BB1422 : Appleby Castle At Last

Thursday 26th June 2014

Lady Anne Clifford has enjoyed no more devoted follower than Tony.  Until today, he had visited virtually all her dwellings bar one.  For some years, Appleby Castle has frustrated him due to it being out of bounds.  However, we are delighted to report that it has now re-opened to the public.  It was time for Tony to complete the survey of her property portfolio.

First, however, we had a more normal BOOTboys activity to undertake.  After parking in Appleby, Mike, Tony and I headed off along the river then turned southish across fields and nettle traps towards Bandley Bridge where we met and crossed Hoff Beck.  This we followed south for quite some distance.  I thought it a little sad that we were on the opposite side of the river to a place intriguingly marked on the map as Cuddling Hole. There again, looking at my companions, perhaps it was just as well!

Tony makes a new friend

New Inn at Hoff

Eventually we reached Hoff where the pub, which was closed and in a poor state last time I passed, had been renovated and re-opened.  It looked attractive but it was far too early to stop.  Instead, we continued south along the beck until we reached Rutter Mill and Rutter Force.

Rutter Force and Mill

Mike paddles across

It has been quite dry lately so the force was not as dramatic as I have seen it previously but still an attractive site.  We crossed the beck by the ford. Although the water level was quite low, the concrete was covered with slimey weed making it quite slippery. I had my camera at the ready but neither Mike or Tony obliged with a tumble.

Alongside the mill cottages was what I first took to be a kiddies' plaything but was then identified as a twitcher's tent, having a protrusion to accommodate a long telephoto lens. We then deduced that it probably belonged to the spotter we had spotted earlier along the beck.

Spotter's hide

The not hiding Spotter'

Comitibus :  I look down on him..........

Tony was soon amazed that we stopped for lunch in a field way before noon. Often he protests nearly as much if we stop too soon as if we stop too late but, as he had had an early start, he was delighted.  

On the other hand, I was not delighted. This is where I discovered that when we had passed along the nettley and brambly path, the branches tugging at my clothes had also attacked my rucksack, cutting through the plastic cord that was supposed to secure my gps safely and it was now lost.

Should I weep or regard it as an opportunity to buy a new, improved model?

Next feature was Great Ormside, a smart hamlet with a very old church, St James.

Approach to St James'

St James' Church

The return to Appleby was alongside the River Eden, although trees and vegetation restricted the view of the river. Not completely, however, and Tony was able to engage a fisherman in a heated debate about the relative merits of course and game fish.

Fisherman versus angler

Appleby Mill

On reaching the town, Tony told us how Lady Anne had built her own mill to ensure that her people could have access to such facilities.  He wondered if the mill by the river bridge was the one but I think it was a later construction.  We then climbed up past an attractive looking but seemingly no longer named church where the grass was being strimmed.  On examination if became clear that it was closed, having ceased to function.

Church no more?

Sandstone cave doors

Dropping down into the town, there is a sandstone cliff with what looked like a cave that had been converted to a storage shed.  It reminded me of the sandstone caves in Stockport that were used as air raid shelters during WW2.

After crossing the bridge we entered St Lawrence's church where Tony led us to pay homage at the tombs of Lady Anne and her mother (although he first took us to see his other loves in the motorbike garage)

St Lawrence's across the river

St Lawrence's main entrance

Lady Anne's mother Margaret's tomb

Tony the biker

Tony pays homage to Lady Anne

The Alms Houses

It was now mid afternoon and the sun was shining so the temptation to stay awhile at a table outside the Hard & Hounds was too great to resist.

Our appointment at the castle was for 4 p.m. but first we had to visit Lady Anne's Alms Houses.  These are still operational for the sole occupancy of one women per dwelling. There is also a small chapel which the warden showed us round.

Arriving at the castle, we encountered a lady who was also booked on the tour.  It turned out that she was German, lived in Munich and worked in Heidhausen which is quite a coincidence as that is where daughter Emma currently lives (but not for much longer). Small world.

We were shown round the grounds where we were permitted to take photos then inside the castle where we were not.  

The outside includes a small building, the Bee House, where Lady Anne could sit and look over the river. The castle has moats and the main door is situated strategically above the river making attack by battering ram nigh impossible.  Even if attackers managed to cross the two ditches and breach the walls, the keep was big enough and stout enough to house the household and sufficient animals to survive a siege of several week.

Welcome to Appleby Castle

The Bee House

Lady Anne's walk

Side view of the castle

To sit where she sat

Appleby Castle

Unfortunately the keep is currently scaffolded and is no longer safe due to subsidence so, unlike back in the 1980s, is not open to the public.

1984: Princess Ann visit

1988: Margaret, Jamie & Emma

2014: BOOTboys

The inside of the castle is still a restoration work in progress but we saw many interesting features including medieval halls and bedrooms. Little of the furniture is original as various owners have had to sell off much of the contents to pay for death duties and divorces. However, great effort has been made to acquire fixtures and fittings of the appropriate era so the feeling of authenticity remains.

Hanging onto a rope with both hands as instructed, we climbed an exciting spiral staircase to a tower room then descended similarly to a cellar, nearly treading on a hedgehog on one of the lower steps.  Old Spiney had presumably crawled in from the escape tunnel and was unable to find his way out.

The visit ended in a very civilised British way with tea and cakes, courtesy of the castle.

It is a very interesting building, particularly in respect of the period up to and including Lady Anne's time.  Mike (who is a hotelier) and guide Peter Bass had a long discussion about how best to use the premises as a wedding venue and other potentially profitable opportunities. The cost of restoration and maintenance must be huge and it is understandable that the owner is seeking ways to use it to commercial advantage.

It would have been nice to have had the chance to take photos inside the castle, especially to have one of Tony sitting in Lady Anne's personal chair but our very knowledgeable and informative guide agreed that I could use for this report pictures from the Appleby Castle website.  Thank you, Peter.

After the visit, Tony declared that he had now exhausted his fixation with Lady Anne. However, on the way home he remembered that there is another local place with connections to her that he must visit- Dalemain near Penrith.  Watch this space!

Don, 26th June 2014

Appleby Castle

 Photographs reproduced with kind permission © Appleby Castle

For more about Lady Anne Clifford see:
BB1211, BB1305 , BB1325 , BB1407
and Appleby Castle

LEJOGgers Reach Kendal

Having completed more than half of their Land's End to John o'Groats bike ride in aid of Beating Bowel Cancer. Ian and Martin arrived in Kendal last Monday night.  Here they are relaxing at the Brewery, clearly in good shape and spirits despite their heroic efforts!

For an update of their progress, have a look at Ian's blog.

If you would like to recognised their achievement by contributing to Beating Bowel Cancer, visit Ian & Martin's page at Just Giving.

Europath drink stop

A Kast of Two Plus a Dog

What has the BBC got against Crete?

Twice last week, they were forecasting heavy rain when every other forecasting agency correctly predicted zero precipitation.

On one such day. with temperature easing in the evening from a noon 36º, the BOOTboys International Division ventured forth to explore a pass over the Kastamonitsa mountain range near Kasteli.

Poppy looks in amazement at where we are going

We (Jamie and I plus Poppy the dog) parked by a wall which is a remnant of a Roman Aquaduct then dropped down to find the E4, one of the long distance European footpaths, this one running along the length of Crete.

Parking for chariots

Europath drink stop

After following it for a short while, we branched off up the pass.  These days it is a wide track that is obviously used for 4x4 tours although we saw no such vehicles.  In the olden days, pre-widening, it could have been rather scary in parts as the drops as it zig-zags up the hill are quite fearsome.

Spot the Roman Wall

Comitibus :  Kastamonitsa Pass

In the distance we could see the new, as yet unfilled, reservoir for Heraklion and, more clearly, the huge Cretan Military airfield which, before the money ran out, was being touted as the new international airport for Heraklion.  How popular it would have proved for holiday makers is uncertain as it is some 30 miles out of Heraklion and reached by fairly narrow and winding, albeit well-surfaced roads.

Spot the reservoir

Spot the airfield

Having reached the highest point of the track that overlooks the valley and taken in the view, we retraced our steps back to the car to return home in time for a glorious cloud free Mediterranean sunset.

Note the unusual plant pot spotted en-route.

Spot the unusual plant pot

Back home

The No-Colour Supplement




Thursday 26th June 2014

Distance in miles


Height climbed in feet



Rutter Force, Great Ormside,
Appleby Church, Alms Houses and Castle


Don, Mike, Tony


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1422  .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - see: Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights (ditto) see: BB Log.


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