While I’ve been here in Yorkshire, CB and I have taken runs out in the car – mine. I wouldn’t let him drive till he got his stitches(staples) taken out which happened last week, so on the Thursday afternoon we took a run out in his new vehicle, a cross between a van and a bus, I guess! Well, instead of going the direct route up Swaledale, we had to take a long route round as part of the dale road was closed for repairs. I bet it was at a point called Gatehouse Corner which is notorious for the road subsiding – well, in the days I was living up the dale it was!
Anyway we drove up the A1, and at Scotch Corner turned off on the A66 that connects east with west, the northern road across the Pennine hills, the backbone of England. The road to Reeth, the main village in Upper Swaledale, leaves the A66 to go south over the hill, through the (much depleted) Stang forest, and down into Arkengarthdale, then left again to finish the run down to Reeth. However, at the CB hotel in Arkengarthdale - CB for a long ago leadmine owner called Charles Bathhurst - where I worked for a couple of years, we turned right, and followed the moor road, past Cocker House, where an old friend used to live, across Surrender Bridge and left again passing the old ruined Surrender lead smelting mill across the beck/stream, and on through a ford, locally called the Watersplash and famous for its appearance in the opening sequence of the James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small TV programme from the late 1970s. (To think I actually watched some of the filming for that programme in the early 80s!). The last part of the road took us past Park Hall Farm and Thiernswood Hall,past the spot where I used to pick primroses on my birthday, across Barney Beck Bridge and into Swaledale at Healaugh. You can call it HEElaw or its vernacular name of HEE-le ( le as in the French word for the), and it’s where I lived for several years in the 1980s.
Even the new cottage built recently on the other side of my house was up for sale! I’d love to see inside! It looks fabulous!Well, I’d like to see inside my old house too. Annette bought it from me and must have sold it to a holiday let company and now they are selling it. I don’t think it has changed much inside, from the estate agent’s info online: a new kitchen and a revamped bathroom, that’s about all I can see. I took various photos in the village, like the one below of the horse troughs, at the corner, so come for a walk with us. This road goes up the hill and round to the back of the village. Instead we walked past Slack House, and the old school, which was a barn in my day, and is now a house,turned right into the square at Lock Heather. This was where Mrs N used to live. She laid a small piece of carpet sample on the floor of the telephone kiosk to make a long telephone call in winter warmer on the feet and used to put a small jar of flowers on the shelf to pretty the place up! There were lots of little notes from folk who used the phone thanking “whoever kept the phone box looking so attractive”. Some even left a few pennies for charity. I forgot to look to see if the custom has continued! Fancy me not remembering! We walked up the unfinished road behind Lock Heather, passing my elderly friend GH’s house on the right (I didn’t take its photo as there was someone working in the garden) and as we headed uphill, the gate of Hallgarth , B’s old home, up to the top of the villlage pastthe more modern house that was EB’s. Her uncle AB used to live in one of the cottages at the top (and her brother LB in a house on the main road.) They were pretty dilapidated 25+ years ago, but have now been renovated and the woodwork painted, so that they look very desirable. They must have a beautiful view of the other side of the dale. To finish our walk around the village we crossed in front of the cottages and on to join the uphill road (the only portrait orientated photo above).
Colin is standing outside A&E’s house in the shadow. The little lean-to behind him was the tiny post office in my time in Healaugh, and I spent a lot of time there sending letters to penpals and enjoying the craic with E. I think they live in his parents’ farmhouse now. It’s on the main road next to my old house – well, the new cottage separates our two buildings now. The post office is gone now – you have to go to Reeth to post letters to penfriends these days – and I expect most of the villagers I knew have died or moved away. There were only a few youngsters here and even the smallest of them will be well grown up, probably have their own families now too!
They say you should never go back somewhere where you were happy, so although tempted I didn’t make appointments with estate agents to look round the for sale properties. I’ll keep my memories, look at my old photos and just remember the place as it was!
Talk again soon.