'Knitting Fog..!' Early morning mist in fields surrounding our village

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Part 3 = Virtual Tour of Yorkshire

Coxwold, Thirsk and Ripon

Today we are heading south west towards Thirsk, Ripon, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Deer Park. We will take the back country roads again, we could go via York along the main roads, but for scenery the back roads are much nicer. From our village of Little Barugh we make our way to the village of Amotherby 4 miles away and join the main Malton road to Hovingham, this road is actually 2000 years old, having originally been built by the Roman Legions that were based at the Malton Roman Fort, formerly known as Derventio and named for the river Derwent that passes between Malton and Norton. We pass through farmland and several villages, Appleton-le-Street, Barton-le-Street and Slingsby. The le-Street is always an indication of former Roman presence. They always built their roads from a central hub like the spokes of a wheel, and always very straight. Later influences such as the Vikings and Normans who invaded our island may have created diversions and bends in roads to accommodate reclaimed land. Now that the harvest has been gathered in, some of the fields are still white with stubble, though most of the huge round bales have been gathered in and stored in the barns, other fields have already been ploughed up ready for the next crop. We may find ourselves trailing behind a tractor pulling the huge fearsome looking plough shares, though they are not as big as the massive Harvesting machines that seemed to take up the entire road when they were travelling from one farm to another during the harvesting. Very few farmers here could afford to buy one for themselves, so the machines are shared among many.

Hovingham Hall is the family seat of the Worsley family, their daughter Katherine married H.R.H. Duke of Kent back in 1961. Her father was the Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire. If you click on the link for Hovingham you will see a view of the backside of the house overlooking the park. The road we take passes on the right side of that view, they have a large herd of cattle in the park as well as on land on the other side of the road. There is a stream that runs down towards the house with a small hump-back bridge over it that is a public right of way, and it is a pleasant walk if you are not afraid of walking amongst the cattle.

As we carry on up the road the fields on either side give way to forest and the road is an up and down switchback full of bends. There are deer in the forests, at springtime the verges are covered in primroses and in May the ground beneath the trees turns blue with carpets of bluebells. This road is where we often find ourselves travelling through green tunnels as the trees meet overhead on this narrow road. Eventually we come to open fields again and turn right at a T junction to head down towards the village of Coxwold, as we come down the winding hill we get our first glimpse of the Kilburn White Horse, then pass Newburgh Priory and a large man-made pond were ducks wait for visitors to feed them and swans glide majestically.

In Coxwold the old schoolhouse there has been a Tea Shop and Bed and Breakfast House for many years now, originally run by a German ex-POW and his Yorkshire born wife, now retired. The business is being carried on by new owners and they serve delicious high teas: ham and eggs, bread and butter, cakes, scones with strawberry preserve and cream and big pots of tea. On the other side of the road opposite the School House Tea Room there is a pottery and a woodworkers show room, the Coxwold Cabinet Maker, he did his apprenticeship with The House of the Mouse at Kilburn: http://www.thompsononename.org.uk/robthom.html all their furniture trademark was a tiny mouse carved into every piece.

The Coxwold Cabinet Maker uses a unicorn’s head as his trademark.

As we head out of Coxwold we pass the church of St. Michael’s on the left, the original church was built on the site of a pagan temple about 757AD, it has an unusual octagonal tower,

At the edge of the village is Shandy Hall, home of the eccentric parson, Laurence Sterne who wrote ‘Tristam Shandy’ and ‘Sentimental Journey’ back in the 18th century, his home, which is still a lived in home, is also a museum to his memory.


Leaving the village we travel for a couple of miles towards the A19, getting an even better view of the Kilburn White Horse, carved into a cliff face on the right across some fields, At the top of the cliff there is a gliding club and a notoriously dangerous road winding steeply down Sutton Bank, an alternative route to Thirsk that I do not care to travel. (I travelled up the bank one night in a decrepit groaning Ukrainian coach, supposedly the best Yalta had to offer, when we had 27 Ukrainian Christian visitors to our town some years ago. I thought it wasn’t going to make it and we’d all have to get out and push!)


We turn onto the A10, a major road leading directly into the market town of Thirsk, passing a group of Gypsy caravans and Vardo’s parked in a lay-by. Towards the end of May many Gypsy caravans and colourful horse drawn Vardo’s head north to Appleby for the annual Horse Fair.

Thirsk was the town in which Alfred White, better known as James Herriot, the Veterinary Surgeon of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ fame began his career. I met him in 1986 at the old house where he and Siegfried Farnon lived and worked from, he was greeting visitors and fans from all over the world and signing autographs in copies of his books. He was a dapper white haired man and very pleasant and interesting to talk to.

From Thirsk we head for Ripon, back out onto a relatively busy country road and fields, passing through several small villages and over the A1, a very busy road from north to south, at this time there are major roadwork’s going on constructing a couple of large roundabouts to cope with the traffic entering and exiting the off-ramps.

Ripon is another market town, where some of my ancestors lived. My great x 3 grandfather Thomas Pybus was a Saddler and had a shop in the market square, his middle daughter Annie Maria and her husband Joshua Illingworth were my great x 2 grandparents, and their eldest of twelve children, Blanche Lillian, was my great grandmother. Joshua was originally from Bradford, born to a large musical family. He was a Lay Preacher and Chorister at Ripon’s famous cathedral, and he also had his own musical group that played at Harrogate Spa. I pass through Ripon every month and stop to bank there and shop. I always look up at the windows of their old shop with living quarters above, half expecting to see a young Blanche Lillian looking back at me. Annie Maria and Joshua were married in the Cathedral.


http://www.ripon-internet.com/Category/135.html More photo’s

Ripon still has a Watchman who goes around Ripon every night at 0pm and blows his horn.
The custom of blowing the wakeman's horn every night at nine o'clock, maintained to this day, is said to have originated about AD 700. It was probably at first a means of calling the people together in case of a sudden invasion, but was afterwards a signal for setting the watch. A horn with a baldric and the motto "Except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain" forms the mayor's badge.
The sentence in green is emblazoned across the frontage of Ripon Town Hall.

http://www.stripes.com/news/american-plays-a-part-in-english-horn-blowing-tradition-1.48836 This one should really interest you!

Well I am going to leave you here in Ripon for the night, there are plenty of B&B’s and hotels to stay at. I will see you tomorrow for the continuation of the journey to Ripley Castle, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Deer Park.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

VT of Y Part 2 The Legend of Roseberry Topping + my latest project

The Legend of Roseberry Topping.

Roseberry Topping was originally known as Óòins bjarg toppen (Odinsberg ), or Odin’s Rock or Crag and is believed to have been a Sacred Hill to our Viking invaders who settled the area.
The legend concerns Osmund, a king of Northumberland and his queen. She had been unable to produce an heir so Osmund prayed very hard that she might conceive, and consulted wise men on the subject. Eventually the queen did give birth to a son, Oswy, but the wise men gave the king bad news. They told him that the child would die by drowning on his second birthday.
Osmund instructed his queen to take their son to the highest part of his kingdom – Odinsberg. They could shelter in an old hermitage - probably a cave – at the top for three days, making sure that Oswy was well away from rivers or ponds during his birthday.
The queen carried the child up the steep hill, 1049 feet in height, and became very tired. On Oswy’s birthday she lay down to rest in the hot sunshine and fell asleep. Oswy wandered off and when the queen woke up there was no sign of him anywhere so she went looking for him and found him drowned in a pool known as Odinsberg Spring, close to the summit of the hill.
The queen became distraught and died not long after her son, they were buried in the churchyard in Tivotdale, from then on Tivotdale became known as Oswy-by-his-mother-lay, now known as the town of Osmotherley, or so it is told.
For further information on the area try this link:
and for photo’s of Roseberry Topping and other areas:
Lord Stones to Stokesley
From Lord Stones, instead of going back to Chop Gate, we will descend the escarpment known as Carlton Bank, a very steep, narrow and winding road that takes us down to the valley we overlooked. From the bottom you can look back up at the top where previously you were standing overlooking the valley. Just a couple of miles further on we come to the pleasant market town of Stokesley. It has a long main street and a couple of car parks that were probably the original market squares. Between the sidewalks and the road there is a cobbled area where cars can park free.
When we were on our way home from Middlesborough we stopped off at Stokesley as I wanted to visit Boyes Store, to find some beads for a shawl I am knitting, and as we entered the town we were astounded to see that a huge Carnival had taken over all the car parks and the cobbled area throughout the town. I’ve never seen such a large carnival, it had literally taken over the town, extending down side streets too. They had arrived the previous night and were getting ready to open up for the evening, it was planned to be there for three days during the Stokesley Show which was taking place on a show field on the outskirts of the town. I bought my beads and then we stopped off in a little Italian Bistro for a coffee before setting off home, back along the main road leading through Chop Gate. It started to rain a little as we approached Helmsley. We Brits grumble about our weather constantly, too much rain, not enough summer, but in reality we should be thankful. It is the rain that keeps our fields so gloriously green and our trees and shrubs so abundant and healthy. Sometimes the green is almost dazzling.
I was asked about the food at Lord Stones Café, depending on the appetite we might just have a bowl of soup and a roll, but it is a BIG bowl and a BIG roll! If we are really hungry we will have maybe a roast, pork, beef or chicken with all the trimmings and of course the traditional Yorkshire pudding, or baked Gammon with fried eggs, chips (fries to you) and side salad. There are all kinds of sandwiches, cakes and desserts too. I wrote an article on Lord Stones Café back in 2003 which you can find here:
Unfortunately I have just heard that the owner of Lord Stones has been receiving threats on Facebook recently due to an incident when over 1000 bikers turned up at the café. It can cope with quite a lot of people but certainly not that many at one time, and things became ugly when some of the bikers started using foul language and became aggressive because they couldn’t get served, frightening other customers. I hope it doesn’t happen again, it is such a lovely place to visit.
A Poem I wrote back in 2004 about Yorkshire that has been published several times.

Beauty of Yorkshire
Hills and vales carved by long lost
rivers and icy fingered glaciers,
sparkling streams and rocky shallows
flowing past Alder shaded banks
and daffodils in glorious profusion
proclaim the coming of Spring to the dales.
A valley filled with swirling white mist
where treetops float on an ethereal sea
lapping at verdant, bejewelled and
sun-kissed meadow lined shores,
a magical and mystical scene
and up above a lone curlew calls.
Vast and lonely windswept moorland,
home of purple heather and stunted trees,
habitat of grouse and tiger moth caterpillar,
fens and bogs and hidden Roman roads;
where grazing sheep, legendary ghosts
and strange creatures roam.
Across the wolds to the coast,
sandy beaches and cold North sea
quaint red roofed villages that
cling like limpets to crumbling cliffs
weathering the ravages of storm and sea,
defiant in the face of erosion.
Yorkshire is a treasury of
historic cities and small market towns,
picturesque coastal and inland villages
surrounded by diverse and magnificent scenery,
A county of exceptional beauty
and a sparkling gem in Britain’s crown.

Jackie S Brooks
11th September 2004 (c)

Tomorrow I will take you on a virtual tour in the opposite direction, from Little Barugh, where I live, to Thirsk, Ripon and the outskirts of Harrogate.

My Proddy Rug
I started this a couple of years ago then it ended up in the attic when I ran out of things to cut up.  I needed more red to finish the border, but recently found what I needed at a jumble sale, some old red jackets I could cut into clips, so now the proddy rug is finished.  It's the kind of carpet my grandma used to make, a big one for in front of the fire, and smaller ones for hall and bedrooms, we didn't have wall to wall carpet in those days, just lino.
My two boy cats, Rappy and Jet, love this new rug, Jet likes to 'kill' it, Rappy likes to sleep on it, it's thick, soft and warm.
                                                                Finished Proddy Rug
Proddy Rug Tool and clip of fabric                                                               Vintage Cane Carpet Beater  

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Virtual Tour of Yorkshire

It's been a while since I blogged anything, mainly due to illness, tiredness and lack of enthusiasm, though I have been knitting on and off, mostly socks which I am now addicted to!  But around end of August and September I started writing this Virtual tour for some American friends on another website, one of whom had requested I tell them about Yorkshire in general, so I've decided to put it up here too, in installments.

Virtual Tour of Yorkshire

Well, where do I start? I love Yorkshire, especially the part I am in, the rural countryside. Most of my ancestors on my maternal side come from Yorkshire, though I was born in the south, so in a way I have come back to my roots. Where we are situated is a very rural area, with small market towns and villages. Our village has about 50 residents and is surrounded by agricultural land and sheep, some cattle and several large stables for race horse training.

Yesterday we made the 45 mile journey to Middlesbrough, taking the Stokesley road and passing through Helmsley where my son lives. Helmsley is another small market town and has an old ruined castle, plus Lady Feversham lives just outside Helmsley at Duncombe House, a big stately home. From Helmsley we travelled along a very narrow winding road, there are lots of steep hills and valleys, and the views are wonderful. Patchwork fields in varying shades of green dotted with sheep and cattle, many trees and patches of deciduous woodland and pineforest with picnic areas. Stone built farm houses and homes dotted here and there are built of the local sandstone, with red tiled roofs. The hills above them and beyond the fields are covered in bracken and heather, and the fields are divided by hedges of hawthorn, elderberry, crab apple and blackthorn. Plenty of habitat for the wildlife in the area, deer, badgers, bunnies etc.,

It's the 'silly season' for pheasants and grouse, mating time, and they were all over the place yesterday risking life and wing. It is a very busy road and the birds have no road sense at all. We had to slow down for a bunch of grouse playing around in the middle of the road, shortly after a car appeared behind us and he had to stop altogether. Unfortunately a lot of the birds do get killed.

About halfway to Stokesley we come to a village called Chop Gate, which in local dialect is called 'Chopyat' - if we take a side tour from there, turning off halfway through the village onto a hairpin bend which leads onto a narrow single lane road travelling up a hill for about 3.5 miles we come to a place called Lordstones Cafe, one of our favourite places. It is out in the wilds of Carlton Bank and the cafe is built into a hillside so all you can see is the front. It's very popular with bikers, hikers, tourists and locals, has a very extensive menu and is very reasonable price-wise. As you exit the cafe and look left you can see what looks like the start of a golf course, but it isn't. Walking up between stands of Rowan and fir you come to a 5000 year old standing stone with Celtic markings on it, Walking on up the hill towards the horizon you realise the turf beneath your feet is quite springy and has lots of small wild flowers growing in it. Looking on all you can see is hill top and sky but eventually you come to the edge of a 1000 foot drop into the valley below, spreading out as far as the eye can see on a clear day, more fields, sheep that look like cotton wool blobs and cattle, and way off to the north is the city of Middlesbrough and the northeast coast. It is so quiet, except for the occasional twitter of birds, a hikers voice on the wind or the sound of a tractor far below. Off to the right is a conical shaped hill called Roseberry Topping that has a tragic legend associated with it, tomorrow I'll tell you the tragic tale of the king and queen and their young son.

5000 year old Celtic Standing Stone

The white dots are sheep

To be continued.....

PS I met James Herriot back in 1986 and he autographed a copy of his book for me, his real name was Alfred White and he lived in Thirsk. He passed away some years ago.

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