28 June 2014

Micklebring

Until last Wednesday I had never heard of Micklebring even though I must have driven by it a thousand times. It's a small village north east of Sheffield and close to the M18 motorway. I parked up there close to the viewpoint you can see in the picture above before setting off on my planned country walk. Under the M18 and up to Beacon Hill then curling round it to a delightful Yorkshire jewel - the village of Clifton. It is where the Scottish footballing legend Billy Bremner lived for the second half of his life and where he died. Through the woods and on to the ridge and faraway I could see this across the fields - it's Conisbrough Castle - a Norman Castle recognised by Sir Walter Scott in "Ivanhoe". It's beautifully preserved. 
To the south of the castle lies a swathe of agricultural land that was once a great hunting park. My map told me to go across a disused railway track to Conisbrough Parks Farm and from there I could meet up with another designated public right of way at Parks Farm Cottages - along a lane just five hundred yards away.

However, my map did not tell me that at Conisbrough Parks Farm there would be a burly farmer riding in an old  tractor with a vicious Alsatian called Satan. When he saw me arrive at the gate to this semi-derelict property, he squeezed out of his tractor seat and trundled over to see me. He resembled Shrek in a bad mood and seemed to take enormous delight in insisting that I couldn't walk along the farm track to Parks Farm Cottages. "So how do I get over there then?" I asked. He was most unhelpful, interspersing his responses with yells of "Satan! Stay there!" to the now foaming red-eyed wolf in his tractor cab. Like the Kinder Trespassers, I have always had an issue with private land but rather than cause a scene with Shrek I apologised for interrupting his work and shrunk away back to the disused railway bed.

This meant I had to do a very long detour into Conisbrough and I was "off map" as you might say. I met a young Romanian body builder - as you do - out for a solitary country walk but he hardly spoke any English and didn't know the way to Park Farm Cottages. I detoured into Conisbrough Cemetery and saw this memorial:-
It was erected in 2012 - a hundred years after a local coal mining disaster in which eighty eight men were killed - it was the same year that "The Titanic" went down but who else has heard of the Cadeby Colliery Disaster? And it was ultimately all down to the greed and incompetence of the mine owners who seemed to see coal miners as expendable items in their quest for wealth. Has anything really changed?

An hour after my encounter with Shrek I finally made it to Parks Farm Cottages and from there I plodded down the lane to Conisbrough Lodge - a sadly abandoned farm. It was clearly  a big farm in its heyday with some ancient stone buildings and probably had a very long history indeed. The very name "Conisbrough Lodge" is reminiscent of distant times when this area was, as I said earlier,  a royal hunting ground.

I walked around the ruins and realised that if I were an archaeologist I could tease out a long story of the life and times of this farm and of the people who once lived and worked here - long, long before the nearby M18 motorway was conceived. The echoes of their laughter, their horses and their agricultural machinery can still be heard if you care to listen:-
At Conisbrough Lodge Farm

10 comments:

  1. That would have been exactly my type of walk! I could maybe have done without Shrek and Satan, and Romanian bodybuilders can only hold my interest for so long, but the walk itself, the beautiful landscape and Conisbrough Lodge sound as if it was all well worth it.
    Around 10 years ago, I visited Conisbrough Castle. The exhibition was small but informative, and I've read that they've done a great deal more now to make the place even more attractive to visitors.

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    1. Yes - lady visitors now have personal escorts - Romanian body builders! You can pick the one you want from a catalogue. Shrek the Farmer is also there for ladies of a certain disposition.

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  2. Nice B&W study of a puddle YP. Very artistic.

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    1. You are a woman with a discerning artistic eye Carol.

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  3. A place with a Nordic sounding name. I enjoy the places you wander. Did you not get a picture of Shrek? A good walk I enjoyed it.
    I love Northumberland but the landowners are a real pain. I enjoy Scotland as there is a right to stroll about. It can be annoying as all the big estates put up what they call deer fencing. It's six feet high and is prevalent round Balmoral.

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    1. I asked Shrek if he would pose with Satan for "Farmers Weekly" but he kind of snarled at me so I thought better of my request. An earlier spelling of Micklebring was "Mykelbrink" which apparently means "The Great Slope". It certainly sounds Scandinavian.

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  4. I thought 'Get down Shep!' was oft heard reverberating around those Yorkshire parts. "Satan, stay there!' doesn't seem to warm the cockles of your heart to the same degree, don't you know! Queer folk these Yorkshire farmers.

    LLX

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    1. They may be queer folk but you won't see them on Gay Pride parades!

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  5. I'm assuming that the 'mickle' part is the same as in Micklegate, meaning 'much'/'a very large amount'. I wonder what it was that such a small village brought much of to precipitate such a name?

    I'd never heard of the Cadeby disaster either, but it seems to be that industry as a whole at that time was split into two distinct sectors - those who cared passionately for their workers and those to whom they were ten-a-penny and cared not one jot for their personal safety. Mining disasters were almost none news, sadly, and occurred frequently, but it's nice to see that someone cared enough to recognise those killed.

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    1. Elizabeth - There's so much of our history that is tantalizing in its mysteriousness. Looking at the landscape it is clear that in past times Mykelbrink would have looked out from its ridge to swampy lands and deep forest. And as for mining disasters, you are right - they became passe. The day before the Cadeby Disaster the king and queen had been visiting the locality so there were less miners down the pit than there would otherwise have been.

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