Category Archives: Age of Innocence

East Yorkshire – Saint John of Bridlington

On day three of our mini-holiday in East Yorkshire, the heatwave predictably broke, clouds returned, the temperature plummeted and the panic was all over.  This is England not the Costa Blanca.

So we made the short car journey to nearby Bridlington.  Bridlington remains a busy seaside resort because it still has a railway service and after the city of Hull is the second largest settlement in East Yorkshire.

We decided against the harbour and the beach because we had been there previously and quite frankly it is a bit too much English seasidy for us and the seagulls are a nuisance and went instead to the old town.  Free Parking! Where can you find Free Parking these days? Answer – Bridlington Old Town.

The historical centre of Bridlington is absolutely wonderful.

A cobbled street of rapid decay locked into a bygone age, the original Georgian shop windows are grubby, the displays are many decades out of date, the window frames are flaking and pock-marked, no wonder then that they choose this location for filming the remake of the comedy series ‘Dad’s Army’ in 2014. Being a huge ‘Dad’s Army’ fan I was really happy about wandering along this special street and made a note to watch the film when I was back at home. And I did!

We parked the car close to the Bayle Museum, the original fortified gatehouse to Bridlington Priory.  It had free admission so I wasn’t expecting a great deal but as it turned out it was well  worth almost an hour of time spent exploring the seven rooms and the history of Bridlington.  So good in fact that I didn’t have to think twice about paying a voluntary contribution on the way out.  That is unusual for me.

Next we visited the nearby Priory.  In the days of its medieval glory Bridlington Priory was one of the great monastic houses of England. Its wealth and possessions made it a key monastery in the North, one of the largest and richest of the Augustinian order.  The Priory is just a church now and a fraction of its previous size courtesy of the insistence of Henry VIII that it should be demolished in 1537 to remove the potential Catholic pilgrimage site of Saint John of Bridlington.  Henry didn’t like Catholic Saints and Pilgrimages as this challenged his new self-appointed role as Head of the Church of England.

Saint John of Bridlington, it turns out is one of the most famous of English Saints and I am ashamed to admit that I had never heard of him before now.

A little about John courtesy of Wiki…

Born in 1320 in the village of Thwing on the Yorkshire Wolds, about nine miles west of Bridlington, educated at a school in the village from the age of five, completing his studies at Oxford University and then entered the Augustinian Canons Regular community of Bridlington Priory. He carried out his duties with humility and diligence, and was in turn novice master, almsgiver, preacher and sub-prior. He became Canon of the Priory in 1346 and was eventually elected Prior in 1356. He served as Prior for 17 years before his death on 10 October 1379.

During his lifetime he enjoyed a reputation for great holiness and for miraculous powers. It is claimed that on one occasion he changed water into wine. He brought people back from the dead and restored a blind man’s sight.  On another, five seamen from Hartlepool in danger of shipwreck called upon God in the name of John, whereupon the prior himself walked on water and appeared to them and brought them safely to shore. 

It seems that anything Jesus could do, John of Bridlington could match.

So good was John at performing miracles that according to legend he continued to perform them even after he had died of the plague and he continued to bring people back from the dead for some time.  That’s a very good trick if you can do it.  These days I imagine John would be admitted to the Magic Circle.

John of Bridlington was canonised and declared a Saint by Pope Boniface in 1401, he was the last English Saint before the Reformation and the dissolution of the Monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII.

A Saint has to be a patron Saint of something and although John is associated with fishing the patron saint of fishermen had already been bagged by Saint Andrew (I will make you Fishers of Men and all that stuff) so Saint John needed something else.  The Spanish Saint Raymond Nonnat is the patron saint of pregnancy and childbirth but Saint John is very specifically the patron saint of difficult childbirth.  I kid you not.  You could not make it up.

The best bit about the church was a side chapel reserved for prayer where people are invited to leave a note requesting a prayer (or a miracle).  This one was my favourite…

Other Unlikely Saint Stories…

Saint James and Santiago de Compostella

Saint Patrick and Ireland

Saint Spiridon and Corfu

Saint Janurius and the Miracle of the Blood

The Feast of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck

 

East Yorkshire – Hornsea and a Litter Pick

On arrival I was immediately impressed.  I live near the resort town of Cleethorpes but although it is a popular holiday resort it has to be said that it is just a muddy estuary where the sea is barely visible for long periods of the day but this was real North Sea coast with a raging sea, barnacled groynes, pounding surf, churning water and a pebble beach clattering away as it was constantly rearranged by the tidal surge.

 

Read the full story Here…

The National Space Centre in Leicester

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”   –  John F Kennedy                                   

I was born in Leicester (for overseas readers it is pronounced simply as Lester) in June 1954. My family left the city for the nearby town of Rugby six years later. When asked I always say that I am from Leicester and I am always proud to say so.

Last year I visited the city for the first time after sixty years and went to the Richard III exhibition, this time round I went to the National Space Centre in the heart of the city.

Leicester has the National Space Centre because the University of Leicester has played a significant role in Space exploration and the research and development of Space technology.  Not a lot of people know that.  I didn’t!

Despite the so called Tory ‘Levelling Up’ agenda most National Museums are in London but as well as Space in Leicester there are National Museums in York (Railways), Beaulieu (Motor Cars), Wakefield (coal mining) and Portsmouth (Royal Navy).

I am not sure exactly what I thought might be there, after all  I have been to Cape Kennedy in Florida so why did I need to go to the National Space Centre in Leicester.

The place certainly surpassed my modest expectations.

I was immediately impressed.  The centre is four stories high and clad in inflated pillows made of toughened plastic – the same material used on the Eden Project domes in Cornwall.  This material is 1% of the weight of the equivalent amount of glass and post construction was described by the Guardian newspaper as “one of the most distinctive and intriguing new buildings in Britain”.

I imagined that it might take an hour to go round – it took four and the last one was rushed so I will have to go back.  It has sections about the Solar System, the creation of the Universe , a Planetarium, full size rocket displays (I kid you not) and a top floor dedicated to the first moon landing.

I found it really interesting, this member of staff has seen it umpteen times and is clearly bored with it all.  Bored enough to take a nap…

The Apollo 11 space flight seemingly fulfilled US President John F. Kennedy’s aspiration of reaching the Moon before the Soviet Union by the end of the 1960s, which he had expressed during a 1961 speech before the United States Congress.

But not everyone was convinced and almost immediately some theorists began to produce evidence that disputed the Moon landings claim.

Different Moon landing conspiracy theories claim that some or all elements of the Apollo Project and the Moon landings were falsifications staged by NASA and that the landings were faked in some giant hoax.  Some of the more notable of these various claims include allegations that the Apollo astronauts did not set foot on the Moon at all but instead NASA and others intentionally deceived the public into believing the landings did occur by manufacturing, destroying, or tampering with evidence, including photos, telemetry tapes, transmissions, and rock samples.

he most predominant theory is that the entire human landing program was a complete hoax from start to finish. Not a Giant Leap but a Giant Cheat.

Some claim that the technology to send men to the Moon in 1969 was not available or that the Van Allen radiation belts, solar flares, solar wind, coronal mass ejections and cosmic rays made such a trip impossible with a success rate calculated at only 0.017%.  Others argue that because The United States could not allow itself to be seen to fail to achieve Kennedy’s aspiration, the obsession with beating the USSR and the huge sums of money involved (US$ 30 billion) had to be justified, that the hoax was unavoidable.

As the theories gathered momentum it seemed that rather than being filmed on the Moon all of the action actually took place on a film lot and in the middle of the Nevada desert.

For a while I must confess to having been taken in by these conspiracy theories but when I think about it the size and complexity of the alleged conspiracy theory scenarios makes it wholly unlikely.  The most compelling reason of all is the fact that more than four hundred thousand people worked on the Apollo project for nearly ten years and all of these people, including astronauts, scientists, engineers, technicians, and skilled labourers, would have had to keep the secret ever since and that, I suggest, would be completely impossible

My favourite story about the space race is that because it was supposed that a standard ballpoint pen would not work in zero gravity because the ink woudn’t flow to the nib, NASA spent millions of dollars developing the zero-g Space Pen, while the pragmatic Russians came up with the alternative of using a simple pencil or a wax crayon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on an image to view the Gallery…

 

Quiz Time…

1  How many men have walked on the Moon?

2 Who was the third person to walk on the Moon?

3 How many orbits of the Earth did Yuri Gagarin complete in 1961?

4 In what year did Leicester City win the Premier League Title?

5  James T Kirk.  What does the T stand for?

The Fear of Dogs

Yesterday I raised the subject of fear of dogs.  It is called cynophobia.

I don’t like dogs because I see no redeeming features in them. They sweat, they are greasy, they smell, they have bad breath, they shit on the pavements and they urinate up my garden wall.  What is there possibly to like about them?  If I was Prime Minister I would have them all rounded up and destroyed!

And I have to say that I agree with Bill Bryson:

“It wouldn’t bother me in the least…if all the dogs in the world were placed in a sack and taken to some distant island… where they could romp around and sniff each other’s anuses to their hearts’ content and never bother or terrorise me again.” 

Read the full story Here…

From The Archives – Hillmorton County School

The Hillmorton County Junior School was an old Victorian building with high ceilings that soared into the sky and partitioned classrooms with rows of old fashioned wooden desks with years of scratched graffiti  and attached lift up seats on squeaking hinges.

Read the full story Here…

From The Archives – The Spalding Flower Parade

The history of the Spalding Flower Parade stretches back to the 1920s when the acreage and variety of tulip bulbs grown throughout the area surrounding the market town became an annual feast of colour.

Read the Full Story Here…

East Anglia – The Evolution of Caravans and Fish ‘n’ Chips

Warning – the post contains images that some readers might find upsetting.

It had been a glorious day weather wise but the forecast for the next few days was really rather grim and although we arrived in sunshine  clouds were already worryingly close by and the prospects were depressingly bleak.

Before travel I had rather recklessly accepted a challenge from Kim to sometime this week take a dip in the North Sea and although this was only mid March I had rashly accepted.  There was a £10 bet resting on this and as I was not about to part with £10, even to Kim, especially to Kim, so I decided that it had to be done straight away.

Bloody Hell it was cold.  It reminded me of family holidays sixty years ago.

Bad weather didn’t stop us going to the beach in those days and even if it was blowing a gale or there was some drizzle in the air we would be off to to enjoy the sea.  If the weather was really bad we would put up a windbreak and huddle together inside it to try and keep warm.  Most of the time it was necessary to keep a woolly jumper on and in extreme cases a hat as well and Wellington boots were quite normal.

As soon as the temperature reached about five degrees centigrade or just slightly below we would be stripped off and sent for a dip in the wickedly cold North Sea in a sort of endurance test that I believe is these days considered even too tough to be included as part of Royal Marine Commando basic training.

It was rather like being submerged in liquid nitrogen and whilst swimmers in Australia were worrying about sharks we were busy avoiding bits of iceberg that had broken off in the Arctic Ocean.  I can remember one holiday at Walcote, Norfolk, in about 1965 when it was so cold that there was a penguin on the beach!  That is seriously true and being so far from the South Pole I can only imagine that it had escaped from a nearby zoo or aquarium.

I claimed the £10 bet but Kim reneged saying that I hadn’t fully submerged so it didn’t count and the bet was off.  I was too cold to dispute the finer points of the claim.

As promised in the weather forecast the next two days were desperately awful with rain, sleet, snow and high winds whipping in from Scandinavia so for much of the time we were confined to the caravan which was painful but not as bad as swimming in the North Sea.

I have horror memories of caravan holidays.  When I was a boy the family went to caravan holidays all of the time.  Caravans simply had no temperature control, they were hot and stuffy if the sun shone (so that wasn’t too much of a problem, obviously) and they were cold and miserable when it rained, which,  I seem to remember was most of the time .

They  had no bathroom so we had to use the communal camp washroom facilities, it had no electricity so we couldn’t watch TV, it had no kitchen so we couldn’t cook breakfast and it didn’t have heating so when it was cold it was really cold.  The only thing it did have was a bottle of Calor Gas and a one ring hob for boiling a kettle and for lighting hissing gas lamps at night which attracted insects and created so much condensation that after an hour or two, water was dripping off the ceiling onto our sleeping bags on the floor and we were sleeping in a puddle.

As I get older I appreciate more and more what my parents did for me.  They took us for a seaside in a tiny caravan and I can only imagine that they hated it, it must, after all, have been mind-numbingly boring, spending endless hours in a biscuit tin with only the popping of the gas lamp and the smell of  Calor Gas for evening entertainment, especially when it was raining. 

I am pleased to be able to report that modern caravans are much improved and our accommodation had all of the facilities of a modern home with central heating, running water, a bathroom, electricity and a fully equipped kitchen.  So we we filled the fridge with wine, cooked a Shepherd’s Pie that Mum had prepared previously, closed the doors and hunkered down for a couple of days in the comfort of our caravan.

As it turned out it wasn’t bad weather all of the time, only about 95% of the time  out so in between blizzard like Arctic showers and savage North Sea winds we did manage to get out for an hour or two.

I especially wanted to go to Aldeburgh because last time that I was there I had a mind to have some fish and chips from a highly recommended chippy but this was in August and there was queue which lasted well over an hour and however much I like fish and chips I wasn’t prepared to line up for that long.

Today there was no queue so I breezed in and ordered and took them away to the beach to eat them. I sat myself on the sea wall with an uninterrupted  view out over the North Sea, the colour of a day-old bruise, rippling away to the horizon under gunmetal skies. I unwrapped with anticipation and immediately received the anticipated aroma which, once released smells of all the good things in life in the same place at the same time.   The very warmth of it felt like a reassuring defender against the chill wind coming off the sea.

As it happened, the fish was good, the chips were poor, I enjoyed them but I wouldn’t queue for over an hour to buy them.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

East Anglia – Ely to Kessingland

The city of Ely is not only famous for its Cathedral and for eels but also for the fact that it was home in in the 1640s to Oliver Cromwell.  That is his house in the picture above.

Ever since my Dad bought me an Airfix model kit of Oliver Cromwell in about 1960 I have always been fascinated by the English Civil War.  I think this was a defining moment in my life, I immediately became a Roundhead, a Parliamentarian and later a socialist, on the side of the people fighting against wealth, influence, privilege and injustice.  Today I despair that we have a wayward Cavalier liar as our Prime Minister.   The shame of it, the shame of it.

There was also an Airfix model of Charles I but I had Cromwell first.  Charles came with a detachable head.

I have always considered the English Civil War to be the most important conflict of modern Europe because this was a revolution which provided a blueprint for those that followed, principally the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The revolution begins with the moderates calling for reasonable and restrained reform for the exclusive benefit of the aforementioned wealthy and privileged who wanted even more power and wealth.  The problem with moderates of course is that they are on the whole reasonable people but by beginning a process of reform they provide an opportunity  for radicals and agitators to go much further and the English Revolution like those that followed swiftly gained pace.  After the radicals came the extremists, then war, then terror, then regicide.

The English Civil War swept away the supremacy of the Church of England, ended the Divine Right of Kings and embodied the principal of Parliamentary Sovereignty into English politics.  It was the end of medieval feudalism and paved the way for the agrarian and industrial revolutions of the next century.  At its most radical period it introduced the principals of socialism and even communism through the power of the New Model Army and the social ambitions of the Diggers and the Levellers, both proto-socialist political movements.

It is a shame that King Charles had his head cut off but even after sixty years or so of being given that Airfix model I confess that I remain a loyal Roundhead rather than a Cavalier.

So we left Ely and continued west towards the coast but made two short stops along the way along the River Waveney which at nearly sixty miles is the longest river in East Anglia and forms the natural boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk so many times along the route we switched from one county to the next.

We were heading towards the neighbouring towns of Bungay and Beccles both south of the river and in Suffolk.  The region is called East Anglia because the name derives from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Angles, a tribe whose name originated in Anglia, in what is now northern Germany.  The names of towns are different to where I live in Lincolnshire which instead of the Angles and Saxons was invaded and settled by the Vikings.

Fifty years or so ago my Dad had a car called a Ford Anglia.  Later car manufacturers used continental names and  we had the Ford trio of Corsair, Cortina and Granada, Triumph had the Toledo and the Dolomite and the Seat the Ibiza and the Cordoba.  The Anglia was considered too English for continental markets and in 1967 it became the Escort.

This is what we call East Anglia even though this map includes Essex which is a bit common…

At Bungay we stooped long enough to walk the disappointing High Street and to explore the back streets of this languid market town, a distracting jumble of alleys, back lanes that lead nowhere, elegant Georgian houses and the remains of an unexpected castle.

From Bungay we drove the short distance to nearby Beccles where we stayed a little longer, walked another disappointing High Street and made our way down to the river, busy today with pleasure boats where we enjoyed an afternoon cup of tea.

Like grains of sand through our fingers the day was beginning to slip away now and we were close to booking in time at the Parkdean Caravan Village so we left and completed our journey.

On arrival Mum declared the caravan to be completely suitable for a four night sojourn…

… and after approving the accommodation, settling in and unpacking Kim and I went for an early evening walk along the beach.  It was rather wild and cold I have to admit.  We had come to Kessingland fully intending to take a dip in the North Sea but for now that would have to wait.

While we were out Mum prepared her speciality Shepherd’s Pie that she had made earlier…

 

 

A to Z of Cathedrals – E is for Ely in Cambridgeshire

When I was a boy my parents took us on caravan holidays.  I only had bad memories of caravan holidays and refused to ever consider them again until 2006 when my pal Dai Woosnam persuaded me to give modern caravanning a chance.  I did so and now I am happy to have a once a year holiday in a tin shed.

I had been to Kessingland in Suffolk before but we were taking my Mum and she liked it there so we happily selected it again.  I have only been to Suffolk twice before so have missed a lot and cannot claim to be an expert so when I planned the itinerary from Rugby (where my Mum lives)  through East Anglia I looked for new places to visit.

Historically East Anglia consists of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire and maybe Huntigdonshire.  Essex occasionally aspires to be included but has never been admitted for not being posh enough.  On the positive side however it does have a First Class county Cricket Team and the others do not.

I most associate East Anglia with “Sale of The Century”, the quiz of the week with Nicholas Parsons.

We started at Ely in Cambridgeshire.

I have never spent much time in Cambridgeshire, I have only ever been to Cambridge once (not to the University) and missed it out again this time as we took the by-pass and headed deep  into the Fens.  After a few miles of flat, featureless landscape we spotted Ely Cathedral rising majestically from the fields and soaring into the heavens.

I used to believe that every County in England had just one Cathedral but now I know different because Cambridgeshire has two.  Yorkshire has five cathedrals, Lancashire has four and as well as Cambridgeshire, Kent and Hampshire also each have two.  Cambridgeshire has two because of the changing geographical status of Peterborough.  Peterborough used to be in Northamptonshire and then in Huntingdonshire but in 1974 was transferred to Cambridgeshire which gave the County two Cathedrals but left Northamptonshire with none.

Other English Counties without (Anglican) Cathedrals are Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Rutland and Shropshire.

The Fens are drained and reclaimed now for agriculture but  a thousand years ago they were a soggy, waterlogged sort of place and as a boy I grew up on stories of Hereward The Wake who fought the Norman invaders and based his army on the Isle of Ely because only he knew the safe paths through the bogs and safe channels.

This is Hereward the Wake, a sort of eleventh century Brexiteer who would today have a seat in Boris Johnson’s anti Europe government or be writing a column in the Daily Express…

Ely is a small city because the land was previously unsuitable for development so at just twenty-five square miles it is the second  smallest in England after Wells in Somerset and just ahead of Ripon in Yorkshire and Truro in Cornwall.

The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe is geographically the largest diocese of the Church of England covering nearly a fifth of the entire World including North Africa, Europe (but not the UK obviously because this is split between Canterbury and York), a bit of Asia (Turkey) and the countries of the former Soviet Union.

Despite this immensity it has only one cathedral, the Diocesan Cathedral is the Holy Trinity, Gibraltar  and it is headed by the Bishop in Europe, Rob Innes.  Except for having to live in Gibraltar* that sounds like a rather good job to me.

We arrived in Ely and to my delight discovered that the City has free parking.  Free parking is something that is virtually unheard of in the UK.  The previous month I was in Yorkshire where every open  available space has a parking meter.  I am told that in Yorkshire you need a parking ticket when waiting at traffic lights.

Kim and Mum were not desperately keen to visit the Cathedral which was a good job because there is an entrance fee of £8.50 which is normally way above my budget so they slipped into the town to find a coffee shop and I searched the bottoms of my pockets in search loose change.  I still think £8.50 is a lot to pay but have to take into consideration that the annual maintenance budget for the Cathedral is £5m and has to be funded from visitor fees and public donations.

Once inside I had to agree that the admission fee was well worth it.  Not the biggest, tallest or oldest Cathedral but certainly on of England’s finest.  The Cathedral was begun in the seventh century but completed its first build under the Normans once they had dealt with the pesky Hereward The Wake.  It was built in stone quarried in Northamptonshire which is a bit ironic because they might have chosen to build there own but still don’t have one.

The stone was paid for not in gold or coin but in eels in a contract worth eight thousand eels a year.  (The name of the City is derived from eels).  A thousand years ago it seems people were rather partial to eels.  In 1135 King Henry I of England famously died after eating what the chronicler Henry of Huntingdon described as a dinner of carnes murenarum – the flesh of eels.

The king’s doctors had advised against him eating eels, but Henry took little notice and died later of food poisoning.  It turns out that eel blood is poisonous to humans if not cooked correctly.  Rather like the Japanese Puffer Fish and interestingly Japan consumes 70% of the World’s eel catch.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ely Cathedral and after an hour or so discovery returned to the streets to rejoin my travelling companions who had thoughtfully bought me a snack, thankfully not eels but a sausage roll.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

North Yorkshire – Cheese, Buttertubs and a Waterfall

Arriving back in Settle in mid afternoon we  drove east now into the heart of the Dales towards the town of Hawes.

Oh, I do like this place, I lived here once (nearby) in 1996-7.

The Dales is one of the ten National parks of England.  Yorkshire has two of them (Devon also has two but Cornwall has none). The others are Derbyshire, Cumbria and Northumberland in the north, Norfolk in the East and Hampshire and East Sussex in the South.  There are also two in Scotland and three in Wales.

The Yorkshire Dales is so called because it is a collection of river valleys and the hills in between them. ‘Dale’ incidentally comes from a Viking word for valley.

Most of the Dales are named after their river or stream, Swaledale, Wharfedale, Ribblesdale etc. but not Wensleydale which is named after the small village and former market town of Wensley, rather than the more obvious River Ure.

There are a lot of these cow barns in the Dales, they were for keeping cattle sheltered during harsh winters…

The Dales rivers all run west to east from the Pennines draining eventually into the River Ouse. The Ouse is in fact a continuation of the River Ure and the combined length of of 129 miles makes it (after the Severn, the Thames, the Trent, the Wye and the Great Ouse) the sixth longest river of the United Kingdom and the longest to flow entirely in one county.

The Ouse eventually joins the River Trent at Goole to become the Humber Estuary and then drains away into the North Sea.

Hawes is a charming little town and we stayed for a while, walked along its quaint streets, bought some local produce from independent retailers and finished at the famous creamery made some unnecessary purchases and overspent our budget on Wensleydale cheese, once described by T S Eliot as the “Mozart of Cheeses”.

Which other composers might compare to cheese?  Any suggestions anyone?

I am going with Johann  Strauss and Blue Stilton.

A few years ago the owners tried to close the creamery down and move production to next door Lancashire but no self respecting Yorkshire man or woman would allow that to happen – make Yorkshire cheese in Lancashire, whatever next! – so after a management buy-out the staff resumed production for themselves.

Just like the river the main roads run east to west in the Dales  but to get from one to another requires driving across the hills that separate them.  There are many high roads and passes with stunning views of the surrounding valleys and fells, but perhaps the best known is Buttertubs Pass a mountain road at an elevation of 1,732 feet above sea level, 

The climb was once rated by Jeremy Clarkson as “England’s only truly spectacular road”.

There are places to pull in at the summit and you can visit the limestone potholes which give the pass its name. The story goes that as farmers rested at the top of the climb on a hot day – on route to the market in Hawes – they would lower the butter they had produced for sale into the potholes to keep it cool.  Maybe true, maybe not.

More recently Buttertubs Pass featured as the second King of the Mountains climb of the 2014 Grand Depart of the Tour de France. It continues to be a  popular climb for cyclists to come and test themselves.

It is cold at the top…

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At the end of the day we arrived at Castle Bolton where there is a magnificent castle where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned within tall walls, crenulated battlements and expansive views over the Dales but admission was quite expensive and we decided against it and after we had gate-crashed the gardens without payment we drove back to the accommodation stopping briefly in the town of Leyburn for some important grocery supplies – alchohol!

The next morning we planned a walk across the fields to Aysgarth Falls, a natural beauty spot where thousands of gallons of water in the River Ure tumble, leap and cascade over a series of boulders and broad limestone steps.  It was featured as the location for the fight between Robin Hood and Little John in the film ‘Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves’ and in 2005 it was included in a BBC television list of seven best natural places in Northern England.  The other six were The Lake District, River Wear, Whin Sill, River Tees, Holy Island and Morecambe Bay.

After the walk we took a drive to Hardraw Force a waterfall  in Hardraw Scar, a wooded ravine just outside the village of  the same name.  It was four o’clock and the old woman at the visitor centre was preparing to close for the day and was not especially pleased to see us.  As she took our money she told us quite firmly that she would be closing at five and if we were not back she would call the police. 

I am fairly certain that the police have much better things to do with their time than worry about visitors to Hardraw Force staying beyond closing time.

Comprising a single drop of one hundred feet from a rocky overhang  Hardraw Force is claimed to be England’s highest unbroken above ground waterfall.  The highest single drop falls in the World is a lot bigger at seven hundred and forty  feet and is the Kaieteur falls in the Amazon rain forest in Guyana.

As it happened we didn’t need the full hour because it only took ten minutes to walk to the falls, ten minutes to admire it and ten minutes to walk back.  My conspiracy theory is that visitors have to be out by closing time because that is when someone turns the tap (faucet) off.

No need then to call Special Branch or an armed response unit.