HERIOT COUNTRY Northallerton Market proved to be a bit of a letdown. We wanted to go to a stock market but it had been cancelled due to lack of interest as all the farmers were at the Yorkshire Show. So Beat and I just pottered round while Helen and Linda went shopping.
About 12:30 we set off towards the town of Richmond to find the Yorkshire Dales. Richmond is dominated by Richmond Castle, an imposing mediaeval fortress built on a cliff overlooking a bend in the Swale River. The castle was begun in 1071 and over the following 500 years it was owned by numerous families of royal descent. But because it was of little strategic importance, the castle hardly played any part in the momentous events that helped shape England during that period.
Much of the original masonry is still intact and along with the White Tower in the Tower of London and the great tower of Colchester Castle is the only masonry remaining from the first 20 years after the Norman Conquest. We climbed to the very top of the battlements and looked out over Richmond and its surrounding countryside, and explored the extensive remains of the triangular outer curtain wall in which was set many small sally ports, arrow slits and other small openings. Some of the east wall has collapsed and what remains is tilting way out of plumb as the foundations have subsided over the centuries.
When we left Richmond we began following the directions from a leaflet which took us deep into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales to some of the places where All Creatures Great and Small¹ was filmed. Dark and brooding storm clouds covered the land as we drove through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Endless rolling hills were covered in a labyrinth of dry stone walls and everywhere we looked the neatly built walls and farm buildings covered the land.
We followed Swaledale to Gunnerside where we had afternoon tea then followed a steep road up over the tops which were enveloped in a thick mist. We stopped to look at some curious rock formations called the Buttertubs then a bit later on an old lead smelter before dropping down into Wensleydale.
The lovely market town of Askrigg stands in as Darraby in the TV program and a house called Crinkly House is the Skeldale House of the story. The local pub, The King’s arms, doubles as Darraby Drovers Arms and the Wheatsheaf Pub India by capable as we’re James and Helen spent their honeymoon. Further along the valley is Castle Bolton where James proposed to Helen and where, in real life, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.
That night, after tea, Linda and I went for a walk through the trees behind Sutton Hall. We met h and b on the street so we went for a drink at t’pub!
¹ The TV series All Creatures Great and Small was based on the books by James Heriot about life as a vet in North Yorkshire. The story was set in the fictional town of Darraby and the filming locations on the moors were part of a popular tourist drive.