Gordon Home

Part 1 out of 4

Produced by Ted Garvin, Michael Lockey and PG Distributed































List of Illustrations

1. York from the Central Tower of the Minster

2. Sleights Moor from Swart Houe Cross

3. An Autumn Scene on the Esk

4. Runswick Bay

5. Sunrise from Staithes Beck

6. Robin Hood's Bay

7. Whitby Abbey from the Cliffs

8. The Red Roofs of Whitby

9. An Autumn Day at Guisborough

10. The Skelton Valley

11. In Pickering Church

12. The Market-Place, Helmsley

13. Richmond Castle from the River

14. A Rugged View above Wensleydale

15. A Jacobean House at Askrigg

16. Aysgarth Force

17. View up Wensleydale from Leyburn Shawl

18. Ripon Minster from the South

19. Fountains Abbey

20. Knaresborough

21. Bolton Abbey, Wharfedale

22. Settle

23. Wind and Sunshine on the Wolds

24. Filey Brig

25. The Outermost Point of Flamborough Head

26. Hornsea Mere

27. The Market-Place, Beverley

28. Patrington Church

29. Coxwold Village

30. The West Front of the Church of Byland Abbey

31. Bootham Bar, York

32. Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

_Sketch Map_




The ancient stone-built town of Pickering is to a great extent the
gateway to the moors of North-eastern Yorkshire, for it stands at the
foot of that formerly inaccessible gorge known as Newton Dale, and is
the meeting-place of the four great roads running north, south, east,
and west, as well as of railways going in the same directions. And this
view of the little town is by no means original, for the strategic
importance of the position was recognised at least as long ago as the
days of the early Edwards, when the castle was built to command the
approach to Newton Dale and to be a menace to the whole of the Vale of

The old-time traveller from York to Whitby saw practically nothing of
Newton Dale, for the great coach-road bore him towards the east, and
then, on climbing the steep hill up to Lockton Low Moor, he went almost
due north as far as Sleights. But to-day everyone passes right through
the gloomy cañon, for the railway now follows the windings of Pickering
Beck, and nursemaids and children on their way to the seaside may gaze
at the frowning cliffs which seventy years ago were only known to
travellers and a few shepherds. But although this great change has been
brought about by railway enterprise, the gorge is still uninhabited,
and has lost little of its grandeur; for when the puny train, with its
accompanying white cloud, has disappeared round one of the great
bluffs, there is nothing left but the two pairs of shining rails, laid
for long distances almost on the floor of the ravine. But though there
are steep gradients to be climbed, and the engine labours heavily,
there is scarcely sufficient time to get any idea of the astonishing
scenery from the windows of the train, and you can see nothing of the
huge expanses of moorland stretching away from the precipices on either
side. So that we, who would learn something of this region, must make
the journey on foot; for a bicycle would be an encumbrance when
crossing the heather, and there are many places where a horse would be
a source of danger. The sides of the valley are closely wooded for the
first seven or eight miles north of Pickering, but the surrounding
country gradually loses its cultivation, at first gorse and bracken,
and then heather, taking the place of the green pastures.

At the village of Newton, perched on high ground far above the dale, we
come to the limit of civilization. The sun is nearly setting. The
cottages are scattered along the wide roadway and the strip of grass,
broken by two large ponds, which just now reflect the pale evening sky.
Straight in front, across the green, some ancient barns are thrown up
against the golden sunset, and the long perspective of white road, the
geese, and some whitewashed gables, stand out from the deepening tones
of the grass and trees. A footpath by the inn leads through some dewy
meadows to the woods, above Levisham Station in the valley below. At
first there are glimpses of the lofty moors on the opposite side of the
dale where the sides of the bluffs are still glowing in the sunset
light; but soon the pathway plunges steeply into a close wood, where
the foxes are barking, and where the intense darkness is only
emphasized by the momentary illumination given by lightning, which now
and then flickers in the direction of Lockton Moor. At last the
friendly little oil-lamps on the platform at Levisham Station appear
just below, and soon the railway is crossed and we are mounting the
steep road on the opposite side of the valley. What is left of the
waning light shows the rough track over the heather to High Horcum. The
huge shoulders of the moors are now majestically indistinct, and
towards the west the browns, purples, and greens are all merged in one
unfathomable blackness. The tremendous silence and the desolation
become almost oppressive, but overhead the familiar arrangement of the
constellations gives a sense of companionship not to be slighted. In
something less than an hour a light glows in the distance, and,
although the darkness is now complete, there is no further need to
trouble ourselves with the thought of spending the night on the
heather. The point of light develops into a lighted window, and we are
soon stamping our feet on the hard, smooth road in front of the
Saltersgate Inn. The door opens straight into a large stone-flagged
room. Everything is redolent of coaching days, for the cheery glow of
the fire shows a spotlessly clean floor, old high-backed settles, a gun
hooked to one of the beams overhead, quaint chairs, and oak stools, and
a fox's mask and brush. A gamekeeper is warming himself at the fire,
for the evening is chilly, and the firelight falls on his box-cloth
gaiters and heavy boots as we begin to talk of the loneliness and the
dangers of the moors, and of the snow-storms in winter, that almost
bury the low cottages and blot out all but the boldest landmarks. Soon
we are discussing the superstitions which still survive among the
simple country-folk, and the dark and lonely wilds we have just left
make this a subject of great fascination.

Although we have heard it before, we hear over again with intense
interest the story of the witch who brought constant ill-luck to a
family in these parts. Their pigs were never free from some form of
illness, their cows died, their horses lamed themselves, and even the
milk was so far under the spell that on churning-days the butter
refused to come unless helped by a crooked sixpence. One day, when as
usual they had been churning in vain, instead of resorting to the
sixpence, the farmer secreted himself in an outbuilding, and, gun in
hand, watched the garden from a small opening. As it was growing dusk
he saw a hare coming cautiously through the hedge. He fired instantly,
the hare rolled over, dead, and almost as quickly the butter came. That
same night they heard that the old woman, whom they had long suspected
of bewitching them, had suddenly died at the same time as the hare, and
henceforward the farmer and his family prospered.

In the light of morning the isolation of the inn is more apparent than
at night. A compact group of stable buildings and barns stands on the
opposite side of the road, and there are two or three lonely-looking
cottages, but everywhere else the world is purple and brown with ling
and heather. The morning sun has just climbed high enough to send a
flood of light down the steep hill at the back of the barns, and we can
hear the hum of the bees in the heather. In the direction of Levisham
is Gallows Dyke, the great purple bluff we passed in the darkness, and
a few yards off the road makes a sharp double bend to get up
Saltersgate Brow, the hill that overlooks the enormous circular bowl of
Horcum Hole, where Levisham Beck rises. The farmer whose buildings can
be seen down below contrives to paint the bottom of the bowl a bright
green, but the ling comes hungrily down on all sides, with evident
longings to absorb the scanty cultivation. The Dwarf Cornel a little
mountain-plant which flowers in July, is found in this 'hole.' A few
patches have been discovered in the locality, but elsewhere it is not
known south of the Cheviots.

Away to the north the road crosses the desolate country like a
pale-green ribbon. It passes over Lockton High Moor, climbs to 700 feet
at Tom Cross Rigg and then disappears into the valley of Eller Beck, on
Goathland Moor, coming into view again as it climbs steadily up to
Sleights Moor, nearly 1,000 feet above the sea. An enormous stretch of
moorland spreads itself out towards the west. Near at hand is the
precipitous gorge of Upper Newton Dale, backed by Pickering Moor, and
beyond are the heights of Northdale Rigg and Rosedale Common, with the
blue outlines of Ralph Cross and Danby Head right on the horizon.

The smooth, well-built road, with short grass filling the crevices
between the stones, urges us to follow its straight course northwards;
but the sternest and most remarkable portion of Upper Newton Dale lies
to the left, across the deep heather, and we are tempted aside to reach
the lip of the sinuous gorge nearly a mile away to the west, where the
railway runs along the marshy and boulder-strewn bottom of a natural
cutting 500 feet deep. The cliffs drop down quite perpendicularly for
200 feet, and the remaining distance to the bed of the stream is a
rough slope, quite bare in places, and in others densely grown over
with trees; but on every side the fortress-like scarps are as stern and
bare as any that face the ocean. Looking north or south the gorge seems
completely shut in. There is much the same effect when steaming through
the Kyles of Bute, for there the ship seems to be going full speed for
the shore of an entirely enclosed sea, and here, saving for the
tell-tale railway, there seems no way out of the abyss without scaling
the perpendicular walls. The rocks are at their finest at Killingnoble
Scar, where they take the form of a semicircle on the west side of the
railway. The scar was for a very long period famous for the breed of
hawks, which were specially watched by the Goathland men for the use of
James I., and the hawks were not displaced from their eyrie even by the
incursion of the railway into the glen, and only recently became

We can cross the line near Eller Beck, and, going over Goathland Moor,
explore the wooded sides of Wheeldale Beck and its water-falls.
Mallyan's Spout is the most imposing, having a drop of about 76 feet.
The village of Goathland has thrown out skirmishers towards the heather
in the form of an ancient-looking but quite modern church, with a low
central tower, and a little hotel, stone-built and fitting well into
its surroundings. The rest of the village is scattered round a large
triangular green, and extends down to the railway, where there is a
station named after the village.



To see the valley of the Esk in its richest garb, one must wait for a
spell of fine autumn weather, when a prolonged ramble can be made along
the riverside and up on the moorland heights above. For the dense
woodlands, which are often merely pretty in midsummer, become
astonishingly lovely as the foliage draping the steep hill-sides takes
on its gorgeous colours, and the gills and becks on the moors send down
a plentiful supply of water to fill the dales with the music of rushing

Climbing up the road towards Larpool, we take a last look at quaint old
Whitby, spread out before us almost like those wonderful old prints of
English towns they loved to publish in the eighteenth century. But
although every feature is plainly visible--the church, the abbey, the
two piers, the harbour, the old town and the new--the detail is all
lost in that soft mellowness of a sunny autumn day. We find an
enthusiastic photographer expending plates on this familiar view, which
is sold all over the town; but we do not dare to suggest that the
prints, however successful, will be painfully hackneyed, and we go on
rejoicing that the questions of stops and exposures need not trouble
us, for the world is ablaze with colour.

Beyond the great red viaduct, whose central piers are washed by the
river far below, the road plunges into the golden shade of the woods
near Cock Mill, and then comes out by the river's bank down below, with
the little village of Ruswarp on the opposite shore. The railway goes
over the Esk just below the dam, and does is very best to spoil every
view of the great mill built in 1752 by Mr. Nathaniel Cholmley.

The road follows close beside the winding river and all the way to
Sleights there are lovely glimpses of the shimmering waters, reflecting
the overhanging masses of foliage. The golden yellow of a bush growing
at the water's edge will be backed by masses of brown woods that here
and there have retained suggestions of green, contrasted with the deep
purple tones of their shadowy recesses. These lovely phases of Eskdale
scenery are denied to the summer visitor, but there are few who would
wish to have the riverside solitudes rudely broken into by the passing
of boatloads of holiday-makers. Just before reaching Sleights Bridge we
leave the tree-embowered road, and, going through a gate, find a
stone-flagged pathway that climbs up the side of the valley with great
deliberation, so that we are soon at a great height, with a magnificent
sweep of landscape towards the south-west, and the keen air blowing
freshly from the great table-land of Egton High Moor.

A little higher, and we are on the road in Aislaby village. The steep
climb from the river and railway has kept off those modern influences
which have made Sleights and Grosmont architecturally depressing, and
thus we find a simple village on the edge of the heather, with
picturesque stone cottages and pretty gardens, free from companionship
with the painfully ugly modern stone house, with its thin slate roof.
The big house of the village stands on the very edge of the descent,
surrounded by high trees now swept bare of leaves.

The first time I visited Aislaby I reached the little hamlet when it
was nearly dark. Sufficient light, however, remained in the west to
show up the large house standing in the midst of the swaying branches.
One dim light appeared in the blue-grey mass, and the dead leaves were
blown fiercely by the strong gusts of wind. On the other side of the
road stood an old grey house, whose appearance that gloomy evening well
supported the statement that it was haunted.

I left the village in the gathering gloom and was soon out on the
heather. Away on the left, but scarcely discernible, was Swart Houe
Cross, on Egton Low Moor, and straight in front lay the Skelder Inn. A
light gleamed from one of the lower windows, and by it I guided my
steps, being determined to partake of tea before turning my steps
homeward. I stepped into the little parlour, with its sanded floor, and
demanded 'fat rascals' and tea. The girl was not surprised at my
request, for the hot turf cakes supplied at the inn are known to all
the neighbourhood by this unusual name.

The course of the river itself is hidden by the shoulders of Egton Low
Moor beneath us, but faint sounds of the shunting of trucks are carried
up to the heights. Even when the deep valleys are warmest, and when
their atmosphere is most suggestive of a hot-house, these moorland
heights rejoice in a keen, dry air, which seems to drive away the
slightest sense of fatigue, so easily felt on the lower levels, and to
give in its place a vigour that laughs at distance. Up here, too, the
whole world seems left to Nature, the levels of cultivation being
almost out of sight, and anything under 800 feet seems low. Towards the
end of August the heights are capped with purple, although the distant
moors, however brilliant they may appear when close at hand, generally
assume more delicate shades, fading into greys and blues on the

Grosmont was the birthplace of the Cleveland Ironworks, and was at one
time more famous than Middlesbrough. The first cargo of ironstone was
sent from here in 1836, when the Pickering and Whitby Railway was

We will go up the steep road to the top of Sleights Moor. It is a long
stiff climb of nearly 900 feet, but the view is one of the very finest
in this country, where wide expanses soon become commonplace. We are
sufficiently high to look right across Fylingdales Moor to the sea
beyond, a soft haze of pearly blue over the hard, rugged outline of the
ling. Away towards the north, too, the landscape for many miles is
limited only by the same horizon of sea, so that we seem to be looking
at a section of a very large-scale contour map of England. Below us on
the western side runs the Mirk Esk, draining the heights upon which we
stand as well as Egton High Moor and Wheeldale Moor. The confluence
with the Esk at Grosmont is lost in a haze of smoke and a confusion of
roofs and railway lines; and the course of the larger river in the
direction of Glaisdale is also hidden behind the steep slopes of Egton
High Moor. Towards the south we gaze over a vast desolation, crossed by
the coach-road to York as it rises and falls over the swells of the
heather. The queer isolated cone of Blakey Topping and the summit of
Gallows Dyke, close to Saltersgate, appear above the distant ridges.

The route of the great Roman road from the south to Whitby can also be
seen from these heights. It passes straight through Cawthorn Camp, on
the ridge to the west of the village of Newton, and then runs along
within a few yards of the by-road from Pickering to Egton. It crosses
Wheeldale Beck, and skirts the ancient dyke round July or Julian Park,
at one time a hunting-seat of the great De Mauley family. The road is
about 12 feet wide, and is now deep in heather; but it is slightly
raised above the general level of the ground, and can therefore be
followed fairly easily where it has not been taken up to build walls
for enclosures.

If we go down into the valley beneath us by a road bearing south-west,
we shall find ourselves at Beck Hole, where there is a pretty group of
stone cottages, backed by some tall firs. The Eller Beck is crossed by
a stone bridge close to its confluence with the Mirk Esk. Above the
bridge, a footpath among the huge boulders winds its way by the side of
the rushing beck to Thomasin Foss, where the little river falls in two
or three broad silver bands into a considerable pool. Great masses of
overhanging rock, shaded by a leafy roof, shut in the brimming waters.

It is not difficult to find the way from Beck Hole to the Roman camp on
the hill-side towards Egton Bridge. The Roman road from Cawthorn goes
right through it, but beyond this it is not easy to trace, although
fragments have been discovered as far as Aislaby, all pointing to
Whitby or Sandsend Bay. Round the shoulder of the hill we come down
again to the deeply-wooded valley of the Esk. And in time we reach
Glaisdale End, where a graceful stone bridge of a single arch stands
over the rushing stream. The initials of the builder and the date
appear on the eastern side of what is now known as the Beggar's Bridge.
It was formerly called Firris Bridge, after the builder, but the
popular interest in the story of its origin seems to have killed the
old name. If you ask anyone in Whitby to mention some of the sights of
the neighbourhood, he will probably head his list with the Beggar's
Bridge, but why this is so I cannot imagine. The woods are very
beautiful, but this is a country full of the loveliest dales, and the
presence of this single-arched bridge does not seem sufficient to have
attracted so much popularity. I can only attribute it to the love
interest associated with the beggar. He was, we may imagine, the
Alderman Thomas Firris who, as a penniless youth, came to bid farewell
to his betrothed, who lived somewhere on the opposite side of the
river. Finding the stream impassable, he is said to have determined
that if he came back from his travels as a rich man he would put up a
bridge on the spot he had been prevented from crossing.



Along the three miles of sand running northwards from Whitby at the
foot of low alluvial cliffs, I have seen some of the finest
sea-pictures on this part of the coast. But although I have seen
beautiful effects at all times of the day, those that I remember more
than any others are the early mornings, when the sun was still low in
the heavens, when, standing on that fine stretch of yellow sand, one
seemed to breathe an atmosphere so pure, and to gaze at a sky so
transparent, that some of those undefined longings for surroundings
that have never been realized were instinctively uppermost in the mind.
It is, I imagine, that vague recognition of perfection which has its
effect on even superficial minds when impressed with beautiful scenery,
for to what other cause can be attributed the remark one hears, that
such scenes 'make one feel good'?

Heavy waves, overlapping one another in their fruitless bombardment of
the smooth shelving sand, are filling the air with a ceaseless thunder.
The sun, shining from a sky of burnished gold, throws into silhouette
the twin lighthouses at the entrance to Whitby Harbour, and turns the
foaming wave-tops into a dazzling white, accentuated by the long
shadows of early day. Away to the north-west is Sandsend Ness, a bold
headland full of purple and blue shadows, and straight out to sea,
across the white-capped waves, are two tramp steamers, making, no
doubt, for South Shields or some port where a cargo of coal can be
picked up. They are plunging heavily, and every moment their bows seem
to go down too far to recover.

The two little becks finding their outlet at East Row and Sandsend are
lovely to-day; but their beauty must have been much more apparent
before the North-Eastern Railway put their black lattice girder bridges
across the mouth of each valley. But now that familiarity with these
bridges, which are of the same pattern across every wooded ravine up
the coast-line to Redcar, has blunted my impressions, I can think of
the picturesqueness of East Row without remembering the railway. It was
in this glen, where Lord Normanby's lovely woods make a background for
the pretty tiled cottages, the mill, and the old stone bridge, which
make up East Row,[1] that the Saxons chose a home for their god Thor.
Here they built some rude form of temple, afterwards, it seems,
converted into a hermitage. This was how the spot obtained the name
Thordisa, a name it retained down to 1620, when the requirements of
workmen from the newly-started alum-works at Sandsend led to building
operations by the side of the stream. The cottages which arose became
known afterwards as East Row.

[Footnote 1: Since this was written one or two new houses have been
allowed to mar the simplicity of the valley.--G.H.]

Go where you will in Yorkshire, you will find no more fascinating
woodland scenery than that of the gorges of Mulgrave. From the broken
walls and towers of the old Norman castle the views over the ravines on
either hand--for the castle stands on a lofty promontory in a sea of
foliage--are entrancing; and after seeing the astoundingly brilliant
colours with which autumn paints these trees, there is a tendency to
find the ordinary woodland commonplace. The narrowest and deepest gorge
is hundreds of feet deep in the shale. East Row Beck drops into this
canon in the form of a water-fall at the upper end, and then almost
disappears among the enormous rocks strewn along its circumscribed
course. The humid, hot-house atmosphere down here encourages the growth
of many of the rarer mosses, which entirely cover all but the
newly-fallen rocks.

We can leave the woods by a path leading near Lord Normanby's modern
castle, and come out on to the road close to Lythe Church, where a
great view of sea and land is spread out towards the south. The long
curving line of white marks the limits of the tide as far as the
entrance to Whitby Harbour. The abbey stands out in its loneliness as
of yore, and beyond it are the black-looking, precipitous cliffs ending
at Saltwick Nab. Lythe Church, standing in its wind-swept graveyard
full of blackened tombstones, need not keep us, for, although its
much-modernized exterior is simple and ancient-looking, the interior is
devoid of any interest.

The walk along the rocky shore to Kettleness is dangerous unless the
tide is carefully watched, and the road inland through Lythe village is
not particularly interesting, so that one is tempted to use the
railway, which cuts right through the intervening high ground by means
of two tunnels. The first one is a mile long, and somewhere near the
centre has a passage out to the cliffs, so that even if both ends of
the tunnel collapsed there would be a way of escape. But this is small
comfort when travelling from Kettleness, for the down gradient towards
Sandsend is very steep, and in the darkness of the tunnel the train
gets up a tremendous speed, bursting into the open just where a
precipitous drop into the sea could be most easily accomplished.

The station at Kettleness is on the top of the huge cliffs, and to
reach the shore one must climb down a zigzag path. It is a broad and
solid pathway until half-way down, where it assumes the character of a
goat-track, being a mere treading down of the loose shale of which the
enormous cliff is formed. The sliding down of the crumbling rock
constantly carries away the path, but a little spade-work soon makes
the track firm again. This portion of the cliff has something of a
history, for one night in 1829 the inhabitants of many of the cottages
originally forming the village of Kettleness were warned of impending
danger by subterranean noises. Fearing a subsidence of the cliff, they
betook themselves to a small schooner lying in the bay. This wise move
had not long been accomplished, when a huge section of the ground
occupied by the cottages slid down the great cliff and the next morning
there was little to be seen but a sloping mound of lias shale at the
foot of the precipice. The villagers recovered some of their property
by digging, and some pieces of broken crockery from one of the cottages
are still to be seen on the shore near the ferryman's hut, where the
path joins the shore.

This sandy beach, lapped by the blue waves of Runswick Bay, is one of
the finest and most spectacular spots to be found on the rocky
coast-line of Yorkshire. You look northwards across the sunlit sea to
the rocky heights hiding Port Mulgrave and Staithes, and on the further
side of the bay you see tiny Runswick's red roofs, one above the other,
on the face of the cliff. Here it is always cool and pleasant in the
hottest weather, and from the broad shadows cast by the precipices
above one can revel in the sunny land- and sea-scapes without that fishy
odour so unavoidable in the villages. When the sun is beginning to
climb down the sky in the direction of Hinderwell, and everything is
bathed in a glorious golden light, the ferryman will row you across the
bay to Runswick, but a scramble over the rocks on the beach will be
repaid by a closer view of the now half-filled-up Hob Hole. The
fisherfolk believed this cave to be the home of a kindly-disposed fairy
or hob, who seems to have been one of the slow-dying inhabitants of the
world of mythology implicitly believed in by the Saxons. And these
beliefs died so hard in these lonely Yorkshire villages that until
recent times a mother would carry her child suffering from whooping-
cough along the beach to the mouth of the cave. There she would call in
a loud voice, 'Hob-hole Hob! my bairn's getten t'kink cough. Tak't off,
tak't off.'

The same form of disaster which destroyed Kettleness village caused the
complete ruin of Runswick in 1666, for one night, when some of the
fisherfolk were holding a wake over a corpse, they had unmistakable
warnings of an approaching landslip. The alarm was given, and the
villagers, hurriedly leaving their cottages, saw the whole place slide
downwards, and become a mass of ruins. No lives were lost, but, as only
one house remained standing, the poor fishermen were only saved from
destitution by the sums of money collected for their relief.

Scarcely two miles from Hinderwell is the fishing-hamlet of Staithes,
wedged into the side of a deep and exceedingly picturesque beck.

The steep road leading past the station drops down into the village,
giving a glimpse of the beck crossed by its ramshackle wooden
foot-bridge--the view one has been prepared for by guide-books and
picture postcards. Lower down you enter the village street. Here the
smell of fish comes out to greet you, and one would forgive the place
this overflowing welcome if one were not so shocked at the dismal
aspect of the houses on either side of the way. Many are of
comparatively recent origin, others are quite new, and a few--a very
few--are old; but none have any architectural pretensions or any claims
to picturesqueness, and only a few have the neat and respectable look
one is accustomed to expect after seeing Robin Hood's Bay.

I hurried down on to the little fish-wharf--a wooden structure facing
the sea--hoping to find something more cheering in the view of the
little bay, with its bold cliffs, and the busy scene where the cobbles
were drawn up on the shingle. Here my spirits revived, and I began to
find excuses for the painters. The little wharf, in a bad state of
repair, like most things in the place, was occupied by groups of
stalwart fisherfolk, men and women.

The men were for the most part watching their womenfolk at work. They
were also to an astonishing extent mere spectators in the arduous work
of hauling the cobbles one by one on to the steep bank of shingle. A
tackle hooked to one of the baulks of timber forming the staith was
being hauled at by five women and two men! Two others were in a
listless fashion leaning their shoulders against the boat itself. With
the last 'Heave-ho!' at the shortened tackle the women laid hold of the
nets, and with casual male assistance laid them out on the shingle,
removed any fragments of fish, and generally prepared them for stowing
in the boat again.

A change has come over the inhabitants of Staithes since 1846, when Mr.
Ord describes the fishermen as 'exceedingly civil and courteous to
strangers, and altogether free from that low, grasping knavery peculiar
to the larger class of fishing-towns.' Without wishing to be
unreasonably hard on Staithes, I am inclined to believe that this
character is infinitely better than these folk deserve, and even when
Mr. Ord wrote of the place I have reason to doubt the civility shown by
them to strangers. It is, according to some who have known Staithes for
a long long while, less than fifty years ago that the fisherfolk were
hostile to a stranger on very small provocation, and only the entirely
inoffensive could expect to sojourn in the village without being a
target for stones.

No doubt many of the superstitions of Staithes people have languished
or died out in recent years, and among these may be included a
particularly primitive custom when the catches of fish had been
unusually small. Bad luck of this sort could only be the work of some
evil influence, and to break the spell a sheep's heart had to be
procured, into which many pins were stuck. The heart was then burnt in
a bonfire on the beach, in the presence of the fishermen, who danced
round the flames.

In happy contrast to these heathenish practices was the resolution
entered into and signed by the fishermen of Staithes, in August, 1835,
binding themselves 'on no account whatever' to follow their calling on
Sundays, 'nor to go out without boats or cobbles to sea, either on the
Saturday or Sunday evenings.' They also agreed to forfeit ten shillings
for every offence against the resolution, and the fund accumulated in
this way, and by other means, was administered for the benefit of aged
couples and widows and orphans.

The men of Staithes are known up and down the east coast of Great
Britain as some of the very finest types of fishermen. Their cobbles,
which vary in size and colour, are uniform in design and the brilliance
of their paint. Brick red, emerald green, pungent blue and white, are
the most favoured colours, but orange, pink, yellow, and many others,
are to be seen.

Looking northwards there is a grand piece of coast scenery. The masses
of Boulby Cliffs, rising 660 feet from the sea, are the highest on the
Yorkshire coast. The waves break all round the rocky scaur, and fill
the air with their thunder, while the strong wind blows the spray into
beards which stream backwards from the incoming crests.

The upper course of Staithes Beck consists of two streams, flowing
through deep, richly-wooded ravines. They follow parallel courses very
close to one another for three or four miles, but their sources extend
from Lealholm Moor to Wapley Moor. Kilton Beck runs through another
lovely valley densely clothed in trees, and full of the richest
woodland scenery. It becomes more open in the neighbourhood of Loftus,
and from thence to the sea at Skinningrove the valley is green and open
to the heavens. Loftus is on the borders of the Cleveland mining
district, and it is for this reason that the town has grown to a
considerable size. But although the miners' new cottages are
unpicturesque, and the church only dates from 1811, the situation is
pretty, owing to the profusion of trees among the houses, has
railway-sidings and branch-lines running down to it, and on the hill
above the cottages stands a cluster of blast-furnaces. In daylight they
are merely ugly, but at night, with tongues of flame, they speak of the
potency of labour. I can still see that strange silhouette of steel
cylinders and connecting girders against a blue-black sky, with silent
masses of flame leaping into the heavens.

It was long before iron-ore was smelted here, before even the old
alum-works had been started, that Skinningrove attained to some sort of
fame through a wonderful visit, as strange as any of those recounted by
Mr. Wells. It was in the year 1535--for the event is most carefully
recorded in a manuscript of the period--that some fishermen of
Skinningrove caught a Sea Man. This was such an astounding fact to
record that the writer of the old manuscript explains that 'old men
that would be loath to have their credyt crackt by a tale of a stale
date, report confidently that ... a _sea-man_ was taken by the
fishers.' They took him up to an old disused house, and kept him there
for many weeks, feeding him on raw fish, because he persistently
refused the other sorts of food offered him. To the people who flocked
from far and near to visit him he was very courteous, and he seems to
have been particularly pleased with any 'fayre maydes' who visited him,
for he would gaze at them with a very earnest countenance, 'as if his
phlegmaticke breaste had been touched with a sparke of love.'

The lofty coast-line we have followed all the way from Sandsend
terminates abruptly at Huntcliff Nab, the great promontory which is
familiar to visitors to Saltburn. Low alluvial cliffs take the place of
the rocky precipices, and the coast becomes flatter and flatter as you
approach Redcar and the marshy country at the mouth of the Tees. The
original Saltburn, consisting of a row of quaint fishermen's cottages,
still stands entirely alone, facing the sea on the Huntcliff side of
the beck, and from the wide, smooth sands there is little of modern
Saltburn to be seen besides the pier. For the rectangular streets and
blocks of houses have been wisely placed some distance from the edge of
the grassy cliffs, leaving the sea-front quite unspoiled.

The elaborately-laid-out gardens on the steep banks of Skelton Beck are
the pride and joy of Saltburn, for they offer a pleasant contrast to
the bare slopes on the Huntcliff side and the flat country towards
Kirkleatham. But in this seemingly harmless retreat there used to be
heard horrible groanings, and I have no evidence to satisfy me that
they have altogether ceased. For in this matter-of-fact age such a
story would not be listened to, and thus those who hear the sounds may
be afraid to speak of them. The groanings were heard, they say, 'when
all wyndes are whiste and the rea restes unmoved as a standing poole.'
At times they were so loud as to be heard at least six miles inland,
and the fishermen feared to put out to sea, believing that the ocean
was 'as a greedy Beaste raginge for Hunger, desyers to be satisfyed
with men's carcases.'

In 1842 Redcar was a mere village, though more apparent on the map than
Saltburn; but, like its neighbour, it has grown into a great
watering-place, having developed two piers, a long esplanade, and other
features, which I am glad to leave to those for whom they were made,
and betake myself to the more romantic spots so plentiful in this broad



Although it is only six miles as the crow flies from Whitby to Robin
Hood's Bay, the exertion required to walk there along the top of the
cliffs is equal to quite double that distance, for there are so many
gullies to be climbed into and crawled out of that the measured
distance is considerably increased. It is well to remember this, for
otherwise the scenery of the last mile or two may not seem as fine as
the first stages.

As soon as the abbey and the jet-sellers are left behind, you pass a
farm, and come out on a great expanse of close-growing smooth turf,
where the whole world seems to be made up of grass and sky. The
footpath goes close to the edge of the cliff; in some places it has
gone too close, and has disappeared altogether. But these diversions
can be avoided without spoiling the magnificent glimpses of the
rock-strewn beach nearly 200 feet below. From above Saltwick Bay there
is a grand view across the level grass to Whitby Abbey, standing out
alone on the green horizon. Down below, Nab runs out a bare black arm
into the sea, which even in the calmest weather angrily foams along the
windward side. Beyond the sturdy lighthouse that shows itself a
dazzling white against the hot blue of the heavens commence the
innumerable gullies. Each one has its trickling stream, and bushes and
low trees grow to the limits of the shelter afforded by the ravines;
but in the open there is nothing higher than the waving corn or the
stone walls dividing the pastures--a silent testimony to the power of
the north-east wind.

After rounding the North Cheek, the whole of Robin Hood's Bay is
suddenly laid before you. I well remember my first view of the wide
sweep of sea, which lay like a blue carpet edged with white, and the
high escarpments of rock that were in deep purple shade, except where
the afternoon sun turned them into the brightest greens and umbers.
Three miles away, but seemingly very much closer, was the bold headland
of the Peak, and more inland was Stoupe Brow, with Robin Hood's Butts
on the hill-top. The fable connected with the outlaw is scarcely worth
repeating, but on the site of these butts urns have been dug up, and
are now to be found in Scarborough Museum. The Bay Town is hidden away
in a most astonishing fashion, for, until you have almost reached the
two bastions which guard the way up from the beach, there is nothing to
be seen of the charming old place. If you approach by the road past the
railway station it is the same, for only garishly new hotels and villas
are to be seen on the high ground, and not a vestige of the
fishing-town can be discovered. But the road to the bay at last begins
to drop down very steeply, and the first old roofs appear. The oath at
the side of the road develops into a very lone series of steps, and in
a few minutes the narrow street flanked by very tall houses, has
swallowed you up.

Everything is very clean and orderly, and, although most of the houses
are very old, they are generally in a good state of repair, exhibiting
in every case the seaman's love of fresh paint. Thus, the dark and worn
stone walls have bright eyes in their newly-painted doors and windows.
Over their door-steps the fishermen's wives are quite fastidious, and
you seldom see a mark on the ochre-coloured hearth-stone with which the
women love to brighten the worn stones. Even the scrapers are sleek
with blacklead, and it is not easy to find a window without spotless
curtains. At high tide the sea comes half-way up the steep opening
between the coastguards' quarters and the inn which is built on another
bastion, and in rough weather the waves break hungrily on to the strong
stone walls, for the bay is entirely open to the full force of gales
from the east or north-east. All the way from Scarborough to Whitby the
coast offers no shelter of any sort in heavy weather, and many vessels
have been lost on the rocks. On one occasion a small sailing-ship was
driven right into this bay at high tide, and the bowsprit smashed into
a window of the little hotel that occupied the place of the present

The railway southwards takes a curve inland, and, after winding in and
out to make the best of the contour of the hills, the train finally
steams very heavily and slowly into Ravenscar Station, right over the
Peak and 630 feet above the sea. On the way you get glimpses of the
moors inland, and grand views over the curving bay. There is a station
named Fyling Hall, after Sir Hugh Cholmley's old house, half-way to

Raven Hall, the large house conspicuously perched on the heights above
the Peak, is now converted into an hotel. There is a wonderful view
from the castellated terraces, which in the distance suggest the
remains of some ruined fortress. At the present time there is nothing
to be seen older than the house whose foundations were dug in 1774.
While the building operations were in progress, however, a Roman
inscribed stone, now in Whitby Museum, was unearthed. It states that
the 'Castrum' was built by two prefects whose names are given. This was
one of the fortified signal stations built in the 4th century A.D. to
give warning of the approach of hostile ships.

Following this lofty coast southwards, you reach Hayburn Wyke, where a
stream drops perpendicularly over some square masses of rock.

There is a small stone circle not far from Hayburn Wyke Station, to be
found without much trouble, and those who are interested in Early Man
will scarcely find a neighbourhood in this country more thickly
honey-combed with tumuli and ancient earth-works. There is no
particularly plain pathway through the fields to the valley where this
stone circle can be seen, but it can easily be found after a careful
study of the large-scale Ordnance Map which they will show you at the



Dazzling sunshine, a furious wind, flapping and screaming gulls, crowds
of fishing-boats, and innumerable people jostling one another on the
sea-front, made up the chief features of my first view of Scarborough.
By degrees I discovered that behind the gulls and the brown sails were
old houses, their roofs dimly red through the transparent haze, and
above them appeared a great green cliff, with its uneven outline
defined by the curtain walls and towers of the castle which had made
Scarborough a place of importance in the Civil War and in earlier

The wide-curving bay was filled with huge breaking waves which looked
capable of destroying everything within their reach, but they seemed
harmless enough when I looked a little further out, where eight or ten
grey war-ships were riding at their anchors, apparently motionless.

From the outer arm of the harbour, where the seas were angrily
attempting to dislodge the top row of stones, I could make out the
great mass of grey buildings stretching right to the extremity of the

I tried to pick out individual buildings from this city-like
watering-place, but, beyond discovering the position of the Spa and one
or two of the mightier hotels, I could see very little, and instead
fell to wondering how many landladies and how many foreign waiters the
long lines of grey roofs represented. This raised so many unpleasant
recollections of the various types I had encountered that I determined
to go no nearer to modern Scarborough than the pier-head upon which I
stood. A specially big wave, however, soon drove me from this position
to a drier if more crowded spot, and, reconsidering my objections, I
determined to see something of the innumerable grey streets which make
up the fashionable watering-place. The terraced gardens on the steep
cliffs along the sea-front were most elaborately well kept, but a more
striking feature of Scarborough is the magnificence of so many of the
shops. They suggest a city rather than a seaside town, and give you an
idea of the magnitude of the permanent population of the place as well
as the flood of summer and winter visitors. The origin of Scarborough's
popularity was undoubtedly due to the chalybeate waters of the Spa,
discovered in 1620, almost at the same time as those of Tunbridge Wells
and Epsom.

The unmistakable signs of antiquity in the narrow streets adjoining the
harbour irresistibly remind one of the days when sea-bathing had still
to be popularized, when the efficacy of Scarborough's medicinal spring
had not been discovered, of the days when the place bore as little
resemblance to its present size or appearance as the fishing-town at
Robin Hood's Bay.

We do not know that Piers Gaveston, Sir Hugh Cholmley, and other
notabilities who have left their mark on the pages of Scarborough's
history, might not, were they with us to-day, welcome the pierrot, the
switchback, the restaurant, and other means by which pleasure-loving
visitors wile away their hardly-earned holidays; but for my part the
story of Scarborough's Mayor who was tossed in a blanket is far more
entertaining than the songs of nigger minstrels or any of the
commercial attempts to amuse.

This strangely improper procedure with one who held the highest office
in the municipality took place in the reign of James II., and the
King's leanings towards Popery were the cause of all the trouble.

On April 27, 1688, a declaration for liberty of conscience was
published, and by royal command the said declaration was to be read in
every Protestant church in the land. Mr. Thomas Aislabie, the Mayor of
Scarborough, duly received a copy of the document, and, having handed
it to the clergyman, Mr. Noel Boteler, ordered him to read it in church
on the following Sunday morning. There seems little doubt that the
worthy Mr. Boteler at once recognized a wily move on the part of the
King, who under the cover of general tolerance would foster the growth
of the Roman religion until such time as the Catholics had attained
sufficient power to suppress Protestantism. Mr. Mayor was therefore
informed that the declaration would not be read. On Sunday morning
(August 11) when the omission had been made, the Mayor left his pew,
and, stick in hand, walked up the aisle, seized the minister, and caned
him as he stood at his reading-desk. Scenes of such a nature did not
occur every day even in 1688, and the storm of indignation and
excitement among the members of the congregation did not subside so
quickly as it had risen.

The cause of the poor minister was championed in particular by a
certain Captain Ouseley, and the discussion of the matter on the
bowling-green on the following day led to the suggestion that the Mayor
should be sent for to explain his conduct. As he took no notice of a
courteous message requesting his attendance, the Captain repeated the
summons accompanied by a file of musketeers. In the meantime many
suggestions for dealing with Mr. Aislabie in a fitting manner were
doubtless made by the Captain's brother officers, and, further, some
settled course of action seems to have been agreed upon, for we do not
hear of any hesitation on the part of the Captain on the arrival of the
Mayor, whose rage must by this time have been bordering upon apoplexy.
A strong blanket was ready, and Captains Carvil, Fitzherbert, Hanmer,
and Rodney, led by Captain Ouseley and assisted by as many others as
could find room, seizing the sides, in a very few moments Mr. Mayor was
revolving and bumping, rising and falling, as though he were no weight
at all.

If the castle does not show many interesting buildings beyond the keep
and the long line of walls and drumtowers, there is so much concerning
it that is of great human interest that I should scarcely feel able to
grumble if there were still fewer remains. Behind the ancient houses in
Quay Street rises the steep, grassy cliff, up which one must climb by
various rough pathways to the fortified summit. On the side facing the
mainland, a hollow, known as the Dyke, is bridged by a tall and narrow
archway, in place of the drawbridge of the seventeenth century and
earlier times. On the same side is a massive barbican, looking across
an open space to St. Mary's Church, which suffered so severely during
the sieges of the castle. The maimed church--for the chancel has never
been rebuilt--is close to the Dyke and the shattered keep, and so
apparent are the results of the cannonading between them that no one
requires to be told that the Parliamentary forces mounted their
ordnance in the chancel and tower of the church, and it is equally
obvious that the Royalists returned the fire hotly.

The great siege lasted for nearly a year, and although his garrison was
small, and there was practically no hope of relief, Sir Hugh Cholmley
seems to have kept a stout heart up to the end. With him throughout
this long period of privation and suffering was his beautiful and
courageous wife, whose comparatively early death, at the age of
fifty-four, must to some extent be attributed to the strain and fatigue
borne during these months of warfare. Sir Hugh seems to have almost
worshipped his wife, for in his memoirs he is never weary of describing
her perfections.

'She was of the middle stature of women,' he writes, 'and well shaped,
yet in that not so singular as in the beauty of her face, which was but
of a little model, and yet proportionable to her body; her eyes black
and full of loveliness and sweetness, her eyebrows small and even, as
if drawn with a pencil, a very little, pretty, well-shaped mouth, which
sometimes (especially when in a muse or study) she would draw up into
an incredible little compass; her hair a sad chestnut; her complexion
brown, but clear, with a fresh colour in her cheeks, a loveliness in
her looks inexpressible; and by her whole composure was so beautiful a
sweet creature at her marriage as not many did parallel, few exceed
her, in the nation; yet the inward endowments and perfections of her
mind did exceed those outward of her body, being a most pious virtuous
person, of great integrity and discerning judgment in most things.'

On one occasion during the siege Sir John Meldrum, the Parliamentary
commander, sent proposals to Sir Hugh Cholmley, which he accompanied
with savage threats, that if his terms were not immediately accepted he
would make a general assault on the castle that night, and in the event
of one drop of his men's blood being shed he would give orders for a
general massacre of the garrison, sparing neither man nor woman.

To a man whose devotion to his beautiful wife was so great, a threat of
this nature must have been a severe shock to his determination to hold
out. But from his own writings we are able to picture for ourselves Sir
Hugh's anxious and troubled face lighting up on the approach of the
cause of his chief concern. Lady Cholmley, without any sign of the
inward misgivings or dejection which, with her gentle and shrinking
nature, must have been a great struggle, came to her husband, and
implored him to on no account let her peril influence his decision to
the detriment of his own honour or the King's affairs.

Sir John Meldrum's proposals having been rejected, the garrison
prepared itself for the furious attack commenced on May 11.

The assault was well planned, for while the Governor's attention was
turned towards the gateway leading to the castle entrance, another
attack was made at the southern end of the wall towards the sea, where
until the year 1730 Charles's Tower stood. The bloodshed at this point
was greater than at the gateway. At the head of a chosen division of
troops, Sir John Meldrum climbed the almost precipitous ascent with
wonderful courage, only to meet with such spirited resistance on the
part of the besieged that, when the attack was abandoned, it was
discovered that Meldrum had received a dangerous wound penetrating to
his thigh, and that several of his officers and men had been killed.
Meanwhile, at the gateway, the first success of the assailants had been
checked at the foot of the Grand Tower or Keep, for at that point the
rush of drab-coated and helmeted men was received by such a shower of
stones and missiles that many stumbled and were crushed on the steep
pathway. Not even Cromwell's men could continue to face such a
reception, and before very long the Governor could embrace his wife in
the knowledge that the great attack had failed.

At last, on July 22, 1645--his forty-fifth birthday--Sir Hugh was
forced to come to an agreement with the enemy, by which he honourably
surrendered the castle three days later. It was a sad procession that
wound its way down the steep pathway, littered with the debris of
broken masonry: for many of Sir Hugh's officers and soldiers were in
such a weak condition that they had to be carried out in sheets or
helped along between two men, and the Parliamentary officer adds rather
tersely, that 'the rest were not very fit to march.' The scurvy had
depleted the ranks of the defenders to such an extent that the women in
the castle, despite the presence of Lady Cholmley, threatened to stone
the Governor unless he capitulated.

Three years later the castle was again besieged by the Parliamentary
forces, for Colonel Matthew Boynton, the Governor, had declared for the
King. The garrison held out from August to December, when terms were
made with Colonel Hugh Bethell, by which the Governor, officers,
gentlemen, and soldiers, marched out with 'their colours flying, drums
beating, musquets loaden, bandeleers filled, matches lighted, and
bullet in mouth, to a close called Scarborough Common,' where they laid
down their arms.

Before I leave Scarborough I must go back to early times, in order that
the antiquity of the place may not be slighted owing to the omission of
any reference to the town in the Domesday Book. Tosti, Count of
Northumberland, who, as everyone knows, was brother of the Harold who
fought at Senlac Hill, had brought about an insurrection of the
Northumbrians, and having been dispossessed by his brother, he revenged
himself by inviting the help of Haralld Hadrada, King of Norway. The
Norseman promptly accepted the offer, and, taking with him his family
and an army of warriors, sailed for the Shetlands, where Tosti joined
him. The united forces then came down the east coast of Britain until
they reached Scardaburgum, where they landed and prepared to fight the
inhabitants. The town was then built entirely of timber, and there was,
apparently, no castle of any description on the great hill, for the
Norsemen, finding their opponents inclined to offer a stout resistance,
tried other tactics. They gained possession of the hill, constructed a
huge fire, and when the wood was burning fiercely, flung the blazing
brands down on to the wooden houses below. The fire spread from one hut
to another with sufficient speed to drive out the defenders, who in the
confusion which followed were slaughtered by the enemy.

This occurred in the momentous year 1066, when Harold, having defeated
the Norsemen and slain Haralld Hadrada at Stamford Bridge, had to hurry
southwards to meet William the Norman at Hastings. It is not
surprising, therefore, that the compilers of the Conqueror's survey
should have failed to record the existence of the blackened embers of
what had once been a town. But such a site as the castle hill could not
long remain idle in the stormy days of the Norman Kings, and William le
Gros, Earl of Albemarle and Lord of Holderness, recognising the natural
defensibility of the rock, built the massive walls which have withstood
so many assaults, and even now form the most prominent feature of

Until 1923 there was no knowledge of there having been any Roman
occupation of the promontory upon which the castle stands. Excavations
made in that year have shown that a massively-built watch tower was
maintained there during the last phase of Roman control in Britain.
This was one of a chain of signal or lookout stations placed along the
Yorkshire coast when the threat of raiders from the mouths of the
German rivers had become serious.



Behold the glorious summer sea
As night's dark wings unfold,
And o'er the waters, 'neath the stars,
The harbour lights behold.

_E. Teschemacher_.

Despite a huge influx of summer visitors, and despite the modern town
which has grown up to receive them, Whitby is still one of the most
strikingly picturesque towns in England. But at the same time, if one
excepts the abbey, the church, and the market-house, there are scarcely
any architectural attractions in the town. The charm of the place does
not lie so much in detail as in broad effects. The narrow streets have
no surprises in the way of carved-oak brackets or curious panelled
doorways, although narrow passages and steep flights of stone steps
abound. On the other hand, the old parts of the town, when seen from a
distance, are always presenting themselves in new apparel.

In the early morning the East Cliff generally appears as a pale grey
silhouette with a square projection representing the church, and a
fretted one the abbey.

But as the sun climbs upwards, colour and definition grow out of the
haze of smoke and shadows, and the roofs assume their ruddy tones. At
midday, when the sunlight pours down upon the medley of houses
clustered along the face of the cliff, the scene is brilliantly
coloured. The predominant note is the red of the chimneys and roofs and
stray patches of brickwork, but the walls that go down to the water's
edge are green below and full of rich browns above, and in many places
the sides of the cottages are coloured with an ochre wash, while above
them all the top of the cliff appears covered with grass. There is
scarcely a chimney in this old part of Whitby that does not contribute
to the mist of blue-grey smoke that slowly drifts up the face of the
cliff, and thus, when there is no bright sunshine, colour and details
are subdued in the haze.

In many towns whose antiquity and picturesqueness are more popular than
the attractions of Whitby, the railway deposits one in some
distressingly ugly modern excrescence, from which it may even be
necessary for a stranger to ask his way to the old-world features he
has come to see. But at Whitby the railway, without doing any harm to
the appearance of the town, at once gives a visitor as typical a scene
of fishing-life as he will ever find. When the tide is up and the
wharves are crowded with boats, this upper portion of Whitby Harbour is
at its best, and to step from the railway compartment entered at King's
Cross into this picturesque scene is an experience to be remembered.

In the deepening twilight of a clear evening the harbour gathers to
itself the additional charm of mysterious indefiniteness, and among the
long-drawn-out reflections appear sinuous lines of yellow light beneath
the lamps by the bridge. Looking towards the ocean from the outer
harbour, one sees the massive arms which Whitby has thrust into the
waves, holding aloft the steady lights that

'Safely guide the mighty ships
Into the harbour bay.'

If we keep to the waterside, modern Whitby has no terrors for us. It is
out of sight, and might therefore have never existed. But when we have
crossed the bridge, and passed along the narrow thoroughfare known as
Church Street to the steps leading up the face of the cliff, we must
prepare ourselves for a new aspect of the town. There, upon the top of
the West Cliff, stand rows of sad-looking and dun-coloured
lodging-houses, relieved by the aggressive bulk of a huge hotel, with
corner turrets, that frowns savagely at the unfinished crescent, where
there are many apartments with 'rooms facing the sea.'

Turning landwards we look over the chimney stacks of the topmost
houses, and see the silver Esk winding placidly in the deep channel it
has carved for itself; and further away we see the far off moorland
heights, brown and blue, where the sources of the broad river down
below are fed by the united efforts of innumerable tiny streams deep in
the heather. Behind us stands the massive-looking parish church, with
its Norman tower, so sturdily built that its height seems scarcely
greater than its breadth. There is surely no other church with such a
ponderous exterior that is so completely deceptive as to its internal
aspect, for St. Mary's contains the most remarkable series of
beehive-like galleries that were ever crammed into a parish church.
They are not merely very wide and ill-arranged, but they are superposed
one abode the other. The free use of white paint all over the sloping
tiers of pews has prevented the interior from being as dark as it would
have otherwise been, but the result of all this painted deal has been
to give the building the most eccentric and indecorous appearance.

The early history of Whitby from the time of the landing of Roman
soldiers in the inlet seems to be very closely associated with the
abbey founded by Hilda about two years after the battle of Winwidfield,
fought on November 15, A.D. 654; but I will not venture to state an
opinion here as to whether there was any town at Streoneshalh before
the building of the abbey, or whether the place that has since become
known as Whitby grew on account of the presence of the abbey. Such
matters as these have been fought out by an expert in the archaeology
of Cleveland--the late Canon Atkinson, who seemed to take infinite
pleasure in demolishing the elaborately constructed theories of those
painstaking historians of the eighteenth century, Dr. Young and Mr.
Lionel Charlton.

Many facts, however, which throw light on the early days of the abbey
are now unassailable. We see that Hilda must have been a most
remarkable woman for her times, instilling into those around her a
passion for learning as well as right-living, for despite the fact that
they worked and prayed in rude wooden buildings, with walls formed,
most probably, of split tree-trunks, after the fashion of the church at
Greenstead in Essex, we find the institution producing, among others,
such men as Bosa and John, both Archbishops of York, and such a poet as
Caedmon. The legend of his inspiration, however, may be placed beside
the story of how the saintly Abbess turned the snakes into the fossil
ammonites with which the liassic shores of Whitby are strewn. Hilda,
who probably died in the year 680, was succeeded by Aelfleda, the
daughter of King Oswiu of Northumbria, whom she had trained in the
abbey, and there seems little doubt that her pupil carried on
successfully the beneficent work of the foundress.

Aelfleda had the support of her mother's presence as well as the wise
counsels of Bishop Trumwine, who had taken refuge at Streoneshalh,
after having been driven from his own sphere of work by the
depredations of the Picts and Scots. We then learn that Aelfleda died
at the age of fifty-nine, but from that year--probably 713--a complete
silence falls upon the work of the abbey; for if any records were made
during the next century and a half, they have been totally lost. About
the year 867 the Danes reached this part of Yorkshire, and we know that
they laid waste the abbey, and most probably the town also; but the
invaders gradually started new settlements, or 'bys,' and Whitby must
certainly have grown into a place of some size by the time of Edward
the Confessor, for just previous to the Norman invasion it was assessed
for Danegeld to the extent of a sum equivalent to £3,500 at the present

After the Conquest a monk named Reinfrid succeeded in reviving a
monastery on the site of the old one, having probably gained the
permission of William de Percy, the lord of the district. The new
establishment, however, was for monks only, and was for some time
merely a priory.

The form of the successive buildings from the time of Hilda until the
building of the stately abbey church, whose ruins are now to be seen,
is a subject of great interest, but, unfortunately, there are few facts
to go upon. The very first church was, as I have already suggested, a
building of rude construction, scarcely better than the humble
dwellings of the monks and nuns. The timber walls were most probably
thatched, and the windows would be of small lattice or boards pierced
with small holes. Gradually the improvements brought about would have
led to the use of stone for the walls, and the buildings destroyed by
the Danes may have resembled such examples of Anglo-Saxon work as may
still be seen in the churches of Bradford-on-Avon and Monkwearmouth.

The buildings erected by Reinfrid under the Norman influence then
prevailing in England must have been a slight advance upon the
destroyed fabric, and we know that during the time of his successor,
Serlo de Percy, there was a certain Godfrey in charge of the building
operations, and there is every reason to believe that he completed the
church during the fifty years of prosperity the monastery passed
through at that time. But this was not the structure which survived,
for towards the end of Stephen's reign, or during that of Henry II.,
the unfortunate convent was devastated by the King of Norway, who
entered the harbour, and, in the words of the chronicle, 'laid waste
everything, both within doors and without.' The abbey slowly recovered
from this disaster, and the reconstruction commenced in 1220, still
makes a conspicuous landmark from the sea. It was after the Dissolution
that the abbey buildings came into the hands of Sir Richard Cholmley,
who paid over to Henry VIII. the sum of £333 8s. 4d. The manors of
Eskdaleside and Ugglebarnby, with all 'their rights, members and
appurtenances as they formerly had belonged to the abbey of Whiby,'
henceforward belonged to Sir Richard and his successors.

Sir Hugh Cholmley, whose defence of Scarborough Castle has made him a
name in history, was born on July 22, 1600, at Roxby, near Pickering.
He has been justly called 'the father of Whitby,' and it is to him we
owe a fascinating account of his life at Whitby in Stuart and Jacobean
times. He describes how he lived for some time in the gate-house of the
abbey buildings, 'till my house was repaired and habitable, which then
was very ruinous and all unhandsome, the wall being only of timber and
plaster, and ill-contrived within: and besides the repairs, or rather
re-edifying the house, I built the stable and barn, I heightened the
outwalls of the court double to what they were, and made all the wall
round about the paddock; so that the place hath been improved very
much, both for beauty and profit, by me more than all my ancestors, for
there was not a tree about the house but was set in my time, and almost
by my own hand.'

In the spring of 1636 the reconstruction of the abbey house was
finished, and Sir Hugh moved in with his family. 'My dear wife,' he
says '(who was excellent at dressing and making all handsome within
doors), had put it into a fine posture, and furnished with many good
things, so that, I believe, there were few gentlemen in the country, of
my rank, exceeded it.... I was at this time made Deputy-lieutenant and
Colonel over the Train-bands within the hundred of Whitby Strand,
Ruedale, Pickering, Lythe and Scarborough town; for that, my father
being dead, the country looked upon me as the chief of my family.'

'I had between thirty and forty in my ordinary family, a chaplain who
said prayers every morning at six, and again before dinner and supper,
a porter who merely attended the gates, which were ever shut up before
dinner, when the bell rung to prayers, and not opened till one o'clock,
except for some strangers who came to dinner, which was ever fit to
receive three or four besides my family, without any trouble; and
whatever their fare was, they were sure to have a hearty welcome. As a
definite result of his efforts, 'all that part of the pier to the west
end of the harbour' was erected, and yet he complains that, though it
was the means of preserving a large section of the town from the sea,
the townsfolk would not interest themselves in the repairs necessitated
by force of the waves. 'I wish, with all my heart,' he exclaims, 'the
next generation may have more public spirit.'



On their northern and western flanks the Cleveland Hills have a most
imposing and mountainous aspect, although their greatest altitudes do
not aspire to more than about 1,500 feet. But they rise so suddenly to
their full height out of the flat sea of green country that they often
appear as a coast defended by a bold range of mountains. Roseberry
Topping stands out in grim isolation, on its masses of alum rock, like
a huge sea-worn crag, considerably over 1,000 feet high. But this
strangely menacing peak raises his defiant head over nothing but broad
meadows, arable land, and woodlands, and his only warfare is with the
lower strata of storm-clouds, which is a convenient thing for the
people who live in these parts; for long ago they used the peak as a
sign of approaching storms, having reduced the warning to the
easily-remembered couplet:

'When Roseberry Topping wears a cap,
Let Cleveland then beware of a clap.'

From the fact that you can see this remarkable peak from almost every
point of the compass except south-westwards, it must follow that from
the top of the hill there are views in all those directions. But to see
so much of the country at once comes as a surprise to everyone.
Stretching inland towards the backbone of England, there is spread out
a huge tract of smiling country, covered with a most complex network of
hedges, which gradually melt away into the indefinite blue edge of the
world where the hills of Wensleydale rise from the plain. Looking
across the little town of Guisborough, lying near the shelter of the
hills, to the broad sweep of the North Sea, this piece of Yorkshire
seems so small that one almost expects to see the Cheviots away in the
north. But, beyond the winding Tees and the drifting smoke of the great
manufacturing towns on its banks, one must be content with the county
of Durham, a huge section of which is plainly visible. Turning towards
the brown moorlands, the cultivation is exchanged for ridge beyond
ridge of total desolation--a huge tract of land in this crowded England
where the population for many square miles at a time consists of the
inmates of a lonely farm or two in the circumscribed cultivated areas
of the dales.

Eight or nine hundred years ago these valleys were choked up with
forests. The Early British inhabitants were more inclined to the
hill-tops than the hollows, if the innumerable indications of their
settlements be any guide, and there is every reason for believing that
many of the hollows in the folds of the heathery moorlands were rarely
visited by man. Thus, the suggestion has been made that a few of the
last representatives of now extinct monsters may have survived in these
wild retreats, for how otherwise do we find persistent stories in these
parts of Yorkshire, handed down we cannot tell how many centuries, of
strange creatures described as 'worms'? At Loftus they show you the
spot where a 'grisly worm' had its lair, and in many places there are
traditions of strange long-bodied dragons who were slain by various
valiant men.

On Easby Moor, a few miles to the south of Roseberry Topping, the tall
column to the memory of Captain Cook stands like a lighthouse on this
inland coastline. The lofty position it occupies among these brown and
purply-green heights makes the monument visible over a great tract of
the sailor's native Cleveland. The people who live in Marton, the
village of his birthplace, can see the memorial of their hero's fame,
and the country lads of to-day are constantly reminded of the success
which attended the industry and perseverance of a humble Marton boy.

The cottage where James Cook was born in 1728 has gone, but the field
in which it stood is called Cook's Garth. The shop at Staithes,
generally spoken of as a 'huckster's,' where Cook was apprenticed as a
boy, has also disappeared; but, unfortunately, that unpleasant story of
his having taken a shilling from his master's till, when the
attractions of the sea proved too much for him to resist, persistently
clings to all accounts of his early life. There seems no evidence to
convict him of this theft, but there are equally no facts by which to
clear him. But if we put into the balance his subsequent term of
employment at Whitby, the excellent character he gained when he went to
sea, and Professor J.K. Laughton's statement that he left Staithes
'after some disagreement with his master,' there seems every reason to
believe that the story is untrue.

I have seldom seen a more uninhabited and inhospitable-looking country
than the broad extent of purple hills that stretch away to the
south-west from Great Ayton and Kildale Moors. Walking from Guisborough
to Kildale on a wild and stormy afternoon in October, I was totally
alone for the whole distance when I had left behind me the baker's boy
who was on his way to Hutton with a heavy basket of bread and cakes.
Hutton, which is somewhat of a model village for the retainers attached
to Hutton Hall, stands in a lovely hollow at the edge of the moors. The
steep hills are richly clothed with sombre woods, and the peace and
seclusion reigning there is in marked contrast to the bleak wastes
above. When I climbed the steep road on that autumn afternoon, and,
passing the zone of tall, withered bracken, reached the open moorland,
I seemed to have come out merely to be the plaything of the elements;
for the south-westerly gale, when it chose to do so, blew so fiercely
that it was difficult to make any progress at all. Overhead was a dark
roof composed of heavy masses of cloud, forming long parallel lines of
grey right to the horizon. On each side of the rough, water-worn road
the heather made a low wall, two or three feet high, and stretched
right away to the horizon in every direction. In the lulls, between the
fierce blasts, I could hear the trickle of the water in the rivulets
deep down in the springy cushion of heather. A few nimble sheep would
stare at me from a distance, and then disappear, or some grouse might
hover over a piece of rising ground; but otherwise there were no signs
of living creatures. Nearing Kildale, the road suddenly plunged
downwards to a stream flowing through a green, cultivated valley, with
a lonely farm on the further slope. There was a fir-wood above this,
and as I passed over the hill, among the tall, bare stems, the clouds
parted a little in the west, and let a flood of golden light into the
wood. Instantly the gloom seemed to disappear, and beyond the dark
shoulder of moorland, where the Cook monument appeared against the
glory of the sunset, there seemed to reign an all-pervading peace, the
wood being quite silent, for the wind had dropped.

The rough track through the trees descended hurriedly, and soon gave a
wide view over Kildale. The valley was full of colour from the glowing
west, and the steep hillsides opposite appeared lighter than the indigo
clouds above, now slightly tinged with purple. The little village of
Kildale nestled down below, its church half buried in yellow foliage.

The ruined Danby Castle can still be seen on the slope above the Esk,
but the ancient Bow Bridge at Castleton, which was built at the end of
the twelfth century, was barbarously and needlessly destroyed in 1873.
A picture of the bridge has, fortunately, been preserved in Canon
Atkinson's 'Forty Years in a Moorland Parish.' That book has been so
widely read that it seems scarcely necessary to refer to it here, but
without the help of the Vicar, who knew every inch of his wild parish,
the Danby district must seem much less interesting.



Although a mere fragment of the Augustinian Priory of Guisborough is
standing to-day, it is sufficiently imposing to convey a powerful
impression of the former size and magnificence of the monastic church.
This fragment is the gracefully buttressed east-end of the choir, which
rises from the level meadow-land to the east of the town. The stonework
is now of a greenish-grey tone, but in the shadows there is generally a
look of blue. Beyond the ruin and through the opening of the great east
window, now bare of tracery, you see the purple moors, with the
ever-formidable Roseberry Topping holding its head above the green
woods and pastures.

The destruction of the priory took place most probably during the reign
of Henry VIII., but there are no recorded facts to give the date of the
spoiling of the stately buildings. The materials were probably sold to
the highest bidder, for in the town of Guisborough there are scattered
many fragments of richly-carved stone, and Ord, one of the historians
of Cleveland, says: 'I have beheld with sorrow, and shame, and
indignation, the richly ornamented columns and carved architraves of
God's temple supporting the thatch of a pig-house.'

The Norman priory church, founded in 1119, by the wealthy Robert de
Brus of Skelton, was, unfortunately, burnt down on May 16, 1289. Walter
of Hemingburgh, a canon of Guisborough, has written a quaintly detailed
account of the origin of the fire. Translated from the monkish Latin,
he says 'On the first day of rogation-week, a devouring flame consumed
our church of Gysburn, with many theological books and nine costly
chalices, as well as vestments and sumptuous images; and because past
events are serviceable as a guide to future inquiries, I have thought
it desirable, in the present little treatise, to give an account of the
catastrophe, that accidents of a similar nature may be avoided through
this calamity allotted to us. On the day above mentioned, which was
very destructive to us, a vile plumber, with his two workmen, burnt our
church whilst soldering up two holes in the old lead with fresh pewter.
For some days he had already, with a wicked disposition, commenced, and
placed his iron crucibles, along with charcoal and fire, on rubbish, or
steps of a great height, upon dry wood with some turf and other
combustibles. About noon (in the cross, in the body of the church,
where he remained at his work until after Mass) he descended before the
procession of the convent, thinking that the fire had been put out by
his workmen. They, however, came down quickly after him, without having
completely extinguished the fire; and the fire among the charcoal
revived, and partly from the heat of the iron, and partly from the
sparks of the charcoal, the fire spread itself to the wood and other
combustibles beneath. After the fire was thus commenced, the lead
melted, and the joists upon the beams ignited; and then the fire
increased prodigiously, and consumed everything.' Hemingburgh concludes
by saying that all that they could get from the culprits was the
exclamation, 'Quid potui ego?' Shortly after this disaster the Prior
and convent wrote to Edward II., excusing themselves from granting a
corrody owing to their great losses through the burning of the
monastery, as well as the destruction of their property by the Scots.
But Guisborough, next to Fountains, was almost the richest
establishment in Yorkshire, and thus in a few years' time there arose
from the Norman foundations a stately church and convent built in the
Early Decorated style.

One of the most interesting relics of the great priory is the
altar-tomb, believed to be that of Robert de Brus of Annandale. The
stone slabs are now built into the walls on each side of the porch of
Guisborough Church. They may have been removed there from the abbey for
safety at the time of the dissolution. Hemingburgh, in his chronicle
for the year 1294, says: 'Robert de Brus the fourth died on the eve of
Good Friday; who disputed with John de Balliol, before the King of
England, about the succession to the kingdom of Scotland. And, as he
ordered when alive, he was buried in the priory of Gysburn with great
honour, beside his own father.' A great number of other famous people
were buried here in accordance with their wills. Guisborough has even
been claimed as the resting place of Robert Bruce, the champion of
Scottish freedom, but there is ample evidence for believing that his
heart was buried at Melrose Abbey and his body in Dunfermline Abbey.

The central portion of the town of Guisborough, by the market-cross and
the two chief inns, is quaint and fairly picturesque, but the long
street as it goes westward deteriorates into rows of new cottages,
inevitable in a mining country.

Mining operations have been carried on around Guisborough since the
time of Queen Elizabeth, for the discovery of alum dates from that
period, and when that industry gradually declined, it was replaced by
the iron mines of today. Mr. Thomas Chaloner of Guisborough, in his
travels on the Continent about the end of the sixteenth century, saw
the Pope's alum works near Rome, and was determined to start the
industry in his native parish of Guisborough, feeling certain that alum
could be worked with profit in his own country. As it was essential to
have one or two men who were thoroughly versed in the processes of the
manufacture, Mr. Chaloner induced some of the Pope's workmen by heavy
bribes to come to England. The risks attending this overt act were
terrible, for the alum works brought in a large revenue to His
Holiness, and the discovery of such a design would have meant capital
punishment to the offender. The workmen were therefore induced to get
into large casks, which were secretly conveyed on board a ship which
was shortly sailing for England.

When the Pope received the intelligence some time afterwards, he
thundered forth against Mr. Chaloner and the workmen the most awful and
comprehensive curse. They were to be cursed most wholly and thoroughly
in every part of their bodies, every saint was to curse them, and from
the thresholds of the holy church of God Almighty they were to be
sequestered, that they might 'be tormented, disposed of, and delivered
over with Dathan and Abiram, and with those who say unto the Lord God,
"Depart from us; we desire not to know thy ways."'

The broad valley stretching from Guisborough to the sea contains the
beautifully wooded park of Skelton Castle. The trees in great masses
cover the gentle slopes on either side of the Skelton Beck, and almost
hide the modern mansion. The buildings include part of the ancient
castle of the Bruces, who were Lords of Skelton for many years.



The broad Vale of Pickering, watered by the Derwent, the Rye and their
many tributaries, is a wonderful contrast to the country we have been
exploring. The level pastures, where cattle graze and cornfields
abound, seem to suggest that we are separated from the heather by many
leagues; but we have only to look beyond the hedgerows to see that the
horizon to the north is formed by lofty moors only a few miles distant.

Just where the low meadows are beginning to rise steadily from the vale
stands the town of Pickering, dominated by the lofty stone spire of its
parish church and by the broken towers of the castle. There is a wide
street, bordered by dark stone buildings, that leads steeply from the
river to the church. The houses are as a rule quite featureless, but we
have learnt to expect this in a county where stone is abundant, for
only the extremely old and the palpably new buildings stand out from
the grey austerity of the average Yorkshire town. In rare cases some of
the houses are brightened with white and cream paint on windows and
doors, and if these commendable efforts became less rare, Pickering
would have as cheerful an aspect to the stranger as Helmsley, which we
shall pass on our way to Rievaulx.

Approached by narrow passages between the grey houses and shops, the
church is most imposing, for it is not only a large building, but the
cramped position magnifies its bulk and emphasizes the height of the
Norman tower, surmounted by the tall stone spire added during the
fourteenth century. Going up a wide flight of steps, necessitated by
the slope of the ground, we enter the church through the beautiful
porch, and are at once confronted with the astonishingly perfect
paintings which cover the walls of the nave. The pictures occupy nearly
all the available wall-space between the arches and the top of the
clerestory, and their crude quaintnesses bring the ideas of the first
half of the fifteenth century vividly before us. There is a spirited
representation of St. George in conflict with a terrible dragon, and
close by we see a bearded St. Christopher holding a palm-tree with both
hands, and bearing on his shoulder the infant Christ. Then comes
Herod's feast, with the King labelled _Herodi_. The guests are
shown with their arms on the table in the most curious positions, and
all the royal folk are wearing ermine. The coronation of the Virgin,
the martyrdom of St. Thomas à Becket, and the martyrdom of St. Edmund,
who is perforated with arrows, complete the series on the north side.
Along the south wall the paintings show the story of St. Catherine of
Alexandria and the seven Corporal Acts of Mercy. Further on come scenes
from the life of our Lord.

The simple Norman arcade on the north side of the nave has plain round
columns and semicircular arches, but the south side belongs to later
Norman times, and has ornate columns and capitals. At least one member
of the great Bruce family, who had a house at Pickering called Bruce's
Hall, and whose ascendency at Guisborough has already been mentioned,
was buried here, for the figure of a knight in chain-mail by the
lectern probably represents Sir William Bruce. In the chapel there is a
sumptuous monument bearing the effigies of Sir David and Dame Margery
Roucliffe. The knight wears the collar of SS, and his arms are on his

When John Leland, the 'Royal Antiquary' employed by Henry VIII., came
to Pickering, he described the castle, which was in a more perfect
state than it is to-day. He says: 'In the first Court of it be a 4
Toures, of the which one is caullid Rosamunde's Toure.' Also of the
inner court he writes of '4 Toures, wherof the Kepe is one.' This keep
and Rosamund's Tower, as well as the ruins of some of the others, are
still to be seen on the outer walls, so that from some points of view
the ruins are dignified and picturesque. The area enclosed was large,
and in early times the castle must have been almost impregnable. But
during the Civil War it was much damaged by the soldiers quartered
there, and Sir Hugh Cholmley took lead, wood, and iron from it for the
defence of Scarborough. The wide view from the castle walls shows
better than any description the importance of the position it occupied,
and we feel, as we gaze over the vale or northwards to the moors, that
this was the dominant power over the whole countryside.

Although Lastingham is not on the road to Helmsley, the few additional
miles will scarcely be counted when we are on our way to a church
which, besides being architecturally one of the most interesting in the
county, is perhaps unique in having at one time had a curate whose wife
kept a public-house adjoining the church. Although this will scarcely
be believed, we have a detailed account of the matter in a little book
published in 1806.

The clergyman, whose name was Carter, had to subsist on the slender
salary of £20 a year and a few surplice fees. This would not have
allowed any margin for luxuries in the case of a bachelor; but this
poor man was married, and he had thirteen children. He was a keen
fisherman, and his angling in the moorland streams produced a plentiful
supply of fish--in fact, more than his family could consume. But this,
even though he often exchanged part of his catches with neighbours, was
not sufficient to keep the wolf from the door, and drastic measures had
to be taken. The parish was large, and, as many of the people were
obliged to come 'from ten to fifteen miles' to church, it seemed
possible that some profit might be made by serving refreshments to the
parishioners. Mrs. Carter superintended this department, and it seems
that the meals between the services soon became popular. But the story
of 'a parson-publican' was soon conveyed to the Archdeacon of the
diocese, who at the next visitation endeavoured to find out the truth
of the matter. Mr. Carter explained the circumstances, and showed that,
far from being a source of disorder, his wife's public-house was an
influence for good. 'I take down my violin,' he continued, 'and play
them a few tunes, which gives me an opportunity of seeing that they get
no more liquor than necessary for refreshment; and if the young people
propose a dance, I seldom answer in the negative; nevertheless, when I
announce time for return, they are ever ready to obey my commands.' The
Archdeacon appears to have been a broad-minded man, for he did not
reprimand Mr. Carter at all; and as there seems to have been no mention
of an increased stipend, the parson publican must have continued this
strange anomaly.

The writings of Bede give a special interest to Lastingham, for he
tells us how King Oidilward requested Bishop Cedd to build a monastery
there. The Saxon buildings that appeared at that time have gone, so
that the present church cannot be associated with the seventh century.
No doubt the destruction was the work of the Danes, who plundered the
whole of this part of Yorkshire. The church that exists today is of
Transitional Norman date, and the beautiful little crypt, which has an
apse, nave and aisles, is coeval with the superstructure.

The situation of Lastingham in a deep and picturesque valley surrounded
by moors and overhung by woods is extremely rich.

Further to the west there are a series of beautiful dales watered by
becks whose sources are among the Cleveland Hills. On our way to
Ryedale, the loveliest of these, we pass through Kirby Moorside, a
little town which has gained a place in history as the scene of the
death of the notorious George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, on
April 17, 1687. The house in which he died is on the south side of the
King's Head, and in one of the parish registers there is the entry
under the date of April 19th, 'Gorges viluas, Lord dooke of Bookingam,
etc.' Further down the street stands an inn with a curious porch,
supported by turned wooden pillars, bearing the inscription:

'Anno: Dom 1632 October xi
William Wood'

Kirkdale, with its world-renowned cave, to which we have already
referred, lies about two miles to the west. The quaint little Saxon
church there is one of the few bearing evidences of its own date,
ascertained by the discovery in 1771 of a Saxon sun-dial, which had
survived under a layer of plaster, and was also protected by the porch.
A translation of the inscription reads: 'Orm, the son of Gamal, bought
St. Gregory's Minster when it was all broken and fallen, and he caused
it to be made anew from the ground, for Christ and St. Gregory, in the
days of King Edward and in the days of Earl Tosti, and Hawarth wrought
me and Brand the prior (priest or priests).' By this we are plainly
told that a church was built there in the reign of Edward the

A pleasant road leads through Nawton to the beautiful little town of
Helmsley. A bend of the broad, swift-flowing Rye forms one boundary of
the place, and is fed by a gushing brook that finds its way from
Rievaulx Moor, and forms a pretty feature of the main street.

A narrow turning by the market-house shows the torn and dishevelled
fragment of the keep of Helmsley Castle towering above the thatched
roofs in the foreground. The ruin is surrounded by tall elms, and from
this point of view, when backed by a cloudy sunset makes a wonderful
picture. Like Scarborough, this stronghold was held for the King during
the Civil War. After the Battle of Marston Moor and the fall of York,
Fairfax came to Helmsley and invested the castle. He received a wound
in the shoulder during the siege; but the garrison having surrendered
on honourable terms, the Parliament ordered that the castle should be
dismantled, and the thoroughness with which the instructions were
carried out remind one of Knaresborough, for one side of the keep was
blown to pieces by a terrific explosion and nearly everything else was

All the beauty and charm of this lovely district is accentuated in
Ryedale, and when we have accomplished the three long uphill miles to
Rievaulx, and come out upon the broad grassy terrace above the abbey,
we seem to have entered a Land of Beulah. We see a peaceful valley
overlooked on all sides by lofty hills, whose steep sides are clothed
with luxuriant woods; we see the Rye flowing past broad green meadows;
and beneath the tree-covered precipice below our feet appear the
solemn, roofless remains of one of the first Cistercian monasteries
established in this country. There is nothing to disturb the peace that
broods here, for the village consists of a mere handful of old and
picturesque cottages, and we might stay on the terrace for hours, and,
beyond the distant shouts of a few children at play and the crowing of
some cocks, hear nothing but the hum of insects and the singing of
birds. We take a steep path through the wood which leads us down to the
abbey ruins.

The magnificent Early English choir and the Norman transepts stand
astonishingly complete in their splendid decay, and the lower portions
of the nave, which, until 1922, lay buried beneath masses of
grass-grown débris, are now exposed to view. The richly-draped
hill-sides appear as a succession of beautiful pictures framed by the
columns and arches on each side of the choir. As they stand exposed to
the weather, the perfectly proportioned mouldings, the clustered
pillars in a wonderfully good state of preservation, and the almost
uninjured clerestory are more impressive than in an elaborately-restored



When in the early years of life one learns for the first time the name
of that range of mountains forming the backbone of England, the
youthful scholar looks forward to seeing in later years the prolonged
series of lofty hills known as the 'Pennine Range.' His imagination
pictures Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough as great peaks, seldom free from
a mantle of clouds, for are they not called 'mountains of the Pennine
Range,' and do they not appear in almost as large type in the school
geography as Snowdon and Ben Nevis? But as the scholar grows older and
more able to travel, so does the Pennine Range recede from his vision,
until it becomes almost as remote as those crater-strewn mountains in
the Moon which have a name so similar.

This elusiveness on the part of a natural feature so essentially static
as a mountain range is attributable to the total disregard of the name
of this particular chain of hills. In the same way as the term 'Cumbrian
Hills' is exchanged for the popular 'Lake District,' so is a large
section of the Pennine Range paradoxically known as the 'Yorkshire

It is because the hills are so big that the valleys are deep and it is
owing to the great watersheds that these long and narrow dales are
beautified by some of the most copious and picturesque rivers in
England. In spite of this, however, when one climbs any of the fells
over 2,000 feet, and looks over the mountainous ridges on every side,
one sees, as a rule, no peak or isolated height of any description to
attract one's attention. Instead of the rounded or angular projections
from the horizon that are usually associated with a mountainous
district, there are great expanses of brown table-land that form
themselves into long parallel lines in the distance, and give a sense
of wild desolation in some ways more striking than the peaks of
Scotland or Wales. The thick formations of millstone grit and limestone
that rest upon the shale have generally avoided crumpling or
distortion, and thus give the mountain views the appearance of having
had all the upper surfaces rolled flat when they were in a plastic
condition. Denudation and the action of ice in the glacial epochs have
worn through the hard upper stratum, and formed the long and narrow
dales; and in Littondale, Wharfedale, Wensleydale, and many other
parts, one may plainly see the perpendicular wall of rock sharply
defining the upper edges of the valleys. The softer rocks below
generally take a gentle slope from the base of the hard gritstone to
the riverside pastures below. At the edges of the dales, where
water-falls pour over the wall of limestone--as at Hardraw Scar, near
Hawes--the action of water is plainly demonstrated, for one can see the
rapidity with which the shale crumbles, leaving the harder rocks
overhanging above.

Unlike the moors of the north-eastern parts of Yorkshire, the fells are
not prolific in heather. It is possible to pass through
Wensleydale--or, indeed, most of the dales--without seeing any heather
at all. On the broad plateaux between the dales there are stretches of
moor partially covered with ling; but in most instances the fells and
moors are grown over at their higher levels with bent and coarse grass,
generally of a browny-ochrish colour, broken here and there by an
outcrop of limestone that shows grey against the swarthy vegetation.

In the upper portions of the dales--even in the narrow riverside
pastures--the fences are of stone, turned a very dark colour by
exposure, and everywhere on the slopes of the hills a wide network of
these enclosures can be seen traversing even the most precipitous
ascents. Where the dales widen out towards the fat plains of the Vale
of York, quickset hedges intermingle with the gaunt stone, and as one
gets further eastwards the green hedge becomes triumphant. The stiles
that are the fashion in the stone-fence districts make quite an
interesting study to strangers, for, wood being an expensive luxury,
and stone being extremely cheap, everything is formed of the more
enduring material. Instead of a trap-gate, one generally finds an
excessively narrow opening in the fences, only just giving space for
the thickness of the average knee, and thus preventing the passage of
the smallest lamb. Some stiles are constructed with a large flat stone
projecting from each side, one slightly in front and overlapping the
other, so that one can only pass through by making a very careful
S-shaped movement. More common are the projecting stones, making a
flight of precarious steps on each side of the wall.

Except in their lowest and least mountainous parts, where they are
subject to the influences of the plains, the dales are entirely
innocent of red tiles and haystacks. The roofs of churches, cottages,
barns and mansions, are always of the local stone, that weathers to
beautiful shades of green and grey, and prevents the works of man from
jarring with the great sweeping hill-sides. Then, instead of the
familiar grey-brown haystack, one sees in almost every meadow a
neatly-built stone house with an upper storey. The lower part is
generally used as a shelter for cattle, while above is stored hay or
straw. By this system a huge amount of unnecessary carting is avoided,
and where roads are few and generally of exceeding steepness a saving
of this nature is a benefit easily understood.

The villages of the dales, although having none of the bright colours
of a level country, are often exceedingly quaint, and rich in soft
shades of green and grey. In the autumn the mellowed tints of the stone
houses are contrasted with the fierce yellows and browny-reds of the
foliage, and the villages become full of bright colours. At all times,
except when the country is shrivelled by an icy northern wind, the
scenery of the dales has a thousand charms.



For the purposes of this book we may consider Richmond as the gateway
of the dale country. There are other gates and approaches, some of
which may have advocates who claim their superiority over Richmond as
starting-places for an exploration of this description, but for my
part, I can find no spot on any side of the mountainous region so
entirely satisfactory. If we were to commence at Bedale or Leyburn,
there is no exact point where the open country ceases and the dale
begins; but here at Richmond there is not the very smallest doubt, for
on reaching the foot of the mass of rock dominated by the castle and
the town, Swaledale commences in the form of a narrow ravine, and from
that point westwards the valley never ceases to be shut in by steep
sides, which become narrower and grander with every mile.

The railway that keeps Richmond in touch with the world does its work
in a most inoffensive manner, and by running to the bottom of the hill
on which the town stands, and by there stopping short, we seem to have
a strong hint that we have been brought to the edge of a new element in
which railways have no rights whatever. This is as it should be, and we
can congratulate the North-Eastern Company for its discretion and its
sense of fitness. Even the station is built of solid stonework, with a
strong flavour of medievalism in its design, and its attractiveness is
enhanced by the complete absence of other modern buildings. We are thus
welcomed to the charms of Richmond at once. The rich sloping meadows by
the river, crowned with dense woodlands, surround us and form a
beautiful setting of green for the town, which has come down from the
fantastic days of the Norman Conquest without any drastic or unseemly
changes, and thus has still the compactness and the romantic outline of
feudal times.

From whatever side you approach it, Richmond has always some fine
combination of towers overlooking a confusion of old red roofs and of
rocky heights crowned with ivy-mantled walls, all set in the most
sumptuous surroundings of silvery river and wooded hills, such as the
artists of the age of steel-engraving loved to depict. Every one of
these views has in it one dominating feature in the magnificent Norman
keep of the castle. It overlooks church towers and everything else with
precisely the same aloofness of manner it must have assumed as soon as
the builders of nearly eight hundred years ago had put the last stone
in place. Externally, at least, it is as complete to-day as it was
then, and as there is no ivy upon it, I cannot help thinking that the
Bretons who built it in that long distant time would swell with pride
were they able to see how their ambitious work has come down the
centuries unharmed.

We can go across the modern bridge, with its castellated parapets, and
climb up the steep ascent on the further side, passing on the way the
parish church, standing on the steep ground outside the circumscribed
limits of the wall which used to enclose the town in early times.
Turning towards the castle, we go breathlessly up the cobbled street
that climbs resolutely to the market-place in a foolishly direct
fashion, which might be understood if it were a Roman road. There is a
sleepy quietness about this way up from the station, which is quite a
short distance, and we look for much movement and human activity in the
wide space we have reached; but here, too, on this warm and sunny
afternoon, the few folks who are about seem to find ample time for
conversation and loitering.

On one side of us is the King's Head, whose steep tiled roof and square
front has just that air of respectable importance that one expects to
find in an old established English hotel. It looks across the cobbled
space to the curious block of buildings that seems to have been
intended for a church but has relapsed into shops. The shouldering of
secular buildings against the walls of churches is a sight so familiar
in parts of France that this market place has an almost Continental
flavour, in keeping with the fact that Richmond grew up under the
protection of the formidable castle built by that Alan Rufus of
Brittany who was the Conqueror's second cousin. The town ceased to be a
possession of the Dukes of Brittany in the reign of Richard II., but
there had evidently been sufficient time to allow French ideals to
percolate into the minds of the men of Richmond, for how otherwise can
we account for this strange familiarity of shops with a sacred building
which is unheard of in any other English town? Where else can one find
a pork-butcher's shop inserted between the tower and the nave, or a
tobacconist doing business in the aisle of a church? Even the lower
parts of the tower have been given up to secular uses, so that one only
realizes the existence of the church by keeping far enough away to see
the sturdy pinnacled tower that rises above the desecrated lower
portions of the building. In this tower hangs the curfew-bell, which is
rung at 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., a custom, according to one writer, 'that has
continued ever since the time of William the Conqueror.'

All the while we have been lingering in the market-place the great
keep has been looking at us over some old red roofs, and urging us to
go on at once to the finest sight that Richmond can offer, and,
resisting the appeal no longer, we make our way down a narrow little
street leading out to a walk that goes right round the castle cliffs at
the base of the ivy-draped walls.

From down below comes the sound of the river, ceaselessly chafing its
rocky bottom and the big boulders that lie in the way. You can
distinguish the hollow sound of the waters as they fall over ledges
into deep pools, and you can watch the silvery gleams of broken water
between the old stone bridge and the dark shade of the woods. The
masses of trees clothing the side of the gorge add a note of mystery to
the picture by swallowing up the river in their heavy shade, for, owing
to its sinuous course among the cliffs, one can see only a short piece
of water beyond the bridge.

The old corner of the town at the foot of Bargate appears over the edge
of the rocky slope, but on the opposite side of the Swale there is
little to be seen beside the green meadows and shady coppices that
cover the heights above the river.


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