Random thoughts from Pencefn

…. an engineer, singer and photographer living in Scotland

Fountains Abbey from the east


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Fountains Abbey – 20 September 2016

Founded in 1132, Fountains Abbey is one of the largest and best preserved of the ruined abbeys in the United Kingdom. The Cisterian foundation operated for around 400 years until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII.

Fountains Abbey from the south west

Fountains Abbey from the south west
20 September 2016

The abbey complex is located in the valley of the River Skell which cuts across the site, with some of the building spanning the river.

River Skell running through the Abbey complex

River Skell running through the Abbey complex
20 September 2016

The foundation started following a riot in the Benedictine House of St Mary’s Abbey in York in 1132. Some fo the monks were expelled and were taken under the care of the then Archbishop of York (Thurstan) who gave the land as it was ideal for the development of a monastic community, with the river and local topography providing shelter. Natural resources where available is the shape of timber and stone for building. Following the winter of 1133, the monks applied to join the Cistercian order. They were successful becoming the second Abbey in the North Yorkshire to follow the order after Rievaulx.

Walking around the ruins, many features are still discernable.

Undercroft below the Great Cloister

Undercroft below the Great Cloister
20 September 2016

Immediately underneath the great East Window, with the mullions no longer present is the centre section (three altars) or the Chapel of Nine Altars. The base of the High Altar is slightly further west.

East Window

East Window
20 September 2016

Part of the chapel of Nine Altars

Southern third of the chapel of Nine Altars
20 September 2016

Looking west from below the west window the High Altar is in front of you with the Nave stretching away

High Altar, Chancel and Nave

High Altar, Chancel and Nave
20 September 2016

As with many Abbeys, a tower was built which still stands basically intact.

The Tower of Fountains Abbey

The Tower of Fountains Abbey
20 September 2016

The abbey thrived with many endowments, even surviving the looting of Northern England by the Scots after the Battle of Bannckburn. In 1539, the Abbey was surrendered to The Crown following the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was subsequently sold on to a London Merchant in 1540, who dismantled part of the complex to sell materials (timber, stone, lead) to offset to cost of the purchase.

In the 18th century it became part of the Studley Royal Estate. In 1966 the Abbbey came under the guardianship of the country, being managed by the National Trust since 1983.

In 1986, the Abbey and associate parkland was designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The eastern aspect of Fountains Abbey

The eastern aspect of Fountains Abbey
20 September 2016

Mount Grace Priory


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Mount Grace Priory – 20 September 2016

At the end of the 14th century, Thomas Holland, 1st Duke of Surrey founded the Carthusian house of Mount Grace Priory.

Mount Grace Priory church from the cloister

Mount Grace Priory church from the cloister
20 September 2016

There is a small church at the centre of the enclave. The tower (added in 1420) and some of the walls still stand, whilst the outline is clear to follow. A feature of the ruin is a recent statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ Child in the form of a cross, which combines the symbolism of the birth and crucifixion. The artist, Malcom Brocklesby, title this Madonna and Child when it was made in 1996.

Madonna and Child by Malcom Brocklesby

Madonna and Child by Malcom Brocklesby
20 Spetember 2016

As we found later in the date there is another depiction of this statue in Ripon Cathedral.

Unlike the Monastic foundations at Fountains, Bylands, Rivealux and Whitby (all visited later in our holiday), the Carthusian monks lived alone in individual cells around the Great Cloister, to the north of the church. They only ventured out to attend services in the church. This does mean that although the Priory has a large footprint there were few monks in residence (around 20 to 25).

Plan of Mount Grace Priory

Plan of Mount Grace Priory
20 September 2016

In their cells the monks slept, engaged in private prayer and meditation, work (e.g. weaving) and had a small garden. Cell 8 has been restored to give the visitor an impression of how the monks lived. As you enter, there is a small hatchway by the door for the monk to receive his meals, with an angle in it such that there is no direct line of sight through it.

Entrance to Cell 8

Entrance to Cell 8
20 September 2016

Downstairs there are two rooms:

A bedroom with a prayer desk

Bedroom in Cell 8

Bedroom in Cell 8
20 September 2017

A study with a table

Study in Cell 8

Study in Cell 8
20 September 2016

Upstairs there is one big room, which (in Cell 8) house a loom and other work areas.

Upstairs Workroom in Cell 8

Upstairs Workroom in Cell 8
20 September 2016

Going outside of the cell there is a covered walkway to the latrine and an enclosed garden that the monk would tend.

Garden of Cell 8

Garden of Cell 8
20 September 2017

Following the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, the Guest House remained intact until substantially altered by Lord Darcy [of Mount Grace] in the mid 17th century.

Mount Grace Priory Guest House

Mount Grace Priory Guest House
20 September 2016

The residence and the ruins passed through various hands until the 1950s when it was given to the state in lieu of death duties and put into the care of the National Trust, who entrust the management of the property to English Heritage.

Murals in the Nave


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St Peter & St Paul Parish Church, Pickering – 19 September 2016

Having arrived in Pickering via the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), we went for a walk around Pickering and visited the Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul.

Porch and Tower

Porch and Tower
19 September 2016

Walking into the building, the medieval murals on the nave walls are one of the first things that are seen. Looking east, the chancel, high altar and east window are seen through the screen.

Chancel and High Altar

Chancel and High Altar
19 September 2016

The murals were painted in the 15th century and feature St George, St Christopher and various scenes from the bible.

Bible Scenes on the medieval murals

Bible Scenes on the medieval murals
19 September 2016

Within 100 years the murals were painted over. In 1852, they were accidentally uncovered. They were not to the liking of the vicar so they were covered up again. More recently they have been uncovered and restored. If you visit the church for no other reason, the murals are a delight to view.

Information Board in Market Street

Information Board in Market Street
19 September 2016

So if you are visiting North Yorkshire, you can either drive, or as we did take the NYMR train from the coast at Whitby, and the church can be found at the top of Market Place. You may even experience the market as we did on the day of our visit.

Larpool Viaduct


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North Yorkshire Moors Railway – 19 September 2016

Since we were staying by the Esk in Ruswarp, North Yorkshire Moor Trains (NYMR) passed by four times a day. So a visit and trip to the railway was near the top of list of things to visit.

Activity at Grosmont with LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT 45428  and BR 2-6-0 Class 4MT 76079

Activity at Grosmont with LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT 45428 and BR 2-6-0 Class 4MT 76079
19 September 2016

We decided to join the train at Grosmont, leaving our accomodation as the first train of the day passed by on its way to Whitby. After parking and getting our ticket are Grosmont, we waited for the train from Whitby as it headed to Pickering. LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT 45428 Eric Treacy was bringing the train in from Whitby, whilst BR 2-6-0 Class 4MT 76079 was sitting in the carriage sidings waiting to haul the next service from Grosmont to Pickering.

Finding our seats, we travelled south to Pickering, where we watch 45428 detach from the train to run-round and take the service back north.

45428 under the station roof at Pickering

45428 under the station roof at Pickering
19 September 2016

We went for a walk round the town, and visiting the Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul before have lunch. By the time we had finished lunch the next train was waiting to take us to Whitby. NER 0-8-0 Class T2/Class Q6 63395 was in charge as far at Grosmont as it was not certified to take the train to Whitby.

NER 0-8-0 Class T2/Class Q6 63395 having come off the Whitby bound train at Grosmont

NER 0-8-0 Class T2/Class Q6 63395 having come off the Whitby bound train at Grosmont
19 September 2016

Once 63395 had been uncoupled from the train, and returned to the Grosmont engine shed, Class 25 diesel D7628 Sybilla was coupled up for the trip to Whitby.

Class 25 D7628 Sybilla coming onto the Whitby bound train at Grosmont

Class 25 D7628 Sybilla coming onto the Whitby bound train at Grosmont
19 September 2016

The journey into Whitby took us along the Esk Valley, crossing the river nine times, past Sleights and Ruswarp (and our accomodation). Beyond Ruswrap the Esk becomes tidal and the main feature is Larpool Viaduct where the extinct Scarborough and Whitby Railway crossed the Esk.

Larpool Viaduct

Larpool Viaduct
19 September 2016

In Whitby, there is a glazed tile mural of the North Eastern Railway network.

North Eastern Railway network map in Whitby

North Eastern Railway network map in Whitby
19 September 2016

As there was some time before the return train to Grosmont, we went for a walk around the harbour and found The Coffee Shop for a drink and cake.

The Coffee Shop in Whitby

The Coffee Shop in Whitby
19 September 2016

Returning to the station we caught the train back to Grosmont, where a final treat for diesel enthusiasts awaiting in the form of Class 37 37 264 to take the train from Grosmont to Pickering.

37 264 leaving Grosmont for Pickering

37 264 leaving Grosmont for Pickering
19 September 2016

After a day on the NYMR, we headed back to our accommodation in Ruswrap.

Scarborough North Bay


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Whitby 2016 – Scarborough – 18 September 2016

Visiting friends in Scarborough, we went for a walk along North Bay.

Beach Huts at Scarborough North Bay

Beach Huts at Scarborough North Bay
18 September 2016

Taking the path down to the beach, the first thing that is of notice is the redundant pylons for the dismantled cable car.

Redundant cable car pylons

Redundant cable car pylons
18 September 2016

At the south end of the bay is the 12th century Scarborough Castle located on the headland that separates North Bay from southern beach.

Scarborough Castle

Scarborough Castle
18 September 2016

Where the road comes onto the seafront, onto Royal Albert Drive, is Peasholm Gap. Nearby is Peasholm Park, with its lake and island.

Peasholm Park and island

Peasholm Park and island
18 September 2016


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Whitby 2016 – Sunday Midday in Ruswarp – 18 September 2016

Following morning service at St Bartholomew’s we walked back to the Chainbridge Riverside Resort, but not before seeing a NYMR train passing over Ruswarp level crossing.

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76079 at Ruswarp level crossing
18 September 2016

After a light lunch, we took the short walk to the Ruswarp Miniature Railway.

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Ruswarp Miniature Railway
18 September 2016

Next to the railway is a path which provides a link to the cafe at Chainbridge Riverside Resort, along which was a model of Shaun the Sheep.

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Shaun the Sheep
18 September 2016

Chainbridge Riverside Retreats


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Whitby 2016 – Travel to Whitby and our first evening – 17 September 2016

With 2017 started, and planning for our 2017 holiday, we look back at 2016 holiday in North Yorkshire. Our original plans for 2016 had been to visit New Zealand, however family illness made that difficult to organise and it was fortuitous that we did not go as when we would have been in the air on the flight to Auckland, when New Zealand was hit by an earthquake which would have meant our plans for the south island would have put into disarray.

Anyway turning to the holiday we enjoyed in North Yorkshire. Our drive south, then east, on a September Saturday initially took us south down the M74 and M6 to Tebay Services. These are probably the best services on the motorway network. Whilst eating our lunch we watched the ducks on the pond.

Feeding duck at Tebay

Feeding duck at Tebay
17 September 2016

After lunch our journey took us east along the A685 to the A66 and the east coast. At Middlesborough, our journey took us onto the A171 and A174 towards Whitby.

Our accommodation, Chainbridge Riverside Retreats, was in Ruswrap, just inland from Whitby on the River Esk. As with Tebay services, we had ducks to watch.

Riiver Esk at Ruswrap

Riiver Esk at Ruswrap
17 September 2016

Having unpacked and fed Cosmo, we went for a walk along the side of the river to the centre of Ruswrap village. Whilst there, the last North Yorkshire Moors Railway train from Whitby to Grosmont came along, hauled by British Railway 2-6-0 Class 4MT 76079.

76079 approaching Ruswrap

76079 approaching Ruswrap
17 September 2016

After our walk, we went to The Stables at Cross Butts for an evening meal. The desert/pudding menu looked great and could not be missed.

Chocolate Sundae

Chocolate Sundae
17 September 2016

Rice Pudding with Blackcurrant Coulis

Rice Pudding with Blackcurrant Coulis
17 September 2016


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Mainsgill Farm – Christmas Eve 2009

Mainsgill Farm entrance

Mainsgill Farm entrance (24 December 2009)

A trip north from London to Glasgow on 23/24 December saw us visiting Mainsgill Farm on the A66 on the east side of The Pennines. We nearly did not get to it as the prevailing weather conditions has resulted in the A66 being closed, however thanks the wonders of technology the trafficmaster interface on my SatNav, we were alerted to a accident westbound on the M62 (our alternative means of crossing The Pennines) and the A66 being open led us to using that route.

Located just off the A66 in North Yorkshire, near Richmond, we discovered Mainsgill Farm on a previous trip north. The entrance was marked by a round bale of hay made to represent a turkey.

In keeping with the season, the field between the road and the A66 have been furnished with a shepherds and sheep scene, with the sheep and sheepdog made out of bales of hay. This had been added to be recent falls of snow.

The tearoom associated with Farmshop provides excellent refreshments, and on this occaision it was closing early, however we were in time to have bacon rolls, before deciding what to buy from the farmshop.

Also the “stable” – well really the barn – was visited and a camel and donkey were found.

If you are ever travelling on the A66 between Penrith and Scotch Corner, Mainsgill Farm is well worth a visit.

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Santa at Mainsgill Farm

Santa at Mainsgill Farm (24 December 2009)