The Summer Outing, 1998

W R Mitchell

 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

Thirty-seven miles north of Settle, we parked our cars beside the green at Outhgill at the start of an expedition to Mallerstang and the upper Eden. The weather was dampish but Wild Boar fell was not wearing a bonnet of cloud and the signs indicated a bright day.

We looked at the Jew Stone and I told the story of William Mounsey, a well-to-do eccentric living by the lower Eden who walked to the source of the river and raised a commemorative stone inscribed with a classically encoded message which was dubbed the Jew Stone. We peered over a wall to see faint traces of the smithy where James Faraday was employed as a blacksmith. He married a local lass, Mary Hastell, and they produced Michael Faraday (1791-1867), the greatest of the 19th century experimenters, famous for his discovery of electric and magneto-electric induction.

We sat in the old pews at the little church and considered embroidered kneelers which evoke life in the parish. We then looked at the new memorial to those who died about 130 years ago in the construction of local stretches of the Settle-Carlisle railway. That day, sadly, the famous railway had been blocked when a section of a southbound coal train became derailed at Dent Head viaduct, causing considerable damage to the track.

After a coffee break in Kirkby Stephen we followed the winding, hedge-bordered road to Warcop, a village which has retained its rushbearing (a custom dating to the time when fresh rushes were annually spread on the earthen floor of the church). At the fast-developing Appleby Heritage Centre we were conducted round the restored goods shed and told of educational work with those wishing to change jobs, those without jobs who sought qualification and those who are handicapped or have learning difficulties. Splendid work. We had lunch in a railway carriage, one of several standing permanently beside a platform. Lunch varied from one man's coke and sausage roll to a group's four-course affair which lacked only palm trees and violin music for the maximum effect.

We parked our cars (without charge) outside Appleby's modern swimming pool and strolled by the river into town, where we examined the tombs of Lady Anne Clifford and her beloved mother, Margaret (nee Russell), As we walked up Boroughgate T told the story behind the familiar saying: "Before you can say Jack Robinson." It concerns John (Jack) Robinson, MP, who built the imposing White House, changed his opinions and allegiances frequently in his quest for power and money and, one day in parliament, brought the aforementioned despairing cry from a fellow MP.

Everyone was charmed by the almshouses - by a cobbled courtyard (no weeds), by redstone mini-homes, fronted by colourful flower beds, and by a little chapel into which we just fitted as one of the sisters told us about her life in a place founded by Lady Anne. This indomitable woman, whose spirit pervades Appleby, looked down on us from a celebrated triptych in the great hall of the castle, which is now owned by Christopher Nightingale, a solicitor living in Singapore. Two more rooms have been opened for public viewing. We entered a panelled bedroom holding a four-poster bed of black oak, the oldest part dated 1599 and a canopy added in 1842. The dining room had a huge table set out as though for dinner. Clifford and Thanet portraits adorn the walls.

Finally, we climbed the spiral stone staircase inside the keep and stood on the roof. There was a clear view of me Northern Pennines, our eyes being first attracted by the dolerite cliffs of the vast recess known as High Cup Nick, then by Great Dun Fell with its radome and, finally, by the ponderous bulk of Cross Fell, the 'attic' of the Pennines. In the grounds of the castle, we noticed a giant steel sculpture, like a cross between an emaciated man and a stick-insect, which its creator intended to depict mankind's endeavour to break through barriers to reach reach greater achievement. No comment.

Bill Mitchell is a well known author and was for many years the Editor of the Dalesman. He is kind enough to lead a yearly outing for the NCHT.

Almshouses, Appleby Photos: Harold Foxcroft




Almshouses, Appleby Photos: Harold Foxcroft