Leader : Ian Bagshaw. Distance : 5 miles.
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Celestial Views over Byland Abbey. Wednesday 22 August 2018.
The Monks at Byland Abbey rose at 2am for their first service but they went to bed at 8.30pm. Six of our club members met in Darlington at 10am and were ready to commence their walk from Byland at 11am. Such throw away remarks by the leader as –‘it’s just a short walk today’ or ‘there will be a short climb at the start’ or ‘Countryfile weather forecasts sun’ are bound to be greeted with derision so the leader simply said – just follow me which they did – if only out of interest.
We crossed the fields to Wass and then started the ascent up through the trees, up through more trees and up through further trees. The walkers commented on the trees, some noticed that there was just a touch of autumn to the trees’ leaves and others noticed that it was rather humid. ‘Liberally applied’ Skin so Soft did not seem to deter the flies but I for one received no insect bites. Eventually we reached the top near Snever Scar where we had our elevenses at noon.
Blazing a trail through Great Cockerdale Wood it seemed like no time before we reached Oldstead Observatory which had been built by John Wormald to celebrate the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne. It is definitely know that Queen Victoria never visited here and probably it is just as definitely known that John Wormold did not make any startling astronomical discoveries.at 399m above sea level but it is impressive and it survives to be a place to which walkers ascend and gain celestial views. A short distance west is Scotch Corner built by John Bunting in 1957 http://www.johnbunting.co.uk/memorial.html We saw it but did not visit.
From Oldstead Observatory we made the steep descent down to Oldstead Village stopping only for lunch at a conveniently situated seat just before the village and at Oldstead Hall once owned by John Wormold. Our way was by way of Oldstead Grange where they were busy pressing apples for juice and pressing clothes for wear!
From here the route was well waymarked with finger posts showing the way to Byland Abbey. The hedges were heaving with blackberries (which will provide a crumble for two of our walkers), sloes which gave the opportunity to discuss varieties of Gin ! and elderberries which gave some cordial discussion and even mention of Cullen Skink soup !! (No prizes for working that one out !!)
And there it was with its tall remaining tower beckoning us on, the ruins of Byland Abbey. We arrived back before 3pm which is when the Monks would have been fishing in the ponds which were a feature of the last field that we crossed.In the middle ages the Abbey was surrounded by ponds where the monks bred fish.
We settled for a nice cup of tea at the Abbey Inn and Keith enjoyed a magnificent slice of Victoria sponge (presumably to commemorate Queen Victoria’s accession.
Actually only 4.9 miles but we felt as if we had had a walk which we had and enjoyed.