The Hermit's Haunt

We made a return visit to one of the best castles in England, Warkworth in Northumberland.  If you're after a classic medieval fortress, this is the place.

We wandered around the labyrinthine keep and the many majestic towers within the castle.
But then it was off for a stroll along the River Coquet below the castle, where herons glided by gracefully, until we reached a ferry crossing.  We clambered aboard a boat, our unfamiliarity with such vessels causing it to wobble, but we stayed afloat and we were rowed across the water.
Then it was a short stroll along a wooded path...
Past an upside-down tree...
Until we glimpsed a medieval hermitage framed by branches.
Entering the hermitage we passed under an image of the Crucifixion carved in the rock, though weathered by the wind and rain of centuries.
Inside the hermitage appears as any other medieval chapel with rib vaulting and roof bosses, except that here it is simply for effect as the whole thing is carved into a sandstone cliff.
Every architectural detail is there in the rock, with pillars and corbels everywhere, a sort of Northumbrian Petra in miniature.
The hermit himself would have slept in an adjacent room, also carved in the rock, where he could look through the deep windows to the chapel. 
Later generations of hermits had extensions built outside for their accomodation.  Now, I often think I could live in many of the historic places we visit, but despite its quirky charm, this didn't quite give the same cosy feeling.
And then it was a wander back along the river, as we wondered whether the hermit would really have spent his time praying for the souls of the Percys of Warkworth Castle in his hideaway half a mile away and tucked into a cliff on the other side of the river. 

The ferryman gave us more details about the job to help us consider the position of hermit; a salary of 20 marks a year and the rights to sell all the firewood along the riverbank.  We chose to cross the water and leave behind the little chapel in the rock.