Sunday, 4 July 2010


Sorry to have so rubbish about keeping this up to date recently. My companion blog about my moth trap has kept me busy, and there's always a little light journalism for the Guardian to get done. But I have to post today, after one of the most extraordinary experiences in my Northern reporting life: Penny and I spent the day at Castle Carr and saw its amazing fountain come to life.

I'm blogging about this on my True North blogspot because it is a wonderful example of the 'green and the grey' Northern countryside which forms one of the chapters in the book. The ruined Victorian hunting 'lodge' (actually a 17-bedroom castle which makes the Devonshires' place at Bolton Abbey look like a cottage) is at the head of a lovely, lovely valley which is also full of monuments to Calderdale's great industrial past. Some bring tears to your eyes, such as the gravestones of 'orphan child workers' at Wainstalls mill (now converted into flats), but others like Castle Carr have you jumping up and down with glee. The estate belongs to a characterful farmer and retired magistrate called Frank Schofield, a piratical figure with an eye patch and long white hair, who opens it every now and then for good causes.

The fountain is its glory. Even at Chatsworth, I have not seen a plume to match this - a vast column of peaty spray thrust upwards by simple gravity descent from a reservoir on the moors high above. On the way home with our friends Brian and Elaine Craven, to whom unlimited thanks for inviting us along, we went through little paradises such as Jowlers (see pic above) and Booth. I could die of happiness but won't. Here are some more pics...

The ruined castle from across the valley:

And here it is close-up (a previous owner seems to have had ambitions to use it as a quarry, but what's left is in good hands now):

Here's the ground-plan when it was sold in 1874 after the poor guy who built it, Captain Joseph Priestley Edwards of Fixby Hall, near the M62 at Ainley Top, died in a train crash and his family weren't interested in keeping it on. Thanks to the very nice gentleman who lives nearby and brought these plans along to the Cat-i-th-Well pub where we ended the walk with Timothy Taylor's and a hog roast:

Now, this is what the fuss is all about. Looks quiet, doesn't it?

But what's this?

And this?

and THIS?

No wonder that brollies sprouted like mushrooms....

Because here's the fountain at its glorious peak (and it lasted for 15 minutes, until the moor-top reservoir was almost drained):

I'll find out when it's next going to be open and will post here, to let you know and spread the word. Oh, and further to prove my True North points, P and I and the Cravens saw a notice at a farm on the way back saying Eggs For Sale. A lad appeared and we asked to buy half-a-dozen. "We've only quails' eggs left," he said, apologetically. New North - True North - or what?