Wharfedale

UPPER WHARFEDALE AND LITTONDALE: KETTLEWELL GRASSINGTON AND APPLETREEWICK

The River Wharfe and the River Skirfare which forms the Wharfe's neighbouring companion in the early stages of its journey rise in the region of Langstrothdale Chase. This region is about thirty miles north of Leeds and here both rivers flow in a north to south direction through beautiful Pennine scenery. Wharfe is a Celtic river name meaning the winding river, while Skirfare is a Viking name meaning bright river.

Littondale is the name of the Pennine valley that hosts the River Skirfare for about six or seven miles until it joins the Wharfe. It commences near Foxup in the shadow of the prominent Yorkshire hill called Pen-y-ghent where the dale is home to the village of Arncliffe. Arncliffe means Eagle's Cliff and its is easy to imagine eagles soaring in the scenery hereabouts.

Wharfedale lies to the east of Littondale and starts its journey in remote Pennine scenery that can be reached by a moorland road from Hawes in Wensleydale about four miles to the north. Villages in these upper reaches of Wharfedale include Yockenthwaite, a Viking place-name, Buckden (meaning deer valley) while further down the dale is Kettlewell.

Kettlewell its Anglo-Saxon name perhaps means 'bubbling spring' is overlooked to the east by Great Whernside, one of Yorkshire's most prominent Pennine hills. It is a very picturesque village and its photogenic charms were an attraction for the film makers who produced the movie Calendar Girls that was filmed here in the village. In truth the real Calendar Girls on whom the movie was based, hailed from the village of Rylstone about nine miles to the south.

One of the most popular villages of upper Wharfedale is Grassington which has a name meaning 'Grazing land farm' . It is a village with a cobbled market place and a stone bridge of 1603 and is very popular with walkers, hikers and other tourists. The village includes the Upper Wharfedale Folk Museum and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Centre.

Historically Grassington was a place where lead mining was carried out and had been since the 1400s. In later years men from Swaledale, Cornwall and Derbyshire were employed in the local lead mines.

To the south of Grassington the village of Appletreewick has a name to suggest that it was historically a place where apple trees grew. 'Wick' means farm or trading place and could be either an Anglo-Saxon or Viking word.

Appletreewick was the birthplace in 1548 of Sir William Craven who later went on to become the Lord Mayor of London and was dubbed the 'Dick Whittington of the Dales'.

PEN-Y-GHENT - WHEN YORKSHIRE WAS WELSH

Ingleborough, Pendle Hill and Pen-y-ghent are highest hills between Scotland and Trent, so a Pennine saying goes. This is not strictly true, Cross Fell in the Pennines is higher, as are many of the Lake District Fells. Pen-y-ghent, the 2,273 feet high hill is still one of the highest and most famous peaks of the Pennines. Located near the source of the River Skirfare in upper Littondale it has managed to retain one of the oldest names in the Pennines.

A clue to the origin of the name may be found by looking it up in the index of an atlas. Here we find Pen-y-fan, Pen y Gadair, Pen y Gaer, Pen y Parc, Pen y Rhwbyn and many other names beginning in similar fashion. In this list Pen-y-ghent is very much the odd one out because it is found in England. All the others are in Wales. Pen-y-ghent's name is genuinely Welsh just like the others and is a reminder of the days of the Ancient British, when most of the country we now call England spoke a language closely akin to Welsh.

Pen usually means hill and 'y' is the Welsh definite article. The meaning of ghent is however unknown, though it could mean 'Border Country'. Pen-Y-Ghent's name would thus mean 'Hill of the Border Country'. It is known that a number of Welsh Kingdoms notably Craven, Elmet and Loidis survived in the western part of Yorkshire into early Saxon times and the name of Pen-y-ghent may be a throwback to that age. It is not unusual for English hills to retain the word pen. This is why we have for example Penshaw Hill near Sunderland, Pendle Hill in Lancashire and Pen Hill in Wensleydale.

BOLTON PRIORY

Bolton Priory is situated in the little hamlet of Bolton Abbey and stands on the beautiful banks of the River Wharfe, four miles north west of Ilkley, six miles east of Skipton and four miles south of Appletreewick. It is one of Yorkshire's prettiest ruins and the main historical feature of Wharfedale.

The priory was established in 1154 by Alice de Romille of Skipton Castle who granted land to a group of Augustinian canons. The canons had previously settled at Embsay a few miles to the west near Skipton but had found that site not to their liking.

The de Romille family had been granted a manor there at Bolton by William the Conqueror but relocated their actual manor house to Skipton which they made into a castle sometime after 1090. Alice de Romille hoped that the establishment of the monastery on the old manor land would be good for the well-being of her soul and those of her forbears and descendants.

The canons (a canon is a kind of monk) at Bolton Priory made their living from the land owning many farms and mills and even receiving earnings from the lead mining carried out in the district. Their relatively peaceful and comfortable existence was left undisturbed, save for the occasional raid by marauding Scots, but their lifestyle was brought to a sudden and abrupt end by King Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.

In that year the priory was stripped of its wealth with even the lead from its roof removed. As with other monasteries at the time the brethren were dispersed and the building left to ruin. The priory land itself was acquired by the Clifford family of Skipton Castle.

Fortunately a Prior by the name of Moone managed to preserve the nave of the monastery as a place of worship for the locals who came to pray there. Unlike the rest of the building the nave survives intact and retained a roof. It became the parish church of St Mary and St Cuthbert and is a beautiful building enhanced by the adjoining skeletal remains of the priory. The church serves as an ideal shelter to priory visitors on rainy days.

Close to the priory is the impressive battlemented house called Bolton Hall which incorporates the old gateway of the priory. It is the home of the Cavendishes, Dukes of Devonshire who were successors to the Romilles and Cliffords as principal landowners in the district.

The natural beauty of the Bolton Priory area is not to be overlooked. The beautiful River Wharfe winds its way past the priory accompanied by pleasing riverside walks, stepping stones across the river and a lovely footbridge. Two miles to the north is the lovely wooded gorge known as the Strid where the river gushes through a gap of only 12 feet. It is within easy walking distance of the Priory.

LOWER WHARFEDALE: ILKLEY AND OTLEY

Ilkley and Otley are historic towns situated in the lower reaches of Wharfedale just to the north of Leeds and Bradford. Otley is situated at the foot of an impressive hill called the Chevin which offers superb views. The town was the birthplace in 1718 of the cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale though only a plaque remains to identify the site of the house in wich he was born.

Otley 'the clearing of an Anglo-Saxon called Otta' is an interesting market town popular with commuters who work in Leeds or Bradford who want to live a little closer to the scenery of the Dales. The town has many interesting old houses and inns and a Medieval church where sculptured Viking and Anglo-Saxon stones have been found. Another interesting place of worship is Bramhope Chapel in the grounds of Bramhope Hall to the south east of Otley. It is a Puritan church dating from 1649.

Ilkley was in Anglo-Saxon times the clearing or 'ley' belonging to someone called Illica and was once famous as a spa town.

The town is a large, lively and rather genteel country town situated on the banks of the River Wharfe. It is the home to antiques shops and some upmarket stores while its historic buildings include Box Tree Cottage, an old farmhouse of 1720 that is now a restaurant. Another building of historic note is the manor house which is Ikley's most historic building and now home to Ilkley Manor House Museum. Situated near the medieval parish church of All Saints, it includes relics from a neighbouring Roman fort.

The Roman fort at Ilkley is said to have been called Olicana. If this was so then it makes the explanation of Ilkley being 'Ilica's clearing' less likely as such a name could only have arisen in Anglo-Saxon times after the Roman departure.

Despite its medieval and Anglo-Saxon origins Ilkley owes much of its growth to its development as a spa town in the 1840s when the waters of its local springs were claimed to have medicinal properties.

A number of prehistoric rock carvings can be found in the Ilkley moorland to the south of the town including a myseterious ancient carving called the Swastika Stone at Hebers Ghyll. Ilkley Moor itself forms part of the more extensive Rombald's Moor that separates Ilkley in Wharfedale from Keighley in Airedale to the south.

The moorland of Ilkley and the area lies close to some of the most populous towns in Yorkshire and is well known to many Yorkshiremen. Of course the famous Yorkshire anthem 'On Ilkla Moor 'baht at' , a classic piece of Yorkshire dialect verse found its inpsiration in this locality;

Wheear 'as tha been sin' ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Wheear as tha been sin' ah saw thee?
Wheear as tha been sin' ah saw thee?
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

Tha's been a-coortin' Mary Jane,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Tha's been a-coortin' Mary Jane,
Tha's been a-coortin' Mary Jane,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

Tha'll go an' get ti deeath o' cold,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Tha'll go an' get ti deeath o' cold,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

Then we shall ha' to bury thee,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Then we shall ha' to bury thee,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

Then t' worms 'll come an ate thee up,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Then t' worms 'll come an ate thee up,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

Then t'ducks'll come an ate t' worms,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Then t'ducks'll come an ate t' worms,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

Then we shall go an ate the ducks,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
Then we shall go an ate the ducks,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,

That's how we get our oahn ones back,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
That's how we get our oahn ones back,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at,
On Ilkla Moor baht 'at

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