Pilgrimage to a place of Protestant Dissent

Smarber path

Setting off for Smarber

In 1689 Philip, Lord Wharton, a puritan sympathiser, had part of his shooting lodge at Smarber, in the Swaledale hills above Low Row converted into a chapel for ‘Protestant Dissenters.’ The chapel, long gone into ruins, was tiny and simple. The tiny hamlet of Smarber hardly exists today.

However, 175 years ago members of my family, lead miners, lived at the small remote settlement at Smarber and some would have worshipped at the ‘dissenters’ chapel.

On a wet February afternoon Dominic, Gregory and I went up the steep hillside path into the hills to see where our forebears had lived and to visit the ruins of the chapel.

Ruins of Smarber Chapel

Ruins of Smarber Chapel

We began with open skies but as we reached the top the winter wind blew grey skies and then rain and cold wind came upon us.

Undaunted the boys carried on, loving the exploring, enjoying fording the small streams, playing with sticks and plodging through the mud. Eventually we reached the chapel ruins with their wonderful views of Swaledale. I reflected on the simple austere life of the miners of that area, and also I reflected on the simple pleasures of the boys, who, no doubt as their ancestors had before them, took delight in walking and running in the fields, looking over the valley of the Swale and throwing teazels at each other – and their father.

Lent approaches. A time to look at the pleasure of simple, uncomplicated living. This Lent, encouraged by the walk to Smarber I will plan a simple walk in the countryside, enjoying the pleasure and simple beauty of nature around us.

Fr Ian


About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2364267899/
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