Archive | Yorkshire Sport and Pastimes

Games and players, pastimes and hobbies

Off to Wetherby Races

Boroughbridge 031

If you are thinking of a drink on the way to or from the races, jump too it. Bear in mind that you need to be well shod at the Three Horseshoes on the Horsefair at Boroughbridge (below). The Wetherby Steeplechase was in the bar at the Grantham Arms (the painting not he race itself).

Boroughbridge 011

Ure river of choice must have been bridged on Ermine Street at a place conveniently called Boroughbridge. The Great North Road was a better name than the A1 but the A1(M) is a traffic jam waiting to happen (or is that the name of my horse at Wetherby?) Continue Reading →


Captain England Play for Yorkshire










Lord Hawke,  7th Baron Hawke of Towton played for Yorkshire from 1881 to 1911. He captained England 4 times winning all of those matches.

Stanley Jackson 1905 won his only test series against Australia and retired – some non Yorkshire captains should have retired as quickly. Stanley toped both the batting and bowling averages in his test series.

Norman Yardley captained Yorkshire from 1948 to 1955. He captained England 14 times winning 4 tests which under rates his innate ability.

Brian Close won 6 of his 7 tests drawing the other- obviously he had to be fired in 1967. Those sort of results are just not cricket! Local hero of our betting shop Brian sadly was stumped for the last time in September 2015











Len Hutton won the ashes twice as the first professional to captain England and MCC. Sir Len had a career average of 56.66.

Geoffrey Boycott has never been a favorite of the cricket establishment as evidenced  by the limited number of only 4 test matches  as captain and those when Mike Brearley was injured.

Ray Illingworth won the ashes in 1970/71 and started his captaincy with a run of 13 undefeated tests.  As Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1960 in he was dumped as Test captain! First class records 24134 runs and 2072 wickets Ray is comming up to age 85

Michael Vaughan captained England a record  51 Tests winning 26  and losing 11.He retired in 2008 after 5 years as captain. He was less successful in One Day matches but again that’s not cricket.

Joe Root is the latest in our illustrious line of Yorkshire cricketers who have captained England at home and MCC away. He takes the best wishes of all supporters forward through 2017 and onward until he is usurped by the next Yorkshire captain.


photo Source: CricketArchive, from an idea by Scyld Berry Daily Telegraph


Dickie Bird of Barnsley

Harold 'Dickie' Bird and Simon 'The Analyst' Hughes

Harold Dennis (Dickie) Bird, was born at Church Lane Barnsley 19 April 1933. (Simon Hughes in the photo wasn’t born in Barnsley) so no ball him
In the 2012 New Years Honours list Dickie was  awarded the OBE.
The award could so easily have been the OBU or Old Blind Umpire but well done Dickie. Other sporting awards for Yorkshire folk go to Jamie Peacock from Leeds Rhinos and Taekwondo champion Sarah Stevenson from Doncaster.


Pre Umpiring

  • Dickie has a damaged knee and couldn’t play his first choice sport of football.
    He started cricket in the nets at Barnsley Cricket Club.
    Two team mates at that time were Michael Parkinson and Geoff Boycott.
    In his autobiography Dickie tells of the time when Boycott refused to open the batting with Dickie preferring to bat no3. Dickie and Eddie Legard then proceeded to score 182 to win the game before a frustrated Boycott  could get in to bat.
    Barnsley also fostered other great cricketers including Martyn Moxon, Darren Gough and Arnie Sidebottom.
    Dickie played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club 1958-64 in the same side as Fred Trueman, Bob Appleyard and Johnny Wardle.
    After retiring from county cricket he coached and played league cricket before becoming an umpire.

Umpiring Era

  • Dickies first county game was in 1970 and his first Test match was  England v New Zealand at Headingley in 1973.
    One negative memory of his umpiring days was Dickie’s reputation for stopping play for weather.
    After a pitch invasion when the West Indies won the world cup Dickie lost his white hat. A year later as passenger on a London bus he noticed the conductor was wearing a hat similar to the one he lost and asked the conductor where he obtained it from.
    “Man, haven’t you heard of Mr Dickie Bird,” he replied. “This is one of his hats. I took it off his head at the World Cup final… we all ran onto the field and I won the race.” Apocryphal or not it is one of Dickie’s favourite after dinner stories.
    Affectionately remembered for his sense of humour and on field idiosyncrasies Dickie retired from umpiring in 1996 at the age of 63.

Since Umpiring

  • Dickie wrote his humerous autobiography simply titled My Autobiography that has sold more than a million copies.(and many of these several times over via charity book shops)
    The Dickie Bird Foundation was set up with “The vision of the Foundation is to assist young people under 18 years of age to participate, to the best of their ability, in the sport of their choice irrespective of their social circumstances, culture or ethnicity and to ensure that, in doing so, they improve their chances both inside and outside sport”
    Dickie has more honorary degrees from Yorkshire Universities than he has A levels.
    Harold Dennis (Dickie) Bird MBE 1986. As a Barnsley lad he could have been nicknamed the Bird Bard of Barnsley

Umpiring Career 1970-1998 from Dickie’s own web site

1970 Stood in his first county game

1973 Stood in his first Test Match. England V New Zealand July 5-10 at Headingley

1973 Stood in his first ODI England V New Zealand July 20th Manchester

1995 Stood in his last ODI England V West Indies May 26th The Oval

1996 Stood in his last Test Match England V India May 26th Lords

1998 Stood in his last County Match Yorkshire V Warwichshire

2007 Dickie came out of retirement in January 2007 to umpire the XXXX Gold Beach Cricket Tri-Nations series involving cricket legends from England, the West Indies, and Australia, which took place at Scarborough beach in Perth, Australia .



The Best of Dickie Bird on audio CD from Amazon

Wisden on Yorkshire
Photo on creative commons license by Badger Swan on flickr
Fiery Fred Trueman Fantastic Raconteur


Take a Turkish Bath to Unwind your Mind

Turkish Baths

Pamper yourself at the Turkish Baths in Harrogate. In the 21st century it is seen as a luxury way of relaxing but it was not always so. At one time it was a treatment and possible cure for a range of diseases.

In 1596 William Slingsby discovered a chalybeate spring in Yorkshire and that became a forerunner to Harrogate’s prominence as a Spa town. He built an enclosed well at what became known as the first resort in England for drinking medicinal waters.

The Victorians built the current Turkish bath which is still operating from the entrance on Parliament Street. the Moorish design includes elaborate Islamic images, arches and screens.


As the Bath’s promotion says it is a place to ‘unwind your mind and invigorate your body’. A minimum 90 minutes is recommended and towels are provided. Children under 16 are not permitted because you go for relaxation and kids can prevent you doing that.

Areas have Roman names rather than Turkish ones; Tepidarium is the Warm Room, Calidarium the Hot Room and Laconium is the hottest Room to purify and detoxify the body by opening the pores and stimulating the circulation. Then you can take the plunge in guess what the Plunge Pool.

Bath Time

Turkish Baths by UK Pictures CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Harrogate by kpc CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Bath Time by Superlekker CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 ‘Victorian Turkish Baths in Harrogate. Where staring at the ceiling is utterly entertaining, not to mention to very very hot rooms and nice steam to make you so clean… Believe me, two hours and a half in there just fly by.’



World Coal Carrying Championship at Gawthorpe Again

Every year the World Coal Carrying Championship is held in Yorkshire on Easter Monday. At Easter in Gawthorpe grown men l run the mile from The Beehive public house to the Royal Oak, known locally as t’Barracks , carrying a hundred weight sack of coal.  The 54th World Coal Carrying Championship is scheduled for Easter Monday 2017. Bookings

coal mens race 2

According to the organisers this is how the World Championship came about ‘Reggie Sedgewick and one Amos Clapham, a local coal merchant and current president of the Maypole Committee were enjoying some well-earned liquid refreshment whilst stood at the bar lost in their own thoughts. When in bursts one Lewis Hartley in a somewhat exuberant mood. On seeing the other two he said to Reggie, ” Ba gum lad tha’ looks buggered !” slapping Reggie heartily on the back. Whether because of the force of the blow or because of the words that accompanied it, Reggie was just a little put out.‘’ Ah’m as fit as thee’’ he told Lewis, ‘’an’ if tha’ dun’t believe me gerra a bagga coil on thi back an ‘ah’ll get one on mine an ‘ah’ll race thee to t’ top o’ t’ wood !’’ ( Coil, let me explain is Yorkshire speak for coal ). While Lewis digested the implications of this challenge a Mr. Fred Hirst, Secretary of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee ( and not a man to let a good idea go to waste) raised a cautioning hand. ” ‘Owd on a minute,’’ said Fred and there was something in his voice that made them all listen. ‘Aven’t we been looking fer some’at to do on Easter Monday? If we’re gonna ‘ave a race let’s ‘ave it then. Let’s ‘ave a coil race from Barracks t’ Maypole.’

2009 was the 46th World Coal Carrying Championship and the BBC claim these facts about world champions
1. Window cleaners, builders and farmers are the most successful at winning the title
2. The best weight for an entrant to be is 10st 7lb
3. Competitors need to have strong legs and lungs

The sponsors are H.B.Clark independent brewers of Wakefield so a fourth fact  would be an appetite for beer.
coal female winner

Gawthorpe is between Dewsbury and Osset and also has a good May Day tradition. with dancing on the FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY EVERY YEAR. Gawthorpe itself can be dated back to the Romans and is believed to be named after a Viking Chief called “Gorky “. At the lower end of the village is an earth mound known as Fairy Hill. This is thought to be a Viking burial mound.

It is confirmed that a coal mine was established at Gawthorpe as long ago as 1366 during the reign of Edward III

Maypole dancing itself dates back as far as Richard II in England, and during the reign of Henry VIII reached most of the rural villages including Gawthorpe. Mayday itself became a public holiday until Oliver Cromwell (1649 – 1660) banned May Merrymaking and all such festivities. These were fortunately re-established by Charles II.

Photo credits
coal mens race 2 by SFB579 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
coal female winner by SFB579 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Fly Fishing for Yorkshire Anglers

Open mouthed you may catch more than the odd fly on the river Aire but Yorkshire anglers know far better rivers to enjoy their sport of fly fishing.

Spring fly fishing

Fly Fishing

Yorkshire Anglers is a commercial club with 35 acres of water in two reservoirs and over a mile of the river Wharfe. 15 miles from Leeds this intimate private fishery has brown trout and rainbow trout weighing 1.25 lbs and occasionally much more. ‘The waters leased by Yorkshire Anglers are hidden gems, tucked away in the midst of typically beautiful Yorkshire scenery and are a refreshing tonic to the numerous ‘muddy puddles’ masquerading as fly fishing lakes. The two reservoirs and a stretch of the River Wharfe provide ample scope for the discerning fly-fisher to test his skills against fish which very quickly wise up and start feeding naturally.’

Fly fishing lessons are on offer  with Steve Rhodes and the Yorkshire based  Go Fly Fishing . Yorkshire has some of the most famous fly fishing locations in the UK with the equally  limestone Rivers Wharfe, Ure and Aire in the Yorkshire Dales where Grayling and Trout are available. From fly tying to lessons on technique would make an interesting day out or a fine present.


Angling Resourse and Associations

  • The Grayling Society promotes awareness, conservation and angling for grayling worldwide.
  • The Wild Trout Trust – is dedicated to the conservation of wild trout in Britain through the protection of their habitats.
  • The Anglers Conservation Association – (ACA) fighting against polluters to clean up our streams, rivers and lakes.
  • Salmon & Trout Association Western Yorkshire branch runs courses at Bolton Abbey and Grassington and there are branches for South Yorkshire, North and East and  Swale,  Ure & Nidd,
  • Nidderdale Angling Club has waters on the river and at Scarr House reservoir
  • Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham is a council run water which offers fly fishing only for the Rainbows and Brown Trout that run to 5lb. The water is restocked on a regular basis. Tickets are purchased from the vending machines and offer plenty of alternatives including 7 day permits and also concessions. Plenty of parking and toilets including disabled ones.
  • Helwith Bridge Fly Fishery is located in the Yorkshire Dales close to the villages of Ingleton and Settle, just off the A65.
  • Malham Tarn fly fishing courses include residential weekends.

Let us know your favourite fishing spot or resource.

Book Cover
Flyfishing for Coarse Fish by Dominic Garnett
Pike, Rudd, Carp, Roach, Perch, Barbel, Chub, Zander, Dace, Tench and Bream are all covered in some detail in this new authoritative book.

Fly Fishing on the Big Hole River, MT
Photo Credit
Angler_03 by getty CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Fly Fishing on the Big Hole River, MT by CircumerroStock CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Spring fly fishing by Beneath_B1ue_Skies CC BY 2.0
humpy_trout_fly_selection12_assorted_humpy_flies CC BY 2.0



Langsett, Midhope Moor and Reservoir

History For Walkers, Birdwatchers and Cyclists

Previously known as Penisale, Langsett first appears in a charter of 1252 which tells of an agreement, whereby Walter de Houdham granted his whole manor at ‘Langside’ to Elias de Midhope now an area named Upper Midhope. It held a weekly market on a Tuesday until this was transferred to near-by Penistone.
Langsett reservoir was built between 1889 and 1905. It is around a mile long and supplies water to Sheffield and Barnsley.

Langsett Reservoir

Bird Watching Langsett Reservoir and Moor

The habitat like many Pennine reservoirs is surrounded by conifer plantations. There is extensive open heather moorland to the southwest which can be seen from the Low Moor view point.
For timing the autumn is good for Red Grouse and birds of prey. Spring and summer show most of the breeding species.
Species include a large range of ducks, Teals, Mallards and Tufted Ducks. Owls and wood peckers can often be seen and the fringes of the fields and moors have breeding meadow Pipits, Ouzels and occasional Twites.
Access from the village via a minor road sign posted Strines & Derwent valley which passes over the reservoir dam where you can watch the reservoir birds. Then move on through Upper Midhope, turn sharp right and park near a sign Privilege Footpath for Low Moor and views of the moors and paths through the woods.

Moorland Grouse

The Local Inn and Cafe

The yearly visit from Thurlston Brass Band to the Waggon and Horses takes place in June – (24th June 2012 from 12 until 5.)
Langsett independent film festival has been bringing people together for over 17 years to show and enjoy films at the inn.
The Waggon and Horses Inn is the watering hole of choice for walkers, birdwatchers, cyclists and local beer drinkers.
Langsett cafe has won cyclist cafe of the year chosen by local CTC members. ‘It serves good food at a very reasonable price and is very cyclist friendly.’


I like the vision of created by the Guardian ‘Gazing across the broad acres of Langsett Moor and the Thurlstone Moors towards the formerly “forbidden” Snailsden Moor at the head of the Holme Valley I was reminded of the words of Halliwell Sutcliffe (1870-1932). Though perhaps remembered best as a creator of historical romances, this son of the West Riding was a pioneer thinker on open access to the high country, for so long reserved exclusively for grouse shooting. He highlighted in A Benedick in Arcady the rules to be followed, tongue-in-cheek, by the “Complete Trespasser”. read the full article from a Country diary.

Photo and Other Credits
Langsett Reservoir by sheffieldhammer CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Moorland Grouse by timdifford ‘Photographs taken on a family stroll around Langsett Reservoir’ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
IMG_0835 by CC BY-SA 2.0 A ‘look at The Haunted House on a Hill overlooking Penistone and Holmfirth then onto Langsett Bank Woods Moor, and reservoir Sheffield’

Yorkshires top Twelve Birdwatching Sites

Walk 1 around the reservoir and history
Yorkshire Water Langsett, Midhope Moor and Reservoir Walking.
Share my Routes


Visit Top Ten Gardens in Yorkshire

As the winter months loom larger I have picked out some Yorkshire gardens that have all year round interest for visitors. Then follows a review of the floral and special gardens you can plan to visit from Spring. This selection have free entry for members of the Royal Horticultural Society but have varied charges for the public.

Autumn & Winter Gardens

Thorp Perrow Arboretum and woodland garden has dramatic foliage through autumn and thousands of naturalised daffodils to see in spring. The old and venerable trees look majestic at any time and within the 100 acres there are 66 ‘Champion Trees’, that is the largest of their kind in Britain. Additionally there are 5 National Collections of Walnut, Limes, Ash, Cotinus and Laburnum. The birds of Prey and Mammal centre provides extra interest particularly when the fly the Falcons.
Ripley Castle Gardens are open until 4.30pm all year but the woods and views are the main winter features. The walled gardens contain amongst other items a national collection of Hyacinth so the scent is something to look forward too in May.
Wentworth Castle Gardens near Barnsley are shown in the photograph above. A deal of lottery and other funding has been spent on this garden in recent years and the pleached trees and stumpery are something to behold. A series of gothic follies and other structures enhance the viewing but for the fit a walk in the adjacent parkland is a bonus. If there was a speciality it is the acid loving collections of Rhododendrons, Camellias and Magnolias.
Ripley Castle Gardens are open all year except Christmas day.

Year Round Garden Visits

Harewood House gardens close at the end of October so it may have to be on the list to visit next year. It will open again in February. It will be interesting to see how the new Himalayan garden performs next spring. I expect to see plenty of Primulas as well as the old favourites. If it rains you can always visit the house or look at the various garden sculptures from the tea rooms.
A boutique garden that opens for the old gardeners charity Perennialis York Gate Garden in Adel. Laid out as 14 separate gardens in less than an acre it is bound to give you some inspiration and ideas for your own garden. Only open Thursday and Sunday afternoons it is well worth making the journey to see.
Parcevall Hall Gardens are open to the public from April to October and have 25 acres of formal and woodland garden. Some of the views of Wharfedale are spectacular but for me the prize area are the Rockery and Herbaceous beds.

In February it is a quiet time to visit these gardens but as spring starts to break out it can be a rewarding activity.

If this inspires you to renovate parts of your own garden it is still not too late to plant some Tulips for flowering in Spring 2010 from Thompson & Morgan. Gold and purple tulips in flower at RHS Harlow Carr Gardens (open all year).

Other Yorkshire Gardens to Visit

Scampston Hall walled gardens are worth a visit at Malton North Yorkshire
Millgate House in Richmond is only open in winter by appointment.
Thorp Perrow is open all year except for special event days.
Burnby Hall Gardens have great water lilies in summer
Burton Agnes Gardens have good but complex opening arrangements. Before traveling to far check out your timings.
Wentworth Castle garden is open all year.
Brodsworth Hall gardens are open all year except over Christmas.

Brodsworth Hall

To add plants to your own garden consider


Trig Points Around the Ridings

trig sign

Trigpoints are the common name for “triangulation pillars” the UK mapping and triangulation system before GPS and Google Earth. There is a great Trigpoint website with map references pictures and search facilities. ‘These are concrete pillars, about 4’ tall, which were used by the Ordnance Survey in order to determine the exact shape of the country. They are generally located on the highest bit of ground in the area, so that there is a direct line of sight from one to the next. By sitting a theodolite (an accurate compass built into a telescope) on the top of the pillar, accurate bearings to nearby trigpoints could be taken. This process is called “triangulation”.

A major project to map out the shape of Great Britain began in 1936. The network of triangulation pillars, with accurately known positions, led to the excellent OS maps which we enjoy today. The coordinate system used on these maps is known as the “National Grid”, and it is essential that you are familiar with this system if you are to get the most of OS maps, or this website. ‘

Continue Reading →


Make Your Own Homemade Soap

Making homemade soap is a growing craft or hobby business that you can easily do from home. Have fun making your own soap at home and sell it at craft fairs, give it away as presents or use your own soap to replace your current brand.
Your Yorkshire grannie could tell you how to make soap from caustic soda and various fats but the method here is so simple that your work and time can be saved and your life made easy.

Soap Wrapping!

Easy Melt and Pour Method for Soap Craft

Can you bake? Then you can make your own soap!
The base for your homemade soap will be made from Melt and Pour soap. To this you can add essential oils and colourants (we said it would be easy).
Step by Step Guide
1. Lightly grease a mould such as a margarine carton.
2. Melt small pieces of the soap base over gentle heat. Keep at 50-60 degrees centigrade no higher. Use a bowl inside another like a bain-marie and keep a lid on to keep the moisture in. No need to stir.
3. When the soap is fully melted and a liquid mix in any colourant a little at a time. Then add your choice of essential oils. (10 ml of oils to 1 kg of soap base). Stir gently trying to avoid bubbles.
4. Gently pour the soap into the mould and leave to set for several hours or overnight. Do not freeze as this damages the texture.
5. When set remove from the mould, slice off any damage with a sharp knife or veg peeler and wipe with a damp cloth.
6. Cut into pieces, store in cling film and wrap.

Peace soap

Professional Touches for Your Soap Craft

Presentation can be very important. Consider how you will wrap or display your soap so it looks ‘the business’ even though you know it is homemade.
You may have chosen to use several smaller moulds rather that the large margarine tub that needs cutting. Slicing chunks is easier with a cheese cutter.
You can pattern the top of the soap as it sets with a stamp or by float herbs.
If there are bubbles on the surface of the soap as you pour the warm liquid into the mould you can ‘spritz’ the surface with alcohol to get a smooth finish.

For more help and recipes there are several books on the craft of homemade soap.
Book Cover
How to Make Melt & Pour Soap Base from Scratch edited by Mrs Kayla Fioravanti, Lesley Anne Craig and Dana Brown

Yorkshire Soap Suppliers

Supplies from craft shops or Amazon who also sell a ‘Soap Base Colour Kit. Five Water based Colours for Melt & Pour Soaps’

every one of products, is proudly handmade from scratch, by ourselves, to our own carefully developed recipes. We believe the best produce is created from natural, ethically sourced ingredients. That’s why we use only the finest, natural plant oils and butters to create our skin loving soaps, bath and skincare products. We don’t believe in using unnecessary preservatives, synthetic colourants or harsh synthetic foaming agents such as SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate).

Each soap is handmade with love and includes lots of natural ingredients that will leave your skin feeling replenished and soft.

Gorgeous natural soap and bath products, handmade in the Yorkshire Dales

Photo Credits
Soap Wrapping! by savor_soaps CC BY-NC 2.0
“Peace soap by burgundavia CC BY-SA 2.0


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