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" Castles and Birthdays "

Date & start time:      2nd and 24th June 2023.

Location of Start :     Harewood Village, Yorkshire, Uk. ( SE 321 452 )

Places visited :          Harewood Old Castle, River Wharfe, Wensleydale Heifer, Scotts Inn Sicklinghall.

Walk details :              Local walks of an hour or so.

Highest point :           Almscliff Crag, 640ft - 197m, after a 180 ft climb.

Walked with :              Loes and the dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

                               Cameo appearance from Robin and Rosie, Peter, Danny & Isaac.

Weather :                     Sunshine most of the time.


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After our trip to Wales, Loes and I were back in Yorkshire.

The reason for the visit was to meet Loes's family and share the occasion of a certain person's "Big-0" birthday.

As well as the Food Festival and our walk alongside The Strid, we enjoyed three other local walks in and around Harewood.

A local walk this morning, on my own as Loes was otherwise engaged and she had done this walk recently anyway.

It started at Harewood Village Hall, renowned for its Muddy Boots Cafe and Bistro, but I'll pass by today as I've just had breakfast !

Down through the quiet back alleys of Harewood's old village

and follow a public footpath signpost that seemed to be pointing to a dead end.

Fear not, by stooping slightly you can pass through the low gap on the left and enter the woods.

Surprise . . . you are in a sunken path . . .
. . . with a fine arched roof carrying a forest track above.

The track is one of the historic tracks to the old Harewood Castle.

Alongside the track was a classic' haw-haw', a ditch with one side walled,

so as to deter access whilst not defacing the view with fences or other tall obstructions.

- - - o o o - - -


The 14th century Harewood Castle, which pre-dates

Gawthorpe and Harewood House by some 400 years,

was once the ancestral home of

Sir William of Aldeburgh,

Lord of the manor of Harewood.


It has been described as a fortified Tower House

rather than a castle, built for a mixture of

"convenience and magnificence"


- - - o o o - - -

By 1657 when the Harewood and Gawthorpe Estate was established, the old castle was already looking worse for wear.

Some of its former grandeur was captured in this 1798 painting by the famous artist, William Turner.

Today is is a fragile ruin and you are barred from entry.
The camera however could fit through the grid !

The Castle is perched on a steep slope but the trees have grown and the views of Wharfdale have been lost.

There would have been more associated outbuildings . . .
. . . which would have surrounded the old fortress.
The opposite side is also gated . . .
. . . but inside you can imagine some of its internal features.

Here was evidence of more decorative windows than was normal in old castles, but the building would still have been defensible

due to its thick walls and stairways.  It must have been quite a prestigious building in its day.


- - - o o o - - -

I take a higher path through the woods

and my eye was caught by this furry little creature.

Sadly he didn't run away as he had recently died,

probably within the last day or so.

RIP  Mr Mole.

- - - o o o - - - -

In the afternoon Loes and I did another local walk, again starting at the end of her road,

close to the lodge house situated at Harewood Park's north eastern entrance.

This time we had a walk down by the River Wharfe, on a seldom used part of The Ebor Way.

Dougal enjoyed a dip, though the water did look a bit brown.
A strange structure by the river which didn't feature on any map.
Down by the riverside was a rather striking white-flowered plant . . .
. . . my best guess is Hesperis - Dames Rocket - from the brassica family.
The majority of the vegetation was probably corn . . .
. . . with an edging of a re-growth of last year's barley seeds.

We followed the river upstream to Harewood Bridge, a grand four arched stone structure with a weir in front.

A close-up catches a heron as he (she) takes flight and exits left through the archway.

Looking down from the bridge at the stepped weir and the slightly low water levels in the river.

By crossing the main road we could access a pedestrian gate into Harewood Park

which took us through the estate fields where the deer were grazing.

The phone is not the best at close-ups (but it is light to carry !)
More deer shelter from the afternoon sunshine under the trees.

- - - o o o - - -

The weekend at Harewood coincided with several birthdays . . .

. . . so we travelled the short distance over to Peter and Danny's house.

Here they surprised Danny (Loes daughter) with a big birthday cake during an afternoon get together with some of their friends.

The beautiful cake was made by Alla, an Ukrainian lady who is a refugee to Britain from the conflict back in her own country.

It was all celebrations again a few days later, as we went our for a more formal evening meal at the Wensleydale Heifer restaurant.

Another cake, the candles of which also needed blowing out.

The cake decorations were delightful, having been augmented by the restaurant before being served.

The staff turned off the main lights as they brought in the candle-lit cake . . . everyone thought it was a power cut !

However they soon joined in with the classic "Happy Birthday" song when the lights were switched back on.

- - - o o o - - -

Sadly Loes's son Robin couldn't make it up for the celebrations this particular weekend

which meant I travelled across to Yorkshire a couple of week's later when he was able to travel north from London.

On the afternoon of the planned second, or was that third birthday party, we had time for a local walk.

This was the rocky grit-stone outcrop of Almscliff Crags, a mile or so north of The Wharfe, near the village of Huby.

Classic grit stone slabs and easy climbing provided you found the route up between the steep drops.

The sunny weather has parched some of the grass and vegetation on the tops, though this small Ash was thriving.

Extensive views all round, including this one to the south,

where we could see Harewood Bank and The Chevin near Otley.

Loes celebrated the climb by leaning into the wind on the top.
This is farm land and one of the gaps even had a short wall and stile.

The rocks are a local favourite for practising basic rock climbing and bouldering

and though you can't see them here, there were several groups out enjoying the rock today.

- - - o o o - - -

That evening we travelled the short distance . . . to the Scotts Arms in Sicklinghall

Robin and Rosie (one either side) were able to join us this time and celebrate Loes's birthday once again.

They even invited me . . . I'm the one on the right in case you didn't recognise the smarter me !!

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with my iPhone 11pro phone camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . another excuse for a party !

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Previous walk - 1st June 2023 - The Strid and Bolton Abbey

A previous time up here - 1st May 2023 - Wetherby Round, Yorkshire

Next walk - 10th June 2023 - A Hayeswater Round