Day 26, 27 Dissolution of the Abbeys – King Henry VIII’s wrath.

Day 26, Rievaulx and Byland Abbeys

It was pretty bleak day today, lots of rain in the forecast so we opted for visiting some historic abbeys in this area rather than a long hike through mud!

This area is rich with abbey ruins. Apparently in the 12th century due to the warring Vikings and Saxons, the Norman’s encouraged monasteries to be built in the north to help settle the area. Many of the monasteries were Cistercian, known as the white monks, and Yorkshire was their seat of power. York historically had been a thorn in the side of English kings for centuries. Although smaller and poorer than the south, the north with its Scandinavian heritage of independence produced men and women who were tough hardy fighters, useful as soldiers and invaluable against the Scottish invaders.

When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church, there was much uproar, especially in the York area and finally Henry called for the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538.

The first monastery we visited was Rievaulx Abbey. This was established by the Cistercians in 1132, and shut down on December 3, 1538 when it was sold to Thomas Manners who then proceeded to dismantle it…this was often done to use the finished stone to build their manner houses.

The church proper of the abbey.
Looking through the nave and towards the alter. Imagine this being build by 150 monks and 350 lay people. The maximum population during its time.
Devastated by the “Black Death”, there were only 18 people left to care for this abbey when the scourge left the area.
An incredible column worn away by rain water over the last 900 years! It almost looks like an octopus in hiding!
Looking out on the neighboring field of Rievaulx Abbey at the sheep farm. this was a major income for the abbey and in their heyday they were very wealthy because of this..

We then went to Byland Abbey. A lesser known abbey, also run by the Cistercian order. This Abbey had to be relocated once as it was infringing upon Rievaulx Abbey’s land. Byland at it’s height had a total of 180 men living here. When you look at either site, it is hard to imagine how this could be built and maintained with so few people.

A view looking down the nave at Byland towards the beautiful rose window that once existed at this abbey.

After Byland Abbey, we headed back to Richmond. Gwen and I did a short walk around the town and decided to circle the castle.

Path leading around the south side of the castle.

Once back home we made a light supper and put our feet up readying ourselves for our next day’s adventure to Grassington.

Day 27, Grassington and Wharfedale. (Close to, but not at Bolton Abbey)

We left early with our packed lunches and headed south towards Grassington. Anyone who has watched the new series “All Creatures Great and Small” will recognize this village as the main setting for “Darrowby”, home of Farnham’s veterinary practice from which James Herriot centers his exploits. Everything about this town and the surrounding dales remind me of that lovely show.

Here you see the Farnham surgery at Skeldale House, just off the main square.
Across the square from the surgery is the “Drovers Arms” , the home pub setting of many a discussion in this series.

Once we walked through the town we headed to the top end to do the Grassington / Wharfedale walk. About 8 Km that took us through pasture, woodland and then along the Wharfe River back to Grassington.

Looking out on these fields, it’s hard to believe that we are in the 21st century! this is where we turn from the road to trek through the fields.
Gwen crosses one of our first styles…a ladder style. These are built to allow human passage, but no sheep or cow can get through them.
Our path through the field looking back on Grassington in the distance.
… and while many fields were filled with sheep, this one had a number of cows, lounging in the unusually warm day.
While walking through the fields, we came across a number of these beautiful “Common Spotted Orchids”. They were spectacular!
Our field hike then turned into a wooded area.
As we got closer to the river, the woods thickened before leading down to the waterway.
The hikers left me behind for photos! But what a wonderful spring wood!
We soon found the river Swale and started looking for a nice spot to have our picnic lunch
One donated bench along the way beckoned us to take rest!
From lunch we headed back into Grassington, where the guys stopped at the pub while Gwen and I ended to some shops that have been on our repertoire for a number of years visiting this beautiful town!
We finally meet up with the guys
Doesn’t this B and B look inviting?? Just like the rest of the town!

When all essential business was done it was time to head back. The skies had been threatening while at the same time yielding glorious sunshine. Makes for incredible photos if nothing else…. And we didn’t get rained out!!!

A field of sunshine in the sunshine on our way home!
And then 2 minutes later we see this big guy on the horizon!…still some sunshine in the distance!!

Another wonderful day on the Dales, and then off to home to enjoy a drink on the patio before dinner. All in all a stellar day! Hope you had a great one to! Until next time.

Categories: Hiking in Iceland and the UK

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