Archive for the ‘accessthedales.’ Category

The Castleton Garland Festival


We spent a lovely time in Castleton during the last week in May. We stayed at the Loosehill YHA which was fabulous for meeting my needs (see blog on disabled friendly accommodation.)
On our last night we were treated to the Garland Festival. It is years since. I have seen. Maypole dancing. The atmosphere was great, with the local band leading the procession.
I wanted to find out more about this ancient tradition.

Oak Apple Day is a special day in the Castleton calendar.

It used to be a national holiday celebrated in England every year on 29th May.

It was a commemoration of the restoration of the monarchy in Great Britain and Ireland, which occurred in May 1660. Charles II entered London, on his birthday, and was returned to the throne. It was also a custom to wear oak leaves which made reference to the occasion of the battle of Worchester in September 1651, when the future Charles ll of England escaped the Roundhead army by hiding in an oak tree.

The origins of the Castleton Festival are a little sketchy. The first reference of it was made to it in the Churchwardens’ Accounts for 1749.

it may have been for the celebration of Charles ll or a festival celebrating the Druid Winter Solstice, or a celebration of the ‘Green Man’- a figure which represents crops and all living things.

The Oak Apple Day holiday was formally abolished in 1859, however, the Garland Festival continued to be a tradition in Castleton on the 29th May each year.

Until 1897 the Garland Festival was organised by the bell ringers who toured the village with garlands and performed a Morris dance.

In 1897 the bell ringers abolished their dancing and it was taken over by the girls of the village.

It was only in 1955 that the role of the ‘lady’ was taken over by a woman!

On this day each year a huge garland of wildflowers is created by the woman, though the men make the top of the garland. It takes most of the day to make the garland and then the procession takes place early evening.

‘Garland King and his Lady’ parade around the village on horseback wearing 17th century dress. They lead a procession through the village of Castleton, stopping at each pub, where the King and his Lady and attendants are offered a drink of ale, whilst the Girls entertain the crowds with their dancing.

The King wears the Garland throughout the festival. The Garland is approximately 3 ft high and is made from a wooden frame, wound with string to which petite bunches of wild flowers and leaves are attached. A further tiny wreath, called the ‘Queen’, is made from choice garden flowers and is put on the top. The complete Garland weighs roughly 56 pounds and is ceremoniously hurled onto the shoulders of the individual playing the King for the day at the beginning of the ceremony, covering him from the waist up.

Girls dance and everyone officially welcomes in the summer, as Oak Apple Day also celebrates the pagan rite for the symbolic ending of winter.

After the Garland has been paraded though the streets the procession finishes in the village market place, where the King and His Lady ride into the church yard. The garland is hoisted up to the top of Saint Edmund’s Church tower and is placed on one of the pinnacles for several days.

Maypole dancing then takes place in the market square.

The last time I was involved in Maypole dancing was at school, and I had to sit in the middle to hold down the base of the pole because I was the heaviest kid in the class!

The King  is ready to have the garland placed over the top of him

The King is ready to have the garland placed over the top of him

The garland is in place,and the King puts his glasses on!

The garland is in place,and the King puts his glasses on!


The Terrain Hopper

There are long words. Short words. Medium-sized words.

And the thing about words is that, generally, they mean something; although I have to admit I’d be stumped to give dictionary definitions to ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘floccinoccinihilipilification.’

But I am in a quandary to find a suitable word to sum up the afternoon of Sunday June 23rd 2013. Amazing and fantastic just don’t seem to do it justice at all.

What was the cause of all this? What had me diving – not literally, you understand – for my dictionary?

Well, last week, I was taking a well-earned break from my chronic pain. When I say taking a break from it, I mean I was lying on my bed trying to distract the bastard. The pain. Not the bed.

There’s something about chronic pain that I don’t think anyone can fully understand unless they suffer from it. Politicians seem to be particularly lacking here. And Chief Executives of Primary Care Trusts. And readers of The Daily Mail.

Anyway, I was hanging upside from my trapeze. I find it eases the pain around C5. I wasn’t really. I don’t have a trapeze. I heard a voice calling me.

It was Andy.

“Will you get off your trapeze and come and look at this!” he called.

I creaked through to the living room to find Andy planted in front of BBC Look North. There was a piece about an all-terrain vehicle, The TerrainHopper, which had been spotted in Lincolnshire!

We both watched the piece open-mouthed. Andy from amazement. Me simply because it’s a really bad habit I have. I bite my toenails too.

The TerrainHopper was launched by Sam and Deborah Dantzie in 2010 and is an off road mobility product. The couple have driven their project forward with a passion and vision that led to them self-financing the opening of a manufacturing facility, patenting and launching the All-terrain mobility vehicle.

“I like the look of that,” I said.

“I thought you would,” Andy replied.

“I want one,” I continued.

“I thought you would,” said Andy.

“I’m going to get in touch with them…”

“I thought you would,” said Andy, passing me their telephone number.

After a phone call to TerrainHopper HQ and chatting with Debbie – another person I am adding to my list of Earth angels – a meeting was arranged.

The plan was for me to have a spin in the TerrainHopper, whilst Debbie filmed for a promotion video. It sounded perfect.

The weather on the actual day was… How do I put it delicately… pissing it down… but, thanks to some weather system or other piling in from somewhere to the left of where we live, it cleared up.

Debbie arrived at our home and, my immediate thought was: She’s forgotten the TerrainHopper. Well, this surprise number one. It was in the back of her car. No trailer required. Granted, it wasn’t a Mini, but it as a surprise!

Our first port of call was a nearby woods. My last expedition into woodland was in Nethy Bridge in Scotland. There was a lovely footpath that went through the middle of it. It led straight to the local pub. Andy was convinced it was a magic footpath. The problem with the wheelchair though was it simply cut out on the bumps.

I needn’t have worried with the TerrainHopper. It simply ate up the ground, which was bumpy, muddy and littered with lumberjacks and fallen trees. In fact, the only thing that stopped us getting deeper into the woods was a fallen tree and the sight of a small cottage made of gingerbread.

Next, it was the beach.

I have been to the seaside since being in a wheelchair. In fact, I enjoy a walk (I can’t say ‘wheel’… I’m just going out for a wheel…) along the front at Mablethorpe, followed by chips and steaming hot tea. We both avoid the foot long sausage.

The TerrainHopper just took the beach in its stride. I drove over the dunes, the tufted grasses and drifting sand.

The TerrainHopper caused quite a stir – as did my driving – and something of a crowd built up and then dispersed again – because of my driving.

Everyone who was around stopped to watch it in action. Every comment I heard went along the lines of “That looks über cool! Fancy a go on that! Mind the dog crap!”

From my point of view, whilst the TerrainHopper is ideal for the disabled, I felt it really has an appeal that goes beyond that.

One of the things I loved – other than its very obvious high quality capabilities – was the fact it looked so bloody cool! It felt great to be whizzing around the beach in it and not have to face the looks of people who thought they were watching the ‘stereotypical’ disabled going through their paces on a motorised scooter.

When we’d finished, I turned to Andy and said, “I want one.”

“I thought you would.”


Out on the Dunes

PRIZE NEWS: Access the Dales



Yorkshire Trike Tours – 4 reservoir tours

2 night break for 4 Sunnybeck or Bankwell Cottage

1 night stay for 2 at the King William the Fourth Guest House

Wensleydale Creamery – free museum admission for 4

Country Harvest – afternoon tea for two

Vouchers for Alexhead acupuncture clinic at York or Harrogate

Signed copy Versions of the North by Ian Park

Family ticket for the Great Yorkshire Show

Family ticket for Bradford Bulls home match

Family pass Yorkshire Air Museum

An Artist of the Dales by Keith Melling

Family Pass to Fountains Abbey

Tea and Scones for two at Raven Hall Country House Hotel

Family admission pass for any National Trust Place

Family admission pass for any National Trust Place

Theakston Brewery Tour for two adults

one adult,plus up to 4 children on the North Yorkshire Moorbus

Family pass to Jorvik Viking Centre

Voucher for two  adults to York Brewery Tour

Lunchtime meal for 4 at Utopia restaurant at Broughton Hall

River Cruise on the Ouse with York Boats

£20 voucher from the CharlesBathhurst Inn, Arkengarthdales

A family ticket to York Cinema  Reel

Voucher for a hoodie ( design your own logo) from Stadium Sports

Tombola Prizes include   donations from Yorkshire Building Society, Taylors of Harrogate and  Yorkshire Dales National Park

Country Harvest is to host a special fundraising day for Access the Dales. It is my personal pledge to dramatically improve mobility for wheelchair-bound lovers of the great outdoors.

For your chance to win a prize, and support an excellent cause, please come along on Saturday, June 8 – all are welcome.

Yorkshire Dales donate tombola prizes for accessthedales fun day

Yorkshire Dales have donated lots of gifts for the tombola.

Tombola Prizes are still needed. If you have anything to donate to for the tombola stall, please contact me at, or take them directly to the Country Harvest at Ingleton. Thank you.


My Tramper Experience

When I was given the address of a gentleman who owns a tramper and who lives quite close to us I was very excited. I was told to ring and make arrangements to go and see the tramper. I have the catalogues and I have watched the demonstration videos of the tramper, but had not yet seen one or had a go on one.

The tramper was outside the house, ready and waiting for me when we arrived. Thankfully it was a warm day. My eyes lit up when I saw it. It was evrything I imagined it would be.

I waited patiently, listening to the gentleman telling me what all the different buttons do, but really wishing  to have a sit on it. When the briefing as over, It was my time to have a go. It was so easy to onto to get on to is, as the seat swivelled round, like a lazy susy at a Chinese banquet. The seat back was high, supporting my spine, and the adjustable lumbar support was fab.

I was told to have a ‘little go’ up and down the drive. I only bumped into our car once, but as Andy would say ‘that’s what bumpers are for’. I thought that my back and forth trips on the driveway was going to be the limit of my tramper experience, so you can not start to imagine the excitement when the gentleman said I could take it out for a run around. He gave us directions for a circular walk, which was approx. 1 mile.

One mile of pure delight. I have had a dreadful few weeks of illness, and this really was my first official outing, and what a   beautiful day it was for it., The countryside, around the village was lovely.

It took no time at all to master the controls and the speed and once mastered I was off!

A tear ran down my face. I blamed the wind blowing in my eyes.

I was out in the countryside. Not on a road, or a concrete path, but a path across the fields. A path across a field  that anyone could walk on.

It was just great. I saw things that I would not have seen from the car. I noticed nature once again. Just little things that once I would have taken for granted, but today I stopped and  looked and watched, soaking up the great outdoors.

I want one of my own.

What a difference it would make.

I encourage Andy to go out walking. We live in a beautiful, unknown part of England. But I know that he feels guilty going out walking for a few hours and leaving me at home. I don’t mind. I have lots of hobbies to do and accessthedales takes up a lot of my time. But we were walking buddies, and he says it just isn’t the same, walking without me.

There is only one thing for it – I shall just have to save up and get one!

But first my energy is going into getting the tramper for the Malham Tarn.

Freedom on a tramper

Sherlock Holmes tickets For Sale

I have been donated a voucher for 2 tickets for “Sherlock Holmes” at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Any performance Monday to Friday, subject to availability. I am putting them up for auctiion, with money going to accessthedales, for the tramper.

Closing date for the tickets will be Friday 26th April.