Take the old moor road out of Otley and follow it’s twists and turns for a mile or two. Just when it starts to hit the edge of the moor, follow the single track road down to the right and then walk through old rutted farm tracks and scented meadows, timeless with age.
Today we are headed to an old ruined hunting lodge, one of three, deep in the mysterious and beautiful Washburn valley. Built in the 17th century for Sir Mauger Vavasour, the local landowner (interestingly I once worked for his descendant Ian at Weston Manor) – it is said to have been shelled by Cromwell’s army during the Civil war.
A mysterious ‘Dog Court’ was once held here, and it is supposed to contain a secret dungeon from which emanates strange sounds and screams at certain times of the night, and a big black talking dog with saucer eyes guards the gold which is buried under the building.
I first ventured here when I was in my late teens. I came with the beautiful Diane, who I would later marry, and we would bring wine and a guitar and spend hazy summer days getting drunk on Mateus Rose, and each other. We had the whole world to ourselves and never saw another soul all summer.
Tragically Diane passed away, and this is the first time I have been back here for nearly 40 years. The ruin looks the same as I remember it, although now there is some scaffold on the top to hold it in place. And a red kite hovered overhead looking for it’s supper.
I didn’t stay long – just walked briefly around the ruin, took some photographs and then went home.