Taking a step into folklore – Yorkshire Post 4/15/84
HIDDEN away from the updale road, between two rounded hills in Upper Wharfedale, is Thorpe, or to use an old name Thorpe-sub-Montem.
The cluster of old farms and cottages is reached by three walled lanes scarcely wide enough for two vehicles to pass. A footpath links the village with Burnsall on one side and another to Linton in Craven.
The old signpost on the main road is easily missed by passing motorists and the village is rarely discovered by tourists.
Its guardian hills, which are reef knolls rich in fossiliferous limestone, have kept Thorpe not only out of sight of many visitors but also out of the minds and schemes of major property developers.
The village has no inn, no shop or church and is home to a handful of people some of whom have carefully and imaginatively converted old barns into comfortable residences.
There is a Georgian manor house which was restored after a fire in 1939, and religious services are held in the sitting room of one of the cottages as was done 120 years ago.
The Tempests of Bracewell in West Craven were lords of the manor and the Batty family held the estate in the 18th century. Their memorial is in Burnsall church.
In the 19th century Thorpe became a local cheese centre and one farmer, Joseph Harker, produced a cheese of such quality that he won first prize at the Craven Agricultural Show in Skipton.
An amateur historian Ted Gower, 70, who lives in Grassington not far away, has known Thorpe for more than 30 years. He says it is often associated with cobblers and folk tales of them are still told today.
He said: “There is a story about a Thorpe cobbler who was returning from Fountains Abbey after taking some shoes to the Abbot and could not cross the flooded beck at the foot of the road from Pateley Bridge.
“Legend has it that he bargained with the Devil and tricked him into building a bridge which is known today as Devil’s Bridge.
“There is another story of some merry cobblers who pinched the Burnsall Maypole and set it up in Thorpe. It was several days before the Burnsall men recovered it.
Another cobbler who lost his way in Trollers Gill near Appletreewick, across the dale, is said to have seen a ghostly huntsman with the Barguest or hound of death.
Today, however, there are no cobblers hammers to be heard tapping away, only the sound of a milking machine or a tractor and the occasional motor car.
Country and Coast, Yorkshire Post
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