A Winter Walk from Whitby

Boxing Day promised to be a fine day – perfect for a winter walk. I was up earlyish – unlike the rest of the family I’m not one for lying in. After breakfast I made up some butties, packed my rucksac and leaving the house, walked the short distance to the start of the Cinder track – the former railway line to Scarborough which has now been converted into a footpath/ cycle track. It was a bright and sunny with a blue sky, which meant it was cold and frosty with some ice underfoot, but I was well wrapped up and as I walked I soon warmed up.

The start of the path was up the steps on to the old railway line embankment

Scarborough was a bit far for my walk! but I’d planned a route walking on the track as far as the village of Hawkser where I’d cut across to the coastal path, along which I’d return to Whitby.

The view over Whitby towards the Abbey from the start of the Cinder Track
Going through a cutting
Before long I reached the viaduct over the Esk
Looking down on the River Esk with the railway line running beside it, heading towards the North Yorkshire Moors. The village of Ruswarp in the distance.
Looking over to the North Yorkshire moors
Railway carriages standing at the old station just before Hawkser. There’s an information centre her with a cafe (closed!) and where you can hire bikes. The carriages are holiday lets!
Reaching Hawkser, I crossed over the main road, rejoined the track for a short distance before leaving it to take a track through farmland heading towards the coast.
Reaching a farm, the path cut across fields towards the coast
I joined the coastal path an set off towards Whitby. The path is part of the Cleveland Way which crosses the moors and then follows the cpast to Scarborough and on to Filey
Looking back
It wasn’t all easy going. There were plenty of ups and downs and it was very muddy underfoot. I had to be careful not to slip and slide over the cliffs! I regreted leaving my walking poles behind (I had actually brought them with us but they were in the boot of the car)
Approachng the Whitby High Lighthouse at Ling Hill
Passing the lighthouse. It’s still operational and there’s two holiday cottages – one either side of the tower. Foghorn lodge a little further along the cliffs, has been converted into a family home (luckily the foghorn was taken out of operation in 1997
Foghorn lodge ahead
Continuing along the cliffs
Approaching Saltwick Bay
I diverted down on to the beach
No fossils to be found on the beach today
Back up on the coastal path
Getting closer to Whitby now
Looking down on the reamins of a shipwreck. There’s a couple of people down there as well. I hope they were keeping an eye on the tide that was starting to come in.
Passing the Abbey
St Mary’s church
Looking down on the harbour piers from the churchyard
Looking down towards Whitby
Heading down the 199 steps
Plenty of people on their way up on a fine day

At the bottom of the steps I made my way through the busy streets of the old town, crossed over the bridge and made my way back to our holiday home for a well earned brew!

Christmas in Whitby

Christmas at home didn’t seem so appealing – with four adults stuck in the house where we live and work for the rest of the year. Last year we spent a few days in York; this time we decided to have a week away by the sea in Whitby.

We travelled over the Wednesday before, the shortest day of the year. The weather was fine and, being a few days before the big day, the traffic wasn’t bad so we made it across the Pennines, the Vale of York and the North Yorkshire Moors in good time.

We’d hired a large Victorian house across from Pannett Park and only 5 minutes walk down to the harbour.

Being the shortest day of the year, by the time we’d picked up the keys, unloaded the car and picked up some supplies, it had gone dark, so we picked up some fish and chips for tea (compulsory the first evening by the seaside!) lit the wood burner and settled in for an evening in front of the festive tv.

During our stay, the weather was a mix of grey and very sunny days, and we managed to pack a lot in (as usual), mainly mooching around the old town and walking around the harbour and on the beach. I also managed a good walk on Boxing Day.

Here’s a few shots of popular sites around the town

The Abbey seen from Pannett Park
Classic view across to the Abbey through the Whalebone arch on the West Cliff
“Uncle Jim”
View across the harbour from the West Cliff
The beach from the West Cliff on a sunny Christmas Eve
Statues on the west side of the harbour
Young oystercatchers (I think!) on the harbour wall
One of many Georgian houses in the town

The first day we did a bit of shopping

The old Market hall
A favourite bookshop

We climbed the “99 steps” up to the Parish Church

and went inside to look at the many Christmas trees decorated by local organisations and individuals

Looking across the churchyard to the Abbey

Looking down on the harbour from the church graveyard

Christmas Eve was a crisp and sunny day and I went out for a wander on the beach

Later we had out traditional Christmas Eve buffet

Christmas Eve buffet
Ready for Christmas dinner

We cheated a little for Christmas dinner. We’re not fond of turkey anyway and had bought in a salmon Wellington we were able to cook in the oven along with a selection of pre-prepared vegetables

Christmas dinner

After dinner we went out for a walk on the beach.

and on the west pier

Boxing day was another sunny days and I left the rest of the family having a lie in and went for a good walk taking in the Cinder Track and the coastal path – a report to follow

The Tuesday Bank Holiday, our last day in Whitby, was a grey day which we spent mooching around the town and in the evening had a fish meal in the Fisherman’s Wife on the sea front.

I had scallops (perfectly cooked)

followed by fish and chips, with mushy peas, of course

finishing with a coffee and a fruit tart

Afterwards we climbed the steps to the top of the West cliff to take in the view over the harbour for the last time during our holiday

After a wander through the quiet streets, we settled down for or last might in our accommodation, before turning in for our last night of our Christmas break.

A brief visit to Kirkby Lonsdale

On the last full day of our holiday the weather was pretty grim. It rained all day so, other than going down for an evening meal in one of the pubs, it was a time for, reading, relaxing and doing a bit of tidying.

It was a little brighter the next day as we were loading up the car and we spent half an hour or so doing a little shopping, taking some meat from the local butchers and local cheese home with us.

Driving up to Appleby the previous Friday we could see that there were roadworks on the M6 between Lancaster and Preston and knowing that they were still be there as we drove home we decided that as we weren’t in a hurry to get home that rather than spend an hour sitting in a traffic jam we’d turn off and saunter across country a little. So reaching the turn off for Kirkby Lonsdale, that’s exactly what we did.

We pulled in an parked up on the edge of the small town near the Devil’s Bridge and wandered into town centre with old buildings, stone cottages, cobbled courtyards and narrow alleyways. We had a little mooch around the shops and then made our way towards St Mary’s church.

There’s been a church here since Saxon times but the current building is Norman in origin, although it has been substantially altered over the years, resulting in architectural features from a number of periods.

Norman/Romanesque features include the doorway at the foot of the tower

and three round arches with their associated columns, bulkier than the slender Gothic versions, with a couple of them decorated with diamond shaped carvings , like those in Durham Cathedral.

The other arches are later pointed Gothic style.

The Norman column at the western end of the church has a “Green Man” carved on the capital.

Some nice Victorian stained glass in the lancet windows behind the altar

After looking around the church we walked across the churchyard towards the river. “Ruskin’s View” was cordoned off so we descended down the Radical Steps to the river bank. The steps were built in 1819 by Francis Pearson, a local Liberal. The locals came to call them the Radical Steps on account of his political leanings. There are allegedly 86 stone steps, although we didn’t count them. They were rather steep and uneven and probably easier to go up than down.

The River Lune was running high after all the rain the day before., but we able to make our way along the riverside path

Passing this old house (an old mill, perhaps).

After a short while we reached the Devil’s Bridge, which probably dates from the 12th or 13th century, and is now a scheduled ancient monument. The sun directly behind it didn’t make for a good photo, though.

I did, however, get a decent shot of the Lune from on top of the bridge!

Returning to our car we set off and took the road through pleasant countryside towards Settle, where we stopped to pick up some groceries and a brew and a bite to eat. We then headed back through the scenic Ribble Valley re-joining the M6 at the Tickled Trout. Half an hour later we were back home. It had been good to get away for a short break. The weather had been mixed, but that’s what we expect in Northern England during the Autumn. Nevertheless we’d seen some sights and I’d managed to get up to High Cup Nick on a beautiful sunny day and it’s always good to get the chance to relax and catch up with some reading. Roll on the next break!

A Little Cumbrian History and Pre-history

The day after my walk up High Cup we decided to go out for a drive and visit a few sites in the vicinity of Penrith. Our first stop was a few miles past Brougham Castle – Brougham Hall

This old hall, enclosed within battlements, was built in the 14th century and after years of dereliction has been restored (in fact, still being restored) by a Charitable Trust. It’s free to visit and although there isn’t as much to see as in the nearby medieval castle, it was tointeresting looking around. Some of the buildings have been converted into workshops and retail outlets for a number of small businesses and we had a mooch around the displays. There were several potters and makers of ceramics and I spotted a room of kilns, which I suspect are used communally. There’s also a cafe on the site.

Our next stop was only a few miles away; Mayburgh henge, a prehistoric site at Eamont Bridge on the edge of Penrith, right by the M6. Expecting to see a circle of stones, we were initially a little surprised when we parked up by the site not to really see anything. But when climbed up a steep slope in the middle of a field we realised that we were actually standing on the henge, which was a large oval bank, three metres high, constructed of pebbles collected from the nearby river. It surrounded a central enclosure, in the middle of which was a single standing stone, almost three metres high. (There was a flock of sheep grazing inside the enclosure – more shoe cleaning required on return to the car!).

The English Heritage website tells us that

seven others accompanied this: three more in the centre, forming a square with the fourth, and two pairs flanking the entrance. 

….. (the henge) probably dates to the end of the Neolithic period or the beginning of the Bronze Age, about 4,500 years ago. The function of such large monuments is not fully understood, although it is thought that they played a role in social or ritual activities, perhaps involving trade or astronomical observations.

My photographs really can’t give a proper impression of the structure and it’s scale, so the following aerial shot is pinched from the English Heritage website. You can see how close it is to the M6 which must have been having a quiet day given how few vehicles can be seen.

There’s quite a number of prehistoric sites dotted around Cumbria – there’s another Neolithic earthwork henge close by – King Arthur’s Round Table , also under the stewardship of English Heritage. We didn’t stop to take a look properly but drove past it as we set off to drive to our next objective which was near near Little Salkeld, a village a few miles to the north east of Penrith and on the other side of the A66.

Long Meg and her Daughers

Long Meg and her Daughers is probably one of the most well known of the Prehistoric sites in this part of Northern England. It’s a very impressive oval stone “circle” The monument is 109metres by 93 metres made up a large number of glacial erratic boulders, some standing and some lying prone on the ground. It’s said that you can never count the same number of stones in the circle twice – and if anyone is able to count them all twice and arrive at the same number the spell could be broken and bad luck would ensure! (There’s actually 59 and would have been more in the past)

Long Meg is the tallest stone, about 3.5 metres high, that stands apart from her “daughters” outside the circle, to the southwest. Made of sandstone, a different rock than the stones in the circle which are rhyolite.

Long Meg

There are carvings on the surface of Long Meg

Cup and ring marks on the Long Meg stone.

It’s hard to say whether they were carved by the creators of the monument or by later visitors (the carvings on our “local prehistoric monument – Pike Stones on Anglezarke moor are fairly recent).

Local legend has it that Long Meg was a witch named “Meg of Meldon,” who, along with her daughters, was turned to stone for profaning the Sabbath as they danced wildly on the moor. Alternatively they were coven of witches who were turned to stone by a wizard from Scotland named Michael Scot. Take your pick! But the large Meg stone certainly had the profile of a haggard witch from some angles

Long Meg – the profile of a witch?

Again, it’s difficult to gain a proper appreciation from my photos so here’s an aeriel shot pinched from Wikipedia

There’s apparently a decent walk that takes in the monument and other points of interest. Sharon writes about it on her blog. Something for another day!

Until recently visitors had to park up on the roadside, which must have been rather chaotic especially given how narrow the nearby roads are. However, there’s now a decent sized car park just a short walk away from the site.

High Cup Gill

Our holiday in Appleby wasn’t a walking break but I did manage to tick off a route I’d been wanting to walk for some time. J was quite happy for me to disappear for a day so she could have a little time on her own.

The Monday was pretty awful – wind and rain, but I woke on Tuesday to a fine day, if a little cold when I was loading up the car with my walking gear. It was a short drive of about 5 miles to Dufton, where I parked up in the village car park.

It’s a pleasant former mining village, close to the Pennine Hills with several options for walks. I had planned to walk up to High Cup Nick, the top of High Cup Gill, an almost perfect glacial valley in the north Pennines.

Wikipedia tells us

The Ordnance Survey name the valley as High Cup Gill but it is often referred to by the name High Cup Nick, a name which properly refers in a more limited sense to the point at its northeastern limit where the headwaters of Highcup Gill Beck pass from the relatively flat terrain of High Cup Plain over the lip of High Cup Scar into the valley. ‘Gill’ is a word of Norse origin meaning narrow valley or ravine………….as seen in the classic view southwest over the valley into the Vale of Eden from its head at High Cup Nick, it is considered one of the finest natural features in northern England.

After parking up, I had a quick mooch around the village. Looking at that blue sky and it was hard to believe how awful the weather had been the previous day – but that’s the north of England for you! From the village green I could see that Cross fell and Great Dunn fell were capped with cloud – which isn’t so unusual, but the lower Dufton Pike was cloud free.

But that wasn’t were I was going. I was heading along the Pennine Way in the other direction and had my fingers crossed that the day would stay fine and that I’d get some good views.

It was a bit of a trudge at first up a fairly long stretch of tarmac, although as I climbed steadily views began to open up and the weather looked promising. It was misleadingly warm in the sunshine and I rapidly started peeling off layers – other walkers I met during the morning had also prepared for colder weather and had rucksacks full of fleeces and jackets that weren’t needed!

Looking across to Dufton Pike

The road came to an end after a mile or so, turning into a rough track. I later met a couple of walkers who’d parked up at the end of the tarmac road, which cut out the walk on the tarmac.

Looking back there was a great view over to the Lakeland fells spread out on the horizon. Visibility was good and I could see for miles

I wasn’t going down that track but it looked quite tempting. That could be a way back up to a car parked at the end of the road after a circular route round High Cup Gill.

I then passed through a gate onto the fell proper.

I passed an old lime kiln

It was a gradual climb up the side of the hillside, but, initially, the valley wasn’t visible being obstructed by the undulating landscape. But then, suddenly, it’s there before you.

Looking back down the valley.

The geology of the valley is particularly interesting, although much of the rock is limestone,

its rim (is) topped by enormous columns of volcanic rock. This rock, known as dolerite, was created during the Carboniferous period when the movement of tectonic plates forced magma to be squeezed sideways between beds of existing rock. As it then slowly cooled, the magma crystallised and shrank, forming the hexagonal columns that can be seen at High Cup today. (This same layer of dolerite, known as the Great Whin Sill, also forms the ridge along which the Romans built much of Hadrian’s Wall.)

cumbria.com

I soon reached the head of the valley – the High Cup Nick. This was the view – the picture doesn’t do the view justice. I’d been concerned that it wouldn’t live up to it’s reputation and be something of a let down, but it definitely was not, particularly on a fine autumn day with views right across the Eden valley to the Lake District fells.

Looking in the other direction was a more or less featureless moor, wet and boggy.

I stopped for a while enjoying the view and to have a bite to eat and a coffee from my flask. There were a few other people who’d made their way up. I’d walked the last stretch up to the nick with a couple from Darlington, a young couple appeared who’d come over the bogs from Cow Green reservoir over in the East, another solo walker had come up from Murton via Murton Pike, and another person appeared climbing up from the bottom of the valley. I expect it gets very busy up here in the summer and at weekends, but on a fine autumn day mid week before the autumn half term it was fairly quiet and peaceful.

Time to start heading back! I’d decided on a circular route so started to make my way along the south ridge. There were a few options – I could have climbed a bit higher and followed the route over to Murton Pike, but that would have been a longer walk than I’d intended.

The path along the ridge gave good views down into the Gill.

Looking back to the Nick

Crossing the Middle Tongue it got a bit boggy !

but, hey, who cares with views like this

Starting to descend from the Middle Tongue I was back on drier ground amongst the limestone.

Murton Pike was over to my left. It was tempting!

Nearing the bottom of the descent I diverted and turned back following the lower level path that led into the bottom of the Gill. I wanted to get a shot up the valley. The light was good and with the sunlight filtering through cloud in the sky created patterns of light and shade.

I turned back and continued my descent towards the farm at Harbour Flat.

Looking back towards the hills and the Gill

I reached the quiet lane that runs between Dufton and Murton. Some more walking on tarmac for a while

before I turned off along a path through the fields and then joined the route of A Pennine Journey heading towards Dufton

Nearing the village I took the path through the very pleasant woodland that lines Dufton Gill

Then a final climb out of the gill into the village. I had a mooch around the village green taking in the views of the high Pennine hills

The village, “the farmstead where the doves were kept”, goes back to at least the 12th Century and grew during the 17th and 18th centuries when lead mines were opened up on Dufton Fell. Most of the houses around the green are from this period

there are extensive mining remains on Dufton Fell. The early mining leases were granted by the Lords of the Manor of Dufton throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. From about 1820 the mines were taken over by the London Lead Company (the “Quaker Company”). Lead mining ceased on Dufton Fell in 1897; however barytes have been extracted from the spoil heaps on two occasions in the 20th century.

 in the 19th century there were many, including grocer’s, butcher’s (with abbatoir), bakery, general dealer’s and draper’s. The present cafe was the village post office and shop into the 21st century.

Dufton Village Website

It seems like the Quakers were decent employers, building cottages for their workers as well as a school, and a library. They also provided a water supply installing five fountains in the village including this one on the village green, built in 1858.

The former Methodist chapel

It was very quiet. There were a few other walkers returning to their cars but other than that not a sole to be seen. There was a cafe in the old Post office, but it was closed – it doesn’t reopen until Easter – and the village pub, the Stag, didn’t look as if it was open. So no chance of a brew!

I returned to my car and changed out of my boots. After chatting with an older couple who’d been walking with their young adult granddaughter, I set off back to Appleby. It was only a 20 minute drive back tot he cottage where a welcome brew was waiting for me.

A great day out!

Brougham Castle

Leaving Acorn Bank we felt that it was too early to head back to our accommodation on what had been a fine afternoon. It had clouded over somewhat but we decided to drive over to Brougham Castle, only a few miles away up the A66, on the outskirts of Penrith.

There’d been a fortress here since Roman times – the fort of Brocavum which was the start (or finish, depending on your viewpoint!) of High Street, the Roman road that traversed the fells and there were some remnants from those times on display in the small shop at the entrance to the site.

The Medieval structure, the remains of which stand on the site today, had its origins in the 13th Century when the Norman overlord, Robert de Vieuxpoint was given lands on the border with Scotland. Initially it would have consisted of a stone keep surrounded by a timber palisade, but over time it was extended and strengthened. It was in an important location in disputed territory which changed hands several times.

In about 1268 it came under the control of Roger Clifford, an ancestor of Lady Anne, when he married Vieuxpoint’s great granddaughter. Today the castle is under the stewardship of English Heritage. We’re members of Cadw, the Welsh equivalent, who have a reciprocal arrangement with EH so we were waived the entrance fee.

To reach the castle ruins we had to pass through a field of ferocious (!) looking sheep – although the biggest danger was stepping in their droppings which had been left all over the site.

We entered the ruins via the gatehouse and began to explore. High level cloud had come in during the course of the afternoon so we now had dull, flat light, that didn’t make for particularly good photos. Like most old castles, Brougham had been used as a quarry by locals over the years, but there are still substantial remains to look around.

Graffiti on the walls in one of the towers – some of it quite old!

The keep is the oldest part of the castle.

Originally 3 storeys high, additional floors were added increasing its height. It was possible to climb up stairs to the higher storeys from where there were good views over the surrounding countryside and, on a good day, over to the Lake District fells.

The view from the keep over the River eamont towards Penrith
PA160161
Zooming in on Blencathra
PA160162
Zooming in on Clough Head and the Dodds

We spent a good hour exploring the ruins before returning to the car and setting off back to our cottage in Appleby. (Cleaning of shoes was required!)

Acorn Bank

The second full day of our holiday we decided to visit Acorn Bank, a property owned by the National Trust, near the village of Temple Sowerby, just a few miles up the A66 from Appleby. It’s main attractions are the woodlands, gardens and the restored mill rather than the house itself, where only a few ground floor rooms are open – including one used for a second hand bookshop.

It was a decent day, so after parking, we booted up and set out for a pleasant walk through the woods towards the water mill, which was restored by a group of National Trust volunteers. There’s been a mill on the site since at least 1744, initially used for grinding oats and later for producing wheat flour and as a power source for nearby gypsum mines. At one time there were three individual water wheels running in series on the mill race.

Following the Covid pandemic the Acorn Bank Watermill Trust was set up by the mill volunteers to continue to maintain and run the mill and keep it open for visitors to Acorn Bank. It’s open to visit on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, so we were able to see it in operation, grinding wheat to produce flour. Bags of flour were available to purchase so we bought one to take home as a present for our daughter who enjoys baking.

The mill wheel is a pitchback wheel, an adaptation of the overshot type – the water falls on to the back of the top of the wheel at a position of about 11 o’clock.

We carried on through the woods, following the path beside the river, and made our up towards the house.

The National Trust website tells us that

Acorn Bank has a long history that dates back to the 13th century. The first owners were the Knights Templar in 1228, from whom the nearby village of Temple Sowerby got its name.

Parts of the house date from the 16th century, but the main block was rebuilt in the mid-17th century. The whole house was then given a new façade in the 1690s, with Georgian sash windows added in the 1740s.

Only a few rooms on the ground floor are accessible, and one of them is used for the second hand bookshop.

In the former drawing room there was a display of over a hundred varieties of apple from the site’s orchards.

The website tells us

There are 175 varieties of apple here, including rare, local varieties such as the ‘Lady’s Finger of Lancaster’, ‘Keswick Codlin’ and ‘Forty Shilling’.

Outside in the courtyards there were baskets of apples where you could fill a large paper bag for £2. We took advantage of this, of course! We hadn’t heard of most of the types of apple on display, never mind tasted them – supermarkets have such a limited range, these days – but staff were also running an apple tasting of some of the unusual varieties. But there was one of the varieties J had heard off. She is a fan of the author, Tracey Chevalier, and has read her book At the edge of the orchard, which features the Pitmaston Pineapple. She was made up when it was included in the tasting (it really does have a pineapple like taste) and pick some up from the table for our £2 bag!

Before that, though, we’d had a look around the gardens – both ornamental and kitchen

the orchards

and the extensive herb garden

They even had an apiary

We also went for a walk through the woods where we came across the remains of a former drift mine.

The Boazman family, who owned the house in the 19th Century, started to mine gypsum – calcium sulfate dihydrate, a mineral which is the main constituent in many forms of plaster – on the estate during the 1880s. Extraction continued until the late1930’s when it closed as a small scale operation couldn’t compete with larger mines overseas.

At the ends of the woods there were good views on a clear day towards the Pennine Hills, including Cross Fell (the largest English hill outside the Lake District)

and Great Dunn Fell, topped with its distinctive “golf ball”, part of an air traffic control radar station.

We returned to the hall and enjoyed a rather nice coffee in the courtyard before filling our bag of apples and returning to the car.

Saint Anne’s Hospital

At the top of Boroughgate, close to the house where we were staying, there’s a group of almshouses built in the 17th Century on behalf of Lady Anne Clifford known as St Anne’s Hospital. Originally it housed twelve “sisters” (widows who weren’t able to support supporting themselves) plus a “Mother” who responsible for general administration and enforcing rules, including mandatory attendance at prayers each morning in the Hospital’s own chapel. A plaque on the wall tells us

“This Almes House was founded and begun to be built in the year 1651, and was finished and endowed for the yearly maintenance of a Mother, a Reader, and twelve sisters for ever in 1653 by Anne Baronesse Clifford, Cumberland and Vesey, Lady of the Hon. of Skipton in Craven, and Countesse Dowager of Pembroke, Dorsett and Montgomery”

Built of the local red sandstone with a roof of Welsh slate, it’s a Grade 2 listed building.

The complex is open to visitors to walk around the courtyard and gardens during daytime. Let’s take a look inside.

Through the entrance

Inside, there are 13 self-contained cottages, arranged around a central courtyard. Each of these has a bedroom and bathroom upstairs and a downstairs living room with kitchen area. There’s a communal lawn at the rear of the complex.

In the north east corner one of the doors leads to the chapel. We were able to go inside for a look.

Religious texts on the walls

Appleby in Westmorland

A couple of weeks ago we travelled over to Appleby for an autumn break in a rather nice, cosy cottage. It’s a good time of the year – quiet (it was the week before half term) and although the weather was mixed, with some rainy days, we had an enjoyable stay in a small town in the Eden Valley that we’d never visited before.

Appleby was the former county town of the former county of Westmorland, was absorbed into the newly created county of Cumbria as part of local government re-organistaion in 1974, when it officially renamed as Appleby-in-Westmorland. It’s probably best known for the annual Horse Fair in June, when many hundreds of members of the Gypsy and Traveller community from across the country descend on the small town to trade horses, show off and generally have a good time. For the rest of the year, being a little off the beaten track (although only a short drive from the eastern Lake District – we could just about see Blencathra peeping over the houses from one of the windows of our cottage) it’s much quieter, with a population of only around 2,500, although nowhere near as busy as the Lake District, it does attract some tourists and visitors wanting to take advantage of it’s location in pleasant countryside close to the high Pennine hills and only a short drive to the eastern lakes.

Originally an Anglo Saxon (and later Norse) settlement, the “new town” was built in the loop in the river Eden by the Normans, in conjunction with the castle, later home to Lady Anne Clifford during the 17th century. The castle, with the restored Norman Keep, is now a hotel. The grounds can be visited for a fee but were not open during our stay, which was a pity as I’d have liked to explore them and also get a look at the Keep which wasn’t really visible otherwise from the road.

St Lawrence’s Church – view from the river

We were staying at the top of the main street, Boroughgate, just opposite the entrance to the castle grounds. It’s a broad, tree lined, thoroughfare with attractive old houses, many built of the local red sandstone on both sides, with the old parish church at the bottom of the hill near the river.

St Lawrence’s Church – approaching from Boroughgate. The parish church with origins in Norman times. Badly damaged by the Scots in 1388 (boo, hiss) it was restored by Lady Anne Clifford with later modifications during Victorian times.
Lady Anne Clifford and her mother are both buried here.

There were a small number of shops which included two independent butchers selling top quality produce, a bakers and a greengrocers as well as a couple of pubs. Here’s a few pictures of the street

Looking up Boroughgate from the Moot Hall

Shops and pub at the bottom Boroughgate
Shops at the bottom of Boroughgate
The old Moot Hall built in the late 16th Century – now houses the Tourist Information Centre
The “Red House”
Entrance to the Courtyard Gallery on Boroughgate – next door to the Red House
Houses towards the top of Boroughgate
The cross (well, a sundial on a tall pillar) at the top of Boroughgate opposite the Castle entrance and also opposite where we were staying (just out of the picture on the left). There’s another cross at the bottom of the street near the church. In the past the market extended between the two crosses. The cheese market was held near this cross
View over the Eden from the bridge (there’s only one bridge that can be crossed by traffic, at the bottom of the ill close to the church) – this is one of the traditional locations where the Travellers wash their horses during the annual Horse Fair, accessing from the Sands – the bank on the right of the picture
Looking back towards the bridge from the Sands
A view along the river Eden from the Sands

Further upstream, past the castle, there’s a footbridge over the river to Bongate which was the location of the original settlement

The Eden south of the town, and the former Bongate Mill – view from the footbridge
Bongate Mill
The Primrose Stone – one of the Eden Benchmark sculptures that celebrate the River Eden. Carved from red sandstone by Joss Smith.
The deconsecrated St Michael’s church at Bongate

On arrival we had a stroll along the river and then bought a few supplies from the butcher, the baker and grocer (not the candlestick maker) and then settled into our cottage for a relaxing evening, making plans for what we might get up to during the week – more posts to follow!

Compton Verney Part 3 – David Batchelor

 “Colour is universal, but at the same time no one really knows what it is; it’s very familiar yet also entirely strange.”

The main temporary exhibition showing at Compton Verney during our visit was Colour is, the first large-scale survey of work by Scottish artist and writer David Batchelor, featuring 40 years of painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, animation and tapestry.

The Gallery website tells us that

Including work in a wide range of media, from sculpture, installation and drawing, to painting, photography and animation, Colour Is will take visitors on a journey through Batchelor’s career, starting with his pre-colour works from the 1980s. These give way to his earliest experiments with colour and found objects in the ‘90s, and vivid multimedia installations during the 2000s. The exhibition culminates with recent work, including a glowing animation, in which sentences beginning with the words ‘Colour is …’ are projected in a continuously changing colour-saturated space.

Colour is, is certainly a good title for the exhibition – the later works, in particular are very bright and colourful with primary colours dominating the paintings and 3 D works.

In the first room we entered there were giant balls of electrical flex on the floor, looking like enormous balls of wool – a work entitled Dog Days (2005-06)

Dog Days (2005-06)

Most of the paintings on the wall were misleadingly simple brightly coloured “eggs” sitting on pedestals. The simplicity was misleading as a closer look revealed a complex textured surface. To create these, the artist had poured household gloss paint on metal panels allowing it to dry while being gently tilted by the artist, forming interesting wrinkled patterns as they dried. I though they were very effective

Colour Chart 38 (orange) 04.08.11, (2011)
Colour Chart 38 (orange) 04.08.11, (2011)

This painting reminded of the molecular models we used to construct when I was studying chemistry at University

Multi-Colour Chart 34 (multicolour), (2011)

On his website, the artist tells us that

In almost every city I have visited, I have at some point come across a mid-height wall topped-off with shards of broken coloured glass set in concrete. That observation was the starting point for these sculptures.

https://www.davidbatchelor.co.uk/works/sculpture/concretos/

In the next room we visited there were a number of these works on show, made of punctured perspex, all bright primary colours

Works from the Inter-Concerto series – perspex on concrete bases

I liked the way they cast complex shadows on the wall enhancing the 3D effect

There were several works from his Covid Variations series of paintings made during the pandemic

I liked this tapestry

Covid Variation Tapestry, (2022)

The remaining photos show some of the earlier works

A large selection of early works
Two Fold (1990) – not much colour on display here in this simple, but effective painting where the artist has created a 3D effect