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Sunday, 9 September 2012


I’m really getting bogged down with entries for my blog!  I’ll have to stop going places and doing things!

This was another outing that Colin and I had while he was recovering from his op.  We had been up to Middlesbrough for his check up at the hospital, and from there drove to the coast and the seaside town of Saltburn – or Saltburn-by-the-Sea to give it its proper name!  Interesting that an English town name should have the word burn in it, meaning a stream, just as the word means in Scots!  Well, I read about  that somewhere but can’t seem to find it now.  Ah, found it!  You can see it here.  It’s apparently a word of Saxon origin!  Well, well!

It was a bit of a dull dreary day – we’d say dreich in Scotland (dreech  with the Scottish CH as in loch!) – and when we parked the car on the road above the pier and got out, it was “blowing a hooligan” as Colin says!    The Victorian town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea was built when to go to the seaside for the healthy bracing sea air was becoming popular. Saltburn The Ship ~Inn The older settlement now known as Old Saltburn was built above the seashore backed by the steep cliffs along that stretch of the coast.  It became a fishing village, and small port for the export of alum from the nearby mines, but best known today for its smuggling activities of  the 18th and early 19th centuries.   The landlord of the Ship Inn, seen on the right, was nicknamed the “King of the Smugglers”.saltburn cliff tramway

 Victorian Saltburn-by-the-Sea grew up at the top  of the cliff, the result of a vision that came to a Victorian gentleman called Henry Pease, and ways were invented to allow access to the lower “prom” or  promenade and the newly built 1500 foot pleasure pier.  A hoist, which you can see in old pictures here, served the purpose for a while until deemed unsafe, then the present cliff tramway replaced it.  You can read about it on the same page.     In my own photo you can see Old Saltburn in the distance, and one of the cars of the tramway.

saltburn tramway2 and pier We looked down from the top station at the two cars passing each other and decided to take the lift down from the clifftop and walk out onto the pier for some of the healthy bracing sea air  and believe me, it was bracing! saltburn colin and me  

saltburn from pier inland The pier used to be much longer but suffered great damage in various bad storms.  Read about the pier here.  It was suggested more recently that it be removed altogether but public pressure to keep it ensured that a shorter pier was saved.  It is  now less than half its original length and underwent refurbishment in 1996.  saltburn tramway car Just recently the “cars” themselves had a facelift and I thought were looking very splendid indeed.saltburn tram windows




After our walk out to the end of the pier Colin was beginning to feel quite coldthin blood after his operation? – so we returned to the amusement arcade, tried to work out which of the Penny Falls would be the best bet, though we didn’t play them, then crossed the prom to the lower tramway station for the ride back up the cliff.  When we reached the top again we found on some railings some remnants of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee decorations.  saltburn jubilee decorations A small knitted banner showed the Queen and Prince Philip, while a knitted crown sat on the top of the railing – and believe it or not, some of the bunting was also knitted!  Amazing!saltburn knitted bunting 

Looking around at the top of the cliff, the new town of  the 1860s looked rather grim, but I could imagine the Victorian ladies in their long wide skirts promenading with their top hatted, bearded and moustached husbands, or having tea in one of the smart new hotels that looked out seaward.  I expect a lot of the big new houses opened as guest houses.  They didn’t use the term B&B in those days, I wouldn’t think.  Our way back home lay through the centre of the Victorian town with its” jewel” street names:  Ruby, Diamond, Garnet, Emerald, Amber, Coral and Pearl  I have a feeling that a friend of my parents lived in Ruby Street!  Saltburn-by-the-Sea probably hasn’t changed much at all since Henry Pease built his “dream” town.   I’m sure if he came back tomorrow he would recognise it.

Talk again soon.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Back to Swaledale

One day, back in late June or early July, not long after Colin’s bypass op, we took a  circular drive, along the A66, turning off near Barnard Castle, to drive through the Stang Forest – or “over Stang” as we used to say when I lived down in the Dales.  It was a climb up to the summit with a few sharp bends on the steepest part, and then a gradual run downhill, over Eskeleth Bridge, to meet the road coming from Reeth up Arkengarthdale.  Just at the junction of the two roads you can see remains of what was a lead smelting mill.  It has pretty well disappeared now but there are quite a number of buildings still standing in the area that had connections with the mill. For several generations in the 17th and 18th centuries the mill belonged to the Bathurst family and the ingots of lead they produced were marked CB for the first Bathurst - Charles.  So now there is a group of houses called CB Yards, and down the road a bit is the CB Inn.

Photos of The Cb Inn (Charles Bathurst Inn), Arkengarthdale
This photo of The Cb Inn (Charles Bathurst Inn) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

I used to work at the CB (Inn) about 30-plus years ago.  In fact it’s where I met Colin!  It has all changed now though – quite different to the inn I remember!

Anyway we didn’t go down past the CB.  Instead we turned up the dale and continued out past the village of Whaw, and various farms where once the lead mines had been, till eventually in the tan hillmiddle of nowhere we arrived at Tan Hill Inn – the highest inn in the country.  It’s a very popular , especially at weekends.  We didn’t go in, but turned off on a narrow twisty road to the upper reaches of Swaledale - the valley of the river Swale.swaledale signpost 

Turning right would take us in the direction of Kirby Stephen, while left was to take us down dale and past some of my old stomping ground!  It’s a lovely valley.swaledale upper view

This is a typical dales view: long flat topped hillside covered in  patchwork quilt of small fields separated by stone walls. Stone barns alongside the fields and small solid stone villages in the valley bottom.  This is just above Keld.

swaledale muker teashop

We came into Muker (MEWker) and decided to stop at the tea shop advertised by its kettle, swinging from a metal wall bracket, as much as by the sandwich boards outside.  I was once, over 30 years ago, an extra in a film called Evil under the sun, by Agatha Christie.  Some of the filming took place here.  In fact the building with the white door, in front of the church tower, normally the village hall ( I have danced the night away in that hall before now), was used as the local police station that Jane Birkin ran into, to report to the police that there was a dead body on the moors  (that was me!).

After tea and a scone and jam, we continued on our way with many reminiscences from me of my time in the area all those years ago (though it only seems like a few years since I was there).   So saying, I couldn’t remember where to find the house of a former boyfriend in Gunnerside.

  swaledale healaugh phone boxHowever through Low Row, we came to the village where I used to live – Healaugh, pronounced HEE law or locally HEE la with the a really sounding more like an er, without the r!  There have been a few changes there, with new houses in converted barns, and old houses renovated.  One thing I remember well was the telephone box – or kiosk – which was always looked after by one elderly lady of the village.  It was lovely to see the kiosk still sporting a little pot of fresh flowers, as it did in Mrs N’s day.  People using the phone here used to write little notes of thanks and admiration, sometimes leaving an odd coin or two which Mrs N donated to charity.  The difference is that there is now a notice thanking people for their contributions and stating that the money is divided amongst the charities supported by the present villagers.

A mile further on is the largest village in the dale, Reeth, but before we descended the hill into the village, we stopped outside the primary school – these school kids must be fit with having to climb up that hill every day – to look over the wall at where the river Swale has over the years changed its course!  swaledale colin at reeth Here’s Colin looking like an old farmer leaning on the wall surveying the scene! This is what he was looking at…swaledale river swale at reeth

The river used to meander in wide bends, gradually eroding the banks, and each winter, the rain and storms slightly changing its route over this flat flood plain.  The last time I saw this view the river had torn through the countryside, leaving it looking like the remains of an old quarry, with the stones from the riverbed piled up on each other like the bed of some long dried up lake.  The river didn’t even seem to know just where its bed was!  However now it seems that the bends have gone, and the river now flows through in a straight course, leaving small ox bow lakes at least on one side.  Grass is now growing over the piles of stones and at last it is looking like a more gentle scene again.  It may take a few more years to settle, and no doubt the area will still flood at this point after a storm or two, but now that the river is flowing in “the shortest route between two points” it will probably continue in that way, and will never look like such a scene of devastation again.reeth2a

Reeth has grown!  Loads of new houses have been built around the edges of the village I remember.  Part of the village green bordering the road at the top of the village – the Cobbles, colloquially - has been turned into hard-standing for the many cars parked by visitors – like us!  We had a quick walk round the village -  more reminiscences – but were soon on our way again as we had a visit with some friends of Colin’s in Richmond, some ten miles down the road.  richmondbridge from northeast They live right down beside the river, still the Swale, near the 18th century bridge that was built by two different builders. 

richmond bridge parapet

When it came to the parapet, the builder on the Richmond side of the river used three rows of stone blocks, while  the builder on the other side used two rows of larger stone blocks to achieve the same height.  Obviously there had been little communication between the two.richmond bridge flora

We spent a very pleasant time with M and R, but soon it was time to head home.  Just one last picture!  A wild geranium was a delightful splash of blue amongst the green along the riverside below the old bridge which you might make out in the background.

Talk again soon.

PS The photo of Reeth with a still meandering river in the foreground was taken from this website.  The rest are my own.