Friday, July 01, 2005

Adventures in Yorkshire Pt. 2

The boys and I each did something we wanted yesterday -- they extensively prowled the sunny streets of Barnsley in search of sweet things to eat and things that made noise -- and I got lost in the moors. 
 
We did manage to discover an old lane in town (narrow cobbled pavement bordered by quaint shops, nicely claustrophobic) and I introduced them to "The Pinfold," where (as explained by a book of poetry I bought about the town's historical spots) stray critters from the market were rounded up -- rather like the dog pound), and we visited Cook's Gallery, which featured both contemporary art (such a pair of glasses and glasses-case labeled "The Artist's Glasses," complete with long and unbelievable justification, and a pair of dental retainers mounted to the wall like butterflies, complete with extracted molars for bodies -- which Bentley enjoyed, being the proud wearer of such a device) and a back room containing 18th/19th century works by artists I'd never heard of, with the exception of a Henry Moore drawing.
 
Then, rather famished, we got what might loosely be termed lunch at an off-license shop before I allowed the boys to vegetate at the house while I continued on my way to the legendary Mam Tor ("shivering peak" -- so-named because it is in a continual state of landslide). This involved wending my way across several miles of woodland, past reservoirs, until reaching the attractive town of Castleton, named for Peveril Castle, a ruined 12th century stone structure overlooking the town. It was overrun by schoolchildren and by blackfaced sheep whose redolent droppings festooned the well-chewed grass. Below the castle was an enormous cave, nestled between two sheer tree-draped cliffs populated by a circling bevy of rooks whose mewls echoed off the limestone walls.  I opted not to take a tour of the cave, which is billed as "The Devil's Arse."
 
Rain began to set in over the peaks at this point so I headed back to try to locate the metroplis of Wigtwizzle.  No, that is not a typo.  It was clearly marked on the map but as a twisted and turned up and down the one-lane tracks across the moors, no such place appeared, unless it was the name of one of the small farms sprinkled among the hills.  Aside from traversing these "roads" for about an hour I also had missed one crucial turn and gotten stuck in traffic for about an hour (!) heading into Sheffield. I felt like sausage meat might, being forced into its skin, but I finally was able to extricate myself.
 
After the crushing Wigtwizzle defeat I continued meandering in the general direction of Barnsley, stopping briefly at Bolsterstone, a refreshingly civilized, though very small, farming village atop a hill, where I got out to stretch my legs in the old cemetery with its forest of wafer-like moss-covered headstones. (I parked beside the town stocks. I kid you not.)  I was chagrined to discover an actual funeral just dispersing, so I made myself scarce among the dead until the mourners had left.
 
I careered downhill to the steel-town of Stocksbridge, which was quite large and butt-ugly, at least what I saw of it, an assessment I rarely make about English towns, being an incurable romantic even about industrial sites. But there you have it. And I returned to home base around 6, two hours later than estimated.  After dinner I took my favorite walk across the park, up the stonewalled lane, down through a fallow field (drenched in vermilion light from the 9:30 sunset), looping back up the road past horses and cows to the house.
 
And so to bed.

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