Tag Archives: Wensleydale Cheese

On This Day – Leyburn and Middleham in Yorkshire

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 1st August 2016 I was in Yorkshire on ‘Yorkshire Day’…

02 Yorkshire

Middleham describes itself as a township, smaller than a town but bigger than a village and it is a very fine place. Less frantic than other towns in Wesleydale but blessed with history and a magnificent castle, almost as big as the town itself. We parked the car and found a pub for lunch called ‘Richard III’.

Richard III was the last Plantagenet and House of York King of England, the last King of England killed in combat, at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, and succeeded by the victorious Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster.  Before he became King in 1482 he lived for a while in the castle here in Middleham.

Richard III

 

Read The Full Story Here…

North Yorkshire – Leyburn, Middleham, Yorkshire Day and Richard III

Richard III Middleham castle

“Now is the winter of our discontent 
Made glorious summer by this sun of York.”

William Shakespeare – Richard III, Act 1 Scene 1

The following morning we drove once more to Leyburn and this time the chocolate factory workshop was open so we spent a full morning there while the children made chocolate pizza and Kim and Sally drank coffee and ate chocolate cake.

Next we drove to the town centre which was horribly busy once more and after we had secured a much prized parking place I gave in to the demands of the others and visited the shops.  Actually, I rather liked the shops in Leyburn  and the reason for that was that there were none that I recognised.

Usually in England every town has the same shops, there is practically no individuality in the town centres.  Every shop that I can expect to find in my home town can be found anywhere else.

Leyburn postcard

These are not shops that interest me a great deal in Grimsby where I live so it was completely unlikely that they would do so elsewhere.  To make it worse, in a typical English town there is an over-supply of banks, building societies and pay-day loan money lenders and the trouble with financial service providers is that they simply cannot make their window displays interesting and except for a different logo all they can display is a list of lending and savings rates most of which are exactly the same anyway.

This, I am happy to report was not the case in Leyburn where there were an abundance of traditional shops owned and run by local traders and I rather enjoyed an hour or so looking around.  Please don’t spread that around too much, it might get back to Kim.

In one shop we were invited to choose a white rose from a basket because today, as it turned out, was ’Yorkshire Day’. 

Yorkshire Day is 1 August to promote and celebrate the historic English county of Yorkshire.  It all began in 1975 started by the Yorkshire Ridings Society, initially in Beverley, as a protest movement against the Local Government re-organisation of 1974 which effectively dismantled the historic old County.

The White Rose County of Yorkshire is the largest in England and for administrative convenience was once divided into Ridings, North, West and East, but no obvious fourth and I wondered why?  Well it turns out that there is a simple explanation because the word Riding is derived from a Danish word ‘thridding’, meaning a third. The invading Danes called representatives from each Thridding to a Thing, or Parliament and established the Ridings System.  I rather like the idea that Parliament is called a Thing! I have heard it called worse.  To this day, Yorkshire consists of three Ridings, along with the City of York, and that’s why there is no fourth, or South, Riding.

Quite a few English Counties have a celebration day, it seems to be a modern thing to do.  Hampshire is 15th July, Suffolk is 21st June but in both cases for no specific reason that I can see.  My County of Lincolnshire has chosen the 1st October which celebrates a Catholic rebellion against the reforms of Henry VIII in 1536.  A look through the list leads me to think that most dates are chosen at random except perhaps for Northamptonshire.  25th October is the feast dates of Saint Crispin, the patron Saint of cobblers and Northampton is famous for making boots and shoes.  The local football club is called ‘The Cobblers’.

Further afield, Melbourne Day in Australia is 30th August and celebrates the founding of the city in 1835.

After some shopping for essential supplies (beer, wine and cracker biscuits for the over-supply of Wensleydale cheese after the previous day’s visit to the dairy) we left Leyburn and carried on to nearby Middleham.

Middleham Postcard

Middleham describes itself as a township, smaller than a town but bigger than a village and it is a very fine place. Less frantic than other towns in Wesleydale but blessed with history and a magnificent castle, almost as big as the town itself. We parked the car and found a pub for lunch inevitably called ‘Richard III’.

Richard was the last Plantagenet and House of York King of England, the last King of England killed in combat, at the battle of Bosworth in 1485, and succeeded by the victorious Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster.  Before he became King in 1482 he lived for a while in the castle here in Middleham.

Thanks to William Shakespeare poor old Richard is mostly remembered as a bad man and an evil King who got what he deserved at the battle of Bosworth but history is now beginning to revise this judgement following the discovery of his bones in an unlikely burial place under a public car park in my home town of Leicester, interestingly no County Day yet surely it has to be the day they found his bones on 25th August.

Richard III

Yorkshire demanded that he should be immediately returned to York for a final decent burial but the discoverers held firm and he now lies in the Cathedral of his adopted County of Leicester.

Leicester has laid claim to Richard III. Some people claim that this is significant.  Leicester City are a football team in England who have never really done anything spectacular.  In 2014 they were playing badly and looked likely to be relegated from the Premier League but after the bones of Richard were found they suddenly began to play like champions and in the following year won the English Premier League.  The reversal of fortune has been attributed by some to Richard III and though it is unlikely it is such a good story that I really want to believe it.

Although Leicester is a large city in the UK there are only three places in U.S.A. named after it, in Massachusetts, North Carolina and Vermont.  As far as I can see there is no Leicester in Canada or in Australia.   Perhaps it is too difficult to pronounce correctly?

After lunch we walked to the castle.  Between us there were mixed opinions about paying the entrance fee but with my new castle enthusiast pal, William, eager to climb the battlements everyone finally gave in and we went inside.

It was once a massive castle, one of the biggest in Northern England built on a site previously garrisoned by both the Romans and the Normans and deep within the labyrinth or towers and walls is a statue of Richard III and for those who say he was evil he looked arm less enough to me!

Middleham Castle

Another from my lead soldier collection, this is Sir John Cheyney, bodyguard to Henry Tudor who is said to have brought down King Richard with his lance…

Sir John Cheyney

North Yorkshire – Wensleydale

Yorkshire Postcard

At school holiday time there is always the threat of an extended visit from the grandchildren which can be a stressful experience as they spend a week dismantling the house and trashing the garden.

Since 2011 I have lived in the east coast town of Grimsby and every so when they visit it is my job to arrange entertainment.  This can be a challenge because to be honest there isn’t a great deal to do in Grimsby

I like the town but it has to be said that it is an odd place.  It is a community in decline.  On the south bank of the Humber Estuary it is so far east that the only place to go after this is the North Sea and there aren’t any ferries to Europe as there are in Hull on the north side of the river.  It is a dead end.  It is a place that you only go to by choice.  No one visits Grimsby by accident.  You cannot stumble upon it while taking a leisurely drive along the coast as say in Northumberland or East Anglia.  It can never be an unexpected discovery.

This year I decided to rent a holiday cottage elsewhere and let them trash someone else’s place instead.  I chose a cottage in the village of Thornton Stewart in North Yorkshire and drove there one busy Friday afternoon along the A1 – The Great North Road, which many people claim is the only good thing that comes out of London.

729127

The A1 route used to be a real chore with inevitable traffic jams and frequent hold-ups but recent investment has seen it upgraded to a three lane motorway which in theory should make it much easier to drive.  Unfortunately, what happens when a road is improved like this is that lots of extra traffic decides to use it so after a very short time the original problem is back again and so it was on this particular day and the journey took far longer than anticipated.

The village of Thornton Stewart is in Wensleydale (one of only a few Yorkshire Dales not currently named after its principal river) and it was immediately obvious that it was rather remote with no local facilities so it was lucky that I had had the foresight to pack food provisions and a few bottles of wine.  And it was severely challenged when it came to communications as well with no Wifi and no useable telephone signal either.  Only forty miles from Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle and no phone signal!

Thornton Stewart Yorkshire

Never mind, we unpacked, picked our bedrooms, Sally and the children rearranged their room in the way that they like it – rather like Belgium after the German Panzer division had passed through on the way to France in 1939 and then we explored the garden and settled down for the evening.

The next morning we planned to drive a route along Wensleydale as far as Hawes in the west and set off early and stopped first at Aysgarth Falls about half way along the route.  Aysgarth Falls is 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.

I had visited Aysgarth Falls before, around about twenty years ago with my children…

Aysgarth Falls 1997

And now I was back with my grandchildren…

Aysgarth Falls North Yorkshire

After Aysgarth we continued to Hawes which was swarming with visitors, too many visitors to make it a comfortable experience and unable to find a parking spot we just carried on to the Hawes creamery factory which is the only place in Wensleydale that continues to make the famous Yorkshire cheese.  A few years ago the owners tried to close it 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.

For a modest fee it was possible to visit the factory and a small museum and an inevitable shop where we overspent on dairy products described sometime before by T S Eliot as the “Mozart of Cheeses”, with a variety of unlikely ingredients – ginger, pineapple, blueberries etc.

Aysgarth Yorkshire

On account of just how busy it was we declined to stop in Hawes and drove back instead to Castle Bolton where there is a magnificent castle where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned with tall walls, crenulated battlements and expansive views over the Dales but admission was quite expensive and not certain that the children would appreciate the visit we decided against it and after we had gate-crashed the gardens without a ticket we drove back to the cottage stopping briefly in the town of Leyburn for some grocery supplies.

I had visited Castle Bolton before, around about twenty years ago with my children…

Castle Bolton 1997

And now I was back with my grandchildren…

Castle Bolton Yorkshire