Historic buildings

Fall on a 19th Century Ranch, 2019

If we had all the money in the world and the California Department of Parks and Recreation was selling the Burleigh H. Murray Ranch, we would pay whatever was needed to never have to leave that ranch. Until then, we’re grateful that it’s only a 30 minute car ride away, near Half Moon Bay. The interpretive sign at the site of the barn (transcribed below), a half mile from the park entrance, places visitors in time and space, history and nature.

The interpretive sign informs us that “Robert Mills built this unusual barn in 1889 for his tenants. Originally 200 feet long, it could house 100 cows.”

“Robert Mills (1823-1897) acquired 1,300 acres in this secluded valley between 1862 and 1884, and added a house, dairy barn, and outbuildings to make it a working ranch. For more than a century, Mills and his heirs leased the ranch to recently immigrated English, Irish, Italian, and Portuguese farmers. Mills, a native of England, came to California in the Gold Rush. He made his start in San Francisco as a glazier; his work included ornamental glass for William Ralston’s Belmont home and the original Palace Hotel in San Francisco. He invested his earnings in land on the Peninsula, and became a major financial patron to early settlers of half Moon Bay and the Coast side. He moved to Belmont in 1877. After Mills’ death, the ranch passed to his wife, Miranda Murray (1831-1913), then her son, Burleigh Chase Murray (18650-1937), and her grandson, Burleigh Hall Murray (1892-1978). The Murray estate donated the ranch to the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 1979 to preserve its cultural and natural resources. The park has since grown to 1325 acres.”

[Transcription continued] “As you travel up the trail, you will see three major habitats: the moist riparian corridor along Mills Creek, shaded by red alder trees; coastal prairie grasslands on the drier south-facing slopes; and, dense coastal scrub on the shady north-facing slopes. Common coastal scrub plants include coyote brush and orange-blossomed sticky monkey flower. Ceanothus shrubs edge the upper trail with fragrant blue blossoms in the spring. Human-created habitats include the fields along the road, now overgrown by mustard and radish, and the dense groves of eucalyptus trees, planted for lumber and as windbreaks. Many species of animals live in or visit the park throughout the year. Birds include red tailed hawks, California quail, and owls. Deer graze in the grassy fields. Nocturnal inhabitants, such as bobcats, raccoons, opossums, and skunks, are less commonly seen, but you may see their footprints in the dust or mud along the trail.”

The barn, Sept 2019

The barn, Sept 2019

The barn, Sept 2019

Antique Deering-McCormick agricultural equipment, Sept 2019

The history of the Deering/McCormick merger is pretty interesting. If memory serves from my time as archivist at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Deering team and the McCormick team negotiated from different buildings–not sides of the table, not rooms, but buildings–that’s how well they got along. Photo taken Sept 2019.

Common California Aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia), Sept 2019

Common California Aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia), Sept 2019

If anyone knows the name of this plant, please let us know in the comments. I love the way it made the sky look like lace. Photo taken Sept 2019.

Interlocked eucalyptus, Sept 2019

Sneezeweed (Helenium puberulum) in a eucalyptus grove, Sept 2019

Sept 2019

Twinberry Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata), Sept 2019

Twinberry Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata), Sept 2019

Red alders (Alnus rubra), Sept 2019

Let us know in the comments if you can name this elegant flower. The broad leaves are misleading; I think the flower’s leaves are the slender leaves close to the ground. Photo taken Sept 2019.

Field Crescent butterfly (Phyciodes pulchella), Sept 2019

Red alders (Alnus rubra), Sept 2019

Giant Mountain Dandelion

California Dandelion (Agoseris grandiflora), Sept 2019

Where the trail ends, Sept 2019

Leafless red alders (Alnus rubra), Nov 2019

Nov 2019

Nov 2019

Nov 2019

This is the interpretive sign that I transcribed above.

Resources Consulted:
Calscape, California Native Plant Society

Cycling The Ridgeway Trail – Day 3, Apr 2017

902 ft maximum height
National Trails The Ridgeway Trip Planner

The time between our brains receiving the message “Ache in bum region” to the time the message changed to “What heavenly surroundings,” was once again very rapid. The ascent up the side of the ridge was steep and wild and the trail rutted and crumbly. Gauthier carries Ollie in the basket except when riding up hills. Here’s how it works: I generally follow behind; when Gauthier stops at the base of hills to remove Ollie, he yells, “Go Emily, go!” at which cry I whiz past and Ollie tears after me.

racehorse gallop

A racehorse gallops!

The section of The Ridgeway between Wantage and Goring is a dream to ride. It has large stretches of grassy hard-pack, hardly any ruts, and few if any steep hills.

GWR tunnel
We stopped to have a snack atop a derelict GWR tunnel. “I remember riding this line with my dad before it was shut down in 1963,” a passing hiker told us.

leaving The Ridgeway
Before we knew it we were saying goodbye to The Ridgeway and turning our bikes towards Goring, a village of 3,200 inhabitants with a Norman church.

Goring village with view of church

Goring was recently in the press for being the home of and place where George Michael passed away. It’s also Wind in the Willows country.

Goring Lock

The homes are old, posh and lush. Goring Lock (above) is situated in Goring Gap.

mossy roof of Catherine Wheel
Catherine Wheel is Goring’s oldest inn, dating back to Elizabethan times. It serves traditional British food (i.e., a variety of roast dishes) and real ale, hosts live jazz, has a predilection for all things French…

French safari-inspired wallpaper at the Catherine Wheel

French safari-inspired wallpaper at the Catherine Wheel

and a sign at the bar informs guests that “Witches are welcome.”

Goring Gap with boats
Our final stop was Reading and to get there we took the Thames Path, which cuts through The Ridgeway just north-west of Reading at the Goring Gap.

Norman church

We followed a quiet, gently descending road, canopied by trees and intermittently littered with horse droppings. The soundscape was fantastic: birdsong, burbling brook and the distant clip clop of horses’ hooves. Hidden behind the dense foliage was a large estate with another lovely Norman church.

donkeys
Ollie loves donkeys. These friendly fellows ambled over to say hello. Ollie gave one of them a little lick on the nose.

Ollie gives the donkey a lick
After taking us through the countryside, the Thames Path took us up a pine-scented hill with a wonderful view of the river.

Thames Path with view of Thames
The trail was narrow.

narrow path

and hilly.

steep descent
Can you picture Mr. Toad careening down this hill in a motor car? “Oh, pooh! I’m not afraid of heights! Silly, boyish fear! Sheer waste of time! Toot, toot!!”

steep ascent
It took a bit out of us to carry our bikes up this slope. Parts of the Path front lavish homes.

grazing cattle

and other parts take you past farms.

Mapledurham
And a very short detour takes you to Mapledurham, a tiny village of 317 inhabitants named after a 12th century family estate with one of the largest Elizabethan houses in Oxfordshire.

water mill

Also on the estate is the only water mill on the Thames to be in commercial production; the same water mill that graces the cover of Black Sabbath’s first album.

Mapledurham
Among the films and television programs filmed here are The Eagle has Landed, Miss Marple and Midsomer Murders.

Thames Path in Reading
Thames Path brings you almost to the doorstep of the Reading train station. With only minutes to spare until the next train left for London, and loath to wait an hour for the next one, we raced through the large station with Ollie at our heals and reached the train just in time. As Gauthier swung his bike aboard, Ollie leaped on after it, hopped up onto an empty seat and curled into a little ball. He was not about to be left behind!

To read more about our experience cycling the Ridgeway Trial, see our posts for Day 1 and Day 2.

Resources Consulted

BBC News: Wind in the Willows used in Goring Weir court plea, 18 November 2016