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Laskill, North Yorkshire, England

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Laskill is a hamlet in an area of Bilsdale which is in the middle of the North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire, England. It dates back to the middle ages and was originally under the control of Rievaulx Abbey, which is now a heritage monument. Laskill is located about 45 minutes from York and is just six miles north of the village of Helmsley, famous for Helmsley Castle.

A Tourist's Guide to Laskill

The area that is generally recognised as the centre of Laskill is composed of a grand total of three buildings. There is Laskill House: the main residence in the area, Laskill Grange: formerly known as Laskill Farm, which is combination of a bed & breakfast and farm, with a river running alongside.

There are also three large fields alongside the river, two of which are technically the property of Laskill House, but are used by Laskill Grange to keep livestock in. Rumour has it that there is an annual rent paid, in quadruped, white, fluffy edible form. Incidentally, it also happens to go very well with mint sauce.

Finally, there is the oldest standing building: the Quaker meeting house. This is still visited today by people attempting to rediscover their Quaker roots, from areas as far away as Canada and New Zealand. It was in a state of heavy disrepair before being reconstructed in 2002 by the owners of Laskill House. Now it retains the original structure, but has been converted into an office building.

More than 50 Quakers are buried in the small green lawn in front of the Meeting House. Each spring, this lawn becomes a spectacular golden carpet of daffodils. Surprisingly, during the reconstruction the original wooden 'meeting house' sign was discovered intact and is now hanging inside the building. However, Laskill would have played a much more important role in history had it not been for that infamous serial husband, Henry VIII.

A History of Laskill

Laskill was an important trading place in the medieval period, during which time a group of Cistercian monks from Rievaulx settled there. Recent archaeological excavations in Laskill, headed by Dr Gerry McDonnell, revealed the only medieval blast furnace to have been found in Britain, built by the same Cistercian Monks1. This early precursor to the Industrial Revolution never developed further due to the dissolution of the monasteries, and Laskill's importance dwindled.

So here the history of Laskill just about ends. Apart from their long-standing wool trade which flourished over the years, due to the sheep population being more than ten times that of the its human inhabitants. Life is blissfully dull, except for the motorbikes that collect like the flies on warm summer days.

What to do in Laskill

The Laskill area draws most of its tourists for hiking and walking holidays. It is in an area abundant with scenic rural paths, or 'overgrown strips of mud'. But not necessarily in a bad way. Hardier hikers need only look up to see Rosemary Topping: 'bigger than the hills, smaller than the mountains, grassier than the elephants'. Walks in this area are best in August and September when the heather comes out in full bloom, covering the land in a stunning array of purples.

Other, more secluded woodland walks can be found simply by heading along the B1257 and following any of the numerous paths there. If you wish to go further afield, you can always try the circular walk that begins and ends by the famous Chequers Inn, just outside of Osmotherly. The pub is famous for having the oldest inn sign in England. Although they don't have a licence for alcohol, the scones are unforgettable.

One Last Tip for the Road

This is an actual occurrence common in Yorkshire: if you are walking along the road, and someone in a vehicle passes you, they will give you the 'Yorkshire wave'. This is lifting the index finger of the left hand from the wheel. This means:

Yes, I can see you. Yes, I have not and will not run you over. And yes, seeing you has really made my day fulfilling.

All this from one brief movement. Who says the English aren't an expressive people?

1Records have been found, referring to a structure in Laskill as a 'Bloomsmithy'.

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