Wednesday 8 December 2021

Rathmell -1 Dec 2021 Walk for the Climate - Rathmell History

It's the first day of the month: = Walk for the Climate Day

We use prayers from "Pray and Fast for the Climate" website - It is just a month since COP26.

We -   a group from Churches Together in Settle and District, and from Craven Conservation Group.


  • Explore
  • Learn new things about nature and how our world works
  • Get exercise, fresh air and friendship 
  • Pick litter
  • Listen
  • Become more aware

OK - today?

The walk today is great for 

Learning about Rathmell's varied Christian and Village Heritage - up to the present day

Following an old hedged bridleway - with singing nuthatch, long-tailed tits and ferns

Seeing goats and alpacas

Crossing a bridge into the conifer forest - over a foaming white torrent 

Distant views of Long Preston Deeps, Penyghent and Ingleborough

A welcome cup of coffee at the village Reading Room - kept open and warm and with laptop electricity  for villagers who are now into the fourth day with no electricity after storm Arwen on Friday

Meeting a Rathmell resident enthusiastic about Lichens - After reading Martin Sheldrake's book!

Let's leave the village car park and set off.

1. Rathmell Academy - 

The oldest "dissenters college" in the north of England.

This is on the main road, straight opposite the village car park at the north end of the village. You can see the 17th C lintels above the windows.

Richard Frankland of Rathmell founded it in 1670. In 1662 priests had to swear allegiance to accept certain Church of England principles, and if they did not do this they could no longer be priests. They lost their jobs; they could not get a good education in established colleges. So dissenters colleges were set up. Richard Frankland ran it here for about 4 years then moved it to various places - first Natland near Kendal, later to Calton (near Airton) and elsewhere and then came back here again.

You can tell this row of cottages is old by the lintels above the window - but it is helpful that there is now a plaque on the wall on the main road.

100m south along the main road is Rathmell C of E Church

2. Rathmell C of E Church.

They are busy preparing for a Christmas Tree festival inside.

Stephen Dawson climbs over Christmas tree decoration packaging boxes to write down our visit in the visitors book - 1 Dec -remember the date!!

By the 4th Dec it is transformed

I remember Clarice Howorth (nee Garnet)'s funeral
here several year's ago. It was packed with old students from Wesley Girl's High School, Ghana (The best girl's secondary School in Ghana) where Clarice used to be Headmistress.
They had come, some by train and some 40 on a bus on a very snowy day in February 2013

Clarice Garnet is the artist who designed out Craven Conservation Group logo

Back to 1 Dec, and another 100m along the road

3. Rathmell Methodist Chapel. 

This has the church inside and a small meeting room and loo. The congregation here is now very small.  It includes John Harrison who I used to see at Age UK events at Settle St Johns. (Now stopped at St John's since COVID)


This is us outside Rathmell Chapel

After another 100m we turn right.

An ash tree that was blown down in storm Arwen.

I point to the annual rings.

The famous naturalist and scientist John Ray (1627 –  1705)  was one of the first people to write about dendrochronology - aging a tree by its rings. He was from Essex but visited Settle on two occasions when collecting plants.


Back Lane becomes a bridle way, bordered by hedges with ferns. .. And after the recent rain, puddles.

Most of the land round here is pasture land, bordered by stone walls. Not rich in wildlife. So it is delightful to walk aling here

Candle-snuff fungus on a log by the path

Back in c 1985 Clarice had arranged for Craven Conservation Group and the Yorkshire Dales Conservation Volunteers with Russ Turner and Allan Laing (I think) to open up some of Back Lane - so I am pleased to walk along it today.

We come out at Mill Glen and say Hello to one of the  alpacas 

Then we pass though a plantation bordering Rathmell Beck

This is the highest point of our journey.

The field has had its rushes cut.  Behind us you can see - starting a mile away the area covered by SD86 - My lichen survey. - including Cleatop Park Wood.

Back through the plantation

Then down the road past Rathmell Okd School

To the village hall. - to be continued..

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