Feeds:
Posts
Comments

nik_17388-copy

…you are being watched!

My garden is on the flight path of a Sparrow Hawk. The bird perches on the roof above my window or watches from the chimney pot of the house opposite before swooping down into the garden hoping to surprise and catch smaller birds feeding.  Then he (or it could be a female, I don’t know) will perch in a rowan tree to survey the scene. This is where I managed to snatch a photo.

nik_17389-copy

nik_17387-copy

 

I am not an ornithologist or bird-watcher but I have certainly enjoyed a marvellous flying display these past few days.

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

Fancy meeting you…

You never know who you might bump into or what you might see on a day out at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park…

(click on images to enlarge)

nik_17306-copynik_17315-copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nik_17350-copy

nik_17329-copynik_17316-copynik_17342-copy

 

 

 

 

 

nik_17333-copy

nik_17301-copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information go to Yorkshire Sculpture Park http://www.ysp.co.uk/

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

nik_17324

 

nik_5734The signpost proclaiming “Finest view in England” stands on an escarpment almost 800 feet (300 metres) high at Sutton Bank on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. On a clear day from this spectacular viewpoint you can look out over the wooded and craggy slopes, beyond nearby Hood Hill and Lake Gourmire, across the Vale of York and westwards to the Pennines.  The adjacent Visitor Centre is a popular attraction and many visitors stop to walk the path along the top past the Yorkshire Gliding Club, along the earthworks of an ancient Iron Age hill fort and around the point of Roulston Scar to the equally famous White Horse above the village of Kilburn. But what many do not know is that this is also the site of a battle. For it was here on14 October 1322 that a Scottish army led by Robert the Bruce attacked and routed an English army and came within a hair’s breadth of capturing the king, Edward II; and it is in the woods below that many English soldiers lie buried.

nik_5735

The road (A170) approaching Sutton Bank with Lake Gourmire in the distance

It was the time of the ‘Wars of Scottish Independence’. In August 1322 Edward II had marched into Scotland with an army of over 20,000, despatching his fleet to sail up the coast to the Firth of Forth in a campaign to defeat Robert the Bruce and capture Edinburgh. However, the Scottish army retreated before the English advance, avoiding battle and destroying all crops and cattle in their wake. Sir Thomas Gray, constable of Norham castle in Northumberland described it thus, “The king marched upon Edinburgh, where at Leith there came such a sickness and famine upon the common soldiers of that great army, that they were forced to beat a retreat for want of food…so greatly were the English harassed and worn out by fighting that before they arrived in Newcastle there was such a marrain in the army for want of food, that they were obliged of necessity to disband.”

Edward left his queen, Isabella, at Tynemouth and marched southwards to York with the remnants of his army, eventually arriving at Rievaulx Abbey, a few miles to the east of Sutton Bank. Behind him Robert the Bruce with an army of 20,000 ‘moss-troopers and clansmen’ had crossed the border, laid waste to Carlisle, Lancaster and Preston and was marching over the Pennines and through the Yorkshire Dales. At Northallerton he met with more Scottish troops and set out to capture a king.

nik_17296-copy

Roulston Scar with the woods beneath

Robert the Bruce and his army marched through the night and by the morning of 14 October were in the woods beneath the craggy summit of Sutton Bank. Alerted, the English army under the Earls of Richmond, John of Brittany, Pembroke, Aymer de Valence and Buchan, Henry Beaumont, had broken camp near Old Byland to take up defensive positions along the top, probably from where the Visitor Centre now stands southwards to Roulston Scar. The Scots advanced against a barrage of rocks and missiles and hails of arrows; the Earl of Richmond attempted to counter the advance by sending men down the slopes but the narrow and steep gullies were easily defended by the Scots leading to many English dead. Bruce now set his highlanders against the English flanks and the Scots fought their way to the summit causing Richmond’s troops to pull back to engage and fight the enemy along the top of the escarpment and beyond. The battle now entered its final decisive phase.

nik_5473

The craggy outcrop of Roulston Scar


Bruce sent his remaining ‘moss-troopers’ and cavalry to find a way around the back up onto the moor, to outflank the English and attack from the rear. The battle was lost, no quarter was given and the English suffered heavy casualties. However, Bruce was not yet finished. He despatched Sir Walter Stewart and a contingent of cavalry to Rievaulx to capture the king. Stewart arrived to find an untouched banquet on the table, treasures, personal possessions and the great Privy Seal but no king.  Edward evaded capture by the skin of his teeth fleeing with a small personal bodyguard. Stewart and 50 men set off in pursuit, first to Nunnington and Pickering Castle; then to Bridlington before Edward turned inland and to safety behind the walls of the city of York. Bruce and his army continued their march as far as Beverley taking riches and loot as they went before finally returning to Scotland 6 weeks later.

nik_17294-copy

I live almost in the shadow of Sutton Bank and Roulston Scar and often walk through the woods and take the path along the top of the hills. However, it was only recently when I chanced upon ‘A brief guide to British Battlefields’ by David Clark that I realised I was walking in the footsteps of history and that such a large battle had taken place hereabouts. There is no plaque, monument or information board to the events of that day, which is a shame. No cairn or memorial marks the graves of the estimated 8,000 Englishmen and 960 Scotsmen who lost their lives on 14 October 1322 and that too is sad. It would be nice to think that as the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Old Byland approaches this will be remedied.

nik_215

Looking southwards along Sutton Bank and Roulston Scar with the Vale of York in the distance

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

On a pleasant, sunny autumnal day there can surely be nothing more enjoyable than a stroll through the woods and along the grassy terraces of Rievaulx near Helmsley in North Yorkshire.

And you never know what local wildlife you may encounter….

nik_17233-copy

Is this the fabled ‘long feathered shrike’.

nik_17248-copy

…or a ‘metal crested trumpet bird’ gathering nesting material?

nik_17250-copy

Definitely a ‘greater-hatted Phoenix fire bird’.

Whilst the captions are mine the artwork is by Yorkshire sculptor Michael Kusz.

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

nik_17224Hackfall Woods lie between Masham and Ripon near to the village of Grewelthorpe in North Yorkshire and has a chequered history. Mentioned in the Doomsday Book and at various times belonging to Knights Templar, the estate of Fountains Abbey and sold by Henry VIII following the dissolution of the monasteries it was bought by John Aislabie in 1731. Member of Parliament for Ripon and owner of Studley Royal which forms part of the Fountains Abbey lands he was Secretary to the Navy and later Chancellor of the Exchequer. He accepted a bribe (said to be worth £20 million in today’s money) for which he was found guilty and imprisoned in the Tower of London before returning to North Yorkshire in disgrace. He died in 1742 when his property and lands passed to his son William.

nik_17225William set about transforming the woods creating an ornamental landscape using the natural beauty of the river and surrounding area. This included Fisher’s Hall, built in 1750 from tufa and thought to be named after his head gardener.

 

Just one of the ruins and follies to be enjoyed on an enchanting walk through Hackfall Woods.

For more information visit http://www.hackfall.org.uk/

nik_17232-copy

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

Golden Clippings

It’s here…

Available on Amazon from today

A specially selected collection of stories and poems, showcasing the talents of members of the thriving writing group, ThirskWriteNow, produced in celebration of the group’s fifth anniversary in September 2016.
Covering virtually every genre, this eclectic mix is guaranteed to delight the most demanding of readers. Step inside and prepare to be be transported, tantalised, amused, intrigued.

Look inside this book.

 Golden Clippings

Time Slip

nik_4067

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the autumnal equinox, equal day and night, and marks the last day of summer. The days become shorter as we slip into autumn and approach the Winter Solstice in December. And for some it is a time for celebration.

In pagan mythology the equinox is called Mabon when thanks are given for summer and tribute is paid to the coming darkness. Wiccan festivals include building an altar with offerings of fruit and vegetables; druids gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun rise; the church celebrates Harvest Festival towards the end of September; the Chinese hold a Moon Festival during September; Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday also begins tomorrow.

However, and certainly in recent years, it seems the last days of summer are marked in another way – preparing for Christmas. Yes folks, it may only be September but it’s started already. For weeks trees, lights and decorations have been going up in garden centres, cards hit the shops ages ago, now foodie goodies are on the supermarket shelves (some with a pre Xmas ‘best by’ date); and all before we have even got to Halloween or Bonfire Night. ‘Christmas’ is well and truly out of control.

Perhaps we should move the seasons, shift an equinox or two. Do you think it’s too early to start painting and rolling eggs?

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

%d bloggers like this: