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The Kilburn White Horse, © Susan Wallace

June 22 – Fairytales Can Come True
The Kilburn White Horse
Kilburn White Horse photo gallery

Off we go into the Yorkshire countryside again; it's well past noon now, but we aren't hungry in the slightest. There's a lot to be said for a full cooked English breakfast. Road atlas at the ready, we head toward Fountains Abbey. It rains, it shines, it rains, it shines.

We talk about the wonders of Castle Howard as traffic whooshes by and soon we have another thing to ooh and ahh about – British drivers. The risks they take are incredible to us. It seems nothing for them to pass on a "blind summit" – a hill so steep that oncoming traffic isn't visible – but I suppose that's how they learned to drive.

Somewhere in the wilds of Yorkshire, with Robin's eyes on the road, and my nose between the pages of the atlas, Dana says "Look," from the back seat. Off in the distance on a hillside is a white horse. Not a horse walking nor a statue of a horse, but embedded in the side of the hill, a huge white limestone horse. Luckily a farm drive is not too far up the road, so we pull in. We greet the sheep who stare stupidly at us, as if to say "more tourists," then walk back along the road to get a better view.

I had read and seen pictures of the Cerne Giant in the south of England, but had never heard of a horse. I learn later, from a close-up view, that the horse is called the Kilburn White Horse. The figure was cut into the side of the hill in 1857 by Thomas Taylor, a native of the village of Kilburn nearby. In 1925 a restoration fund was subscribed by the readers of the Yorkshire Evening post and the sum of £100 was invested to provide for the triennial grooming of the figure. I am a little disappointed when I read this sign at the base of the hill several days later. I so want it to be an ancient carving, but it is still very cool and a complete surprise; our first real "discovery".

We snap our pictures at the roadside, zooming in with long lenses as much as possible, say good-bye to the sheep, who are bored by our presence, and climb back in the car. Off to Fountains Abbey we go.

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