Picture Post: Otley Chevin cross in pride of place for Easter

The cross on Otley Chevin, photographed here against the backdrop of a setting spring sun, has become a familiar landmark on the Yorkshire skyline at Easter.

PIC: Bruce Rollinson
PIC: Bruce Rollinson

Seen from miles away, 
each year the striking two-
tonne wooden monument 
takes pride of place at Surprise View, the highest point on the Chevin.

Offering spectacular panoramic views across this corner of the county, the raising of the cross has been an annual tradition in the town since 1968.

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The brainchild of the Otley Council of Christian Churches, the idea was to have a very visible symbol of Easter and one which would be a focal point for the most important event in the religious calendar.

Up to 50 volunteers are responsible for hauling the cross into place on the weekend closest to Ash Wednesday and in previous years when there has been a shortage of willing helpers it has required a little superhuman strength. Not this year, though. Earlier this month around 90 people turned out to get the job done and even more climbed the Chevin yesterday morning for a special service at the foot of the cross which began at 7am.

Vandals did their best to end Otley’s Easter tradition in 1997 when in the middle of the night the cross was cut down with a chainsaw. However, thanks to the help of the people in the town, it was repaired and re-erected in 2000 for the Millennium celebrations.

The current 32ft high cross was made from wood salvaged from the Manchester IRA bombings in 1996 and the council hopes it serves as a poignant reminder that good can triumph over evil.

Over the many years it has stood overlooking the picturesque Wharfe Valley, the cross has become a symbol of inspiration and a source of hope for many people.

Foot and mouth restrictions in 2001 meant the cross had to remain in storage that year, but it has been in place every year since. The cross will remain in position for a further two weeks before being taken back down at 9am on Saturday, May 3.

Technical details: Nikon D800. Nikkor 24-70. 125thsec @ f9.

Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Words: Claire Schofield