Pendragon Castle and Franks Bridge

Pendragon Castle and Franks Bridge

It was our last day in the Yorkshire Dales, so we made it a good one. We started with a run down the lane (I will miss the lambs in the fields and the stone walls, and the hills surrounding the dale). Then breakfast in Hawes (at Caffe Curlew, which despite the spelling serves excellent food—I had banana loaf with raspberries and yogurt and honey—soo delicious). Later, we went for a drive.

I will never tire of driving through the dales (especially out of season, when the roads are clear, and the views stretch on forever). The roads cling to the side of the hills, rolling up and down with the curves of rock, sometimes with sheep, sometimes mile after mile of nothing but grass. We headed for Kirby Stephen, simply because it looked like a fairly large town not too far away.

In Kirby Stephen we found Franks Bridge, so I took a photo to send to Uncle Frank (as you do). The bridge was hard to find, in a warren of narrow lanes and crooked houses, and absolutely nowhere to park. Later, I learned that it used to be an area owned by the brewery, and all the cottages are converted brewery buildings.

Franks Bridge is a pretty stone bridge crossing the River Eden (not, weirdly, the same River Eden that runs through the Kent town of Edenbridge). It is the starting point for several footpaths, and was built in the 17th century. The bridge is named after one of the brewers (Francis—or Frank to his friends!)

Franks Bridge hidden behind a maze of old brewery buildings.

We wandered up to the centre of town. In the church I found a glass case with a few old objects. They include a tusk which is said to be from the last wild boar in England (before they were all killed by hunters). There is also the ‘breeches Bible’ which is so named because in Genesis, Adam and Eve sewed breeches. The Hebrew word was traditionally translated as ‘aprons.’

Old Bible in a glass case in the church.

Even older than the church or bridge is Pendragon Castle, which sits next to the road on the way to Kirby Stephen. It dates back to the 12th century, and was apparently founded by the father of King Arthur, Uther Pendragon. (I feel those names would have been confusing when Arthur lived at home, but who am I to comment?) Anyway, Uther came to a sticky end when the well was poisoned by the Saxons, so maybe not such a happy place.

A slightly less romantic version has the castle built by Hugh de Morville or Ranulph de Meschines—accounts differ (still in the 12th century though). Hugh de Morville is one of the men who murdered St. Thomas Becket in 1170, so not a nice chap. The castle was nearly destroyed when Scottish raiders tried to burn it down in 1341 (we could never control the Scottish) but was restored and was later owned by Lady Anne Clifford.

Today however, it is beautiful. The walls are crumbling, and aubretia is growing in the cracks, so if you visit be sure to go in April when it’s flowering. It sits on a little hill, the ditch of a moat around it, birds singing in the trees, sheep nestling next to the river below. Definitely a good place to visit to end our holiday.

Hope you have a good day. Thanks for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x


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