys used to meet up here on 12 July to return stray sheep to their owners and held a country fair with sports including wrestling and horse racing. In fact the summit area is still known as “Racecourse Hill”.

Cloud was still hugging the fells to the south and east, but there was a good view of the mountains to the west and north

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After taking a break for some food we set off south along the ridge – looking backwards over Hayeswater, Gray Crag and the Knott

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Our next destination, Thornthwaite Crag with it’s beacon, visible through the mist.

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The summit is marked by Thornthwaite Beacon, an impressive cairn,14 feet high.

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Looking back towards High Street.

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A clearer view over to the west with the Coniston Fells, Crinkle Crags and The Langdale Pikes clearly visible

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as well as the Fairfield Horsehoe, the Helvelyn range and Blencathra.

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Unfortunately, the summits to the south and east were covered with cloud.

We started our descent towards Threshthwaite Mouth. Two fell runners bounded past us.

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Our route took us down a very steep scree slope. Quite hairy at times with a steep drop to the left in places and with our feet slipping underneath us – we were thankful of our walking poles which provided some stability during the descent.

This is a shot looking back up the slope

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The compensation were great views down towards a sunny Ullswater and Patterdale

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and in the other direction, as the cloud had cleared, down towards Windermere with the summits of Ill Bell and Yoke (which we’d climbed back in March during our break in Kentmere) now clearly visible.

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We finally reached the bottom of the path. Here’s view looking backwards – the path was a lot steeper than it looks in the photo!

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Looking down the next part of our route, Pasture Bottom, with Ullswater in the distance.

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It was another steep descent, but on a much better path.

Looking backwards from the bottom of the descent

 

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The path followed the beck downstream back towards Hartsop. There were some interesting glacial features – with a collection of drumlins along our route

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Two thirds along the valley the path levelled out

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Looking back along the valley

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We passed some old Myer’s Head lead mine buildings. The stone walls once supported a wooden ‘launder’ or chute,  which carried water to drive a large water wheel located in the pit in the foreground of the photo.

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Being interested in industrial history and archaeology I found some information on the mine here and here.

Not far to go now

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back in the car park there was a much clearer view along the valley than when we set out!

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St Margaret’s Tower, Staveley

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St Margaret’s tower stands in the centre of the village of Staveley in Cumbria. It’s all that’s left of a church that used to occupy the site, which was demolished in 1865 when a new church, St James’, was opened on drier, higher ground. Since then the tower has stood proud in the small graveyard. The clock  at the top of the tower, was added in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

St James’ has a stained glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones and made by Morris and Company. I really must go and have a look next time I’m in the village.