We were after a Lucy Pittaway picture. With her gallerys being based in Yarm, Richmond and Brompton in Swale in Yorkshire, we thought we’d make a day of it and jumped in the car with The Dog.
We drove over the tops to Hawes in Wensleydale, dropping down into the little town, January tourists wandering around. We drove through and up and over to Buttertubs Pass and into Swaledale. We resisted our usual detour of driving through Thwaite, to our little holiday cottage which changed our lives completely many years ago. We carried on through Muker, Gunnerside and Reeth, admiring the wild fells and stunning scenery. It was a nostalgia trip. We stopped at The Dales Bike Centre as they’ve got a brilliant little cafe there, for elevenses. We ordered coffee and cake. There’s a bike hire and repair shop on site and according to their literature, it’s on the brink of a major redevelopment apparently. Suitably refreshed, we continued to Brompton on Swale and found Lucy Pittaway’s gallery on a light industrial park right next door to the A1.
We spent quite a while going through the pictures. She has such a unique quirky style. She came to prominence with us with her Tour de France and Tour de Yorkshire pictures depicting cyclists across the Yorkshire landscape and we have promised ourselves one ever since. Finally, we made a decision and bought one and feeling very happy, we drove the couple of miles back to Richmond to find somewhere to walk The Dog.
We headed towards the river area, looking for somewhere to park. The road signs sent us towards the former railway station building. We parked up in the pay and display, in between the station and the leisure centre. The poor Dog had her legs crossed. We sauntered up to the station looking for loos ourselves – outside it was all buffed sandstone and red paintwork. Inside there were shops which opened out into a wide cafe area, which was extremely busy. Then we realised it was also a cinema with three doors leading to the different screens. It was quite splendid. It had kept its character – high glass roof and Victorian ironwork painted red. You could visualise it being a busy railway station, such was the sympathetic development. We were well impressed.
We walked back outside, after a little checking out of shops etc, and found the leisure centre equally pleasing to the eye. Made of timber and glass, it seemed to melt into the woodland area it was set in, despite being fairly modern and municipal. It was just very well done.
We found the old railway bed now converted into a path and now followed it. The Dog was off lead and ecstatic. We wandered along a wide tree lined path, spotting the river through the trees. The sun was sort of out, making the day bright. It was a pleasant stroll. We came to a wooden bridge with signposts and wanting to return to town, followed the one marked Easby.
We followed the path down and in the distance could see buildings. To our delight, we stumbled across Easby Abbey, sitting next door to a beautiful dinky church, which had been there since Norman times. Sadly we couldn’t go in, it’s door gated and severely padlocked, thanks to thieves vandalising and pinching the lead off the roof. It was quite sad. We wandered around the graveyard and then into the Abbey itself next door. It was a substantial edifice which had stood for many years until Henry VIII got all uppity about monasteries and went around destroying them. It was quite a splendid ruin, with many rooms still outlined. It was a fascinating diversion and a pleasant surprise.
We leashed The Dog as we were now walking through a private driveway which allowed us to admire a rather lovely house and gardens before walking through a pasture and into a wood. There were two paths, one down towards the river again and the other one keeping high. As they both rejoined up the road, we kept on the higher path and carried on.
It eventually brought us back on the edge of town. We crossed the main road by the bridge and into a large open park where The Dog made a determined attempt to dip her paws into the river. Richmond stood high on the hill above the river, with houses set in the steep hillside, cascading down the valley. It was very pleasant. We found steps leading up to the centre – a steady pull for several minutes. They were tough as the steps themselves sloped backwards so it was hard going. We ended up on Frenchgate, where we paused trying to catch our breath. Once recovered we turned left and followed the road as it widened into the wide circular Market Square, lined with shops.
We wandered along, more out of interest than necessity, peering into the shops and diverting down side streets. It had a pleasant feel. It had been many years since our last visit and it hadn’t really changed. It was a mixture of upmarket independent businesses and then your downmarket cheap and cheerful outlets which kind of spoilt it with their gaudy frontages. It made Richmond look a little scruffy. The old Trinity church stood dominant in the middle of the Market Square.
It was now coming up to 4 o’clock, the light was starting to go and it was time to ahead home. We retraced our steps back to the park and the bridge which we crossed to get back to the car park. We drove slowly out of the town, up through its winding streets to the main road, where we took the route back up to Swaledale. We were hoping to have tea at the Farmers Arms in Muker – Yorkshire pudding with sausages and lashings of gravy, but alas they didn’t start meals til 6pm. It was only 4:30. Disappointed, we headed home, stopping off by the fish and chip shop for supper. Not quite Yorkshire Pudding, but it filled a hole and we were happy.