The Inglorious 12th minus one, to borrow from the title of Mark Avery’s book. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the annual slaughter on the moors. On Farndale Moor signs have gone up advising of CCTV monitoring. No matter I don’t own a horse and have no intention of biking along the track, I find these signs very intimidating but that after all is the intention. And very suspicious, are there sights not for public viewing? But it is Open Access Land so people are free to walk or run, sightsee and birdwatch and I am already planning my route exploring such features as South Flat Howe, The Honey Poke, Old Ralph’s Cross, Esklets Cross, Cooper Hill and Stony Ridge, the 1400′ ring contour in the distance on the photograph. Not to mention the scores of old bell pits from the 18th-century coal workings.
Is it practical to monitor around ten square kilometres of moorland? I doubt it. There were no obvious poles mounting the cameras and communications equipment, but maybe it’s just one of those little wildlife surveillance cameras. Or maybe they’re using drones.
The River Dove meanders through the daffodil meadows of Farndale. On the west bank a yellow carpet, on the east a patchy display. Altogether a bit disappointing.
Some say Wordsworth’s romantic poem in which Lucy lives an idyllic life near the springs of the Dove refers to this Farndale river:
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love;
It is well known that Wordsworth and his sister visited Rievaulx Abbey so this may not be so far fetched. But of course there are also River Doves in Derbyshire and Cumbria.
Farndale, one of the quieter dales of the North York Moors. Except in the daffodil season. Five minutes later the rain came.
It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that Farndale’s display of wild daffodils or Lent Lilies are world famous but if the planners at the Corporation of Kingston upon Hull had had their way the valley would have been flooded to create a reservoir. In the 1960s a new £8m reservoir in the heart of the North York Moors was considered essential to keep the taps running. The local authority, North Riding County Council, the Countryside Commission and the Council for the Protection of Rural England were all resigned to the building of the 400 acre reservoir. A Parliamentary Bill was drafted but in a piece of political wrangling on the final day for approval, Sir Samuel Knox-Cunningham, chairman of a parliamentary select committee checking the small print decreed that several members could not vote as they had already declared their support for the scheme. This meant that Knox-Cunningham , a member of the National Trust, had the casting vote which he used to veto the reservoir.
The North York Moors look great with vast swathes of purple. But the heather has such a short flowering period. Already it’s beginning to turn brown.
April, 1784 and Kitty Garthwaite, a domestic servant girl from Gillamoor, was meeting her lover, Herbert Longster at Lowna in Farndale, close to the farm where she was employed and which was Herbert’s father’s farm. It seems Kitty was pregnant and previously, when first told, Herbert had refused to accept responsibility. Herbert’s father wasn’t too happy also and had told Kitty to leave. Herbert must been repentant for he had sent a letter to Kitty to arrange this meeting.
The present bridge at Lowna was built in 1825. Before that the river had to be forded. On that April afternoon the River Dove was in flood. A severe storm had turned the river into a torrent. Kitty had to cross the river to get to the meeting place. Kitty was seen on the west bank of the river, frantic that she would not get to the precise meeting place on the east bank. Herbert meantime was reported to be seen in Hutton-le-Hole riding south towards Kirbymoorside.
The next morning Kitty’s naked body was discovered in a pool in the River Dove. Herbert’s riderless horse made its way back to his father’s farm and soon Herbert was also discovered drowned in the river; with a wedding ring in his pocket.
It was generally thought that both Kitty and Herbert had committed suicide. Kitty for having been abandoned and Herbert full of remorse on discovering Kitty’s body. The couple were therefore not buried in the churchyard but by the roadside as was the custom at the time for suicides.
Three weeks later Kitty’s naked apparition first appeared, seen by local children. Over the next twenty years, sixteen men drowned in the River Dove at Lowna.
A sark is a local word for a rough working class dress or chemise hence the naked apparition became known by the name of “Sarkless Kitty”.
The sightings and drownings are said to have ceased only when the bodies were exhumed, in great secrecy, and buried in the Quaker burial ground on Lowna.
There are many variations to this story. Even the name of Kitty’s lover is not consistent. The photo was taken looking downstream from Lowna Bridge perhaps the very spot where Kitty met her death.