Well in a moment of temporary madness I volunteered to fill in for today even though I am not a published author – well I am but of engineering technical papers 🙂 I have a somewhat tenuous link to todays relay – very much so as I am a Yorkshire-woman by birth and residence so it is the wrong side of the Pennines to me. But my husband comes from over there so I cannot be too Yorkshire in my attitude. Hoping the following ramble is not too much…..
Today the relay starts in market town of Kendal – yes the home of the famous mint cake so beloved of walkers and outdoor explorers and also the Gateway to the Lake District. It is a lovely old market town that nestles in the slightly lower bit between the Lakeland Fells and the peaks of the Pennines of the Yorkshire Dales. Known as the ‘Auld Grey Town’ due to the pre-dominance of limestone buildings it was one of the centres of woolen textiles – including Kendal Green said to have been worn by the Kendal bowmen at Crecy and Poiters. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Kendal over the years as it isn’t that far from home and is a lovely place to spend a few hours
From there it travels through small towns mainly on the edge of Morecombe Bay before it reaches Morecombe itself a reviving seaside resort that was the birthplace of Eric Morecombe and popular destination in past times for the workers of the West Riding mills as it was an easy rail journey from Leeds/Bradford to Morecombe – indeed even today trains still run from Leeds to Lancaster/Morecombe at about 2 hourly intervals over the summer – interspersed with the trains from Leeds to Carlisle on the famous Settle-Carlisle railway. I happen to live pretty close to the line and have been known to use one or the other for a day trip out. I grew up with a rail enthusiast as a father and have inherited that bug.
After Morecombe the flame goes to Lancaster – the county town of Lancashire that like many of the major cities in the north started life as a Roman Fort. In Lancaster Castle (owned by the Queen who is the Duke of Lancaster) the city had one of the longest-serving prisons in Europe till it closed last year. Here it was exactly 400 years ago that the majority of the Pendle Witches were tried, convicted and sentenced to death (one being from Yorkshire was tried at York). Lancaster and York have shared a chequered history due to the traditional rivalry caused by the War of the Roses. It is quite obvious travelling the transpennine routes between the two counties when you leave West Rose territory and enter Red Rose territory. My husband and I joke about the rivalry at times – given his home is historically part of Lancashire and I have considered Yorkshire to be my natural home all my life (moved around a lot as a kid but was born in Yorkshire and had family here my entire life). Lancaster and York are rival cities in many ways – their universities have a similar date for granting of charters (being, along with my workplace of Bradford, universities who had their charters granted in the sixties although York precedes Lancaster by some 3 years). York wins out in terms of religion – it has the Minster and the Archbishop, whereas Lancaster just has the priory and parish church. However the Duke of Lancaster is the reigning monarch whereas the Duke of York is a royal dukedom that has been granted many times to the younger sons of monarchs. These days the rivalry is more friendly and comes down to the Roses matches in cricket (when Yorkshire is actually not in a lower division than Lancashire) and occasionally to other sports matches particularly in Rugby League which is the form of Rugby mainly played up here along the M62 corridor..
The flame then makes it progression further south to end in what is probably the most famous Northern seaside resort in the UK – Blackpool. It rose to prominence as this when it was connected to the railway in 1840 making it a popular destination for mill workers from across Lancashire to go to during the wakes week (mills closed in different weeks over the summer) – the workers from the mills around my home county of West Yorkshire went to Morecombe. Blackpool is known for its illuminations and its tower which dominates the skyline and on a clear day can be seen from miles away across the Ribble Estuary. It will be danced into the ballroom (at end of day thanks to our weather which has forced event to be moved indoors) by Harry Judd & Aliona Vilani of Strictly Come Dancing fame.
There are not many authors connected with today’s route – although Alfred Wainwright (he of the Lakeland Fell guidebooks) worked for most of his life in Kendal, and there are of course the Lakeland writers spoken of yesterday. Then there are two British Fantasy writers in Lancaster, Joe Abercrombie and Cherith Baldry. Also from Lancaster and of real significance for many is (Robert) Laurence Binyon the poet who wrote the poem “For the Fallen” which includes two stanzas (third and fourth) spoken at Remembrance Day services in the UK and Canada as well as ANZAC Day services in Australia and New Zealand.
- They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
- They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
- They went with songs to the battle, they were young.