I enjoy walking, especially through a garden or in the countryside, but words (as so often) matter: you’ll find me less keen to set out if the journey might best be described as a climb or hike. So it took my sister (for whom hills are little more than hiccups) several seasons to get my sweetheart and me to accompany her to this point, where we could look out over the edge of a broad expanse of limestone pavement above Malham Cove in Yorkshire. Thanks little sis – it was fun and you know I’d never have done it without you!
You might recognise the pavement from scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows if you’re a fan. I was fascinated by the pavement itself: its deep cracks and the odd bits of ferns and wild flowers that somehow have a foothold on life within it. Continue reading “Looking Out From The Limestone Paving Above Malham Cove”
Kettlewell villagers organised their first scarecrow festival in 1994 and it has continued as an annual fundraising event ever since, becoming more expansive as each year passes. You don’t have to be particularly perceptive to see how it has helped today’s community make links, attract newcomers and prosper.
The Scarecrow Festival is all the nicer for being in a scenic village of traditional stone-built homes. The church still has the font from the original Norman church, dating back to around 1120, and the tower of the Georgian one that followed it. There’s an Arts and Crafts layer too: I was intrigued to see William Morris’s name in one of the beautiful stained glass windows and later discovered I missed finding a Thompson mouse, and the beaver of one of his protégés, Colin Almack. One for next time!
There’s a scarecrow for everyone from the traditional, straw haired gentleman above…
…to this more modern little cutie. I’d somehow navigated this earth without noticing Makka Pakka and it took the people of Kettlewell to put me straight.
Thee festival included many ingenious recreations of heroes, heroines and role models for kids and the young at heart. [I was shocked to note that the WordPress spellcheck autocorrected strongwoman to strongman when I was adding a description to the picture below (there it goes again – just try it!). That’s a big oops.
Each year, Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival has themed trails. In 2018, when we were there, the themes were ‘Movies’ for adults and ‘Magical Stories’ for kids, with much overlap between them. I’m not sure which category Doctor Who was from – I thought that was all true, just hushed up so’s we don’t start to panic.
There were derring-do animals too, including Daredevil Dan, awaiting being fired from a cylinder with an expression that suggested he may not have attempted this feat before.
Some of the best dressed scarecrows I’ve ever seen were at Kettlewell: I’d be more than happy to wear the strongwoman’s dress (scroll back up for a reminder), if it would fit and if someone invited me to the right kind of party. Even if it isn’t your colour, you’d have to give it kudos for looking so good after a few days outside in the wind and rain.
I loved the hearty way these choristers are singing and the floriferous cottage gardens acting as a backdrop. The villagers hold scarecrow-making training courses to help newcomers and novices get up to scratch, and it shows. These scarecrows were built to last well beyond the 9 days of the festival, making me wonder where they are all stored during the year – now that would make a picture!
Scarecrow clowns are cheery enough in the daytime, but must add frission to walking around Kettlewell in the dark while the event is in full swing.
I saw several Minions, but none so photogenic as this one, monitoring compliance to the 20 mph speed limit.
There were many topical references – political commentary and wry social observations with a humorous twist. The celebration of the 70th anniversary of the NHS shows a patient labelled ‘Nil By Mouth’, but closer inspection shows he’s getting local ale by intravenous drip.
I’ll always be a Magic Roundabout girl at heart, so my award would probably go to Florence, Brian the snail and the other Magic Roundabout scarecrows. The village itself seemed simply lovely, with lots of flower-filled gardens and patios.
And the face in the hole photo boards were as high quality as the rest of the event: one of several ways to make sure kids feel fully involved.
More Information and Links
Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival starts during the second week in August – in 2020, it will run from 8th to 16th August. Check the website for details or follow the festival on Facebook. Visitors will find ample, cheap, day-long parking, well over 100 scarecrows, fresh country-baked food in the tea rooms and village hall, and ‘three splendid hostelries’. Drivers will benefit from studying how to enter and leave the village – we drove over a narrow, never-again road on the way to our next stop, The Forbidden Corner.
We set off for Harrogate on a whim, inspired by the weather forecast, and booked into a hotel within walking distance from the RHS’s most northerly garden, Harlow Carr, a favourite haunt. The idea was to wake up next morning to find an artistic covering of snow or a hard frost – the added winter garden ingredients only nature can provide.
The forecast had been an exaggeration but, luckily, it turns out that a winter wonderland doesn’t need snow: it can cloak itself just as wonderfully in reds, oranges, browns and greens.
We were too early to see the thousands of snowdrops, cyclamen, irises and eranthis hyemalis that will be at their peak in February and March. A small number of the advance guard could be spotted in flower in the woods, along the Winter Walk or sheltered in the glasshouse, giving a hint of the pleasure to come. But if you find yourself wondering whether a winter garden really has anything much of interest to offer in January, other than peace, you’ll find plant after plant lining up as if to say: ‘You misjudged me. You doubted there would be colour.’
Fountains Abbey was built by Cistercians in an isolated spot where the River Skell meanders through a steep sided valley. It’s part of the varied and extensive Studley Royal Estate, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular pay-to-enter of the National Trust’s sites. Continue reading “Fountains Abbey: a Jewel in the National Trust’s Crown”