Shirl was baking pies and cakes last weekend and I was ‘getting on her wick’ – sticking my fingers in places where they weren’t wanted. I was quite happy to stay and ‘help’ her but after several minutes she had had enough and I was told to ‘go away’ and leave her alone.
I am always up for a walk, but I didn’t want to go too far as the damaged tendon in my leg hasn’t healed properly and I can only manage a few short miles just now.
For the past few months I had been constantly on the moors and I thought I would have a change. Seeing Richard 111 is currently being reburied, I thought I would keep with the theme and find a castle. Not too hard when you live in England – Google says there are between 600 and 700 castles here and I know of one a couple of miles away which I hadn’t visited.
John O’ Gaunts Castle is situated on top of a small hill near some farm buildings. It is easy to get to and involves a nice country walk along the side of a small reservoir – Beaver Dam.
Little now remains of the castle except some old ruins – but in the 14th Century it was a medieval hunting lodge, used when the King was hunting boar or deer in the nearby forest. The first reference to the lodge was in 1333 when substantial repairs were carried out to what was an already established building – but it is thought the castle originally dates from the 12th century. It boasted a moat with drawbridge, Chapel, a tower and a Queens Chamber. Edward 111 gave the castle to his son John O’ Gaunt in 1372.
So on a nice bright but slightly cloudy day I parked the car on Penny Pot Lane and headed off down a green track towards the reservoir – stopping for a few minutes at an old abandoned farmhouse overlooking Beaver Dam. I was busy taking photographs when a fellow walker came up to me and asked if I was going to the castle. I said I was, and he said that the farm on which the castle stood had changed hands and the new owners where nasty people who wouldn’t let you anywhere near the castle. “They’ll Set The Dogs on Ya!” he said.
Taking absolutely no notice of him, I eventually made my way to the farm buildings where I spied a young man sitting astride a tractor. I asked if it was possible to visit the castle and he said “Of course – just climb over the gate – no problem at all”.
So I had a walk round the ruins – they aren’t very big, but they are quite impressive nonetheless, and you can easily make out the moat and possibly the Queens Chamber and other bits and pieces. There is also a nice sign up explaining all about the castle.
Funnily enough, on my way back I met the chap who suggested I stay away from the castle. I told him I took his advice and didn’t go – I didn’t want to meet any ‘Nutters’ I said 😉