The view from here: Richmond Castle

In case you were ever in doubt as to the beauty of a walk around in the British countryside, Walk takes a look at Richmond Castle and its dramatic history.

Mat Robinson's photo of Richmond Castle

The historic market town of Richmond, on the northeastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is often cited as one of the county’s most beautiful to visit.

The sight of the Norman castle overlooking the River Swale is a highlight, but behind its romantic exterior lies a darker story that’s ripe for rediscovery in this centenary of the First World War’s outbreak.

After conscription was introduced in 1916, 16 men were imprisoned in the castle for refusing to fight on moral and religious grounds. They were taken to an army camp in France, court-martialled for disobeying orders and sentenced to death – a sentence commuted at the last minute to 10 years’ hard labour by the Prime Minister.

Staff at the castle can show you graffiti made by the prisoners on the cell walls. Their pacifist stance made them social outcasts, but would eventually lead to a change in attitudes towards conscientious objectors during World War II and help bring about widespread prison reforms.

WHERE: Richmond, North Yorkshire (NZ169005)

MAPS: OS Explorer 304; Landranger 92

Explore the castle and the River Swale with this issue’s Richmond Ramblers Route