Nearly mid-distance between Starbotton and Buckden are the remains of the Buckden Cross, marking the boundary between the parishes of Kettlewell and Hubberholme.
In olden time Langstrothdale was one vast forest ; in the memory of aged inhabitants, much more densely wooded than at present. The mountain slopes on the southern side of the stream are still well afforested. The dark green of the firs and the wild-looking glens present an appearance of weird grandeur, truly Alpine, and record says that once upon a time a squirrel could leap from Langstroth Chase to Netherside without once touching the ground.
The situation of Buckden is charming, resting on the angle and declivity of an immense hill, which stretches from its doors into Bishopdale. Through its centre leaps a torrent, whose course of yellowy-green tinted waters has hitherto been over vast shelves of rock, and through a most wild- looking glen. Here amid wildness and magnificence are rippling rills and cascades. In stormy time this ravine presents a scene most savage and impressive; the water, in its headlong fury, fairly howls in its frantic rush to the river.
The hall is beautifully situated at the entrance to the village, whose charms are enhanced by its leafy surroundings. The site occupied by the original manor house seems to have been forgotten, but it must have been a house of importance, judging from the rank of the people who have dwelt there.* Several houses date from the early seventeenth century, and the place contains many quaint bits of architecture, picturesque nooks, giving an old world charm to the spot. Buckden, like Kettlewell, is celebrated for its fair.
* In the Michaelmas term, 1200, a law suit was tried which completely reveals the early history of this remote corner of the Percy Fee. The Countess of Warwick, daughter and heiress of William de Percy, alleges that W T illiani de Arches unjustly entered the forest of Langstrade (hence Langster) from Langstrath, and made himself forester, when he ought not to have the forest. William replies that the forestership belongs to his land of Buckedenn, which he holds of the Countess, and puts himself on the king's great assize, seeking recognition as to who has the greater right of holding the forestership. The matter had been in agitation for some time, how it ended we do not know. In the Celtic word strath, we add another link to the very many evidences from which we can repeople these ancient valleys.
Between Buckden and Hubberholme is a little green bay of fertile land, and all around it the hills rise boldly, and the road winds through lonely narrow passes into Ribblesdale and Wensleydale.
A road passes round the base of the hill on the north side of the river to Cray Valley in summer time a most beautiful region : the haunt of glowworms, whose tiny lamps shine forth on dark, dree nights to cheer the heart of the lonely traveller. Here is a fine waterfall, in a romantic spot, below which the stream meanders through a sequestered dell. How charmingly the waters splash and ripple onwards, imparting grace and beauty to the vale !
"'Tis sweet to hear a brook; 'tis sweet
To hear the Sabbath bell ;
'Tis sweet to hear them both at once,
Deep in a woody dell."
Beyond Cray, formerly a thriving hamlet, now only consisting of a solitary wayside inn, the road winds upwards through lonely moors to Wensleydale and Bishopdale. A fine moorland walk is from the Bishopdale road to Whernside, some five miles across a scene of solitude, yet teeming with interest to those who love wild and solitary grandeur.
Crossing the bridge at Buckden, where the river makes a sweeping curve, a few hundred yards onwards to where the hills meet, is HUBBERHOLME, whose name conjures up that grim old Pagan, Hubba the Berserker, a chieftain of the old Viking race, who fought and plundered along this river vale to its very source, and in this name, Hubber-holme, as in Hubbercove at Skyrethorns, whose derivation is evident, we find a far more lasting memorial than if it had been inscribed on perishable marble. In this name imagination hears the wild exultant shout of the Viking; the very sound of the word savours of the briny ocean, across which the adventurous north-men steered their strange-looking keels. Of a truth, the hand and tongue of the Norseman are here, as evident as if the ' Black Raven ' still flapped his wings from the folds of the war banner stretching out to the breeze, while the horns and trumpets summoned men from their 'bers' (farmsteads), whose names yet point out the original settlements.
The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a quaint, curious, and picturesque fabric of the thirteenth century, and not later than the year 1220, if indeed the edifice does not still contain distinct Norman features and other marks of hoar antiquity ; tradition says it is of much earlier construction, yet, apart from slight traces of earlier work, the building as it now stands is of the period above mentioned. At the same time, from many evidences the antiquity of its name, faint vestiges of ancient work, its isolated position in the past, and the many traditions of its great age, all point to the supposition that a Saxon or even Celtic church might have stood on exactly the same site as the present structure. Some of the alterations have been executed 1320 to 1360, and other features point to the sixteenth century.
The most interesting relic in the interior is the oaken rood-loft, on which was placed the rood or crucifix, built 1558 by William Jaker, carpenter. From this exalted position, the singers sent forth their praises, and the Gospel was read in celebration of high mass, the service supposed to be greater from that exalted position. The crude colour in which it was painted has now almost faded away. It was from such a rood-loft that the early Fathers denounced to his face the iniquitous sins of the eighth Henry. This now scarce relic, of pre-Reformation times, alone makes the church of Hubberholme specially interesting. There are two altars: the one now used came from the University College, Oxford, at which time the old altar was discarded. Pawson, the landlord of the ' George' opposite, was also parish clerk, so he took it to his hostelry, where for some time it did duty as an ale bench ; but it was rescued from that degraded position and replaced on the south side of the chancel.
There are an ancient oak chest and also a septangular font of the fourteenth century. Dividing nave and aisle on the south are four bays of semi arches of undressed stone, the square piers having been cut into octagons during some restoration. On the north, four bays of pointed arches, one being of greater span and lower pitch than the other. From these arches we may judge that the nave of the church was built about 1200. Connected with the church for the space of sixty years was Thomas Lindley, who also held the living of Halton Gill, and Caught day-schools at the latter place.
In the howl of winter, storm or sunshine of summer, he never missed passing over ' Horse-head,' one thousand nine hundred feet above the sea, a distance of six miles, to preach at Hubberholme. He belonged to the race of good old pastors of which Chaucer speaks :
"That was a pore Persona of a toun,
But riclie he was of holy thought arid werk ;
He was also a lerned man, a clerk .
That Cristes gospel trewely wolde preche,
His parisheus devoutly wolde he teche "
quaint and homely dress, always appearing in knitted overalls, known as 'cockers'
In these parts no one was better known than Parson Lindley and his old pony. On stormy days the invariable cry of the old landlady at the ' George ' used to be : "Ye should no fash yerself, Maister Lindley, te come on sike a day as this." Parson Lindley always replied : " Duty, missis, duty must be attended to ! "**
** At a baptism at this church, the name of ' Amorous ' was given to Rev. T. Lindley, and so the child, who was a Stanley, was named. Soon after, the father, finding out the mistake, called on the clergyman to have the name altered to Ambrose. "But," said Lindley, " the register cannot be altered, and the child must be Amorous to the end of his days." As the father sorrowfully departed Mr. Lindley, with a sly wink, said: " When that child grows up keep him out of the way of temptation." The child did grow up, stuck to his registered name, and became known near and far as 'Amorous Stanley, licensed hawker.'
The old sundial, formerly the churchyard cross, is hoary with age, the shadows on its dial having marked the passing of centuries.
"So passes silent o'er the dead thy shade, Brief time! and hour by hour, and day by day,
The pleasing pictures of the present fade, And like a summer vapour, steal away.
Since thou hast stood, and thus thy vigil kept,
Noting each hour, o'er mould'ring stones beneath;
The pastor and his flock alike have slept,
And 'dust to dust' proclaim'd the stride of death."
Leaving the churchyard, we look into the old inn, which comprises kitchen and parlour. On the old black oaken settle loll three or four lusty farmers, tall, broad, and sinewy fellows, whose ancestors trailed a pike and fought at Flodden Field, and men bearing their names were settled in this locality over five hundred years ago. On the opposite side, in the old arm chair, drowsed the ancient landlady, since dead, a characteristic figure here in the past, who, with a stout cudgel, asserted her authority when her brawny-limbed and thirsty Langstroth customers became excitable. Two or three shepherd dogs roll lazily on the sanded floor. Beside the dark ' lang-settle ' is an oak chest or sideboard, a century old, with a plate rack well lined with pottery of the same date. This place is the perfection of 'ye old inn' of bygone days, and, in its way, quite unique. Resting, we listen to the conversation, and note the following remark:
"By gow, Bill, ragged Dick ower't lile dog last neight ; by gum, noo, eh wor mad!"
The beauty of this place should be seen from the north side of the river, above the church; it is a veritable Arcadia : five miles of valley looking down to Kettlewell, enclosed by hills two thousand feet high, afford a panorama that would be more admired if it were more accessible.
The vicarage, built on the site and partly out of the material of a house once in the possession of the Hebers, acts as a memorial to the good Bishop Heber. The Rev. Richard F. R. Anderton is the worthy and greatly esteemed vicar of this remote parish.
It is evening; the sun is declining behind the hills, tinging the scene with a mellow light. The sides of the glens and the brink of the river are clothed with trees and verdure. Far away from the distant hills can be seen the clear stream, winding through the beautiful valley, in many places enclosed in a bower of branches, which cast lovely shadows across the gleaming waters ; the old grey moss stones are a grand tone to the sunlight, as the water flashes and sparkles over its shingly course like a bed of diamonds.
Below, looking east, is the ancient church, standing by the brink of the beautiful and rapid stream, whose waters sing a soothing melody to the departed dalespeople who sleep at its side. The solid square tower, with curious battlemented top, is covered with green and yellowy moss; the old bridge, the wayside inn, and the dense wooded summits behind ; opposite, the grey walls of a mountain homestead, shielded by a belt of gaunt and dark Scotch firs, add variety to a most delightful scene. In the storms of autumn, when gloom and misty vapours and dark clouds chase across Kirkgill Moor, hiding Raisgill-hag and Horse-head, the scene is wildly grand. At such times numerous streams like streaks of silver leap headlong from the mountain, sweeping by wood, glen, and crag, instinct with wild beauty, transforming gloom and shadow into sublime grandeur. Standing on this eminence it is grand to watch the Wharfe rush on from Beckennonds, where are to be seen many curious and time-worn rocks caused by the swirl of waters, and erosion during the ages. ( hiward races the stream over boulders, past Deepdale, sending foam and spray flying in all directions. In her wild, mad career she sweeps past Yockenthwaite, impelled onwards in her swift race by tributary streams, gradually swelling in size and increasing her impetus, she passes that beautiful relic of antiquity, at the edge of its churchyard, on one occasion flooding the yard and porch with a congregation of fishes; still increasing speed and volume near Buckden, she takes a sharp curve and with one swift bound passes beneath the bridge and races on the wings of speed to the ocean.
But we must hurry to the higher reaches of the river, past Raisgill, slumbering amongst trees, in times past inhabited by herds of roebuck. Soon we reach Yockenthwaite, which stands pleasantly on the north side of the river; here are some picturesque cottages with old grey walls and time-worn roofs covered with rich tinted moss, shaded by the spreading branches of fine trees, remnants of a vast forest of oaks, which spread in olden times far over the chase on either side.
The name of the hamlet appears to have been derived from this very forest of oaks. A thwaite was a clearing of forest-trees, generally in low ground ; in this case it has been a clearing of oak trees. Upwards, the country becomes more wild. We are now in the very remotenesses of L,angster, which, as an old author puts it, "shuld shewe the signes of the harte o' grese*** and not of the squire's parlour or even of the yeoman's ingle." Lang-strath is a very suitable name for the long valley reaching from Buckden to Cam Fell. In imagination we can repeople the valley with those who attended the sound of the horn, twang of the bow, and the baying of hounds. The passion for hunting pervaded all ranks of Plantagenet society. More than one northern bishop paid his diocesan visitations with a pack of hounds in his train. At one time or another the Percys have practically held the valley, its whole length ; Henry de Percy, who fell at Bannockburn, was supervisor and chief warden of the chases of Langstroth and Littondale.
*** "Harle-o'-grese " meant a fat hart-from old French graisse, fatness. Used in Ingledew's Ballads
and Songs of Yorkshire, page 53:
" Or who can kill a hart o' greese,
Five hundred foot him fro'? "
(Five hundred feet off)
Next is Deepdale, a curious out-of-the-world spot, with a quaint bridge near to which the river bed is one shelf of solid rock. Further on, where the streams meet, is ' Beckermonds,' meaning the mingling of the becks, and in the fashion of the word is the unaltered speech of the Viking. This hamlet has a deserted, tumble-down appearance. Here the vale of the Wharfe bends to the north ; upwards is a delightful and secluded glen, reminding us of the beauties around Netherside.
A little further, overlooking the river, stands Outershaw Hall, built in the Elizabethan style, the property of the Rev. Trevor Basil Woodd, M.A., LL.B. All is beautiful; charming woods, rustic bridge, deep ravine, and grottoes, and the river rippling through a romantic moorland glade.
Leaving this sequestered vale, we pass through the village of Outershaw, meaning the boundary of the woods; through a fine sweeping scene of wild solitude and moorland we wander to the river's birth at Cam Fell, the bent or bending hillside.
" Upward still to wilder, lonelier regions,
Where the patient river fills her urn
From the oozy moorlands, 'mid the boulders,
Cushion'd deep in moss and fring'd with fern.
Thus I wandered, treasuring the beauties,
Unfamiliar forms to lowland eye;
Filling all the soul with silent praises
For the glory of the earth and sky."
The historian of Craven supposes that from Langstrothdale sprang the two northern scholars of the Soler hall of Cantebrege, whom Chaucer has made the subject of his Reeves Tale:
" Johan highte that on, and Alein highte that other;
Of a toun were they born, that highte Strother,
Fer in the North, I can not tellen where "
Which, considering the nature of their adventure, is perhaps fortunate. The best that can be said of them has been said by the poet:
"Testif they were, and lusty for to play."
On Cam Fell Archbishop Hutton once knelt in gratitude and prayer, remembering the time, when a poor lad, on the same spot, he had disturbed a cow, so that he might lie warm in her couch.
In the ballad of " Flodden Field " the poet tells us that the
"Striplings strong from Whoreldale,
And all the Halton hills did climb,
With J,angslrothe eke and Littondale,
Whom milk fed fellows, freshly bred,
Well brown'd their sounding bows upbend,
All such as Horton Fells had fed,
On Clifford's banner did attend."
On the extreme watershed, the high moor between Outershaw and Raydale, one of the finest panoramas of the, upper Wharfe unfolds: Dodd Fell, two thousand one hundred and eighty-nine feet, looms forth, a giant in the middle distance of this wild fell land. To the west, the back of Ingleborough, furrowed by the storms of centuries, rises above the other hills like a huge leviathan of the deep. Clouds, like wraiths from some ancient shore, gather, fold and unfold in their wild career over the mountain crests, rising in succession, ridge above ridge of bleached rocks appear like a foam- flecked sea. Far below we watch the windings of the infant Wharfe, bursting from its birthplace on a Cam. The grey dawn of evening is fast spreading. The sound that is borne to our ears is of gushing
waters, the rising and falling of streams burrowing underground, the strange wail and despairing cry of curlew and snipe and the cackle of a moor-cock, the plaintive bleating of sheep, or peradventure the whistle of a shepherd, and the ripple of laughter and merry shouts of a few children at play in the peaceful hamlet far below us, whence we see the reek ascending, giving a touch of the human to this wild, lonely sea of heathery hills.
At Wharfe head, the eye taking a last sweep round the moor-born rills, locally ' stickles,' running together like children a-scamper with joined hands, and the wrinkled hill rims forming a vast arena for the spectacle; the impressionable mind is brought to gaze at the immensity of the symbolic in the scene. The details, dim and far, clear and near, meet, as in a circle, infancy and age, the newly born and the everlasting! Not without the travail of the precedent storm was even a spring brought forth ; not without ; but by upheaval and subsidence were the features of York's largest river basin determined, and not until the wear and tear of centuries had been undergone came the contours, of even these inanimate things, which appear so striking as we view them to-day.
On the ridge above Kid-How (ling-hill) and Cam Houses is the highest of the green lanes ancient pack horse ways in Wharfedale. Its local name is the Green road. It is merely a graded track, unwalled, with greener, finer turf than the rest of the ground ; yet like a whip's thong thrown down, a knot here and there ; it begins at Bainbridge, and persistently runs forward under Wetherfell by the old crow-coal pits of Kid-How, and along Groone Head on Cam, whence, at one thousand eight hundred and seventy seven feet, it commences to decline by way of Cam-end to Gearstones in the western dale of the Ribble. There is a similar track from Bowes to Edenvale over Stain moor. From Wharfe Head one can see the three giants of the Yorkshire highlands, Ingleborough, Whernside, and Penyghent, which have such a fascination for our ramblers. It was on Whit Sunday, 1892, while W. Ramsden and G. T. Lowe were doing this arduous feat, that the latter proposed the formation of a club of walking men, and the suggestion bore fruit, the result being "The Yorkshire Ramblers' Club."
From the middle of the north side of Cam Fell, where the infant rills ooze from the moorland and, glimmering onward, playing hide and seek under moss and heather, unite at the foot into one stream, is a distance of some miles to the southern side or shed beyond Penyghent. A climb across those miles of heather, deep glens, and rugged mountain crests is delightfully fine when the heather blooms like a glorious purple sea. Darkness once found the writer lost in these regions, by chance stumbling on Colonel Garnet's shooting box, near the source of the Greenfield Beck, we were generously provided with food and accommodation for the night, otherwise sunrise would have found us still wandering on the moors. The track to Horton, some five miles away, passes this house.
Another grand and sublime scene is to be obtained on the high brow of the mountain between Greenfield and Penyghent. On the extreme water shed we look down the three tributary streams. The contour and moulding of the mighty hills appear glorious ; in many places, obscured with a misty screen of vapour, the crests of other hills appearing through the mist are illumined with gleams of warm sunlight; dense clouds, sailing across the sky, cast dark shadows, which eagerly chase the sunlight over hill and dale.
We have gone through a region of ghosts and goblins, of trixies and fairies, the memory of whose capers, malignant or otherwise, still finds a place in the local mind. Is it to be wondered at in the midst of such weird, fantastic atmospheric effects? Philosophy is the companion of age ; imagination the comrade of the young, and the youth of these dalesmen commences amid the marvellous.
Near Cosh Beck (or Kush), another tributary, stands Cosh House, hidden deep in the mountains away from the busy world. Further west, in a wild, solitary spot, is Lantyshop Cave, whose curious name does not mean the store of some primitive trader named Lanty, but more likely has affinity with the Celtic hupp, a hill, as in Foxup. Yet, strange to say, once upon a time a sheep-stealer used this cave to hide the carcase of sheep he had killed until he found means to carry them away.
" A canny walk," as the dalesman quaintly said, across the brow of the opposite hill is Penyghent; at the foot of which is Foxup, a small hamlet, through which flows the Skirfare. The name of this little hamlet suggests its beginning and the hybrid condition of life in that remote era. The prefix ' Fox ' may refer to the former resort of foxes in this vicinity, Fewston, from the Norse in Fjos, cattle ; the terminal "up," the corrupted form of the Celtic hupp, a sloping place between hills; and of frequent occurrence in local names in the form of 'hope.' Again we see how the Norseman has harried the Celt, following him to the very summits of his mountains, and even there superseding him.
In the times of hand-loom weaving this place was more densely populated; when that industry departed, it drove men from homes that had known their names and races for all the generations that humanity could count in the chase.
Lower down the vale is Halton Gill, this place is equi-distant between Hawes and Settle ten miles to either. A wild ravine pierces the hills near by, and a rough track crosses Horse-head, the western part of the mountain range dividing the two rivers. A reverend gentleman, once resident here, wrote that curious tract, entitled The Man in the Moon, and here for the or as Fews in space of seventy years dwelt that venerable worthy, pastor and schoolmaster, Thomas Lindley.
* * *
Two thousand miles in Wharfedale have now been traversed, and we once more take our leave, with many pleasant memories, not only of the beauties of a river flowing from a wealth of moorland, where reside a race of Britons, descendants of the Celtic and Teutonic stock, whose sons to-day are the greatest in senate or in camp ; but also of a river flowing through lowland meadows, where ancient abbeys and crumbling strongholds speak of another race who have left impressions on the pages of history never to be obliterated.
I now bid adieu to hills, glens, and river ; and max* we, after breasting the storms and trials, glide gently down the river of life to our journey's end, like the beautiful Wharfe, which during the course of ages has made her rough passage through stern mountains and adamantine rock, before she reaches the warmth and sunshine of meadows and cultivated fields, thence to flow unruffled during the rest of her journey, calm and peaceful, until she finds rest in the bosom of the ocean.