Jo’s Monday walk : Ma Shipton’s Cave, Knaresborough

No doubt about it- street art is alive and well in Knaresborough.  Perhaps you remember my interrupted visit earlier this year, when I discovered it’s many windows?  Recently I was able to return to collect a few more, determined to make it to the other bank of the River Nidd this time.  Leaving the town and castle perched high over the river, let’s get down to Waterside.  The weather isn’t any better than last time, but still it’s a beautiful scene.

Despite the dullness of the day, people are still messing about in boats, and marvelling at the antiquity of this town.  Did you read the Old Manor House plaque?  The chequerboard building is an extraordinary sight.

Let’s cross over High Bridge.  When compared with the Railway Viaduct, it isn’t very high at all.  On the far shore Knaresborough Forest once provided hunting grounds for royalty.  My target today is Ma Shipton’s Cave.  Open since 1630, this is said to be England’s oldest visitor attraction.

Past the ghouls and into the woodland we go, following a winding path.  Through the trees I can just make out the rushing weir, more audible than visible.  Once a mill wheel turned on the opposite bank, where today smart residences overlook the river.

I wondered why the tree was so sad.  Perhaps it was the youngsters hammering coins into the coin tree.  Or maybe it was missing former friends here on Beech Avenue, site of some of the tallest beech trees in the country, dating back to 1739.

As it’s school holidays I shouldn’t be surprised to find several characters awaiting me in the woods.  Maid Marian was particularly charming.  Not so sure about the Sheriff!  He seemed to be guarding the entrance to the cave and the petrifying well.  A strange place, if ever I saw one.

If you read the signboards you will realise what an extraordinary character was Mother Shipton.  Born in this cave in 1488, as she grew older her prophetic visions inspired awe and fear.  She foretold both the invasion and defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and the Great Fire of London in 1666.  The Petrifying Well is a unique geological phenomenon, where cascading water turns everyday objects into stone.  More details, including how to get here, can be found on

There’s definitely an atmosphere in those woods and I felt lucky to escape the wrath of the Sheriff.  Happily there was a very nice establishment where I could get my breath back.  I hope you enjoyed walking with me.

Thanks for your company everyone.  Blue skies have definitely changed to grey here, but we’ll put the kettle on and keep smiling.  Lots of lovely walks to share this week.  Please do visit, especially if there’s someone you don’t know.  Join me anytime on Jo’s Monday walk.

Let’s start with Cathy, because I missed her out last week.  A sad story, but some stunning scenery :

Dead Horse Point State Park

Liz and I share a love of the Algarve, but here’s somewhere else we both know and like :

My Monday Walk in Ludlow

Eunice enjoys a blue sky walk in her local English countryside :

Repeating a Rivington ramble

Why not enjoy a relaxed lakeside stroll with Alice, in South Carolina?

Jarvis Creek Park

Or join Janet in the peace and beauty of her watery world :

Monday walk…the first lake

You know I love a sunrise.  Rupali watches it rise in a special place :

Sunrise over the Charles Bridge in Prague

While Artfulinguist lingers over sunset in the most beautiful of bays :

15 minutes at Sidney Pier

Lady Lee is off to the Philippines soon and will be so happy to be home with Mum :

Ten Things of Thankful

Colline joins us with a spectacular firework display from the Eiffel Tower- don’t miss it!

First Walk Down the Champs Elysees

While Geoff and Dog pace out the bridges of London.  An excellent way to exercise!

Bridging The Gap #walking#london#thames

Poor Mel has had a rough time up till now, but there’s finally a reward for all the effort :

Day 4 Via Francigena, Verres to Pont Saint Martin, 19km

More serious hikers, meet Patrick and Paige, and the butterfly socks!

Mount Assiniboine

Nadine gamely carries on, and reminds me what a very beautiful part of the world I live in :

Day Two on the Pennine Way : Torside to Standedge, 12miles

Finishing off with more rugged and beautiful terrain with our Cathy :

The Upheaval Dome Hike in Canyonlands

That’s it, folks!  Enjoy, and I’ll see you all next week.  Take care till then.  Almost forgot to link to Sami at Monday Mural!

Jo’s Monday walk : Interrupted, in Knaresborough

It was Mother’s Day back in the UK, and I was fancying a treat.  Somewhere I hadn’t been in a while definitely appealed, and Knaresborough fit the bill very nicely.  This North Yorkshire market town lies on the River Nidd, and an iconic railway viaduct carries passengers into town, high above the river.  Even on a rather murky English day, it’s a splendid sight.

We parked just off the A59, on the edge of town, and strolled towards the centre.  Almost immediately we become aware of one of the quirkier aspects of Knaresborough, the painted trompe l’oeuil windows that adorn many of the buildings.

Town Windows illustrate characters and events from the town’s long history, and you can download the guide to find them all.  Many of the Georgian buildings were designed with blank windows, to avoid paying window tax.  The town has no shortage of interesting characters, two of them sitting side by side on benches in Market Square.  Sculptures, of course!  Ursula Southeil, a medieval seer, was known as Mother Shipton, and was said to have been born in a cave south of the town.  ‘Blind Jack’, or John Metcalf, lost his sight following smallpox in childhood, but that did not prevent him going on to become an accomplished violin player, and later a pioneering road builder.

I followed my nose into Green Dragon Yard, in search of tearooms, but was immediately distracted by the artwork.  ‘Art in the Mill’ is a contemporary gallery situated in a former flax mill.  The manufacture of linen was a cottage industry in Knaresborough, and flax was combed by hand in the mill, which dates from 1808.

Castle ruins with a mighty history next.  Built in 1100 by a Norman baron, Hugh de Moreville sought refuge there in the 1170s, after assassinating Thomas Becket.  In 1205 King John invested considerable money strengthening the castle, to use as a hunting base for Knaresborough Forest.  It was here that the first Royal Maundy took place, on 5th April, 1210, with the giving of alms to 13 poor men.  Extensions and rebuilding, including the Keep, were completed by the King Edwards.  The castle survived intact until 1648.  It was taken by Parliamentarian troops in 1644, during the Civil War, and was largely destroyed by them, as a Royalist stronghold, by decree of Parliament.  Admission details here.

It’s in a wonderful situation, looking down onto the viaduct and the weir.  Most of the town is at this upper level, steps leading down through gardens to the riverside, far below. Our intention was to follow the river beneath the overhanging cliffs, find the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, and then to cross over to the far shore.  As it happened the chapel wasn’t open, but it’s a pleasant wander, with the river meandering below.

There was a house or two that might have suited, though probably not the fortified House in the Rock.

A text message disrupted further progress.  Might we be heading to Leeds, half an hour away, where our son was happy to be included in the Mother’s Day celebrations?  What else do you do when your grown up offspring has time to spend with you?  The other bank of the river would certainly keep for another day.  But first, a scone for sustenance.  Honey Bees at Hannah’s, on Castlegate- simply scrumptious!

And a few more murals.  They’re great, aren’t they?  I hope to get back to Knaresbrough in the Summer, and show you Mother Shipton’s Cave.  For now, we’ll pop the kettle on and settle in for a good read.

Please find a little time to visit these, especially if it’s somebody you don’t know.  Many thanks to all you lovely contributors and patient readers.  Anyone can join in.  Just see my Jo’s Monday walk page for details.


Drake to start us off again this week, with a hint of North African sunshine :

Glimpse of Tozeur

It takes more than a bit of Scottish weather to put Anabel off a lovely jaunt out!

A walk on Great Cumbrae

Candy shares beautiful images of nature in the north of Portugal.  And there’s cake!

The NIS PR3 walk at Velada

It’s that gal with the long post titles again!  Cheers, Marsha :

Why you don’t want to overlook the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

How to open a pomegranate!  You never know when you might need this.  Thanks, Jackie!

Let’s do Lunch

And to wash down all that food, Lady Lee has a solution :

Sunday at the Beer Garden

You know what I’d really like to do?  Join Irene in the desert :

Morning Walk

Or I know Elaine would make excellent company, in sunny California :

A flower power walk

I don’t know about where you are, but me and Shazza have seen a lot of this lately :

The Tolkein Trail on a Rainy Day

And I know Eunice has had her share!  Wellies at the ready :

Exploring on the doorstep

Emma combines history and art with the beautiful Welsh coastline (and a bit of sunshine  🙂  ) :

Walking the Gower Coast : Caswell Bay & Brandy Cove

I love it when a plan comes together!  Denzil finds a guardian angel :

GR571 Stage 6: Gouvy to Verleumont

Truly exotic and stunningly beautiful photography- don’t miss Aarti!

A Walking Tour of La Paz

While Pauline finds somewhere that does a little good in the world :

Road Trip Flashback…

And, still in Oz, Carol watches another lovely evening fade :

Down to the Sea

I know there are rather a lot this week, but they’re great reading!  I may have to take my laptop into the garden, if the weather matches up to the forecast.  Hooray!  Make the most of it!