Yorkshire Dales B&B
Land of Knights, Castles, Temples and Cheese
Wensleydale, the largest of the
Yorkshire Dales, is formed by the valley of the River Ure which
rises some six miles west of the small market town of
The town's name derives from 'Hause' meaning a narrow neck of
land, and it is located at the end of
a natural pass with limestone features that are said to resemble
tubs of butter. The pass links Wensleydale with Swaledale to the
Fossdale Beck, one of the many streams that feed the Ure,
rises on Great Shunner Fell and further down its course, pours
over a limestone cliff to form a 99 ft single drop waterfall known
as Hardraw Force,
the highest single drop fall in England.
Hawes is also
the home of the Wensleydale
Creamery which makes the
famous Wensleydale Cheese. It is said that cheese making was
brought to Wensleydale
and after the Dissolution of the
Monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII, their cheese making skills
passed into the hands of local farmers which eventually lead to the
development of the present creamery at Hawes in the nineteenth
East of Hawes, the River Ure
is joined from the south by the River Bain at
In historic times this was within the forest of Wensley and was
used as a hunting park by the Lords of Middleham Castle.
The Romans had a lookout
station close to Bainbridge, on a hill at nearby at
and an Ancient British chieftain is thought to be buried in a
cairn close by. Further up the Bain is
a small lake, which according to legend once drowned the village
of Bainbridge after the village refused charity to a beggar.
Across the other side of the
river from Addleborough is
Askrigg - a Viking place
name which means a ridge where ash trees grew. It was later an
important market town and a market charter was granted in 1587.
The land around Askrigg was traditionally the home of the Metcalfe
family who lived at nearby Nappa Hall. Mary Queen of Scots was
once imprisoned in the house, possibly before she was moved to
Castle Bolton further down the dale.
is famed for the Aysgarth
Falls, a series of
waterfalls stretching over a half mile section of the River Ure.
The falls are in three parts called the upper, middle and lower
falls. Aysgarth is a Viking name deriving from 'Ayks kerth'
meaning a gap in the hills where oak trees grew.
To the east
of Aygarth near the village of
on a hill overlooking Temple Farm, can be found the remains of the
where several interesting graves can be seen. The
military-religious Order of the Knights Templar was founded in the
twelfth century for the purpose of protecting pilgrims journeying
to and from Jerusalem. It was introduced to Britain in 1146. It
acquired land on Penhill to build its chapel dedicating it to
'God, the Virgin and St. Catherine.'
St. Catherine, the patron saint of linen weavers was important to
the Knights Templar because their outer garments were made of
white linen on which was sewn a blood red cross, their symbol of
martyrdom. The Order attained considerable wealth and it was
this that eventually led to their
downfall. Kings and Popes alike grew jealous of their influence,
and they were subjected to much persecution. Pope Clement V
abolished the Order in 1312, Edward II having seized all the
property of the English Templars in 1308.
Most of the Knights
were imprisoned, tortured and executed.
village to the north of Wensley is the home of Bolton Castle,
mediaeval fortress. It was built in 1399 by Richard le Scrope, 1st
Lord Scrope of Bolton and Lord Chancellor of England. Bolton has
never been sold, and remains in the private ownership of Lord
Bolton, Richard le Scropes' descendant. The Scrope
family history stretches back for more than 900 years to Richard,
a Norman land owner and a favourite of King Edward the Confessor.
The family's first recorded involvement in Wensleydale was in
1149, since when they continued to play a significant role at the
heart of national politics. However, Richard's eldest son, Sir
William, who obtained the kingdom of the Isle of Man in 1393 and
was later created Earl of Wilts and Treasurer of England, was
executed in 1399 for treason after he took a leading role in
repealing the patent given to Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford,
while his father, Henry IV was in exile. This was a major setback
for the family and Richard only managed to retain the castle and
his lands after appearing before Henry's first parliament and
imploring his sovereign not to disinherit himself and his
remaining children. Sir William received a mention in
Shakespeare's play Richard II, as did his brother, Sir Stephen,
who served as Justice of Munster from 1401.
Castle Bolton Church
Archbishop of York, another of the Scrope family, officiated at
the Coronation of Henry IV in 1399. He was executed for his part in Harry
Hotspur's plot against the king, as was his nephew, Sir Henry, for
his part in the Earl of Cambridge's revolt against Henry V.
Richard, the third Lord Scrope, fought at Agincourt and also gets
a mention by Shakespeare in
Henry V and the 5th Lord Scrope, Sir John, fought on
the losing side at the Battle of Bosworth but unlike his ancestor,
he escaped with a pardon. The 8th Baron Scrope, John Scrope, fell
from favour by supporting the catholic rebellion during the reign
of Henry VIII, giving refuge
to Adam de Sedberg, the last Abbot of Jervaulx, who was subsequently caught and
From July 1568 until
January 1569 Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in Bolton Castle
and is said to have escaped for a brief period before being
recaptured near Leyburn.
The market town of
Leyburn lies to
the east of Wensley and one of its main features is the Shawl, a natural limestone terrace almost a mile long which
overlooks the town. From the top of the Shawl there are excellent
views of a large part of Wensleydale including Middleham Castle
and Bolton Castle. During a two hour escape from Bolton Castle,
Mary Queen of Scots is said to have dropped her shawl near here
and given her name to the Shawl. The dropped shawl betrayed her
whereabouts and she was captured. In reality, Leyburn Shawl
its name from Shielings
meaning shepherd's huts.
Other places of interest in
the Leyburn area include
Thornton Steward, which
belonged in the twelfth century to Wymar, a steward of the Earl of
Richmond. At the same time,
Constable Burton to the east
of Leyburn belonged to the Earl of Richmond's constable. Constable
Burton Hall is a fine palladian house built by John Carr of York
in 1768, set in 18th century parkland with a terraced woodland
Eight miles to the east of
Constable Burton is the market town of
In Anglo-Saxon times Bedale was Beda's Halh - a secret corner or
retreat belonging to someone called Bede, but probably not the
Venerable Bede of Jarrow. Bedale is often described as a
gateway to the dales and is located just off the A1 (The Roman Dere Street) near Leeming Bar. Many of the houses in Bedale
are Georgian and located along the long main street. A
market has been held in Bedale since 1251.
Two miles south east of Leyburn is the historic town of
was built around 1070 on a site known as William's Hill, about 500
yards south west of the present castle where its foundations can
still be seen. It was built by Alan, 1st Earl of Richmond, who also built
Richmond Castle and it originally belonged to the earl's brother Ribald.
Around 1170 the castle was dismantled and the present castle was
by Robert Fitzralf. The Neville
family bought the
castle and it became the main residence of Richard Neville,
the Earl of
Warwick, who was known as
the 'Kingmaker' due to
his support of King Edward
IV in the Wars of the Roses.
From 1465 to
1468 Edward's brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the future King
Richard III, stayed at the castle under the care of Warwick.
Only a year after Richard had left Middleham, Warwick turned
against King Edward and imprisoned the king in the castle. For a
few months during Edward's imprisonment, Warwick attempted to rule
the country in the king's name.
Middleham and Coverdale lies the 'Forbidden Corner' a modern folly
incorporating, amongst other things, a Roman Temple.
south east of Middleham lie the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey. Cistercian
monks from France established a monastery at Fors in Upper
Wensleydale in 1145, where they were credited with introducing the
making of cheese to Wensleydale. The monks found the site bleak
and wild and the abbey's livestock was vulnerable to attacks by
wolves. In 1156 they moved to a new, more shelterted site at the
eastern end of Wensleydale which they called
Jervaulx, a French name
meaning Ure Valley. At the height of
Jervaulx's power, almost the entire length of Wensleydale belonged
to the abbey.
Jervaulx are thought to have been involved in the training
of racehorses for Henry VIII and this may have been the origin of
the racehorse training associated with nearby Middleham. Despite
this, Jervaulx's sad fate was sealed during the reign of King
Henry. Jervaulx's last abbot, Adam de Sedbergh was executed at
Tyburn for his part in the 1536 Yorkshire rebellion against the
king, and his persecution of the Catholic Church, know as the Pilgrimage of Grace. The Dissolution of the
monasteries took place two years later and the history of Jervaulx
brought to an abrupt end.
Abbey Chapter House Ruins