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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/


Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller


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…what can you see?

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

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“Brrr”. She thought it was still a tad chilly!


Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

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“Searching for Utopia” by Jan Fabre, Piazza della Signoria, Firenza.


Photograph Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

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Launched on the 19th July 1843 the ss Great Britian was described as ‘the greatest experiment since the Creation’.

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Conceived by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a visionary engineer of the Victorian era, with an iron hull designed by Thomas Patterson and rigging and engines by Thomas Guppy the ss Great Britain in 1843 was the biggest, strongest ship ever built and transformed the technology of sea travel.

Built as a ‘sail assist steam ship’ with 6 masts carrying special ‘schoonerNIK_15523 rig sails’ the ship was fitted with a revolutionary steam driven screw propeller instead of the more conventional paddle wheels.

NIK_15508 - CopyThis allowed the ship to operate more efficiently in rough seas, cutting down journey times to complete the crossing from Liverpool to New York in 14 days and 21 hours.

NIK_15511 - CopyBetween 1852 and 1875 the ss Great Britain was an elegant emigrant steam clipper making the journey from Liverpool to Melbourne in around 60 days.


(But it wasn’t all plain sailing. It took 18 months to sail out of Bristol! NIK_15525Brunel had made the ship too big to fit easily through the lock gates at the entrance to the floating harbour and he had to persuade the harbour authorities to temporarily dismantle the gates and await a high spring tide.)

NIK_15589The ship underwent several transformations over her working lifetime, passenger ship, cargo ship, steam ship, sail ship until 1933 when her working life came to an end and finally in 1937 when the ss Great Britain was scuttled in Sparrow Cove, Falkland Islands.

Now back in the original dry dock in Bristol where it was built the ss Great Britain has been lovingly restored to those halcyon days of a great ocean liner.


Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller







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On a bright and sunny March day I set off to find and photograph a legend from those glory days of the railway when trains were hauled by steam locomotives with evocative names, none more so than the Flying Scotman.

Across the North Yorkshire moors and nearing the village of Goathland I had never seen so many cars parked on the verges of the narrow moors roads vying with the sheep for a vacant patch of grass. Goathland itself was no better and the tiny station there was a mass of expectant faces waiting for the 12.44 from Grosmont (which wasn’t even scheduled to stop).

“Stand back, please,” a volunteer platform attendant asked. “Someone fell off at Grosmont yesterday!”

Nevertheless we craned to see as the high pitched toot of a whistle sounded and a column of steam appeared around the bend up the line. On it came, wreathed in steam, and then it was gone as the maroon carriages clanked by. My first glimpse of the Flying Scotman, albeit quite brief.

We’d catch the return, but not here. A mile or so up the line at Darneholme where the line passes beneath a narrow stone bridge. Even here up to 50 people gathered to stand and watch. Hovever, being the return journey from Pickering, the mighty Flying Scotsman was puffing backwards pulling its maroon entourage.

One final try. Onto Pickering to catch her steaming into the station. Again crowds lined the platform whilst others sought a vantage point. And as the train steamed into view you it was to the sound of bagpipes being played. As for photographs I managed to snap a few…

Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller










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