Banty barn interpetation panel

Our ranger Michael Briggs has just sent these rather fab photos of the Banty Barn panel we’ve installed on the Buttertubs Road  – it’s the first item from the project that many visitors will come across when the arrive in upper Swaledale so we hope people find it informative and that it inspires them to find out more about the project.

Every Barn project postcard

Way back when the project outputs got underway at the beginning of 2017 we produced a postcard for visitors telling them all about what the local cowhouses were for.  This was as a result of talking to local tourism businesses who told us that their visitors were always asking what the little buildings in the fields were for. We distributed copies of the card at the start of the holiday season to visitor businesses and asked them for feedback.

Every Barn Tells a Story postcard
Every Barn Tells a Story postcard

Based on that feedback, almost the last thing we have produced for the end of the project has been a new postcard which businesses will be able to use throughout next year. It’s smaller and has better labelling of all the parts of the cowhouse and there is more room on the back for people to write messages. We hope everyone likes them.

Final Every Barn… postcard

Free copies of trail booklets

If you’d like to own a free set of our six Every Barn… trail booklets, then pop into reception at our offices in either Grassington (Colvend BD23 5LB) or Bainbridge (Yoredale DL8 3EL) and pick one up while stocks last.



New homes for our ghost cows

Ghost cows ‘Frith’ and ‘Skeugh’ and their calves have now been moved to their new homes for the winter so that farmer John Rukin can get the use of his cowhouse back. ‘Frith’ is staying in Keld with the local community. Apparently she enjoyed watching over an evening of dominoes in Keld Public Hall last week! One of the calves has taken up residence in the byre inside the Keld Resource Centre and is saying hello to visitors.

And finally, ghost cow ‘Skeugh’ has been carried over the Buttertubs Pass into Wensleydale and now has pride of place in the foyer of the National Park Authority’s Yoredale office in Bainbridge. We’ve just been sent this photo of her watching the comings and goings.

Song composed for Ghost Cow Night

Hearing the local choir called ‘The Cousins’ sing this out into the darkness to call the ghost cows down off Kisdon was really rather special. Here are the words – we’re hoping to post a recording of the music shortly:

The Tale of the Swaledale Cow’us

Cu-ish, [shout] Come on!

Come on Cushy Pet

Come on Cow

Come on Cushy Cow


Verse:        The old Swordle Cow’us , there’s nowt in-side.

There Once was a time when the old barn thrived,

Its use has gone, its time has died,

Its where the old tup hides.


Chorus:      Then the Farmer called out…

Cu-ish, [shout] Come on!

Come on Cushy Pet

Come on Cow

Come on Cushy Cow


The tale it tells is both old and new,

The cows, the calls and the old hay mew.

The Ghost Barn calls where e’er we roam,

The old Cow’us is home.


Chorus:      Then the Farmer called out…


The Cow’us had cows, the haymew’s full.

The ridstakes used to keep shorthorns still.

The long dark days were cold and grey.

The group it was always full


Chorus:      Then the Farmer called out…


The kitle hangs ready for its daily use,

The backcan full, the cows didn’t re-fuse.

The Man once lish but not any more,

The never ending work.


Chorus:       Then the Farmer called out…


The days grow long, there’s the smell of spring

The curlews call and the hairbells ring,

Cows sent up til they’ve gone

Up to the hidden hill

Chorus:      Then the Farmer calls out.


Hays all gone, the meadows are sweet,

Cut and turned, with cocks all neat.

The sleds in use when the hay is reet

Folks work hard all day


Chorus:      Then the Farmer calls out…


Days grow short, it’s that time of year

When the pig has gone and the cows re-appear.

The Cow’us is filled, each steaming boose

The cows get a canch each day


Chorus:      Then the Farmer calls out…


Stories told, hard lives lived.

Times that are re-membered still.

Hay went in, milk came out.

Every family loved their land.


Chorus:      Then the Farmer called out…




© Geoff Garrett 2017


Ghost Cow Night photos

We have been sent some more lovely photos from Ghost Cow Night last week. This one shows the choir singing Geoff Garrett’s specially composed song. We’ll post the words in a separate blog.

And here is the leader of the cows, Vince Banks, a drystone waller from Walden, really looking the part

And finally a lovely shot of the crowds of people waiting for their supper in Keld Public Hall, dandelion and burdock at hand.

We’ve put out a press release ‘Ghost Cows Seen on Kisdon‘ which we hope local newspapers will pick up so more people hear about this magical evening.

Art Barn items in action

We’ve already delivered sets of our Ghost Cow Night print coasters and place mats to a couple of bed & bed breakfasts near Keld and were delighted to see them in use at one over the weekend. Looking very smart we thought.

Ghost Cow Night

Well, the night arrived and the weather was so kind to us, cold but clear with only a light breeze. Nearly a hundred people turned up and stood in the dark beside Myers Bottom cowhouse in Keld and watched the magnificent ghost cows (and calves) wend their way down off Kisdon Hill as a local choir sang their specially composed song calling them in for the winter.

It was a truly magical sight, with one visitor quite carried away and remarking that we ought to have left some hay out for them once they were stabled in the cowhouse for the night.

Project Co-ordinator Karen Griffiths had this to say as she introduced the night:

Over the past two years it’s been my privilege and absolute pleasure to work with many of you on the Every Barn (or should I say, cowhouse!) Tells a Story project.

As I researched the history of these iconic Swaledale buildings and above all, as I listened to the voices of the last of you to actually use them for your cattle, I began to carry those stories around with me….

Stories of taking the cows out to their summer pastures in the spring, of spreading muck on the meadows, of milking cows up on Kisdon Side, of haytiming and the hot dusty work treading hay down in the mew. And finally, memories of bringing the cattle down off the hills at the back end of the year and tying them in their booses, followed by cold winter mornings and dark winter evenings watering, foddering and mucking them out.

Every time I opened the door and stepped into one of these empty, silent cowhouses, those stories followed me like ghosts.  And so the idea for Ghost Cow Night was born, and what I hope will be a fitting celebration for the end of a truly magical project.”


After everyone admired the ghost cows snugly housed for the night, we then walked up to Keld Public Hall for a fabulous hog roast followed by traditional fruit pies plus lots of chat and some more singing and reciting of Swardle dialect poems. A thoroughly enjoyable and appropriate celebration of the end of the Every Barn Tells a Story project.