Just outside the village of Westerdale, nestling amongst trees in a valley bottom, we came across an interesting little bridge which I photographed, in spite of the light being very weak and flat. I was curious about this little bridge which spans the River Esk, as it left the road but didn't seem to actually lead anywhere. Subsequent research has identified this as Hunter's Sty Bridge, a medieval packhorse bridge possibly built by the Knights Templar who are thought to have had a preceptory in the Westerdale area in the 12th century. The bridge was restored in 1874 by Colonel Octavius Duncombe, from the Duncombe Park Estate at Helmsley which owned most of the Westerdale Moor area at that time.
As we walked out of Westerdale and towards the head of Rosedale via Castleton Rigg, I was hoping the mist would clear in time for our midway point. I had planned this to not only coincide with our lunch stop, but also to enable me to photograph one of the three moorland crosses along our route. As we passed the first of the crosses the mist did indeed begin to lift, enabling me to get a reasonable photograph.
Fat Betty isn't actually a cross as such, it's more a short stump with a wheelhead cross on top. Possibly dating from the Norman period, Fat Betty marks the boundary between the parishes of Castleton and Rosedale. There are a couple of legends as to how the cross came by the name of Fat Betty. One tells the tale of a nun named Sister Elizabeth who lived at nearby Rosedale Abbey and was, to put it politely, a generously proportioned lady. The second myth tells the tale of a farmer's wife called Betty who fell from the back of her husband's cart as they travelled home from market one foggy night. When the farmer retraced his steps in search of his wife, he found that she had been turned to stone.
To get to Old Ralph involved a tramp through the heather as there was no clear path at this point. However, when we eventually found him the mist finally disappeared completely, the sun came out and we enjoyed a very pleasant picnic lunch, sitting on the base of the cross.
After an enjoyable lunch in the presence of Old Ralph we retraced our steps back past Fat Betty (stopping to give her Ralph's best wishes) and then made our way across the moors to above the village of Botton. Here the sun was shining and the heather was blooming - the very best kind of day to be out on the moors.