The ruins of Finchale Priory
My walk this week, much nearer home, takes me along the banks of the River Wear, four miles from the city of Durham. I hear that a heatwave is forecast and you might be glad of a little shade. I was dodging showers on my walk, so the trees proved extremely useful.
The Grade 1 listed ruins of Finchale Priory began life in the 13th century as a Benedictine priory. Today they are managed by English Heritage. The only details I could glean from their page are that the Priory was founded on the site of a retired pirate’s hermitage (!) and was later used as a holiday retreat for monks from Durham Cathedral.
The approach is through peaceful countryside, covered in rapeseed early in the season
The clouds are a little menacing, so we need to be quick!
We might just make it!
St. Godric of Finchale was an English hermit, merchant and medieval saint who was born in Norfolk. After many pilgrimages around the Mediterranean, he spent the last 60 years of his life as a hermit in these idyllic surrounds. To find that same peace and serenity you need to visit out of season, as today a caravan park adjoins the site.
As so often, I turn to Wikipedia for my knowledge. For instance, I had no clear idea what a piscina might be, though I was assured that there was a double one on the south wall. It’s a shallow basin, placed near the altar of a church, used for washing the communion vessels. Hunting through my photos, I discover that I have some evidence.
A double piscina
A view through the ruins
But this is the sight that intrigues me most
I cannot seem to find a reference that explains this ‘chimney’ with a conical point, and I can’t recollect seeing one before. If any of you can help me on this, I’d be grateful. Now, you remember that we are beside the river?
Click on a photo for a closer look
The view from the prior’s study
An inviting bridge crosses the river
The walls are good and thick
But with a strangely shaped door!
For a while the sky is blue
And I can admire the cloud through the many windows
See those right at the back of this shot?
The ruins with the farmhouse/cafe alongside
And a closer look at that ‘chimney’
While the sky is blue I think we should cross over the bridge. Got your brolly, just in case?
Here we go!
The water is shallow in places
But the bridge supports are solid
In places the River Wear flows quite swiftly
Looking back, a view of the Priory
Choices next, for a short, circular walk through Cocken Woods. You can climb the steps, rather steeply, or follow the river bank for a short distance and then climb, a little more gently, up through the woods. No contest, really! Just past bluebell season, there was the thickest carpet and a deafening aroma of wild garlic!
A lamb or two
And a bench!
It had to happen! Just about then the skies opened and the rain battered the river. My back pressed close to a tree trunk, I watched the steady tattoo and inhaled deeply. When the rain eased a little, there was just time to cross the bridge and slip quickly inside the cafe.
It was a welcoming space
And I just remembered where I had my last cream scone, Jude!
You’re probably thinking that that’s enough for the day, but I never want to waste an opportunity. Beyond the picnic benches, a path follows the river, on the same shore as the Priory but in the opposite direction. There’s a little climb before it levels out so I won’t make you walk again. Stay here and I’ll just show you a couple of photos.
Beside the river
And looking back at the bridge
Up among the trees
Struck by lightning?
Or simply old?
Just one last look at the Priory, before it’s time to go.
Loving the shapes and the shadows
And one last surprise, beneath the Priory!
I hope you enjoyed my ‘traces of the past’. I’ve included the English Heritage link for directions and opening times, and the other links for history and background. There is a special link too. Many of you will have seen Paula’s traces of the past, in Slovakia. I hope I’m not too late with my offering of Finchale Priory.
One cup of coffee down, two to go?
For any of you not used to my ramblings, can I direct you to my Jo’s Monday walk page or the logo above? It will encourage you to join me. For all you other lovely people, can I just say a huge thanks, both for your support and your wonderful contributions. Please make time to visit the posts below. You won’t regret it!
Drake’s always a winner- in more ways than one! First with his contribution again last week :
Back on home turf with Anabel, in Scotland. Do you know this one?
Jude apologised for ‘another flowery walk’. Is she mad? Good old King George V!
Kerdhva Gov Jori V (didn’t know I could speak Cornish- did you?)
You can always rely on Paula to find true beauty, even when she’s sleepy. This is exquisite!
Sing me a lullaby
A guy with a wicked sense of humour, Cardinal’s style is unique :
Fitness and Relax Toilets
I have a cousin in Toronto. Maybe I should pay him a surprise visit one day?
Junkboat Travels: Monday Walks
Will I EVER tire of the beauty of the Grand Canyon? I doubt it!
Walk on a Timeline (One Long Step= 1 Million Years)
I get to sit alongside Paula while Lucile pedals this week! Don’t miss this!
Virtual Bike Ride with Jo and Paula
You can always depend on Debbie for variety! I wonder where next?
A Walk along Berlin’s Landwehrkanal
Laia’s post simply shimmers with colour and beauty (and blue ice!) Another one not to miss!
Fox Glacier and lake Matheson : do not believe in postcards
And while we’re in that part of the world, here’s a fascinating walk in Tasmania, with Ruth :
Waterworks, pipelines and falls
Jaspa keeps on going back to Venice. Well, why wouldn’t you?
The Irresistible Lure of Venice
Lots of shares again this week. I expect you’ve seen a few of them around the blogs, but please make time for any you’ve missed. There are some fabulous contributions. And if you have any spare time, Monday Escapes are acquiring a steady stream of followers. If only I could find more time!
Have a happy week and watch out for that heatwave! See you next Monday?