On Richard’s Trail: Visiting Middleham

Middleham Castle

Middleham

Middleham

Middleham Castle…let it rain, let it rain…

It was one of those days that seem to come right out of a movie Рa horrible one! Instead of a beautiful sunny day, or even a misty day with glimpses of blue sky breaking through grey clouds, I awoke to a deluge. The rain was not just coming down in buckets; it was coming down sideways. I think once it even hit the ground and flew back into the air. It was an angry rain; it was on a mission to pelt the ground into submission. And with it, my spirits. When I got the book contract to write The World of Richard III, it was a dream come true. Combining three of my passions Рwriting, the United Kingdom and Richard III was a special moment. Today, I was feeling a bit blue. How would I take beautiful pictures in the pouring rain?

I calmed myself at breakfast by saying, “This is England. It will pass over soon.” Except it wouldn’t. After years of bragging about how I only ever had one or two days of rain when visiting England, this trip I had already seen six days of almost constant rain. The night before I’d almost ended up spending the night on the public footpath at Sheriff Hutton after trying to navigate the twisting path in the rain and sliding down into what seemed like three feet of pure mud. I just didn’t want to get up and walk out covered in the slimy stuff. (I eventually did and provided comedic relief for the locals at the nearby pub. I don’t know if they knew what to make of me – was I the swamp thing or the mud monster?)

But it would just have to clear up today, I thought as I put my car in gear and navigated the back roads to Middleham. My journal entry marks the moment I got there. “It’s possible it rained even harder today and many roads were flooded. I was drenched right after getting out of the car. Drenched.” I was hoping for some great pictures of the locations I would be writing about. While I had great pictures of Middleham from my last (sunny!) trip, they were not high enough resolution for a book. I wandered over to the church and looked around before braving the outside world once again. Had it stopped? No. In fact, it was even worse. My husband had purchased a camera sleeve for me in case of rain. I had packed it, thinking, “I won’t need this.” Turned out to be true, because it was raining so hard that the sleeve was useless in less than a minute.

I walked the muddy lane beside the castle, mud spilling into my shoes, (drat, I’d changed socks too, so now I had two sets of muddy socks) looking for a shot where it wouldn’t show the rain. It never happened. I have many shots of Middleham from that day, but they are all rainy shots – often with water beading on the lens. I learned something, though, about this rugged castle. It is just as brilliant and impressive in the pouring rain on a gloomy, downright frigid spring day as it is in the brightly shining sun.

I was on Richard’s trail that day, and I got to see a glimpse of the castle as he must have once seen it – rain beating down, a cold wind whipping in, and the castle standing strong as it always had. I was impressed, my mind drifting back in time, picturing a young Richard in this spot. It was a touching moment, and as I turned to leave a raindrop smacked me right in the eye. So much for nostalgia. But if I’d been a mystic soul, I might have imagined a hint of laughter coming across the centuries.

 

Sunny Middleham

Sunny Middleham