Richmond, Easby Abbey & Alleys
We start at the Nuns Close Car Park in Richmond. It’s £4 all day but there are facilities. There are 9 of us today including the lovely Cecilia Kennelly and Peter’s grandson, the extremely fit and Flemingly talkative Lewis.
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The plan is ‘loose’ in as much Peter is keeping it close to his chest. It involves the alleyways of Richmond along with a folk tale or two then a walk to Easby Abbey and return by the old rail-track.
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Our initital route takes us through a passageway to the south then right along Victoria Road and immediate left on Cravengate then left again onto Newbiggin where we pass our first place of worship. St Joseph & St Francis Xavier Church. The first Catholic Church in Richmond after the Catholic Relief Acts in 1778 and 1791, before this time the practice of Catholicism was outlawed. It was originally built in 1794; however the building that now stands was built in 1868.
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The sun is shining and the wind is blowing quite chilly but we’re warming up as we turn right on to Bargate and steam along left into Thornhill and Waterloo Street crossing New Road and back onto Waterloo Street at the other side.
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We’re up through the arch and heading towards Castle Walk.
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The sun hasn’t gained the elevation to melt the combination of hoar frost and light snow which makes some paths treacherous, we tread with care!
As we ramble around Castle Walk there are clear views across the roof tops to the folly, Cullodon Tower.
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Built in around 1746, it is thought that Culloden Tower was designed by architect Daniel Garrett. Whist it is difficult to pin down the exact date, its purpose is far clearer. Originally called the Cumberland Temple, it was built by John Yorke as a monument to celebrate the victory of the Duke of Cumberland’s army over Bonnie Prince Charlie near Inverness in April 1746. It has a nickname due to the beautiful powder blue of the interior, The Wedgewood Bowl! It has now been restored and you can hire it for a romantic break.
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Cullodon Tower

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The interior looks great here’s link to The Landmark Trust site if you want to give your romantic chum a treat http://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/search-and-book/properties/culloden-tower-5579
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PS: this is a courtesy link, I’m not sponsored nor do I endorse this, thanks.
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Castle Walk is an elevated pathway above the Swale and affords some wonderful views up, down and across the valley.
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The hoar frost creates a wintery scene as we stop t0 gaze at the beautiful valley below.
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We stop and become enthralled as a brace of Flemings regale us with the true tale of the Richmond Conscientious Objectors who were locked up here for a while in 1916. They were then taken to France where 15 of them were sentenced to be shot at dawn by firing squad.
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Apparently, the rules change when you are in the fighting theatre whether you’re there willingly or not and you can then be court-martialed. The sentence was almost immediately commuted to 10 years.
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They were then transported back to Winchester Prison where they met other ‘conscies’ and formally released in 1919 but still disenfranchised for a period of 5 years and unable to work. On returning home, they were widely seen as cowards and were spurned by their local communities.
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We continue around Castle Walk occassionally looking up at the prison cells and thinking about the unfortunate men who were incarcerated there.
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Richmond Castle and the start of the “Drummer Boy Walk”
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The legend maintains that many years ago, possibly at the end of the 18th century, some soldiers discovered an opening to a tunnel under the Keep of the Castle. As they were too large to crawl into it themselves, they selected one of the small regimental drummer boys to be lowered through a narrow crevice into a vault. He was told to continue along the passage beating his drum as he went. Guided by the sound of drumming, the soldiers were to follow his course above the ground and so plot the route.
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The sound of the drum was heard clearly as he proceeded down the tunnel. It led them away from the Castle, across the Market Place in the direction of Frenchgate, and beside the River Swale towards Easby.
When the soldiers reached Easby Wood, half a mile from the Abbey, the drumming ceased. A stone stands today to mark the spot and is called the ‘Drummer Boy Stone’ by the local people. The drummer boy was never seen again. Perhaps the roof had fallen in? The mystery has never been solved.
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Then turn away from the Castle and head towards the Market Place, crossing it diagonally right then on to Frenchgate.
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We cross the A6136 and follow the road to the right towards St Mary’s Church.
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St Mary’s Church

Pete’s in full flow again and is telling us about a local man:
On a day in November 1606 when he may have been hunting with friends. Approaching Deepdale thick mist enveloped him and he tried to return to Richmond. Tales tell that he counted back the ditches he knew he needed to cross but went astray. The pair leapt from the edge of Whitcliffe Scar falling 212ft.. Miraculously Robert survived the fall but with a broken leg. Apparently, he cut open the horse that was now dead and thrust his leg into it to keep it warm. It was eventually amputated and he lived for many more years. When he died the leg was exhumed and re-burried with him. The place where he and the unlucky horse made their final leap is now called Willances Leap.
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If I’m right to tie this together there is a wonderful contemporary twist when during the 70’s there was an excellent close harmony folk group who were meant to be named after it but suffered from some Manchester Guardian Editorship and their name was spelt wrong so they became Willards Leap! Can this be confirmed?
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We walk along Easby Low Road passing incredibly clear water streams with fabulously soft lichen.
Then reach the site of the final resting place of the Richmond Drummer Boy where the sound of the drum was finally and mysteriously lost…
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The path to Easby is quite easy but you need to know that this is because the ground is still hard from the frost. If it had thawed this part of the walk would have been very soft and tiresome.
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We stop at the Echo Stone for another photograph this time excellently created by Lewis.
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If you walk this route you really must try the echo stone. You must stand on it; either side, in front or behind will not work. So, standing on it, shout with all the volume you can muster towards the abbey and you’ll hear your efforts rewarded with two or, if you’re lucky, three echos.
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Take time out to look into the Easby Abbey “Visitors Centre”. The Abbey was a closed order so visitors would be roomed here and fed from the Abbott’s table but not allowed to mix with the monks.
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St Agatha’s Church

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On the other side of the lane is St Agatha’s Church, it’s still in use but inaccessible today. It’s the first one we found locked.

Easby Abbey

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Easby Abbey. The inhabitants were canons rather than monks. Apparently, monks are not ordained priests! The Premonstratensians wore a white habit and became known as the White Canons. The White Canons followed a code of austerity similar to that of Cistercian monks.
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We take some time to get everyone together again and take in the wonderful relaxing feeling induced by a river in flow.
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The Swale one of the most volatile in the country and has been known to rise 3 feet in less than 20 minutes. Fishermen have been stranded on rocks and many people have been lost in its flow.
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The route takes us through what was the old station which has been transformed into various art venues. We’re lucky in that today Rebekah Finlay and her mum Louise are exhibiting. Well worth calling in to peruse some excellent work.
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We also take the opportunity to indulge ourselves with some Archers ice cream, definitely worth the visit!
We return to Richmond along the bed of the old railway. The going is excellent and if the other route is too soft then it would be worth taking this route both ways.
Here are a few photographs of the falls under Richmond Castle. For those of you that are photographers I’ve varies the shutter speed so some of them have the milky effect with the water movement whilst others have been frozen and sharp.
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It’s really good to take photographs here from a marked spot that you can use again. Then do it four times in different seasons. The resulting, contrasting pictures are remarkable.
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We leave the falls walk along the aptly name Riverside Road until we reach a steeply stepped walkway back up to The Bar Castle Hill
The steps are quite taxing so be prepared to stop, catch your breath and take in the beautiful Swale below.
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Daffodils always make me smile. They’re a real promise of spring.
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We find a plaque with some wise words…
The punishment for ‘acting’ To be “striped to the middle and whipped till their bodyes be bloody for rogues”. Maybe we should still have this for some actors!
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Wetherspoons are calling now so we take a direct route around the Market Place then left down an alleyway that will take us past the Georgian Theatre, well respected, apparently, for its acoustics.
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We cross Victoria Road and pass through Jacalou Junction into Friery Gardens
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It’s then across Queens Road to The Ralph Fitz Randal (Wetherspoons) for several steaks, various salads and soups.
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Final photograph of the gang by Lewis outside the pub.
The walk is about 5 miles when including a bit of zigging and zagging and is not suitable for wheelchairs. It is fairly easy but there is the possibility of a quagmire when walking between St Marys and Easby.
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Enjoy the photos…G…x
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With: Peter Fleming, Peter Hymer, Cecilia Kennedy, Dave Rider, Brian Roberts, George Renwick, Chris Richardson and Lewis.
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