Lady Hill in Wensleydale is a prominent landmark as you travel from Aysgarth to Hawes on the A684. Originally a rabbit warren called Woodhall Warren, it was established in the 18th Century to breed silver haired rabbits for food and their much prized fur.
As a young girl my dad would tell me the story of a lady who bred these rabbits within this high wall enclosure, the walls carefully maintained to keep the captive and valuable rabbits in and wild rabbits out. Having just done a little research I now find that originally the warren was one of a few found in Wensleydale, usually but not always, within deer parks. These deer parks, of which there were seven in the dale, can date back to Norman times. Woodhall Warren was certainly in existence around the middle of the 18th century.
Legend has it that Woodhall Warren was renamed Lady Hill after Mary Queen of Scot’s when she tried to flee Bolton Castle. Perhaps this is where my dad got his story as apparently a local game dealer, Frank Sayer-Graham, who was also involved in the construction of the Rock Garden in Aysgarth, made quite a good living from breeding and selling the pelts which may even have been supplied to the Czar of Russia! Planted on its summit are Scot’s pines which were to commemorate one of Queen Victoria’s Jubilees, probably her Diamond Jubilee. For such a small hill it does seem to be steeped in history.
For now though, Lady Hill is an area in Wensleydale that can intrigue but also delight, you’ll be amazed at how many views of the dale take it in with its distinctive top knot of trees. Utilized from a drumlin, carved many, many years ago by the glaciers, one can only wonder now. Walk along by the riverbank and the hill wall which is still well maintained and marvel at the workmanship there. Although there are two walls, one encircling the summit and the pine trees, the other the base of the drumlin. Was it the large area that was the warren or just the top area? More research needed although it may be from local knowledge now rather than the written word.
Next week I’ll do a blog about our walk with the surprise view of Lady Hill which is the photo I’ve used for this blog!
To stay in this wonderful part of the world, please do call me Nadine or my daughter Joanne on 01969 663559 for help to find your perfect holiday cottage or of course book online on our website.