Blue plaques there seem to be a plenty, but if you look carefully, you might well stumble across one which is not blue and in a place you might not expect. I discovered this one when travelling on the stunning Settle to Carlisle railway. 

The little town of Settle in North Yorkshire was the last place I would expect to find a plaque to one of our most famous British composers, yet there is the market-place, on what was until recently a branch of the National Westminster Bank (below left), a black plaque to none other than Sir Edward Elgar.

Elgar frequently visited Settle on the south bank of the River Ribble, and  connected via stepping stones to Giggleswick on the north bank, with its ancient church and famous public school. He would stay with his friend Dr Charles William Buck who was the town’s physician. 

They met back in the 1880s was when the British Medical Association held their 50th anniversary at the Shire Hall in Worcester. The 25 year old Elgar was the leader of a local orchestra which provided music for their final soiree. However, Buck was also roped in as he happened to be a keen cellist.

As a result, Buck and Elgar became lifelong friends and soon discover a mutual love of the countryside and walking, and Elgar loved the informality of life in the Yorkshire Dales.

Elgar loved walking and in the company of Dr. Buck they explored the limestone scars, becks and waterfalls of the Craven district which was very different from the softer Malvern Hills which we normally associate with the composer.

Upstream in a deep hidden gorge is a hidden gem – Catrigg Force (above right) – a waterfall where the tumbling waters were said to be one of Elgar’s favourite spots. This waterfall and its serene surroundings are thought to have inspired some of his most famous works.

Written by Nicholas Keyworth