Richard went off this morning to pick up the car from Newark – he had to use the bus, 3 trains and a taxi but fortunately all went according to plan. I had a day on my own and was able to catch up on all sorts of things which I just hadn’t had time to do which, as ever, included ironing :-) It poured with rain until late afternoon when the sun came out – the forecast is good for the rest of our stay. Richard got back about 5pm and even though we had the car we didn’t go out again.
We went sightseeing in Skipton today, even though I went to school in the town I had never been to the castle or the church and certainly never explored the canal before – it was probably a muddy ditch when we lived in Yorkshire.
The castle is very well preserved and was a joy to look round. It was originally a motte and bailey castle built in 1090 by Robert de Romille but this was rebuilt in stone to withstand attacks from the Scots to the north. In 1310, Edward II granted the castle to Robert Clifford who was appointed Lord Clifford of Skipton and Guardian of Craven. Robert Clifford ordered many improvements to the fortifications but died in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 when the improvements were barely complete. During the English Civil War the castle was the only Royalist stronghold in the north of England until December 1645. After a three-year siege, a surrender was negotiated in 1645 between Oliver Cromwell and the Royalists. Cromwell ordered the removal of the castle roofs. During the siege legend has it that the walls were reinforced by hanging sheep fleeces over the sides to deaden the impact from the rounds of cannon fire and sheep fleeces feature on the towns coat of arms as a result. Skipton remained the Cliffords' principal seat until 1676. Today, their banner flies over the castle with the approval of the present Lord Clifford of Chudleigh. Lady Anne Clifford (1590–1676) was the last Clifford to own it. After the siege, she ordered repairs and as a commemoration she planted a yew tree in the central courtyard to mark its repair after the war. Lady Anne wrote diaries of her life in the castle and these have been published in a book which I bought and am looking forward to reading.
After the castle we had a quick look round the church but it didn’t really match up to its superb position in the town.
We then walked down the Thanet or Springs canal. Lord Thanet wanted a branch canal which would take limestone from his quarries behind the castle to the Leeds and - he eventually built one in 1773. The canal was originally only a third of a mile long but was extended in 1794 by 240 yards to connect to a new loading dock, which was linked to the quarries by a tramway. Lord Thanet financed the canal himself which is why it is named after him.
After the fun bit we had to do shopping – I stocked up on heavy stuff as we had the car. I reckon Mary H is 2 inches lower in the water now!
Weigh day today and I am really pleased. Even with having Penny and Jim with us I still managed to lose 2 pounds!