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Country walk from Richmond Castle
THERE are many legends and stories told about drummer boys across our fair land.
Are they fact or fiction?
On Salisbury plain a drummer boy is reported accompanying a sergeant who was carrying a sum of money to pay the platoon wages.
The sergeant murdered the drummer boy and absconded with the money. The ghost of the drummer boy roams Salisbury plain to this day.
In Dover a rather more gory tale is believed by locals. A drummer boy’s headless ghost can be seen walking the battlements of Dover castle.
He had been sent on an errand late one evening and was attacked by two men, the boy put up a fight but was found the next day near the castle, his head having been neatly removed by the sword.
Locals still say they hear the drum being solemnly played in the depths of the night and have seen a headless figure walking the walls.
Of course, we have our very own Yorkshire drummer boys who also ended their lives in unfortunate circumstances.
At Harpham in East Yorkshire, the Lord of the Manor, St Quintin was watching his troops practising. St Quintin got very excited and accidentally knocked the drummer boy down the well. His body was never recovered and he drums away angrily to this day.
Another version states that he was thrown down the well by someone who claimed a prize of land that the drummer boy was about to receive.
But the drummer boy story we are interested in today is at Richmond Castle.
Somewhere, lost in time, around the 18th century, a tunnel entrance under the castle keep was discovered by a soldier.
It was only a small entrance, no room for a burly person. So the dutiful drummer boy was despatched through the hole with his drum with orders to walk the through the tunnel and drum away with all his strength.
The drumming was followed underground in the direction of Easby Abbey, but in the wood the drumming stopped. The boy was never seen again.
The question is, why did they not dig the miserable boy out? He can’t have been very deep to hear his drumming through the soil.
As we walk along in this direction we come across a large stone and plaque in his commemoration.
Listen carefully, he might still be drumming.
Your route Leave the car park by the road which exits past the toilets.
Climb steeply to the top along Millgate into the Market Square, keep straight ahead here to leave the square along Frenchgate, then where the roads splits, bear right downhill along Station Road.
Walk past the church on your left, then where the road bends to the right, turn left along the side of the cemetery along a narrow road named Lombards Wynd.
At the end of the road, go right to descend along a narrow road which soon becomes a path with a short ascent into the woods.
Continue along the woodland walk keeping straight ahead and soon you pass the drummer boy’s stone.
Keep straight on past the stone, still enjoying the woodland walk with the river on the right beneath you.
Eventually, you come to a small gate. Go through the gate to cross a well-worn path which climbs slightly left diagonally across the field to a stile.
Enter a wood, again over the stile, with good views now of Easby Abbey on the right.
Not far and the path meets a driveway, go right here to the road. Turn right at the road to walk past the abbey keeping left of the car park onto a gravel pathway.
Good views of the River Swale now as you follow the riverside path to eventually turn right across a footbridge over the river.
Continue along a wide path now, through a wood, then after some way take the riverside path which sweeps down on the right.
Keep on the path to pass the swimming baths, then follow it to the road bridge. Go left up the steps to the road and turn right across the bridge.
Once over the bridge, cross the road onto the opposite footpath and start to climb a little.
Look for a small gate on your left near the road signs.
Go left here through a gate into the park and follow the path to the right which leads towards the river bearing left across the grass on a ‘rubber mesh’ path to the river bank.
A little further along you reach the car park.
Distance - 3½ miles (5½km).
Time - 1½ hours.
Grading - Easy.
Start/grid ref - Richmond, grid ref 173006.
Best maps - OS Landranger 92&99.
Parking - The car park is below the castle by the river and is approached along Riverside Road off Bargate.
Refreshments - Tea shop in the car park, plenty in the town around the market square.
Public toilets - Car park and town.