A few miles west of Richmond in North Yorkshire, three stones stand high on a cliff looking south over the valley of Swaledale.
Two stones bear the words of Robert Willance, written in 1606.

  Robert Willance was a prosperous entrepreneurial Richmond draper. He had interests in lead mining on his land at Clints, a few miles west again of the stones. He would often of a whim ride alone up the dale, fair or foul the weather.

  On a day in November 1606 he may have been alone on such an excursion; he may have been hunting with friends. Old stories change with the telling and Willance's true tale has many variants in its detail.
  Approaching Deepdale thick mist enveloped him and he tried to return to Richmond. Tales tell that he counted back the ditches he knew were to cross but went astray; others tell that his young and inexperienced horse panicked and took three enormous bounds.
  For certain the pair leapt from the edge of Whitcliffe Scar, their destination invisible in the mist, their fall 212ft; pretty much as the OS contours show. Miraculously Robert survived the fall but with one or some say both legs broken.
The song "Robert Willance" tells how he survived the winter's night.

  To give thanks for his escape he erected a stone at the place of his leap, inscribed with his words. It was replaced in 1734. and again in 1815 and in 1843. An obelisk commemorates the 1906 tercentenary celebrations and a third stone there remembers him in 2006.

Hear Song

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