North Yorkshire town standing the test of time

PIC: Simon Hulme
PIC: Simon Hulme
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A Train passes over the elegant stone viaduct at Knaresborough and is reflected in the shimmering waters of the River Nidd on a lazy summer afternoon.

The four-span bridge soars some 80ft above the river and has an interesting history. It was meant to open in 1848 but just before it was officially completed, the entire structure collapsed and fell into the river.

Architects set about rebuilding it and completed this task in 1851. However, their efforts drew scorn from people at the time, many of whom protested that the grandiose structure ruined the look of the Medieval town it connected with.

Of course, since then, views have shifted considerably, so that the viaduct is now considered to be one of the town’s greatest features.

Knaresborough itself is built into a rocky gorge and is a maze of narrow lanes, cobbled paths and stone staircases, which weave their way up from the river.

The other great architectural structure in the town is the ruined castle. Until the English Civil War, this was an important northern stronghold but it was almost completely destroyed by Parliamentary troops in the 17th century. Still, some parts of the old building survived, as did the secret tunnels cut into the rock, which were used by soldiers to mount sneak attacks when the town was under siege.

The other thing Knaresborough is known for is being the birthplace of Ursula Southeil, also known as Mother Shipton, who was known and feared throughout the land for her predictive powers.

It’s fair to say the town has a tradition of dabbling in the strange and that continues to this day, with the annual bed race.

First conducted in 1966, it sees teams of competitors race beds of varying sizes over a 2.4 mile course, culminating in a swim through the River Nidd. Last year there were 90 teams, each consisting of six runners and passengers. The event has never been cancelled, despite torrential summer downpours the river twice being in flood.

Technical details: Nikom D3 Camera, 12-24mm lens, Exposure 500th sec at F8, iso 200)....July 4, 2016