Mini-Break in Hawes, Yorkshire Dales

Keeping Watch

We were going to visit the rope-makers but they’re shut. Maybe they got to the end of their tether. Or perhaps they were all Methodist, as the impressive Methodist church sported a rather sad sign which said people had worshipped there from 1800s until 2014. They maybe moved to a different building, but that wasn’t the implication. We decided to visit the cheese-making creamery instead, but they were shut too. (Note to future self: Don’t trust the timings on websites.)  

Instead, we drove to a pretty village (we figured they couldn’t shut a whole village). West Burton is a short drive from Hawes and it has a pretty village green, a waterfall and a Methodist Chapel which is open and friendly (it had daffodils on a bench outside and a sign inviting people to take a posy for their friends and neighbours). We wandered around, were impressed by the age of the buildings, drove back to the cottage. Possibly not as interesting as cheese making, though personally I was rather glad the rope-makers were shut.

Bolton Castle

The next day we were better planned and set off for Bolton Castle in Castle Bolton (village is named after the castle in case you’re confused). I was keen to visit as I had read Queen Mary had been held captive there for a while. Husband was keen to visit because he could sort of remember it has a link to Game of Thrones. The facts are:

Bolton Castle was built in the 14th century by the first Baron of Bolton. He rebelled against Henry VIII who tried to burn down the castle (and damaged it). Later (after it was repaired) Mary Queen of Scots was held there for 6 months. She brought with her lots of staff, including a hairdresser, who needed to lodge with locals, and she brought furnishings from other castles, so it doesn’t sound too bad. Apparently she even escaped at one point, so I’m not sure how closely she was guarded—maybe if she had known what was coming she would have tried a bit harder to get away.

The castle is still owned by descendants of the Baron of Bolton today. It has been used for various films, including Elizabeth, and Anne Boleyn and is also where James Herriot proposed to his wife in the tv series All Creatures Great and Small (which used to be on telly Sunday afternoons, and was one of the very few television programmes that we were allowed to watch in my family on Sundays.)

On Game of Thrones one of the houses is called House Bolton and it’s in the north, and hosts a wedding where I believe everyone is killed. I seem to remember that the house did look very similar to the big square Bolton Castle, but I don’t think there’s any other link. The House Bolton are pretty nasty, so I don’t expect the real Bolton family are too chuffed by the similarities.

The castle is worth a visit, but you don’t need too long. It has a nice teashop, and clean loos, plus wild boar (which were hiding) and birds of prey kept in cages (which makes me sad, because birds should be free to fly). It was interesting structurally because you could see in the fallen-down bits how it would have been, and there were enough intact rooms to wander through, but I couldn’t get a ‘feel’ of the place. There were no whispers of ancient people, I couldn’t imagine the people who once lived there and any ghosts left long ago. Pretty views though.

Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about a much prettier castle, though rather more ruined, that we found beside the road.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Anne E. Thompson
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Yorkshire Dales in the Spring

Market Day

Lambs playing outside the cottage.

We are enjoying a few days in the Yorkshire Dales, staying in a 16th century cottage surrounded by fields of sheep. The cottage is simple, but comfortable, and we’re a short walk away from Hawes.

Pretty 16th century cottage

Today we went to see the animal market in action. I’ve never been to an animal auction before, so it was all very interesting. We arrived during the sheep sales—pens of sheep waiting in a barn. We could hear the chant of the auctioneer, and every few minutes a man opened a door, a few sheep ran along an aisle between the pens, stopping when blocked by a gate that another man held open, they then veered into an empty pen, the man closed the door behind them. It was all very organised. I think everyone else was a farmer, either hoping to buy or sell. But no one frowned at us or asked us why we were there, so we decided to venture into the actual auction.

The auction was held in a room with curved seats like an amphitheatre, the auctioneer at a high desk against one wall and an area at the front with a large pen. The animals were herded along walkways into the pen. Men stood there, and they felt the wool of each batch of sheep. (At least, I think that’s what they were doing, I wouldn’t think farmers would stroke sheep for no reason.) The auctioneer chanted in his sing-song voice, banged his hammer, the exit was opened and the sheep ran out. At one point, a sheep had a loop-out and tried to leap over the fence. Instead of giving her lots of space (which is what I would have instinctively have done) the farmers edged closer, so she was trapped in the corner. Which meant that she couldn’t hurt herself by banging against the fence, nor did she have room to jump again. They obviously knew what they were doing.

I was interested to see a couple of young boys, about ten-years-old, in the ring. (Watching, not being sold!) They had tough boots and sensible haircuts and were obviously farmers of the future. One sat eating a sandwich, the other was at the front, feeling the wool as the sheep came through, copying his dad. They had an ease about them, they had been here before, it was part of the job. I suspect they were rather capable kids, would be handy in an emergency.

We managed to leave the market without buying anything (which was bit of a shame, but I’m not sure how we’d have got a sheep home with us). We walked back to the cottage across the fields. There were calves in the fields, and lots more lambs, a river bubbled next to us with geese swimming, bees buzzed in the blossom, the disused railway line ran over low stone bridges, and the dales rose on either side. A peaceful place in the sunshine. I’m not sure that anywhere really compares with the English countryside on a warm spring morning.

Yorkshire Dales

Hope you have a great day. Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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