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Odd Corners around the Howgills


Odd Corners around the Howgills was included in the Cumberland News top fifteen favourite books of 2004 by Cumbrian authors.

About this book:

  • ISBN: 9781904524182

  • Published 2004

  • Price £15.00 + postage

  • 190 pages

  • Illustrated with 191 black and white photographs

About this Book:
Odd Corners around the Howgills is a tour of the hidden charms and lost landmarks of this most beautiful and unspoilt areas of Northern England. Beginning in Kirkby Stephen, the journey winds its way through the towns and villages of Ravenstonedale, Newbiggin-on-Lune, Orton and Tebay in the north, to Grayrigg, Sedbergh, Barbon, Casterton and Kirkby Lonsdale in the south, with much more in between, including the secret valley of Bretherdale and the majestic falls at Cautley.
The author takes us on an adventure investigating the character of the people that shaped the community we see today and reveals to us many lesser-known features of this very special region. Whether on foot or as a motorist, your excursion will be enjoyable, educational and enlightening. Told in his very personal and easy-to-read style, the book is illustrated with nearly two hundred excellent black and white photographs to complement the text.

Gareth Hayes makes a novel contribution to our north-country bookshelf, inviting us - through prose and pictures - to look beyond the obvious in a tract of unspoilt landscape with the Howgills, Wordsworth's 'naked heights', as the central feature.
The Howgills - big, bare, grassy - will no longer be thought of by the reader of this book as being a poor relation to Lakeland and the Pennine Dales. Odd Corners around the Howgills is charming, informative, companionable.
Dr W R Mitchell OBE, editor of Cumbria magazine, 1951-1988

Bringing the 'sleeping elephants' to life
THE HOWGILLS, described by Wainwright as 'sleeping elephants', are housed in a somewhat forgotten corner of the country, but, thanks to Appleby author Gareth Hayes, the area has been immortalised in print. His second book, 'Odd Corners Around the Howgills', is a scholarly work which captures the real ethos of a vast area in the north of England.
The trail starts from Kirkby Stephen and encompasses towns and villages with such evocative names as Barbon, Grayrigg, Casterton and Sedbergh before arriving at Kirkby Lonsdale in the south. On the way the lucky traveller can see the almost hidden secret valley of Bretherdale and the majestic falls at Cautley and the powerful unremitting passage of the River Lune.
It is the tiny hamlet of Howgill, nestling above Sedbergh, that gives the area its name and the author points out that his book covers areas that might be considered Yorkshire Dales, Lakeland and even Pennine, but he believes that that is the point of his book. The Howgills may be dwarfed by Pennines, lakes and dales but they are equal in beauty and relevance to them, and, by being so much less 'discovered' and with an interesting history, they could very well be considered much more relevant.
'Odd Corners Around the Howgills' is neither a travel book, a history book nor a guidebook; the author says it is a book of today with respectful references to the past. The reader does not need to even visit the area in order to find the text and photographs almost hypnotically interesting, but should the reader desire to see it for themselves they can do so any way they wish, by walking or by driving.
The book is more an adventure, a journey by Gareth Hayes himself, who invites the reader to join him to discover not just the scenic beauty of this unspoilt area but to meet the people who are living there now and to find out what sort of people lived there in the past, and how they shaped its past and indeed its future.
It can relate tales going back to the 16th century and then tell the story of a relatively new feature, the farmers' market at Orton. It is a book that highlights majestic scenery and then talks of a motorway service area, but that is what makes 'Odd Corners Around the Howgills' indeed odd, and absolutely engrossing.
The historical information crammed into the book shows that an incredible amount of painstaking research must have been put in to produce such a vast amount of fact and detail.
The small village of Smardale, for instance, boasts two viaducts with the main one a 710 feet long, 12-span structure some 130 feet above the stream. It is said that 60,000 tons of local stone was used in the construction.
Elizabeth Gaunt, of Newbiggin-on-Lune, was the last woman to be burned at the stake at Tyburn Hill, London, after being found guilty of a political crime by feared Welsh 'hanging judge' George Jeffrey. She had helped James Burton, a political activist, who later betrayed her to save himself.
Chemist and physicist Michael Faraday hails from the Howgills and John Ray, who is credited with laying the foundations of botany, used Orton Scar as an area of study in 1659.
Never one to relax, Gareth Hayes is already planning some more 'Odd Corner' books on the Settle to Carlisle rail link and the River Eden.
Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, June 2004


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By the same author:

Odd Corners in Appleby


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