Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ruins and Rivers - Easby and Egglestone Abbeys

Driving around the region takes you by countless remnants of times gone by - ruined castles at Richmond, Barnard Castle and Brough, former mining buildings such as Crackpot Hall up in Swaledale and collapsed buildings such as the lavishly named Ravock Castle high on Bowes Moor. There is also plenty evidence of monastic life remaining and I recently explored a couple of these sites - Egglestone Abbey near Barnard Castle and Easby Abbey near Richmond.

Both are ruined Premonstratensian Abbeys, founded in the 12th Century. The monks wore white habits and became to be know as White Canons, living a lifestyle similar to that of Cistercian monks. Within 15 miles of each other, the two abbeys were to suffer a similar fate. Ultimately brought to closure and abandonment by Henry VIII's dissolution, they also both suffered heavily from Scottish raids as well as at the hands of the English army.

Today both sites are managed by the English Heritage.

Egglestone Abbey church

I made an unscheduled visit to Egglestone Abbey, whilst on the way to High Force. The site lays on the Teesdale Way and there was no shortage of walkers passing. I think before long I will be doing a section of this walk heading from here to Cotherstone via Barnard Castle - watch this space...

Egglestone Abbey occupies a great spot, a short distance from the southern bank of the Tees, nestled between hills and fields. The ruins are fairly spectacular and it is amazing how much of the stonework has survived. The site is well preserved with a number of graves and tombstones still intact and some stonework on the ground giving you an impression of how the buildings might once have been.

Egglestone Abbey dayrooms with dormitory above

Leaving the Tees, we now head over to Swaledale and Easby Abbey, just outside of Richmond.

Having visited Easby Abbey a few years ago, it was a pleasant surprise to find that there were many new information boards dotted around the site explaining what all the buildings originally were.

You can do a very pleasant circular walk from Richmond, I started at the station and followed the footpath along the old railway line for a mile or so. This takes you along rural Richmond, and shortly you catch glimpses of Easby Abbey between the trees to your left. Coming up to the river Swale you may have to hold your nose for a short distance as you go past the sewage works - depending on the direction the wind is blowing...this is one of the few moments that having a blocked nose worked to my advantage.

You get a great view of the river from the bridge before following a woodland path for the remaining distance to Easby, coming out of the woods just before St. Agatha's Church church and with the Abbey nestled behind the church. It is a huge site, and must have been very impressive when it was standing. You can walk all around the site and as I mentioned there is a lot of information available.

The return section of the walk goes through a field before rejoining the woodland path along the river, coming into Richmond passing the Drummer Boy Stone. You can read about the legend of the drummer boy here.
This is a very enjoyable walk with a good variety of things to see and visit in a few short miles.

the Drummer Boy Stone

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