Monuments of Earl Crag guard their secrets well

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

PIC: Bruce Rollinson

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Wainman’s pinnacle dominates the landscape on Early Crag, a gritstone outcrop which sits above the village of Cowling between Keighley and Skipton.

It affords great views to the north, taking in the Yorkshire Dales and also the Lancashire hills in the Forest of Bowland.

The present day pinnacle was rebuilt in 1900 after the previous structure was left badly damaged by a lightning strike. However, its true origins have passed into local legend. One story has it the monument was erected to mark the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, while a more romantic tale recounts that it was originally put up by one Lady Amcotts, who had found herself widowed after her husband died during the English Civil War.

It was rebuilt in Messrs Gott and Riddiough of Cowling. This is the pinnacle which we see today.

Earl Crag is home to two man-made features, the other one being Lund’s Tower, which sits at the top of a disused quarry. It even has a doorway with some steps inside - once at the top, it offers panoramic views of the surrounding area.

This folly also has an enigmatic history, with some doubt over its true origins. One story has it that it was built to commemorate a jubilee of Queen Victoria, although which jubilee remains a mystery. Another story says it was to mark the 21st birthday of the daughter of James Lund, a member of the landed gentry who lived at Malsis Hall. Yet another story claims it was built to mark her death.

The monuments which bookend the ridge of Earl Crag guard their secrets well but the escarpment itself is renowned by walkers and climbers alike. Indeed, it is often referred to by the latter group as one of the best bouldering crags in Yorkshire. Meanwhile, the village of Cowling, which was originally in the West Riding, was mentioned in the Doomsday Book and is Saxon in origin.

The modern day village is an amalgamation of three previously separate hamlets, known as Ickornshaw, Middleton, and Cowling Hill,

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