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Today is   Last update 07-11-2011
 














It's a washout!

No organiser can do anything about the weather; and some entries in Proceedings really bring home to us what it was like to be on an archaeological excursion and riding in open carriages.

In an 1881 report, we read that

        'An hour had been allowed by the programme for a visit to the celebrated gardens [i.e. at Levens Hall], but the afternoon was so wet that very few of the party availed themselves of the opportunity.......

Later, the afternoon still continuing very wet, the route was altered and the carriages proceeded direct homeward. On the route a general halt was made at Force Bridge to allow the party to view the waterfall, which was rushing down with great force over the broken rocky bed of the River Kent.'

Force Falls in spate
Force Falls in spate


Well, that at least gave the members a memorable visual thrill: something salvaged from the miseries of being soaked.

A similar thing happened on an excursion to Alston in 1884.

       'On the train from Haltwhistle arriving at Alston, a thunder-storm was raging, and rain falling in torrents. So disheartening was the aspect of things, that it was deemed advisable to wait half-an-hour in the station, to see if the weather might clear up a little.

Alston Station (2001), now used by a private railway as tourist attraction
Alston Station (2001), now used by a private railway as tourist attraction


In the meantime the carriages which had been engaged for the party were waiting outside, the poor horses and drivers presenting a picture of patient endurance.' The decision was made to go ahead with the plan to visit Whitley Castle; but the rain was so heavy that 'against it the waterproofs and umbrellas gave almost no protection.' Yet did that deter the members? Not one bit!

And again there was a reward. On the second day, the party benefited from 'the clear atmosphere induced by the previous day's storm'. Melmerby was the next destination; and when the summit of Hartside was reached, 'The view which burst upon the travellers, on getting to the top, was magnificent, including the Lake District, and a great part of Cumberland, stretching as far as the Solway.'

View from Hartside to the Solway Firth and Scotland
View from Hartside to the Solway Firth and Scotland


In 1890 an excursion to North Westmorland was arranged. Tebay had been selected as a suitable gathering point; shortly after noon, carriages took the party to see the motte, called Castle Howe, 'amid a lively downpour of rain, which brought umbrellas and mackintoshes into service, and doubtless the villagers, who turned out in great numbers, felt somewhat for the staid and anything but happy-looking antiquaries.'

Note how the Society on excursion was a sight of unusual and great interest to the local people, so much so that they turned out to watch the party pass, even in such grim weather.

After seeing Castle Howe, members returned to their carriages, and 'amid the pelting rain, the horses bowled along the somewhat indifferently-kept road towards Orton.'.

Orton Church, which dominates its village
Orton Church, which dominates its village


The next morning, several other members joined the group for the day; we read that 'the elements were more promising than on the previous evening; still some showers were evidently expected and everybody took precautions accordingly. Nine or ten vehicles were needed to accommodate the augmented party.'.

Nine or ten vehicles.....quite a spectacle! No wonder that local people were keen to see the carriage procession! Certainly not an everyday sight!

Even hardy CWAAS members, however, sometimes had to admit defeat in the face of the weather. Back in 1879, on an excursion to the Naworth and Gilsland areas, it had been intended to visit Irthington 'if the river was fordable'. However, that proved to be out of the question....... thanks to heavy rain!





























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