An insider's view: Tom Orde Powlett, Bolton Castle
Can you tell us a little about your job and how you came to be doing it?
I have run Bolton Castle since I left the Army eight years ago. It has been in my family since it was built in 1399, so fair to say that nepotism played a large part in me getting the job!
What aspect of your job and the place where you work makes you feel happiest?
Anything that gives me the chance to be outside in the stunning countryside. If I am in the office, good feedback from people who have enjoyed visiting the castle is very rewarding.
What makes your business different?
The castle has never been renovated or modernised, so the existing rooms in the building we see today are just as they were built, over six hundred years ago. There are several older, probably 'smarter' castles in the north of England and certainly with more luxurious interiors, but probably none that are as close to the original building as Bolton. I think this authenticity is very special, although it also poses challenges in terms of maintenance.
If some one is feeling a little down and perhaps in need of a boost, where in the Yorkshire Dales do you suggest they should visit?
I hope that a visit to the Castle would always give people a boost!
Other ideas would be: late Spring, before the birds start sitting, head for the moors. The diversity and quantity of birdlife, especially the Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover displaying and some of the less obvious, smaller birds like Ring Ouzel, Stonechat and Wheatear is amazing. It is very therapeutic.
Similarly, the river Ure provides a great escape for fishermen and anyone who loves seeing wildlife. Last week I went down for an hour one evening. I didn't catch anything but saw seven Lapwing chicks, a Barn Owl hunting insects over the river, Yellow Wagtails, Dippers, Curlew, all the Hirundines, swifts and lots more, so it was well worth going down there.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have four young children, so it usually revolves around them. They all love being outdoors though so we often go and have walks and picnics in the woods, on the moors or near the river.
If a visitor was coming here for two days what would you recommend they should try to do? Any particular places to eat or drink you'd like to recommend?
Visit the Castle and go for lots of walks, but not along main roads. It often worries me seeing so many people walking along busy roads with high hedges and no verge. We are completely spoilt for places to eat, with Blue Lion, Wensleydale Heifer, Yorebridge House offering world class food. The pubs are amazing for good value food and I think the quality of beers is consistently fantastic at places like Bolton Arms in Redmire, Three Horseshoes in Wensley or The Coverbridge.
Is there anywhere in the Yorkshire Dales that you feel sudden swooping joy?
If I have been away, arriving back in Wensleydale from either the M6 in the west when I reach Hawes or coming from the A1 when you first see Penhill at Harmby, I have a really uplifting feeling of being back in my spiritual home.
Is there a happy detail in everyday life that you enjoy but many of us miss?
I think the views become different every day, depending on the season and light, so I do try to take in the changing views every single day.
Where's your favourite place to just sit and look?
If I have time in Autumn, I love to sit and watch at Redmire Falls for a while and see salmon jumping up them, as they complete their lifecycle and return from the north Atlantic to spawn in the same river they were born. It is a miracle of nature that will never cease to amaze me.
Is a local person who you think embodies the Yorkshire Dales spirit
I think that almost all of the farmers and gamekeepers past and present have shaped the Dales as we now know and love them. They all deserve great credit for the sensitive and (certainly compared to almost every other land use) low impact management that has allowed the Dales to remain so natural and unspoilt and for the abundance of wildlife we all enjoy seeing. I think that Gamekeepers especially are the unsung heroes of conservation.
Anything else you'd like to tell us that we probably don't know?
Probably the Uk's largest population of over wintering Curlew can be seen in the fields by Wensley Bridge.
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