Monday, 21 February 2011


I wonder who first planted the snowdrops near Laykin. The garden was full of them before the builders renovated the cottage in 2009. We have planted some more in the garden since and will continue to spread them around. The woods are also full of snowdrops which we love to see.

Grouse eating hawthorn berries in December

When grouse are desperate for food they feed on berries. They are ungainly in the bushes as it is not their natural habitat, and they are not used to perching. It is rare to see and amusing to watch them wobbling about.

Snow and moon

Swaledale in the snow

Winter came early to Swaledale this year. The first snow fell in November. By mid December much of the worst of the drifts had gone, but there were considerable amounts of ice everywhere due to the freezing temperatures. The waterfalls looked so pretty, but the road up to Laykin was lethal, like a massive ice rink by the ford!

Aysgarth Falls in full flood

This was a really impressive sight. I have never seen the river so high, it was thundering past!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Crackpot Cave

A wonderful adventure underground and so close to Laykin

Tree planting at Laykin

We want to encourage the fieldfares and waxwings at Laykin and so have planted hawthorn, rowan and blackthorn bushes along the roadside and protected them with tree guards against sheep, cattle and rabbit damage. We also planted a lovely holly tree but think this got munched by cattle and rabbits- we weren't expecting them to eat it!

We planted an apple tree and a blackcurrant in the garden. There were old bramleys there when we bought the house but we put in an eating apple- must try and find the name of it so we don't forget!

Heather Burning End October

Lots of fires were lit at the end of October. It is dramatic to watch.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Gayle Mill

We were utterly blown away by our visit to Gayle Mill in October. It is a fascinating place. It takes about 45 minutes to drive in leisurely fashion from Laykin and is just outside Hawes. On Sunday mornings you can have a tour and see all the machinery in the old waterpowered mill working to cut and turn wood. You can see one of the only working Victorian turbines still in situ and still working long after the modern ones which were brought in to replace them have broken!
On other days you can have a guided tour and see a couple of things in action - still just as good.
The mill featured on Restoration on TV in 2004 and almost won. Shame it didn't- it is a jewel of a place, and gets brought to life by the enthusiasm of its volunteers.

From their website, I have copied the following

On Daily Guided Tours you will

  • Explore a typical three storey mill built in 1784 to a Richard Arkwright design. Originally established to process raw cotton, it was converted to a mechanised saw mill in 1879.
  • Gain a unique insight into the workings of a woodworking mill that served the local community for over a century.
  • See English water-powered cutting edge woodworking technology installed in 1879 that is still in regular use today.
  • Experience the atmosphere of the historic sawmill as the water-powered turbines spin to life.
  • Discover 230 years of industrial and social heritage.


On one of our special two hour Demonstration Tours you will experience all aspects of a “Daily Guided Tour” described above and also see and hear the original 1879 water-powered Victorian machinery being demonstrated. Booking is strongly advised.


Gayle Mill was built in 1784 by two related entrepreneurs, Oswald and Thomas Routh, who saw the business opportunities opened up by the building of a turnpike road from the west and the end of the American War of Independence which allowed a greater flow of raw cotton from the United States. Mill_old_1

It started life as a cotton-spinning mill, powered by a 22' diameter overshot waterwheel, and over the next century, as economic conditions in the Dales changed, was also used for spinning flax (briefly) and then wool for the local knitting cottage industry in the valley. For a period in the 19th century, it was used for domestic accommodation (and it also housed military personnel during World War II)WilliamsonTurbine_1

In 1879 the Mill took on a new lease of industrial life when, due to advances in technology, it was converted it into a mechanised sawmill. The waterwheel was removed and replaced with a Thomson double-vortex turbine, built by Williamsons (now Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd) of Kendal. The 10hp (7.46kW) created by the turbine drove a range of woodworking machinery (rack sawbench. circular saw, planner/thicknesser, and lathes) by a series of belts and pulleys off a central line-shaft.

In the early years of the 20th century, an electric generator was installed to provide lighting and from 1920 the Hawes Electric Company leased part of the Mill and turbine for their own generator. A gas engine (now removed) was also installed to be able to drive the generator when there was insufficient water to run the turbine. In 1925 a second turbine was put in to create greater capacity.

In 1959 all electricity supplies from the Mill to the outside world ceased, leaving the 1925 generator to supply all electrical requirements for just the Mill. The Williamson turbine continued to supply the motive power for the woodworking machinery until the business closed down in 1988.

It took four long years of work to restore this treasure to its former glory.