”In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks” ~ John Muir
I don’t want to jinx it, but hasn’t the January weather been fantastic so far? **
I’m absolutely loving the extra daylight and the longer days, and there are already signs of nature waking up all around us.
**EDIT…as I’m typing this it’s dark and drizzling, so I may have to eat my words**
New Year Intentions
I’m planning at least one ‘proper’ walk every week, after which I’ll share my photos on my blog.
This week I visited John O’Gaunt’s reservoir, just a few miles from Harrogate.
As usual, if you want to see the photographs in a larger format, simply click on them.
John O’Gaunt’s is one of several small reservoirs that lie within the area known as Haverah Park.
The park was created in the 12th century as a royal deer park, within the larger ‘Forest of Knaresborough’.
The only access is via footpaths and bridleways, giving the whole area a feeling of pleasant isolation.
Finding derelict barns is par for the course in the Yorkshire Dales.
This one overlooks the reservoir and I bet it was stunning in it’s day.
If only it could talk and tell the stories of the inhabitants that have farmed here over the years.
Although it’s fenced off, you can get all the way round the outside of it to have a closer look.
The old farm yard is barely visible as heaps of stone and is gradually being reclaimed by nature.
I wonder how long ago someone lived here…sadly, there seems to be no information about the place online.
Farming then….and now
It’s sad that something as beautiful as this old farm has been forgotten.
Nestled among it’s trees you can still see the moss covered roof of the privy.
In the distance, the huge, modern farm you can see, just doesn’t have the same appeal.
Through a gate and there’s another fascinating little find!
This old, broken gatepost could have been moved here from anywhere.
However, it’s current location is the gateway to an old field, so I like to think that it’s always been here.
Where the rest of it is however, I don’t know, as the wall has virtually disappeared.
Perhaps the stones have been moved and used elsewhere?
Initials are usually found on old boundary stones, and would normally have a date underneath. If only the bottom of this stone wasn’t missing!
I wonder if S ? and T.D were the areas or districts at the border of which the stone originally stood.
Or, were they two farmers whose land merged here? If anyone knows, please get in touch!
John O’Gaunt’s is one of several small reservoirs within the area of Haverah Park.
The name comes from the former hunting lodge of John O’Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
It stood on the mound overlooking the reservoir, and was known as John O’Gaunt’s Castle.
The Duke was Lord of the Manor of Knaresborough for twenty-eight years until 1399. Needless to say, not a lot remains of his former castle.
Both this reservoir and it’s nearest neighbour, Lower Beaver Dyke reservoir, were constructed in 1890 to supply water to Harrogate.
Due to the associated costs of maintenance, they have both now been decommissioned, and John O’Gaunt’s is the only one to still contain water.
Haverah Park Top
A walk in the Dales wouldn’t seem right without stopping for a chat with a sheep or two along the way.
This little flock were grazing within the boundary walls of Haverah Park Top, another old farmstead that is currently being renovated.
One of many old stone gateposts, still standing strong, while the walls gradually disappear all around them.
The small size of these enclosures always surprises me, but I suppose in the ‘good old days’, farming was much more small scale.
Boggy in places
Heading downhill again, and looking towards Trees Farm in the distance.
This part of the walk was quite boggy, as you can see by all the reeds and rushes that grow here!
John O’Gaunt’s Castle Mound
Very little evidence of the hunting lodge exists today, although you can just see the top of a stone pillar to the right of the trees.
A small, stone archway may be the entrance to either a game larder or an ice house.
Long after the demise of the hunting lodge, this larder probably continued to be utilised by the inhabitants of the much later farmstead built next to it.
A Wildlife Haven
Almost back to where I started from and a lovely view of where I’d just walked.
I saw no birds on the water today, but this little haven is popular with wildfowl throughout the year.
I saw one Kestrel hunting the rushes at this end of the reservoir but other than that it was a quiet day.
The Dales Way Link
After a short uphill climb back to the track, I stopped to admire the view and catch my breath.
I’m still regretting all those mince pies over the festive period!
The Dales Way Link, which runs from Harrogate to Ilkley, lies to the right hand side of this beautiful old stone wall, but that’s another walk for another day.
Spring is in the air
Heading back along the old track to the main road, I squeezed between fat gorse bushes.
Their golden flowers, warmed by the sun, gave off a beautiful coconut fragrance, which put me in mind of summer holidays.
I usually meet cattle at this point of the walk, but today the sheep were out.
I suppose it won’t be long until the first spring lambs appear.
The turning of the seasons a sharp reminder of how quickly time flies.
For now, sun-kissed and windblown, I was grateful to head home for coffee and reflect on all that I’d seen.