Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Caravan route to Thirsk

That is how  to go from Old Malton to Hovingham to Coxwold to Thirsk  and then Leyburn , we take the caravan route , not to avoid Sutton Bank, but just because its the scenic route and full of delightful surprises. The meeting point for the converging family cars was Jervaulx Abbey this year, always a treat , and this year we were blessed with sunshine and the free bench overlooking the park for our picnic.

It was a special Holiday for us, all the family in 4 different cottages in our very special place . We have been going to Leyburn for years and staying just off the Market Place in cottages overlooking Wensleydale towards Middleham . Its perfect, because for us , Leyburn is perfect. Ive known it all my life , as my father fished the Ure staying at the Cover Bridge inn for years in the 50s, and then the Rose and Crown ,Bainbridge in the 60s . His week away every May was the eager climax to a winter tying Mayflies and Brown and Olive Duns, and the one we children loved to hear him say , The Bloody Butcher. Its just a year since we found that my mother had never parted with the tins of trout flies, all hooked into disintegrating foam , and made by my father , who died in 1975.
Cover Bridge Inn, Ancient Order of Trout! OKA York Fly Fishers

Picture taken by my father in 1958 ish , l to r: Alan Crosby, Fred Farrow, Vic Leggett , Bob Dales and Colin Dales, my father Benjy Bruce took the photo. So Wensleydale was a very special family place, and is becoming so all over again as the next generations are already  planning another visit.

My father used to say that West Burton Falls were his favourite waterfalls of the many in Wensleydale. The Family found some no one had heard of , a short evening stroll from Leyburn at Harmby, and said they were lovely . Spouse and I however went with daughter 2 and family to West Burton falls  which I had never viewed before. If Id known how picturesque and charming , quiet and with easy parking I'd have got us there in earlier years. Now that spouse is not able to clamber or climb , West Burton with easy access and a seat, and no other people was just a joy for us all. I never realised how constraining health and mobility issues may be . (so recommend West Burton Falls for any one who has them and a car, though the great little White Dales Bus , the Wensleydale Explorer stops in the village )
West Burton Falls Wensleydale

Son in law from Brighton told of a guidebook to Wensleydale that he has that belonged to his parents, both Yorkshire Born. He told of the lovely illustrations and the interesting and well written text. So in every shop in Leyburn  and Hawes  I looked to see if he was talking of the books of Ella Pontefract , Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby my heroines of the Yorkshire Dales, but could not find any of their  titles amongst the shelves heaving with brash photo books of Yorkshire Ghosts and Yorkshire , (not mentioning them incidentally , or Kit Calvert, but of Herriot and Hannah , worthy but accidentally so , the way of celebrity). 

Home in Filey my first task after completing the empty caravan route home  was to seek out the Hartley Woodcuts serving as the illustrations for the 1936 book Of Wensleydale by Ella Pontefract  . I hope that woodcuts come back into fashion, as they are labours of love. Marie Hartley  illustrating Joan Ingilbys text  in the 1950s had abandoned woodcuts for  black and white line drawings, which in  postwar modernism do not have the charm of the earlier medium  for me . 

Barbara Rattenbury nee Bowen  Woodcut

This is a poor repro (didnt want to unframe so glass shine)of my own woodcut done by friend of the family, and dear neighbour in Sutton on Hull,  Barbara Rattenbury nee Bowen . I've known this small woodcut for over 60years and love it. Its not Wensleydale of course , but a coastal location , I know not where.
I'm going back to my nurture/younger  years in other ways without being sans everything . On my allotment I am happily beginning to grow plants for Dyes. Wensleydale has nailed it , seeing all the wool caught on fences, which years ago I gathered and took home to use in class, as we boldly learned spinning and dyeing . A whole generation taught by me probably still remember when we were allowed to boil up onion skins and chemical mordants, when the classroom reeked , and we eagerly awaited for the stones and string to be removed from the pieces of cotton sheeting and beheld our creations Tied and Dyed. Its coming back to me , Ive made enquiries about getting a Spinning wheel for my dotage when I'm going to sit in the corner and be in no ones way . 


  1. Another amazing post Margaret. What a fascinating history yours is. You really should consider writing a book (using all your wonderful photos of course), while you are still able to put your memories into such colourful words.
    Every post is both a geography and history lesson in one.
    Thanks so much for this latest episode.

  2. Thank you! I think of you and your music , I bet you have a tale or three to tell. Spouse only just manages to walk the short footpath to church for Parish Singers now. He has had to give up all other choirs as he is just not well enough but still loves just singing the hymns. We dont have anthems and only Colin and one other can read music, but it matters not at all to him now, its just the love of singing . I often think of you . You always say it how it is!