Today’s walk is the reverse of one I took you on a couple of years ago. Remember the story of the little Drummer Boy? It really hadn’t been my intention to walk to Easby Abbey, but as the sun burst forth over the Autumn foliage I couldn’t imagine a finer place to be. Such a contrast with the creeping mist that enshrouded me last time.
This walk starts from The Station at Richmond, now a fine exhibition space with a rather nice eatery, ‘Seasons’. Have I been neglecting your stomachs lately? I know there has been a dearth of cream scones on here, but maybe you can make up for it later. Incentive to get you walking! From the rear of The Station a trail signed for Easby Abbey leads off into the woods.
The gurgle of water accompanies your footsteps, as you are walking above the fast flowing River Swale. Glimpses of it flaunt themselves through gaps in the trees, along with the wider view to the countryside beyond. Soon you come to a bridge. This morning it is rhymed with frost so tread a little carefully. Recent rain has ensured the boisterous nature of the water.
Once over the bridge the trail bends to the left and you are following the river more closely. My heart always goes pitter pat at the sight and sound of rushing water. Autumn finery weaves it’s own spell.
Bathed in sunlight, you can make out a grand looking residence through the trees, and soon you are in sight of the Abbey. The gatehouse stands silently, beyond a field where grazing horses sport their winter garb. The woolly sheep don’t seem to feel the same need.
Pastoral England at it’s finest, isn’t it? Let’s slip through the metal gate into the churchyard. The hamlet of Easby dates back to the Domesday survey of 1086, and the parish church of St. Agatha predates the Abbey. It also provides a wonderful vantage point over the Abbey ruins.
Easby Abbey was founded in about 1152, by Roald, a constable of Richmond in North Yorkshire. It was established as a Premonstratension monastery, whose origin came from Premontre in France. Most monks follow the 6th century Rule of St. Benedict, renouncing the world for a life of contemplation. The Easby monks followed the older rule of St. Augustine, meaning they served the community by preaching, teaching and charitable work, and could become parish priests. They lived communally but did not take monastic vows. They were ordained as canons (or priests), with the authority to celebrate mass and administer sacraments.
From the earliest times, sheep farming seems to have been a mainstay of Abbey life. Roald’s descendants continued to hold the constableship of Richmond and its lands throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. They were variously known as de Burton or de Richmond. By the 14th century the estates had been sold to the Scrope family, knights based at Bolton in neighbouring Wensleydale. The Scropes made Easby their burial place and the chancel of the Abbey church was lengthened. Prosperity seems to have continued until the suppression of the monasteries in 1536. Richmond defended its monks, but in retribution Henry VIII wrote that “St. Agatha and such other places as have made resistance… shall without pity or circumstance… be tied up (hanged) without further delay”. Destruction followed, but the remaining ruins are hauntingly beautiful.
Turning up the lane, another grandiloquent property looks down on you. I imagine much doffing of caps went on at St. Agatha’s House.
The field drops down towards the river again, and this time I find I can get really close. Leaf strewn steps lead down almost to the water’s edge and I am awash in Autumn’s tumultuous hues. Knotty tree roots protrude and I have to mind my step, but it’s like being in an enchanted forest.
Always before I have taken the higher route. My reward, a glimpse of a modern day Hansel and Gretel cottage, nestled in the woods.
The path meets the higher route at the Drummer Boy stone, and soon you can see distant Richmond Castle through the trees. Water trickles and drips down the mossy stone. It feels almost primeval.
Back at The Station, pause for refreshments, or carry on, as I do. I can never resist the lure of the falls, and there’s a bonus. Look who I found!
The tumult of the falls is breathtaking. As I walk back towards The Station, another little guy is watching me from the safety of a branch.
I hope you enjoyed sharing these last moments of Autumn. English Heritage provide a comprehensive history of the Abbey on their website, plus details of how to get there. I’d rather like to share this walk with Jude too. Her November theme for the Garden Challenge is Trees, and I think I’ve managed to find one or two. Let’s put the kettle on and settle in for a read now, shall we?
Huge thanks to all of you for the support I receive on here. Yet again I have a wonderful selection of walks to share. Please visit as many as you can. And if you happen to have a walk you’d like to share, well, what are you waiting for? Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or you can click on the logo above.
I have so many Gaudi favourites! How about you? Lady Lee showcases this one beautifully :
Woolly’s strolling from the shopping centre this week :
Jude tries her hand at landscapes in Constable country, and makes a lovely job of it :
Kingston, Jamaica it’s not, but Stephanie makes her current home look very appealing :
Jackie, meanwhile, is on the trail of more history in Virginia :
While Liesbet explores California, with a very cute canine friend :
Yvette is never shy about sharing her views, but she shares a lot of love too :
Another of those dreams I haven’t yet made come true. Thanks, BiTi!
Much more intimate, but no less delightful, Drake’s childhood home :
Stamina or coffee! Which do I need to walk in Badfish’s footsteps? Don’t miss it!
I’m considering myself invited to the south coast so I can do this walk with Gilly. Any offers?
And finally, anyone up for a little skateboarding? Or you can just stroll, with Kathrin :
Fantastic, aren’t they? That’s it for Autumn posts from me. Not sure where I’ll take you next week, but I hope you can come along. In the meantime, have a great week, and to all my US friends, Happy Thanksgiving!