Jo’s Monday walk : The Drummer Boy

Easby Abbey, ghostly in the mist

Easby Abbey, ghostly in the mist

Easby Abbey seemed to me to be quite at home shrouded in mist.  I’d chosen the riverside walk from Richmond, in Yorkshire, for its Autumn colour and had almost forgotten the sad story of the Drummer Boy.  Legend has it that, towards the end of the 18th century, a tunnel was discovered beneath the keep of Richmond Castle.  The entrance to the tunnel was very narrow, so a small regimental drummer boy was chosen, to squeeze through and investigate.

He was lowered into the tunnel and instructed to beat his drum loudly as he walked.  The soldiers above could follow his progress from the drumbeat. He led them away from the castle and down to the River Swale, in the direction of Easby Abbey.  Half a mile from the Abbey, the drumbeat ceased.  The little drummer was never seen or heard from again!

The Drummer Boy stone

The Drummer Boy stone

I think I can probably guarantee to guide us on this walk without disappearing.  Are you game?

From Richmond Market Place, turn north on Frenchgate, and then right, along Station Rd.  Just as you reach the bridge, with The Station on the far shore, you will find a turn off, pointing to Easby Abbey.  The path climbs up from the riverside and will lead you to a junction, where the Drummer Boy stone is placed.

Looking back towards the castle

Looking back towards the castle and St. Mary’s Church

Leaves strew the footpath

Leaves strew the footpath

The river chortles along below, tantalising with glimpses through the trees.  Soon you come to a field and across this you have St. Agatha’s House (a private residence) on your left and to your right, Easby Abbey.  The Abbey of St. Agatha, as it is more correctly known, dates from 1152 but has stood abandoned since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the late 1530s.  The former inhabitants were canons rather than monks, members of the Premonstratensian (or Norbertine) order.  The White Canons, known for the colour of their habit, were Roman Catholics.

It's a lonely spot but St. Agatha's Church is gentle company

It’s a lonely spot, but St. Agatha’s Church is good company

The Abbey from the church grounds

The Abbey from the church grounds

The site is maintained by English Heritage and is free of charge.  I was a little surprised to find the church open and even more surprised at what I found inside.

The church is known to pre-date the Abbey and the Medieval wall paintings date from 1250.  It felt well-loved.  In the grounds a small army of men were beavering away, removing overgrown trees.  Retracing my steps through the church gate, I turned my attention to the Abbey.

The gatehouse lay just across the lane

The gatehouse, just across the lane from the church

The graceful lines of the Abbey

The sturdy lines of the Abbey

Cloister detail

Cloister detail

The window of the Refectory

The window of the Refectory

Time to resume our walk.  Turn right at the Abbey gate and follow the lane down.  A gravel path beside the River Swale heads east and after about 300 yards comes to an old iron bridge.  Cross over and take the former railway track, signed ‘Richmond, half a mile’.

Hips and haws?

Hips or haws?

The River Swale chatters along below

The River Swale chatters along below

Once back at The Station, you can easily retrace your steps, but it seems a shame to me to leave the river when it’s about to reveal its might. How about we pop into The Station for a snack and a look at some art work before we continue?

I’ve written about The Station before.  In fact, I was there on my birthday, 2 years ago.  Seems I have a weakness for this part of the world in the Autumn.  Since I was last there a bakery has opened and the accompanying smells were delicious!  Come on- just ten minutes more.  I promise you, it’s worthwhile.

Cross over the bridge and turn left through a gate.  The path follows the river quite closely or you can get nearer by walking on the grass.  The tree roots are exposed in places so watch your step if you leave the path.

Can you hear a rumbling sound?  You might have caught sight of them through the trees.  The river is very low this year after a dry Summer.

My first sighting always makes me smile!

My first sighting always makes me smile!

Just a little closer

Just a little closer

The power of the water is awesome

The power of the water is awesome

As always, I find myself entranced

As always, I find myself entranced

I hope you will agree it was worth another 10 minutes walking?  The hard part lies ahead because the road winds quite steeply back up to the Market Place, passing by the Castle.  The circular walk from the Market Place to Easby Abbey and back is just 3 miles.  Free parking is available at The Station, if you get there early enough. (and it saves you a climb)

Legend also links the Drummer Boy to Lewis Carroll, who grew up in Richmond.  Allegedly ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ began life as ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’.  I rather like the idea that he took inspiration from this story.

walking logo

And now it’s time to put the kettle on and join my fellow walkers this week.  Click on the logo if you’d like to join in.  You’d be more than welcome and there are always beautiful walks to share. Many thanks to everybody for their kind contributions.  Here we go!

Drake always has the power to fire my imagination  :

Emptiness with content

Of all the world’s beautiful cathedrals, I didn’t know this one, so thank you, Cardinal  :

Berlin Cathedral

And for probably the best deer shot you’ve seen this year!  Amy- you’re a treasure!  :

O.P. Schnabel Park

We’re honoured this week to share a post from Lucy, in a very special place on the Northumbrian coast  :

Marooned on Lindisfarne Island

If it’s scenery you’re after, it’s hard to beat County Tipperary.  Many thanks to Joan for sharing  :

Up in the hills

For the longest time I’ve been following Bespoke Traveller.  Read this post and you’ll see why  :

The long way down in Grand Canyon

If waterfalls and sky walks are your thing, follow Pauline to New South Wales  :

A journey into the dawn of time

If you prefer shopping, Meg has her shopping baskets at the ready  :

A Williamsburg walk

That’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed putting it together. Happy walking!


  1. great walk Jo! i love the ruins, beautiful stained glass windows and the paintings are a treasure. 🙂 nice colors of autumn and waterfalls. lovely post as always. just a bit sad about drummer boy.

  2. Jo, your images and your story .. is so magical … every walk a I do with you is just like I was there walking beside you. Is it still the same camera??? The window and the river rapids so beautiful and I can sell the autumn in the air through your post here. Excellent work.
    Like the story about the drummer boy, I wonder what happen to him ???? I love the area around Leeds and Leeds too .. and the Dales of course.

    1. Hi Vivi 🙂 Yes, same camera! It hasn’t been swimming lately 🙂 It’s such a lovely time of year for walking. I was out with the Nordics this morning. Thanks, darlin’.

      1. The same camera and you are a magical team. *smile
        It take fantastic images, but it’s all down to your views on things too.
        Here it’s only raining .. and gray. No sunshine the whole week. All the British weather coming our way. *smile

  3. Here’s one of the things I love about the UK: the paths! It sounds silly but I don;t think there are so many paths through villages and fields and so on as there are in the UK. It’s the perfect place for taking lovely walks!

  4. Well Jo – I can see why this is one of your favorite places – BEAUTEOUS!
    and I had a chance to skim some comment s- and well, like Sue, I also like all the arches you give us.

    but do you know my favorite two shots were of the white rose with droplets – sitting next to the periwinkle blue in that landmark photo to the left. But each pic flowed – and I went back to those two a few times –

    have a nice day amiga – and my walk this week is coming later.
    hugs ❤ ❤

  5. la triste storia del tamburino mi ha affascinata e ne ho sentito il rumore che mi ha accompagnato per tutta l’affascinante passeggiata…mi chiedo come sono protetti i bellissimi affreschi della chiesa scoperta? sarebbe un vero peccato se seguissero il disfacimento della altre pur interessantissime rovine
    come sempre passeggiare con te è SUPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    1. I don’t know the full details of the frescoes, Ventis, Within the church there were information boards but the lighting/angles were not good enough for photos. I assumed I would be able to find more about them online but haven’t managed to so far. I will have another look later today. 🙂 What I do know is that very little of the church is original and that the frescoes were whitewashed over for part of their history.
      Glad you enjoyed the walk, cara. Buon giorno 🙂 Hugs!

  6. What an extraordinary post, Jo. I so love your walks and then set aside quality time where I can enjoy reading it and taking it all in. You really captured the soul and essence of the Abby, church, river walk and story of the drummer boy. Beautiful.

  7. Another lovely walk, and this time with a spooky story to boot (just in time for Halloween). I wonder what happened to the Drummer Boy.

    The views on this walk had a little bit of everything. How lovely that those roses are still in bloom.

  8. I wonder what happened to the little Drummer Boy? A fascinating but sad story…your top photo is very eerie, perfect for this time of year 🙂 No wonder you were so surprised when you went inside the church, what a great find. I do love ruined Abbeys and what I love about this walk is the way we get some great history, then some lunch, and delicious too, and then a beautiful country walk in the fresh air, complete with a babbling brook, so to speak. I would say that those are rose hips btw. Thanks for another great walk Jo, have a great week 🙂

    1. Hi Sherri 🙂 Ad (Sylvia) smartly told me to mind my hips and hawthorns! I always forget 🙂
      It is a lovely walk (with ghost stories too, if you look at Drake’s comment) but I just had to share the Drummer Boy. A plain sailing week for you, I hope?

      1. Haha…oh yes, that’s funny…well, I get my conkers and chestnuts mixed up so don’t feel too bad, lol 😉 Yes I just read that, makes it even more intriguing doesn’t it? Love the Drummer boy story…
        Glad a good week for you Jo. Mine? You will be sorry you asked…in a nutshell…had a tooth out last Thursday, been in excruciating pain ever since…saw dentist today…might have to have surgery…but so far so good with today’s treatment…feeling much better. Phew. In a nutshell…pain free for the first time today so plain sailing right now and long may she sail. (You won’t ask ever again after that will you… 😉 ) See you soon 🙂

    2. I’m very sorry I asked 🙂 🙂 No, I’m not really! If we can’t share the woes as well as the good times, what are we doing here? Now, settle in and I’ll tell you about my wasp sting….
      Hugs, Sherri! Take care.

      1. Haha…well I did warn you…and yes, actually, I remember you shared about your wasp sting, hope it’s all better now…and yes, it’s great sharing, warts and all…talking of which…just kidding 😀 Hugs right back to you, thanks Jo 🙂

  9. Beautiful walk, Jo… but I must confess that the gorgeous scenery couldn’t help to get the haunting story of the drummer boy from my mind. There are sooo many Richmonds in the world! I lived in one for a couple of years (in Virginia). BTW, I especially love that shot with the fallen red leaves and the river in the background… I adore fall colours!

      1. Hi Jo – had to chime in on this comment – because Kan actually lived here in the Richmond I am in….
        and well, your Richmond (in Yorks) seems like a truly wonderful place….

  10. Slowly catching up after my 2 weeks away – another fascinating walk Jo. The link with Lewis Carroll is intriguing – I have a copy of the Annotated Alice but I don’t think this connection is mentioned but I maybe wrong.

    1. I came across the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party website (!!!) and the information came from there, Robin. Who knows how accurate a Mad Hatter is 🙂 Hope you had a good time. Your weather must have been pretty decent?

  11. I love “Leaves strew the footpath” and all your photos of tree roots overlooking the river. A fascinating walk.

    But, oh! The drummer boy’s tale is a sad one.

    1. It does all seem a little heartless, Nicki. I don’t think soldiers were big on sentiment in those days. But it adds to the walk and I enjoyed sharing the story. 🙂 Thank you!

  12. What a very sad story about the little drummer boy! The mists in the area almost seem to mourn him. The relics of the old abbey remind me of those in Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh. Thank you SO much for including me in this Monday Walk set! I feel so honored to be part of your fun jaunt this week. 🙂

    1. You are more than welcome, AG 🙂 Yes, there is quite a lot of pathos associated with the little lad, and a few ghost stories too. (I don’t know if you spotted the video on Drake’s comment). Many thanks for your company.

  13. I really hope that the little drummer boy story isn’t true, Jo. They do say, “No smoke without fire.””?
    Another fascinating walk. I loved the river and the cloister detail. I think those are rose hips. Aren’t haws, from the Hawthorn tree? Thanks for the exercise. Maybe I’ll get out for a walk myself one of these days. It’s rather hot here. 🙂

    1. Good lass, Ad! I knew someone would make sense of hips and haws for me 🙂 I never remember the distinction.
      Did you see Drake’s video in his comment- ghost stories 🙂

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