Sunday, 21 December 2014

Blind Jack of Knaresborough and Christmas Greetings.

Well.....Christmas shopping or a day out in Knaresborough? It was a no brainer really.

Lots of places have their home grown characters who they use to bring in the visitors. Grasmere has Wordsworth, Stratford obviously has Shakespeare, The South Lakes have dear old Beatrix who does Knaresborough have?

Blind Jack...that's who!

Titter ye not.

Jack Metcalfe was blind from the age of six due to smallpox; he had an eventful life which was well documented by his own account just before his death. In the period 1765 to 1792 he built about 180 miles of turnpike road, mainly in the north of England. He was given fiddle lessons as a way of making provision for him to earn a living later in life and became an accomplished fiddler and made this his livelihood in his early adult years. In 1732, aged 15, he became fiddler at the Queen's Head, a tavern in Harrogate. He also had an affinity for horses and added to his living with some horse trading. Though blind, he took up swimming and diving, fighting cocks, playing cards, riding and even hunting. He knew his local area so well he was paid to work as a guide to visitors. He also became involved in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745! 
His headstone erected in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Spofforth, bears this epitaph:
"Here lies John Metcalf, one whose infant sight
Felt the dark pressure of an endless night;
Yet such the fervour of his dauntless mind,
His limbs full strung, his spirits unconfined,
That, long ere yet life’s bolder years began,
The sightless efforts mark’d th’ aspiring man;
Nor mark’d in vain—high deeds his manhood dared,
And commerce, travel, both his ardour shared.
’Twas his a guide’s unerring aid to lend—
O’er trackless wastes to bid new roads extend;
And, when rebellion reared her giant size,
’Twas his to burn with patriot enterprise;
For parting wife and babes, one pang to feel,
Then welcome danger for his country’s weal.
Reader, like him, exert thy utmost talent given!
Reader, like him, adore the bounteous hand of Heaven."

As a further tribute to the great man, I visited the local Ale House on the Town Square which is named after him and very nice it was as well. Then I took a walk to the Castle and down the Castle steps to the River Nidd which is usually a hive of activity with it's many cafes but today was dead quiet. I soon regretted having walked down the steps to the river as the only way back up to the town centre is via the Gallon Steps which are steep to say the least!

A detour to the quaint old station was then followed by a few minutes in St John The Baptist Church. It had a Christmas Tree Festival on and various things around the Church had been decorated by local schoolchildren for Christmas, it had a very feelgood factor about it.

The forecasted drizzle had crept in so I made my way back to the car having had a very enjoyable time. Thank you Knaresborough.

I've just realised I have reached my blogging century!! Thank you to every one who had read and commented on my posts, it is greatly appreciated.

Also a Merry Christmas to everyone, I hope it's a good one all round :)

The Crystal Buddha


Blind Jack

Farrah's Sweet and toffee shop

Blind Jack's Ale House

Through The Ages

Watermill Weir

Knaresborough from the Castle

Castle ruins

River Nidd


Castle Steps

River Nidd


Gallon Steps

Gallon Steps

Gallon Steps

Christmas Time

Wall Plaque

Railway Station bench

Railway Station

Water Bag Bank

The Angels of the Forest

Saint John The Baptist Church

Saint John The Baptist Church

Top Man

A Merry Christmas To All

Friday, 12 December 2014


One of the most interesting and entertaining walks in the Dales; The circuit of Janet's Foss, Goredale Scar and then across to Malham Cove. Limestone scenery at it's best.

I suppose I really picked the wrong time of year to do this walk. The woods approaching the Foss should  be done when the wild garlic is in bloom because then the smell is absolutely divine. It's still a lovely walk and the Foss, even though I could hear it, is hidden until nearly the last minute.

Then it was out into open countryside before the claustrophobic walk in to Gordale Scar. As expected, this was the busiest part of the walk but by normal standards, it was still fairly quiet. Two lads were attempting to climb the waterfall  to the hanging valley above but the going was just too slippy so they turned back. A robin came out to greet me but flew off when it realised I had no food for it (it did pose for some nice photos though) and a lovely mongrel dog brought me his stick to throw as his owners were more interested in the Scar than him!

The days are short at this time of year but I still took the path across to The Cove as no visit to Malham is complete without seeing it's amazing limestone pavement and sheer cliffs. Bad hips and bad knees make the walk across the pavement and back down the hundred steps quite uncomfortable so I walked back to Malham village via the lane. A thoroughly enjoyable day!

Malham Blacksmith

Village Stores

GR Malham

Packhorse Bridge, Malham

Path to Janet's Foss

Path to Janet's Foss

Gordale Beck

Path to Janet's Foss

Old Hay Collector

Gordale Beck

Gordale Beck

Wishing Tree

Gordale Beck

Janet's Foss



Gordale Scar

Gordale Scar

Patiently waiting.

Gordale Scar

Malham Cove

Friendly Robin


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