Stocks on the village green at Bainbridge.
We have just been out for a jaunt on a cold, hazy, frosty Sunday afternoon. The farmer deserves a medal for ferrying me round various places gathering enough photographs for an entire week of blogs!
I thought readers of my blog might like to see our local lake. There are very few natural lakes of any size in The Yorkshire Dales. Semerwater is three miles round and about forty five feet deep in the middle. It was formed by glacial erosion. The last glacier to recede left behind The Carlow Stone, which is in the forefront of my picture. Legend has it that the devil lobbed it there and that the Druids used it as an altar for human sacrifice!!
It is a hidden lake and anyone driving on the main road through the dale would completely miss it. It lies three miles to the South of the village of Bainbridge, down a quiet, narrow lane. As you go over the hill the lake comes into view in the bottom of the valley - Raydale. You could be forgiven for thinking you are miles from anywhere. There are a few farms dotted about but other than that the hilly landscape is empty.
Roughly along its edge, but standing well back and hidden from view, there are three villages - Marsett, Burtersett and Countersett. I shall write about them another day.
It seems that the lake was most probably the site of an Iron Age lake village built on piles out from the shore. The destruction of this village has given rise to a lot of folklore surrounding Semerwater. One story is that an angel came down to earth and decided to test the charity of men and went to the village asking for sustenance. Everyone refused him and slammed the door in his face until he got to the cottage which housed the poorest, most destitute family in the village. They invited him in to share what little they had. As a result this verse arose
Semerwater rise, Semerwater sink
And swallow all save this lile house
That gave me meat and drink. (lile=little, this is a word still used round here.)
On Summer evenings the more susceptible swear that they hear church bells ringing from the church under the water!
The overflow from Semerwater becomes the River Bain, at two and a half miles long one of the shortest rivers in England. It flows through the village of Bainbridge, where there are still medieval stocks on the village green (my other photograph), where local miscreants were pelted with vegetables and worse in the Middle Ages. There it flows into the River Ure.
Today we had the lake almost to ourselves as it lay serene and half-frozen in the winter sun.
In Summer time it is a different story.