Here’s this week’s “Walk with a Talk”, as always, they can be a little bit rude but I have vetted it for really bad words and I’d be happy for my kids to read it – the eldest is forty-two! If you want to skip the ‘Walk’ but pick up on the ‘Talk’, look for “/*Start Wobbly Scene“
So Boys and Girls, today we’ll learn about being caught in a young lady’s room and jumping out of a window at the nurses’ home, a laburnum tree, skinny dipping at Brompton Carnival, some history of the Friarage and Rutson Hospitals, puppy love and what happens if you drink too much port, oh, and a little romance! There’s also a bit about the town but I’ve put that at the end along with a picture of the team!
We’d gathered together at the watering hole for the usual Friday evening strategy meeting. The weather had been somewhat variable so we’re planning something on the quieter roads about 6 or 7 miles (10 km – ish). You don’t have to live in Northallerton to do this walk and I encourage people from further afield to consider this route especially if it has been wet and the normal cross-country tracks are boggy but not only then. It is a glorious walk on a warm spring or summer’s day and some of the views from Banks Road are wonderful in any season. You have the Vale of Mowbray to the west and the North Yorkshire Moors to the East both are well worth a few minutes of contemplation.
So – we start with a walk…
If you intend to do this walk then gather near the bus terminus where you may wish to take a look into All Saints, the parish church of Northallerton. Built in a cruciform it’s a wonderful medieval building well worth a look inside. Take particular note of the stained glass in the East window and Lady Chapel and look for the strange face carving on one of the pillars. Current thinking is that the first church built here was in the early 7th century and was made of wood but nothing survives of it. Fragments of stone were found during restoration work that seemed to indicate a stone church on this site in the 9th century.
All Saints Church
We walk south along the High Street opposite what was the Rutson Hospital.
The Rutson Hospital
The Rutson Hospital was founded in 1877 when it was known as the Cottage Hospital. It was located in an existing building which was certainly 18th century in date but may have incorporated the remains of a house built after the Dissolution of the Carmelite Friary which had owned the land and any buildings on it until the 16th century. The buildings were renamed the Rutson Hospital in 1905 after Mr Henry Rutson of Newby Wiske who donated additional buildings to the hospital so they could extend. As a child I remember a vine that grew on its front, you can see it on this pic.
Rutson Hospital – with nurses watching the carnival from the window
At the roundabout, we cross the road onto Friarage Street then again onto Bullamoor Road with the Friarage Hospital on the left.
The Friarage Hospital
The Friarage Hospital stands on the site of the original Carmelite Friary originating in 1356 and closed, rather abruptly, by Henry VIII in a fit of pique in 1539 when the Pope wouldn’t give him a divorce. It opened in 1939 as an emergency medical services hospital and its initial function was to receive casualties in the event of the bombing of the Teesside civilian population. From 1943 until 1947, the hospital functioned as the Royal Air Force Hospital, Northallerton and in 1948 it was temporarily reopened as a satellite of the Adela Shaw Orthopaedic Children’s Hospital (based at Kirbymoorside). It was then renamed the ‘Friarage Hospital’ and came under the control of the newly formed National Health Service.
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There are many men and women with fond memories of this wonderful place, especially in the 60s and 70s. There was a nurses’ home, a warden to look after them and much activity both day and night and many a fuddled memory of the dances in the Nurses’ Recreational Hall.
There was an evening when a young man had met a girl who invited him back to her room for errr, coffee; however, no sooner were their lips moist from the ‘coffee’ than a voice was heard shouting, “I know you’re in there, come out!”, followed by some loud knocking on the door. It was – ‘The Warden’. Now nothing would stop ‘The Warden’ once she thought there was something ‘going on’.
The blood had rushed from the head of the young man and was now occupying other parts of his anatomy rendering the concept of sliding under the bed an impossibility! There was nowhere else in the tiny room to hide so the only option was to climb out of the window. Easy eh? He opened the window with some minor creaks and squeaks, then with a final kiss, a minor grope and a lot of giggling he jumped clear and adopted a slightly crouched position ready for the contact with path four feet below…except, his feet didn’t make contact with the path as expected, in fact, he was still dropping like a brick, the giggling had transformed into a sort of nervous scream and in the few milliseconds before his fall was broken by the branches and twigs of a laburnum bush he really did think his short life was over. What the young man and, one would hope, his young lady had forgotten in the excitement of ‘drinking the coffee’ was that they were, in fact, on the second floor.
The Nurses Recreational Hall – “Nurses Rec” and Romance on the Stage
There are many memories of the Nurses’ Recreational Hall but the most important for me was a show being put on with dancing by some of the nurses, singing from some of the doctors and a band called ‘Grimbles’ who did a lot of folky stuff. Dr Michael Hunt was running the event with his lovely wife (actually I think she did all the work).
The singularly most important thing for two people is that they met that night!
He was in the folk group below and she was dancing with her friends Donna and Eileen on the tiny stage. It was a Christmas show for charity in the Nurses Recreational Hall in the early seventies. Their eyes caught fleetingly on stage and he, in a rash fit of confidence that he normally didn’t possess, asked if she was going to the Fleece* following the concert and after a nanosecond of hesitation during which he thought he’d blown it, she shyly and very quietly said, “OK…”, and smiled.
Linda became my wife and that smile would light up my life for nearly 40 love-filled and joyful years. I’m sure the Nurses Hall has a lot of memories for many other people in this delightful town.
*The Fleece was the pub where everyone who worked at the Friarage would congregate on most nights of the week. It was always rammed with young nurses, mechanics, doctors, technicians and even the odd architect, what a mix and the atmosphere was wonderful.
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Early Grimbles at the Northallerton Folk Club in the old Working Mens Club
(Mike Birch, Dave Trousdale, Ian Ingles, George Layfield (me), Pete Trousdale and Colin Robinson)
We carry on past the Friarage and stay on Ballamoor Road until we reach the fork turning right onto Scholla Lane. This is the first hill and it’s not steep but does go on a bit. On the way up and towards the top, take the opportunity to look back over the Vale of Mowbray towards the Pennines. You can also make some cracking photographs at the top looking both west and south.
We pass beautiful fields and have a great view down to the Vale of York and further to the Pennines.
Scholla Lane towards Hailstone Moor
Up here there’s a public footpath that takes you through fields and woods and I shall be exploring that at a time in the future. I’ll produce a map and bring it to you then.
*/ Start Wobbly Scene
The Newt Pond
When I was about 9 years old, Penguin had just got permission to publish Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the Everley Brothers were singing about Cathy’s Clown and Johnny Preston was telling us the story of the unrequited love of Running Bear and Little White Dove. I had problems with that record at that age as I couldn’t handle sad stories, still struggle to this day.
Even at that young age, it was normal to jump on your bike and ride to the woods, rivers and ponds that were on the periphery of town. Our limits were where we could get to and back again before dark.
There was a pond in the corner of the field up here and we’d ride our bikes to it when the weather was good. It was always well stocked with newts and frogs. In the spring there’d be newt spawn hidden under aquatic leaves and occasionally in the mud. They eventually became tadpoles (I think their proper name is an eft) then they began the transformation process where they looked like a cross between what they were and what they were going to be. It was all fascinating. Sadly; however, we used to catch some of them to take them home and put them in makeshift ponds thinking we were doing them a favour by protecting them from predators. I think that in these circumstances the irony is that we were the predators. They’re a protected species now and I think youngsters are better educated regarding ecology, well I hope so.
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Towards Greenhow Syke and the Newt Pond (now filled in)
At the end of Scholla we turn left and walk to the crossroads at the Fox and Hounds. The crossroads are slightly offset and can be tricky in a car when approaching from Brompton. We walk straight on towards Brompton. This stretch is flat but not boring. Looking right through the gaps where there are gates, the North Yorkshire Moors are clear. Depending on the time of day or season they’re sometimes in silhouette, sometimes green and occasionally purple when the heather is blooming.
We look out for the Brumpton stone, probably the most photographed stone in the area and we do what everyone else before us has done, we make a photograph or two.
The stone is inscribed “Brumpton Liberty North 1759” and designated the boundary between Brumpton (now Brompton) and Northallerton. It is a designated grade 2 listed building!
The road twists and undulates into the distance and with a name like Banks Road it seems very apt. The hedges are just starting to bud and the birds are singing. All great signs that winter is coming to an end but, as yet, only a promise of spring and quite often those same buds are burnt by late frosts, but nature always wins through.
At the top of the bank, you can see north and west. If the wind is from the west or south there will be a haze. If it’s from the northeast it will be clear and easterlies, well with easterlies you have potluck but generally clear.
Banks Road looking west
The walk down the hill is welcome and we see only our second car of the walk then it’s followed by a couple of wagons and a tractor. These roads are generally quiet though so be reassured.
At the bottom is Stokesley Road and we are turning right as if to go out of town. This crossing is tricky so take care.
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The Green Tree
We pass the Green Tree where I first managed to get a drink (illegally) when I was 17. If you chose your pub carefully you could buy a drink before you were eighteen but you had to keep your noise levels low and look cool with a cigarette. I did both and added to the kudos with a girlfriend. It might have been the ‘summer of love’ with Scott McKenzie singing about “Going to San Francisco with Flowers in your hair”, Jefferson Airplane were singing “Need Somebody to Love” and The Doors had a major hit with “Light My Fire”.
My fire was lit but I had no idea what to do with it. Then I fell in love with sixteen-year-old Wendy and spent several weeks with her most evenings and weekends. We’d been to Hanging Stone for a walk in the sunshine and she was in my thoughts throughout every day. At night I’d pick her up in my mini-van and we’d drive to various villages and occasionally into town. My mam loved her too even though we didn’t go home much. Then it all fell apart. Love’s young dream was broken and I was distraught for some time. I’d never known this kind of ‘love’, puppy or otherwise, so I was never exposed to the bereavement of break-up until this point. I’m thinking of this as we pass this lovely pub now stuffed with other memories for another day and I smile at the naivety of that young man then, in a heartbeat, my mood changes and I wince as I think of the pain I caused my equally young sweetheart. At 17, I had a lifetime in front of me and now, at seventy-odd, I have a mountain of memories. The sixties and seventies were good years in many ways. From music to relationships and the newness of the way of life that we were creating we were very much carefree. Some had life plans that would never happen, some with no plans and waiting for life to happen and others surfed along on life’s wave, occasionally falling off but always getting back on and looking for a bigger wave. I can see all this now and I’m thrilled with the school friends in this group now together again after 50-odd years. I listen to their stories as we reminisce on these walks. The stories may be embellished for maximum effect or to add to the humour but we’ve done alright and we’re still north of the turf whilst some didn’t make it – we walk on…
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We continue in silence for another quarter of a mile then turn towards Brompton and the aptly name Water End.
There’s a bridge that we requisition for the purpose of yet more photographs and then walk slowly along the Northern bank of Brompton/Willow Beck where crocus and daffodils are poking through but not yet in bloom.
Water End Brompton
The village was an important centre for linen making and weaving in the 19th century with eight mills in the village at its peak in 1820 but declined by the early 20th century. The last mill was located in what is now the residential area of Linen Way. Bricks from the demolished chimney now form a memorial to linen workers which is situated on Water End Green, opposite the Village Inn.
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The Carnival used to be a pivotal time of the year. For us, it was always the start of the summer and I’m sure there were rainy days but time-strainers in my head have filtered them out and I’m left with sunny days, children with bikes that had been carefully decorated with crepe paper and colourful cards, fancy dress and farm trailers with various scenarios carefully designed and usually involving bales of hay and outrageously dressed characters with rouge cheeks and pigtails for the women and baggy brace-and-bib overalls for the men. I can’t remember the stories although some of them may have been Alice in Wonderland and other fantasies. I can say that an awful lot of work would have been done to achieve these results and Bert Langthorne would have been there with accordion, and there’d be others with all kinds of instruments including up-right piano banging out “Roll Out the Barrel”, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and all kinds of pub songs as they were towed through the village. Licensing laws were strict but special licences were sought and approved for the pubs at Brompton Carnival (I believe we called it Brompton ‘Sports’ in those days) and we took full advantage of this novel idea of allowing drinking all day. At the start of the day, we thought all of our birthdays had come at once and at the end of the day with inhibitions somewhat relaxed there was the beck. In the early days, it would be pants and bra for the girls and underpants for the boys and a lot of giggling and splashing in the beck but in later years there was a rumour of full-scale naked skinny-dipping proper in an outdoor swimming pool belonging to a hotel in the village. Perhaps someone would care to elaborate?
For the youngsters reading this. Keep in mind the carefree girls that started the day in tie-dyed T-shirts and tight jeans or hot pants, sometimes with a bra and sometimes not who ended the day splashing in the water sometimes clothed – and sometimes not…
…well, that was the little old lady with the twinkling eyes and mischievous smile you call grandma. She and Granddad could do all this but still maintain the mystery because there was no social media or smartphone but believe me if there had been, we would have used it!
So whatever questionable things you get up to now, she did it first – and I bet she did it better!
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As we pass the church Peter indicates that the daffodils are blooming. I love daffodils, they point to spring, they’re happy, vibrant and yellow and most importantly, they make me smile. We make some more photographs of this lovely church of St Thomas’
Brompton parish church has a 1000-year history and the village is mentioned in Domesday. Five Anglo-Danish hogback stones, of an original eleven found here, are displayed in the church along with Anglo-Saxon sculpture: a ninth-century cross shaft, two complete wheel head crosses and three other fragments of wheel head crosses. There are several stained glass windows, including one by Kempe, commemorating the Pattison family – owners of one of two linen mills established in the village in the middle of the 19th century. Just Google St. Thomas’ Brompton, there’s a mine of information.
Party Time in the Seventies
As we pass the rugby club Bri points out the electricity substation that’s good for a pee if you’ve been into Northallerton of an evening. As it is an electricity substation I would imagine that aim is paramount with dire consequences for those that are cavalier.
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I believe the North Yorkshire Show was held for a period of time in this field and it generates a memory.
In the seventies, parties were a norm after the pub shut (at 11.00 pm prompt – unless you got a stoppy-back) and on one occasion in mid-summer we were invited to some friends’ party along Turker Lane or certainly in that area. I’ll not mention their names to protect the innocent but they were twins and very much full of fun and Doreen (oops) asked us back. It’s the first and last time that I had port wine and at one point I remember dancing to the Supremes long playing record being bounced around on a Dansette multi-disc record player. One minute it’s “Automatically Sunshine” and the next I’m waking up in a marquee in the field I’m looking at now. How I got from the party on Turker Lane to here is a mystery.
The Show Field
I’d carefully removed my clothes and folded them next to the trestle table that I was sleeping on. I was shivering in the cold morning air although it was mitigated by the fact I was in the big tent. I looked at my watch and tried to focus but it was beyond me and I later discovered it was about half past five. I noticed there were some people arriving with a trailer full of plants which gave me a few seconds to get dressed.
My clothes were damp and busy plotting against me with regard to sharing their occupancy and I was about to learn that damp clothes and quick coverage are mutually exclusive. I was trying to put my pants on first (I guess it’s a form of self-preservation) and their dampness meant they were sticking to my legs. The show-field gate was now being closed by the people with the trailer full of plants and I was estimating that they’d be outside the tent in another minute. I pulled a little harder and at the same time lifted the material off my skin which enabled it to be eased up my leg in quarter-inch increments. With a mixture of finesse and brute force, I managed to get the clinging material to slide up my leg. I noticed that the denim now had tiny pleats where I’d folded and unfolded it but at least I was now unlikely to be arrested. Now for the shirt. Why had I chosen a pull-over-your-head shirt? A simple button up the front would have been way more practical but no, so the fiasco began again. Damp shirt over my head, damp shirt sticks to my head/shoulders/chest and I had my arm through the neck. I took it off again – with difficulty! Bugger the shirt, I’ll put my socks on (flight or fight and I’m not a fighter). The people were in the car and towing the trailer full of plants towards me, they were chatting and watching the trailer in case they lost anything on the undulating field. I had one sock half on and stuffed in a shoe – thank God for slip-ons. Now for the other. I hadn’t noticed it was turned inside out at the toe end and between that and the dampness I was on a complete loser. The car stopped outside the tent entrance and the passenger got out. I was frantically trying to think of an excuse, I felt like I did outside the headmaster’s office, a mixture of abject panic and shame. The passenger checked the trailer and got back in the car whilst talking to the driver and they moved on to what I now know is the next marquee. I slowed down, turned the shirt partially inside out and tried to struggle into it like a swimmer in the last throws of trying to reach the surface. I’d got my arms through the armholes and my head was also in the right place but it was the wrong way round and it looked like a crop top – but it was on. I put the sock in my pocket and slid my foot into the other shoe. I was now looking quite normal (well that’s what I thought) and I limped to the entrance – I’ll explain the limp in a minute. My head was pounding and I felt way beyond ill, nauseous doesn’t come close but at least I was now dressed. I walked nonchalantly out of the tent pretending that I was an official and staggered to the gate where I saw the car and trailer come in. I could now see them unloading stuff into the other marquee and I was the only other person there. As I staggered to the gate I adjusted my new ‘crop top’ in an effort to make it look like its original design (a shirt). I also tried to get my jeans to sit a little more comfortably with the lower part of my anatomy as I struggled for space – not a good look but I was past caring. I was out of the gate now and whispering silent prayers to whoever would listen for allowing me to escape whilst I continued my fight to create space below my waist when I realised how badly I was limping. I stopped and checked myself, the shirt didn’t look too bad now but the shrunken jeans were so tight against things that were designed for a more unrestricted life that my headache became worse and the legs were now so tight I looked like Max Wall and my feet were not the only things that hurt.
…In a final effort to regain composure, I checked again – my shoes were on the wrong feet!
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We turn right at Hambleton Leisure Centre )I highly recommend this place – wonderful value for money and helpful staff) and walk past the school through the alleyways to the High Street eventually walking back through All Saints to the bus terminus.
Our adventure continues as we use our bus passes to go to Osmotherley for fish and chips at Briege’s but you may wish to use any of the local pubs or cafes. They’re all good and we tend to choose on the basis of trying somewhere new to vary our experience, we haven’t yet found anywhere that we would not return.
This walk is about six and half miles, is suitable for wheelchairs but you might need help on the hills, it’s on tarmac roads all the way and has some lovely views. Be careful at the main Stokesley Road junction. Enjoy the snaps…G.x
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Here are some of the ‘Boys’
Also: Enjoy the town, it’s worth a visit. See below:-
Northallerton – Great Place to Visit and Walk
Northallerton is the county town of North Yorkshire and this walk starts and ends in the High Street. If you are visiting there are wonderful shops, some of them with worldwide reputations like Lewis and Coopers, a delicatessen that’s the envy of them all. It’s as quaint as you’re likely to get anywhere with narrow isles that open into crowded anti-rooms. It has definitely evolved and at no time has shown any intent to be planned. There’s a cafe upstairs selling local produce. I would urge you to go there just to sniff the atmosphere.
There are also a number of family-owned stores such as Barkers who’ve been around for over 100 years and as big as you get in many larger towns.
Maxwells sell electrical goods but with a difference. You don’t get some spotty teenager breathing down your neck trying to flog you something to make up their bonus. The people here know their products and if they don’t personally then they know someone who does and will bring them into the conversation without pressure or coercion.
There are cook-shops, leather and bag shops, fashion shops, supermarkets, general shops (Wilko and B&M) and M&S Food. There’s a cobbler, picture and picture framing shops (no candlestick maker though), a great toy shop, photography and printing shops, pet and pet supply shops, charity shops (and some of these stock what was seriously expensive stuff and now at the cheapest prices).
There are flower shops, hairdressers and barbers, travel agents who really can help and you get to see a person!
There’s Cowley’s bike shop and Betterdaze, a vinyl record and jukebox shop (yes really) people come from miles around to this one.
Joe Cornish the world-renowned photographer has his gallery here with floors dedicated to guest artists and a cafe that sells excellent local stuff and you can sit outside in a little courtyard.
There is accommodation on the high street and The Golden Lion a wonderful family-owned hotel with facilities for anything from wedding receptions to seminars and music.
There are other excellent quality hotels and guest houses either along the high street of just off and none of them too far from the centre.
We have the quirkiest hardware store of all, Sammies. Sam Turners sell anything from kids’ toys (many of them with an agricultural bent) to lawnmowers, quad bikes, tools, electrical stuff, ladders, fencing, countryware clothing, wellies in all colours including green, garden stuff and it has an excellent cafe. It’s worth a visit just for a walk around!
There’s a cracking nightclub with occasional guest appearances from well-known artists, a great leisure centre with a swimming pool, wave machines and slide, numerous gyms, a BMX park, a flood-lit dry football ground, a rugby ground and club, a football ground and clubhouse and golf courses. and a tremendous venue for anything from live shows to films, The Forum.
The Forum is a tremendous venue for anything from live shows to films or you can hire their facilities for your own event.
It’s a bit light on green parks but there’s an excellent kids play area in the Applegarth that’s well worth a visit if you have little ones.
On top of that, there’s a shed load of pubs, cafes and takeaways.
This town is worthy of a visit, especially on market days which are Wednesday and Saturday.
It’s also steeped in history with marauding Scots, visits from kings and bishops, the odd visit from famous authors and a wonderful hospital based on the site of a Carmelite friary but I’ll cover that another time when I’m on another ‘ramble’ with my priceless friends who are often the stimulus for these thoughts.
If you think others would enjoy the pictures, walks and anecdotes please feel free to “share” using the links. Thanks.
This is life after an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) open repair. Don’t be afraid of the operation, it set me free. Please be encouraged and inspired to walk, it’s liberating…G..x
The link to the AAA is here: George’s Abdominal Aortic Aneurism
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