A Walk along Garbutt’s Ridge – The Best View in England!

The North Yorkshire Visitors Centre has an ample car park although a bit top-endish in terms of price. We’re meeting there to walk the wonderful Garbutt Ridge as far as the equally wonderful High Paradise Cafe. It’s a tad short of five miles either way and the track is really well tended so the recent rain should not be an issue.

We’ve walked this route many times but the views always astonish us. On a clear day the Pennines are visible and the Vale acts as a patchwork guide as the ditches, hedges and fences draw the eye and the trees act like pins to hold the fields in place; however, the focal point has always been Gormire Lake with its strange secrets…

The Tale of the Abbot and the Knight

The story begins with the Abbot of Rievaulx Abbey. The Abbot owned a white Arab mare, which had been presented to the Abbey. The Abbot took ownership of the horse, as he thought much more of worldly possessions than religious duties. The mare by nature was mild and gentle, but take her up on the moor and give her full rein, and then she showed her true worth.

In nearby Helmsley Castle lived a Knight, Sir Harry de Scriven, who was as fond of good living as the Abbot. He too had a favourite steed, a black stallion with the name of Nightwind. He and Nightwind had a reputation for never having been beaten in the chase. Not surprisingly there existed considerable jealousy between the Knight and the Abbot.

One day after a hunting trip the Knight passed the inn on Hambleton Plain and decided to call in. Who should be there but the Abbot? The two men ate and drank together whilst night came on and with it a strong storm wind which promised snow. After a number of hours, Sir Harry seemingly recalled a message for the Abbot. A yeoman farmer who a few miles away over the plain was very ill and had asked the Knight to summon the Abbot to come to shrive and pray with him before it was too late.

Sir Harry offered the use of Nightwind, surprisingly the Abbot accepted the offer and also agreed that the Knight, riding the white mare, should accompany him so far along the road, to show the way. The two men mounted hastily and rode off. The wind was blowing wildly; both horses felt the nervous excitement of the coming storm and somehow the ride moved almost imperceptibly into a race between the powerful black horse and the fleet white mare, and their riders.

The mare took the lead but Nightwind, carrying the heavy Abbott, slowly drew abreast and then took the lead. Sir Harry grew angry and the sound of the Abbott’s mocking laughter from ahead did nothing to abate his fury. He lashed the mare, he swore at her, he swore at the Abbot and Nightwind, and then he swore at himself as he realised that the Abbot had not been fooled. The heavier man had the heavier horse, and for all Sir Harry’s skill in the hunt, he couldn’t hope to catch Nightwind.

Riding blindly on and on, using his whip mercilessly, Sir Harry completely forgot the landscape and where they were heading. It was too late when he finally realised that the horses were almost at the edge of Hambleton Plain with an eight-hundred-foot drop before them. A momentary struggle to stop the mare failed, her headlong pace was too great and so with a sickening plunge horse and man went over the cliff edge.

As Sir Harry and the mare plummeted down towards the sharp rocks below, the Abbot appeared to sprout a pair of horns and a long forked tail and where there had been feet in the stirrups there were now a pair of pointed hooves!

Nightwind’s rider called above the sound of the storm:

“Sir Harry de Scriven beware of the stones.
But a novice like you must expect broken bones.
If you must play a trick on Old Nick!
I’ll see you below when I visit the sick!”

With those words ringing in his ears Sir Harry crashed to his death along with the little white mare.

And the Abbot? He and Nightwind disappeared into the waters of Lake Gormire at the bottom of the crag. A great hiss of steam went up as the lake boiled for a moment.

Yet that’s not quite the end.

Until not so many years ago, people living under the Hambleton Hills would tell you how, when the night was stormy, the spectre of the terrified white mare could be seen plunging over the crag towards the stones below until suddenly she disappeared into thin air.

And the dark bottomless Lake Gormire – well everyone knows that’s an entrance to Hell.

With the above in mind complete with a shudder that’s not to do with the weather. We make our way along the softer grass of Boltby Scar, Sneck Yate Bank past Low Paradise Farm and then up to our objective, lunch at High Paradise Farm.

High Paradise

It’s a magnificent day and Ginny does us proud with lovely food with extra care for me and my lactose issues, thanks Ginny.

We choose a slightly different way to return which gives us a mile or so new scenery but even when we return to the original path the scenery is remarkably different if only because of the perspective.

This is a beautiful walk but mostly, it’s with wonderful friends.

It’s not suitable for wheelchairs but it is an easy walk; however, bear in mind, there is a lot of ‘up’ on the way back although not intense, it is continuous.

Enjoy the snaps. Love G x

Please share for the enjoyment of folks that have issues with mobility…

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