Snowy Horton Circular

16 Jan: Horton Circular via Dub Cote and Helwith Bridge
Book, alight and return Horton. 7 miles easy.

1st sight PyG

First view of Pen-Y-Ghent Continue reading


Washburn Heritage Centre and Swinsty Reservoir

heritage centre signIt’s been a very, very wet Christmas season here in Yorkshire and elsewhere in the north of England. But while the local A65 road into Leeds was flooded on Sunday I took off to local reservoirs where it seemed like the world and his wife was exercising its dog. Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs lie just south of Thruscross Reservoir where I was walking recently. Continue reading

A Book Launch at Middlethorpe Hall, York

Garden Equation

A couple of months ago I contacted Sally Tierney (The Yorkshire Garden Designer) as I’m hoping to improve an overgrown area of the garden and make it into a little haven of tranquility with raised beds of herbs and flowers and a special garden seat but with minimal upkeep as I am away such a lot. I liked her premise that your garden should fit into your lifestyle and not the other way round. When she first arrived in October and we talked about my ideas she christened it ‘The Reading Garden’. Sally then told me about her forthcoming publication and invited me to the book launch. Continue reading

Fountains Abbey to Markenfield Hall

autumn colours

Autumn colours at the start of the walk

The area around Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire provides several opportunities for walking without the need, lovely as it is, to actually enter the grounds. This is especially important when leading a walk for Weekday Wanderers as not all group members are National Trust members. The Trust encourages walks in the area by publishing descriptive leaflets. For me the beauty is also free, reasonably safe parking and the use of facilities at the Visitor Centre. There is also interest in the buildings and landscape and walking is generally pretty level. Continue reading

Wentworth Castle Gardens Revisited

In June 2013 I wrote about my visit to Wentworth Castle Gardens mentioning that I hoped to return to inspect the completed restoration of the Victorian Glasshouse. Yesterday, at last, I managed to get back there and noticed that the trust, the employees, contractors and volunteers had made many further improvements and additions.


The Fully Restored Victorian Glasshouse

Continue reading

Folly! at Fountains

folly leaflet

Folly! is the first of a three year programme that creatively brings the stories of Studley Royal to life, through the vision of some of the country’s most innovative artists and designers.

The original designers of the Studley Royal Water Garden, the Aislabie family, created many follies on this vast and beautiful estate to surprise and delight their eighteenth-century guests. These fashionable, whimsical buildings or structures were often used by garden designers to catch the eye or draw attention to a carefully created vista.

‘Folly!’ will see the temples and follies of this World Heritage Site garden dramatically re-imagined as places of visual trickery and untold histories.

Seek out the Octagon Tower, Temple of Fame, Banqueting House and Temple of Piety this summer and be amazed by installations created by twenty-first century artists in response to the opulent past of this unique place.”

folly map

I’ve written several times here about visits to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – it’s one of my favourite places and easy to get to from home.

My first stop was at The Banqueting Hall. At weekends and during the school holidays the follies are open during the afternoon so I was able to go inside and see Gary McCann’s ‘Scavenger’ close to.


‘Scavenger’ by Gary McCann

Inside The Temple of Piety, which overlooks the Moon Ponds, is The Curious Tale of the Professor and The Temple created by Simon Costin, theatre and set designer. Supported by the jewellers Swarovski, the lavish display is purportedly based on the papers of a Professor Dennistoun of Ripon who died in 1959. He thought Fountains Abbey was the ‘Ancient place of worship now in ruins’ – a line from a prophecy of Old Mother Shipton from nearby Knaresbrough.


An ancient place of worship, now in ruin, One family shall come to dwell in. But lest the old un’s are kept entertained, No male heirs shall take the reins.

in tofp


Diana, the goddess of hunting


I don’t know why the goddess Flora is a teapot!

Next up was The Octagon Tower and a Hall of Mirrors by Irene Brown. It was impossible to take a picture inside so here’s a little video made by the Trust :

octagon tower

The Octagon Tower

Finally, ‘Lost Property’ also by Gary McCann is the Scavenger’s ‘nest’.

lost property

Within the smooth classical pillars of the Temple of Fame the invasion of the landscape continues. Intertwined within the artist’s creation is lost property. Collected from visitors, it provides sustenance to fantastical creatures which have taken up residence in spaces previously controlled by man

folly map cover

A marvellously magical and mysterious day out. I’m still mystified by what I saw!

The Leeds Library Summer Day Out in Whitby

whitby view

The weather on this year’s annual Leeds Library Visit to Whitby could not have been more different from last year’s The Lake District trip. The sun shone all day and the sky was blue as blue. Perfect weather for a day at the seaside. But first stop on our journey was in Pickering where after tea and toast in the Poppies Tearoom we visited the parish church of St Peter and St Paul where medieval wall paintings have been extensively restored. Originally discovered in 1851 they were almost immediately covered over again. In the 1870s they were restored and, as the leaflet tells us :

Nikolaus Pevsner, in his series of books The Buildings of England (1966), wrote that the church has “one of the most complete series of wall paintings in English churches, and they give one a vivid idea of what ecclesiastical interiors were really like”.

Pickering church

Pickering Church

George and dragon

St George and The Dragon Wall Painting

east window

The East Window

Our day out was  primarily to visit the Whitby Literary & Philosophical Society Library and Museum housed in a purpose built art gallery in Pannett Park above the town and with views of the Abbey opposite and the sea beyond.


The Society had been founded in 1823 by a group of Whitby citizens led by The Reverend George Young, a minister of the Presbyterian church. It’s chief object was to set up and maintain a museum specialising in fossils since “Whitby is a chief town of a district abounding with petrifications and containing not a few Antiquities”.

in library

The Society’s Library Today

Initially opened in two rooms over a shop in Baxtergate it subsequently moved to several other locations in the town but finally, by the end of the 19th century the Society decided it needed more space and a new building which opened in 1931 and adjoins the Municipal Art Gallery : The Pannett Art Gallery.

pannett park and abbey

We had an introduction to the collection in a new wing added 10 years ago with funds from The Heritage Lottery Fund. The volunteer curators, Stephen and Fiona, spoke enthusiastically about the collection and the Whitby Merchant Seaman’s Muster Rolls which are an important part of it.

The Muster Rolls are a unique series of historical documents which are the surviving paperwork for the Whitby Merchant Seamen’s Hospital’s regulation of the “seaman’s sixpence”, an eighteenth century pension provision. This pension provided financial support to injured seamen and to the widows and children of seamen who died while serving on merchant ships.


Example of Muster Roll from the Library website

They record a wealth of information about crews and ships, and offer a particularly rare insight into working men’s lives : age and place of birth; port where and when enlisted; where and when leaving the ship; name of the ship and its owners.

The Library holds on microfilm the Whitby Muster Rolls from 1747 to 1795 and also some Whitby Muster Rolls from 1800 to 1850. The Museum passed 7,000 Rolls to the Society in 2010. These require careful repair and conservation and much of the cost of this is being defrayed by The Thomas Roe Trust.

The main specialism of the Library is the Whitby local area :

Local History – collections of books, pamphlets, journals, maps, prints and manuscripts for Whitby and the surrounding area (approx. 15 miles radius)

oblique sailing

Maritime History – collections of books, Lloyds registers, and records including muster rolls, and ships’ account and log books


Geology – extensive collection of books and journals relating to the history of geology and the internationally important discoveries of Jurassic fossils made in the 19th Century in the Whitby area

Industrial heritage – sources for the development of the alum, jet, ironstone, and potash industries and the railways in the area

Family History – many sources including printed parish registers, lists of monumental inscriptions for many local churches, wills, and indexes to wills in the York Registry

Literature and language – a small literature collection focussing on novels, poetry and plays that are either by Whitby writers or are about Whitby, and a small collection on Yorkshire dialect

After tea and biscuits we were free to visit the Library and the Museum and Art Gallery.

After a picnic lunch in the lovely Pannett Park and a final look round the Museum a fellow library member and I headed into town. After a walk along the quayside we climbed the 199 steps to the church and the Abbey for more stunning views before returning to the coach pick-up point and the return journey to Leeds.

Whitby church

Whitby Church


Whitby Abbey

view from steps

View from the Top of the 199 Steps

The Head of Nidderdale


Today’s Dalesbus Walk took us right up to the head of Nidderdale where we took the circular path around Scar House Reservoir then climbed over to the hilltop village of Middlesmoor. Two of us then took the footpath down to Lofthouse where we caught the bus back to Pateley Bridge.

Main Street Pateley Bridge

Pateley Bridge on Sunday morning

Explore the wild and remote country at the head of Nidderdale before finishing in one of its highest villages.
Start: Scar House Reservoir: 11.25
Finish: Middlesmoor: Approx. 15.00
Distance/Grading: 6 miles / Moderate
TRAVEL: Outward: Bus 823/825 from Pateley Bridge (10.50).
Return: Bus 825 to Pateley Bridge, Harrogate and beyond for onward connections.
Walk Leader: Jim

Ornate waterworks

Setting off over the Scar House Dam in bright sunshine

We experienced all weathers as we circled the Scar House Reservoir which forms part of the Bradford water supply. A huge building project and feat of engineering around the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century sent water from the Nidderdale reservoirs (by gravity only – no pumping) to the city of Bradford and supplied work for hundreds of navvies :

Scar House Reservoir, Upper Nidderdale
Work on Scar House Reservoir began on 5 October
1921 and took 15 years to complete. Developing
such a vast scheme changed the landscape of Upper
Nidderdale for ever. Less than 100 years ago the
site was a noisy and dangerous work site buzzing
with activity. Huge amounts of manpower had to
be drafted in to build the reservoir and as a result a
whole village was created.

Peaceful Scar House
Now Scar House is characterised by its peace and
solitude. You can still see the remains of where the
village once stood and the landscape is scarred
by the old quarries and railway lines. With a bit of
imagination you can picture the thriving community.


Scar House sudden weather change

Weather can change suddenly!

It’s amazing to think that water piped from here eventually ends up in the taps of houses over 40 miles away by road.

The reservoir above Scar House is Angram also built to serve Bradford and completed in 1916.

Rough Angram waters

 Rough Angram Waters

Angram to Scar House

Scar House from Angram Dam

Luckily after crossing the Angram Dam there is a hut where we were able to shelter from the bitterly cold high winds to eat our lunch.

Sheltering from wind

Sheltering from the winds

View from hut

View from the hut

The walk continued to almost complete the circle round Scar House but we took a steep track (In Moor Lane – part of the Nidderdale Way) away from the reservoir and headed up and over the ridge to arrive eventually at the tiny hilltop village of Middlesmoor and the welcome log stoves and open fires of the Crown Public House.

St Chad's

St Chad’s, Middlesmoor and view to Gouthwaite

St Chad's cross

St Chad’s Cross

The cross dates from the 7th century. It commemorates St Ceadda (St Chad) leader of Celtic Christianity in the north. He was the first bishop of Lichfield and he died in AD 672. It was placed here after being discovered during restoration of the church in the early 1900s.

Path to Lofthouse

Footpath – three-quarters of a mile – to Lofthouse

After warming up by the fire and with an hour to fill before the bus was to leave Middlesmoor I decided to explore the church, enjoy the view from it (one of the best in the country according to Colin Speakman who came along on the walk) and then to head down a further three-quarters of a mile to the lower village of Lofthouse where the bus picked us up in the gloomy dusk to bring us back to Pateley Bridge.