The walk along the steep shady bank above the river is beautiful all the way, and the surroundings of the broken walls and traceried windows are singularly rich. There is nothing, however, at Easby that makes a striking picture, although there are many architectural fragments that are full of beauty.
Fountains, Rievaulx and Tintern, all leave Easby far behind, but there are charms enough here with which to be content, and it is, perhaps, a pleasant thought to know that, although on this sunny afternoon these meadows by the Swale seem to reach perfection, yet in the neighbourhood of Ripon there is something still finer waiting for us.
We know this from the statement of an Abbot of Easby in the fourteenth century; and but for the record of his words there would be nothing to tell us anything of these ponderous memorials, which have disappeared as completely as though they had had no more permanence than the yellow leaves that are just beginning to flutter from the trees.
In the little church standing on the south side of the green there is so much to interest us that we are almost unable to decide what to examine first, until, realizing that we are brought face to face with a beautiful relic of Easby Abbey, we turn our attention to the parclose screen.
Unfortunately, a blue mist obscured much of the landscape, but the guard told us that on clear days York Minster, more than forty miles away, could be easily seen. Near at hand, nestling in the valley of the Swale, are the ivy-covered ruins of Easby Abbey; while still nearer, on the hillside, the great tower of Grey Friars Church is all that remains of another once extensive monastery.
An odd feature of the church is the little shop built in the base of the tower, where a tobacconist now plies his trade. From the castle tower, looking down the luxuriant valley, we noticed at no great distance, half hidden by the trees, the outlines of a ruined church the Easby Abbey which I have just mentioned as one of the numerous Yorkshire ruins.
If it were otherwise, the towering monument on Easby Moor would be a questionable inspiration to posterity. I have seldom seen a more uninhabited and inhospitable-looking country than the broad extent of purple hills that stretch away to the south-west from Great Ayton and Kildale Moors.
Many houses would be deserted, and fields became 'over-run with briars, nettles, and other noxious weeds. Easby Abbey is so much a possession of Richmond that we cannot go towards the mountains until we have seen something of its charms.
On Easby Moor, a few miles to the south of Roseberry Topping, the tall column to the memory of Captain Cook stands like a lighthouse on this inland coast-line. The lofty position it occupies among these brown and purply-green heights makes the monument visible over a great tract of the sailor's native Cleveland.
In the village is an old gray tower, the only remains of a Franciscan monastery founded in the thirteenth century, and the ruins of Easby Abbey, dating from the twelfth century, are not far away; its granary is still in use. The valley of the Swale may be pursued for a long distance, furnishing constant displays of romantic scenery, or, if that is preferred, excellent trout-fishing.