We set off early so as to have plenty of time to explore Richmond and its castle. One of the loveliest woods that we encountered was Steps Wood just outside of the village of Marrick. The wood’s name is a reference to The Nuns’ Steps, a 375 step path built by nuns and leading to a 12th century Benedictine abbey at the foot of the town. These steps wind through a fragrant field of wild garlic.
From Marrick our path took us over rolling pastureland and eventually into Whitecliffe Wood near Richmond. Approaching this village, we walked for a while on an old road and I found myself imagining knights of a bygone era riding galloping horses in and out of Richmond Castle on the very same road.
The woods parted and we had our first view of Richmond, a large market town built around its castle.
Richmond was founded by Alan Rufus who fought at the Battle of Hastings and who was subsequently awarded a land grant by William the Conqueror. The construction of the castle began in 1071 and was completed in 1086. During the 17th- and 18th-centuries, the lead and wool industries thrived and the town prospered. At the same time, Georgian cabinet makers in Richmond also began to make their mark on the furniture business.
During the 13th and 14th centuries and due a political marriage between the young daughter of the owner and the fourth son of Henry II, the town and castle became part of a joint French and British estate, which required the owners to profess allegiance to both the French and the British governments – a difficult position when these two countries were at war, as they often were. Eventually, the owners dropped the allegiance to France and surrendered the estate to the Crown. By the late 14th-century Richmond Castle was in partial ruins and it was listed as derelict on a survey in 1538. Some repairs were made over the centuries and due to the works of well-known artists, the castle eventually became a romantic ruin attracting tourists. In the late 19th-century, the military leased the property. Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, had a brief stint here as a commander. During WWI, the castle became a prison for conscientious objectors, who left inscriptions on the walls still there today. This castle and town have a very interesting history which I have only touched upon here.
Walking the remaining ramparts and castle’s keep allowed for great views of Richmond and its surroundings.
There is plenty to keep a resident or visitor busy in town with museums, a trekking shop, a Georgian theater, the market square and restaurants. We found a Coast to Coast sign directing us in the right direction.
Our B&B, The Old Brewery, was located next to the River Swale and its beautiful Richmond Waterfalls.