Olde England, carrying on

It wasn’t a dawn chorus, it was a cacophony. And it went on, and on, and on.


The lambs joined in.

Then the donkey.

Then we heard the clippety-clop.

Clutching my camera, I leaned through the tiny window, in the thick stone wall, of the old farmhouse that’s now an inn. An unusual inn…

‘Good morning,’ I called.

‘Good morning to you,’ replied the passing stranger, ‘how are you?’

‘Fine,’ I replied, ‘how are you?’

’I’m very fine,’ he responded with the biggest, sunniest smile you’ve ever seen, ‘I’m on holiday.’

A flat cap on his head, greying moustache on his upper lip. A spring in his step and a twinkle in his eyes, the gypsy was walking beside a horse pulling an old-fashioned, brightly-decorated gypsy caravan. Looking barely big enough for a man his size.

But I doubt he lives in it year round. For this is a special time of year. When gypsies head to Appleby-in-Westmorland. For the Horse Fair.

He did smile a big beaming smile right after I took this, honest!

The day before we’d passed one or two caravans, seen several settled for the night on verges, their handsome, tethered horses munching lush, unmown grass.

We’d spent the night in Lancashire. The witching part.

On the way I took the prof for ‘my’ walk at Wycoller.

In just three weeks change was visible everywhere. Trees still putting out leaves were  dressed in creamy blossom, whinberries all gone and lambs well past gambolling.

Last visit in the sunshine

Spot the difference (no, not just the weather)

As a light rain fell we drove on – to what was meant to be a treat. A ‘boutique’ style pub near the foot of Pendle Hill.

Thank goodness I didn’t book two nights.

The hamlet of Barley itself was a gem. A walk we took (while our noisy room and bathroom minus mirror was readied) was pretty with gleaming buttercups, a chuckling river, stone cottages and an old mill chimney.

The hamlet’s other pub, the Pendle Inn, was where we should have stayed. Full of locals reading papers and supping pints. Dogs curled patiently at feet.

No thin boutique veneer, just homespun comfort. And not £2 for half a pint of beer…

Breakfasted, bill reluctantly paid, we decided against climbing Pendle (500 metres) on such a sunny morning.

That’s Pendle in the background

Instead we took a road unsuited to motor vehicles. Upwards, past two reservoirs. Through scented woods to a promised – and impressive – sculpture trail.

Not far into the walk, looking back down a long-ish but gentle hill… so far

I haven’t altered this image – it really was that brightly green

Tree repurposed

Trees, also repurposed

Trees and a dry stone wall my favourite of the sculptures

A reminder of the ‘witches’ who lived hereabouts

Beyond the trees, the summit was broad and high.  To one side Pendle loomed, its mood constantly changing as the clouds sped by.

To another, distant ‘civilisation’.  And a total surprise.

Something I’ve never seen. Hard to capture with a camera’s little eye.

Vast expanses of bobbing white heads – cotton grass, stretching to the horizon.

Like a fairy kingdom we’d trespassed upon.

But earthly time moved us on.

Another treat lay in store, in a county not far away.

First, though, Barrowford. Pendle Heritage Centre. And lunch.

An old house, knot garden, café. And a museum worth more time than we gave it.

The story of the sad Lancashire witches – and a find. My family name on an old map of Lancashire Catholic recusants, created for persecution purposes.

Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford, originally home to the Bannister family as in Roger Bannister the runner. We ate lunch looking out over this herb garden buzzing with bees

A 16th C cruck barn taken down, moved, reassembled and incorporated into 20th C stone building

Back on the road, we began to see gypsies.

A rare treat of a spectacle.

On we travelled, through Lancashire to West Yorkshire, to North Yorkshire, to Lancashire, then West Yorkshire.

The strangeness of human-drawn boundaries.

And at last, reaching our destination, we sat, awestruck. Sipping tea and eating cake. Gawping at the natural melodrama playing before us.

View from the back of the inn

Down the gash in the distant hills a waterfall fell. Our genial, round-ish host, a Quaker man of cheery countenance and country clothing, asked if we planned to walk.

‘I predicted rain today,’ he said. ‘half past five, I reckon,’

The woman of the house, our chef for the evening, came in search of the cat.

‘Come on,’ she grasped it firmly, ‘you’ve work to do, I think we’ve a mouse in the kitchen.’

(Their hygiene rating is 5 out of 5.)

At half past four we decided to risk it.

Crossed a bridge over a gentle river.

Passed grazing sheep and lambs. Tromped rocky paths.

A promised Iron Age site proved hard to fathom. There’d been a pathway to the – possibly ritual – waterfall. Were the rocks either side of the path a gateway?

Looking forward to the darkness…

… looking back, to the light

Passing through the gatekeeper stones, the wind began to pick up.

Grey clouds swept in. We pressed on through a light scattering of raindrops.

Looking back on stupendous views, changing with the passing cloud, we felt as if we were alone in all creation.

But the old Norse gods weren’t welcoming.

More than once a forceful wind pushed me backwards.

As soon as we turned for home, the wind dropped and the sun appeared.

But the most stunning thing of all about this walk was, that all this land, this magnificence, is ours.

We don’t own it. But there are no walls, no hedges, no fences. It was never enclosed.

This land is common land.

Back at the inn we were ready for a hearty meal – and we dined well on game pie, local lamb and rhubarb crumble.

Drank wine we’d brought to the inn (that’s a clue).

Chatted awhile in the parlour with the other guests.

Retired to a crisp-white-sheets and blanket, snowy-bedspread bed, tired and happy.

An old armchair stood in the corner and a wooden towel rack.

No television.

Nothing boutique. Just clean, cosy, homely. And perfect.

Until morning and the birds…

A pretty pair of horses, passing as we were about to leave, on their way to the fair

About to leave, as we chatted to our chef about her hidden gem of an inn, she said:

‘People come here and  say, ”I’ll tell all my friends about this,” and I say, oh, please don’t.’

‘You’re not a filthy capitalist then,’ I said and she burst out laughing.

Our Quaker host joined us – and that’s when I learned how enclosure had passed this area by.

And that there’d been another terrorist attack, this time in London.

We’d stepped back in time – yet we hadn’t.

Full of joy, subdued by sadness, mazed with nature’s grandeur, we were ready for home.

In England. Olde England.

Where nature, despite everything – and often far from calm – carries on.






This entry was posted in Art, jaunts & going out, Britain now & then, Lancashire & the golf coast, Yorkshire and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Olde England, carrying on

  1. Heide says:

    You’ve simply outdone yourself with this post — what beautiful prose, and what simply breathtaking photos! Thank you for whisking me away from my own cares and the troubles of our modern world, if only for a few minutes.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What stunning photographs…and what an entry pass to a beautiful and still mysterious world.
    I have read this twice today, just revelling in it all.

    Boutique hotels, indeed….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Helen – and given what I have just read of your current steamy, smoky days I am impressed you found the time and space to read it! Yes, boutique hotels. You should have seen the bedroom at the inn – it was like stepping back to an ordinary, comfortable 1950s rural home as if it were all brand new. Characterful, genuine comfort. Hope you are feeling better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thel says:

    I am now ready to revisit “All Creatures Great and Small.” I loved the donkey.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Enchanting post. You are seeing such amazing sights and places. Soak it all in – totally wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jilldennison says:

    This is a beautiful post, dear Mary! The pictures are breathtaking, and your tale is beautifully told. Thank you for this, it brings peace to my heart. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. jilldennison says:

    Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Most often these days my posts tend to be dark and depressing. I think it is time we all have a breath of fresh air!!! My dear friend Mary, writing as memoirsofahusk, has written one of the most uplifting posts I have read in a long time. Mary lives in the UK, and as we all know, they have had their share of troubles lately. She was in need of some time spent in nature to re-gain her perspective, and she shared the experience with her readers in both beautifully crafted words and gorgeous pictures (she is both a writer and a photographer). Please do yourself a favour and spend a few minutes reading Mary’s beautiful post … I promise you will smile and feel a bit of peace. Many thanks to Mary for permission to share this with my readers!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. seer1969 says:

    As Mary Walked Out One Midsummer Morning! Fabulous prose as usual – Scribe ergo sum ego scriptor indeed. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I love that, Peter! How beautiful.
      And thank you for the words, they help – you know me well!


      • seer1969 says:

        It seems that by the time of the Lancashire ‘witches’ even those who had practised the old ways of pagan herbalism handed down in families were confused about their ‘wikka craft’ by the christian onslaught over centuries, and even grassed each other to the church aithorities! Religions always have to villify what went before, colonise previous festivals and holy days and places, but the real issue was the wise women who were traditionally the healers, who had to be disempowered by the vibrant muscular new male-centred religion from an area of the world rife with misogyny.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sadly some of the accused seemed to believe they were witches – well, according to what was recorded. And how accurate was that? But yes, there is always an ‘other’ to be demonised and in patriarchal religions (are there any matriarchal ones today?) we women tend to be accuse of being sources of temptation to wickedness for the poor weak men who can’t withstand our magical powers! It was not a good time in our history.


          • seer1969 says:

            Yes, paganism had been turned into devil worship by those in power long before these trials, and few knew the reality, The demonisation of women came, of course, from the foreign Abrahamic religion coming from a region bedevilled by historical misogyny, implemented by Normans intent of consolidating power under their Christian kings.
            Of course women are a temptation to weak men, goes without saying! .


  8. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A virtual visit to England.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is a delightful post. I am going to read it to my Mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Woebegone but Hopeful says:

    Thanks for the reminder.
    This post and the efforts of the ordinary people of these isles in the times of tragedy serve to show it’s still a place worth having.
    Best wishes
    Roger (NE Wales)

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI Roger and thanks for commenting – I see you on Jill’s posts and now I know who Roger is – and where he is – one of my favourite places in the world, north Wales. Yes, it was heartening in many ways, which overrides the disheartening, if we allow it. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. MG WELLS says:

    Enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. atlasdan says:

    Your writing style is very inspiring. The photos compliment it very well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, very kind of you to say so. I sometimes worry about the pictures – if they are so interesting why bother with words – but, hey, at least it means you can take your pick! Thanks for popping by – and welcome!


      • atlasdan says:

        I think they really help. Many times I find pictures say enough on their own. There is always that curiosity behind pictures. When words are added, it’s like adding another paintbrush, or image, to the picture to make it seem more whole, in a new perspective. I think the combination of both work really well for you — and thank you!


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