Sunday 16 March 2014

Psychological Wharfe Air (2)

Well, at long last! After what seems like an eternity, we’ve finally got out into the countryside for a proper walk. You know the sort of thing I mean: a boots-and-rucksack-on, plodging-over-the-fields-and-climbing-a-hill type of proper walk. And, rather like the proverbial buses, one was very closely followed by the second.  

Weir by Linton Falls - much less water than last time we were here

And it wasn’t just the wet weather that had left us woefully short of outdoor time since Christmas. With each of us in a new job, and each in possession of a hefty workload, we couldn’t lay the blame purely at the soggy start to the New Year. OK, we’d set sail across some sodden fields on a couple of occasions, but to be honest it had been something of a relief to reach the shore. We'd also had the odd trundle round the local lanes to chalk up a few miles, but on the whole 2014 to date had been rather unsatisfactory.

Until now.

One Friday night each March, I make a sortie up north to support a friend in raising money for their local cricket team. It’s an evening of roast beef, beer and blokey ribaldry, which, these days, is usually followed by a hangover of notable proportions. As an antidote to this bout of "fundraising", Missy G and I have taken to making a weekend of it by spending a couple of days walking in the Yorkshire Dales. This year was to be no exception, and a favourable forecast has us champing at the bit to spend some quality time outdoors.

Couldn't have put it better myself: sign on Linton village green
Seeing double? Two little ducks. No, hang on, that's not right ....

Saturday saw us on one of our regular circuits from Grassington, a 9 mile outing starting off along the Dales Way, dropping down to Conistone via the Dib, then skirting through Grass Wood and descending to walk alongside the Wharfe, before looping up to Linton to return by Linton Church. Conditions were slightly overcast, but it wasn't long before my own personal cloud cover had been shifted by the breeze, and we soon fell into a gentle rhythm, enjoying the fact of being out there once again after such a lengthy lay-off. 

Sunday again started somewhat overcast. From Bolton Abbey, we climbed towards Simon’s Seat via the Valley of Desolation (a misnomer if ever there was one: this is a great path, full of interest and with plenty of wildlife for company – Brown Hares, Rabbits, a Mandarin Duck, Chaffinches, and a pair of Goosander) then out on to the moors of Barden Fell where Red Grouse were our frequent companions.

Waterfall, Valley of Desolation
Valley of Desolation - not to be confused with the Slough of Despond,
which is of course in Berkshire 

Looking back across Barden Moor, Ilkley Moor in the far distance (hat optional)

You ain't seen me, right?

After first lunch, a step descent down to Dalehead Farm returned us to the valley, and we soon picked up the Dales Way. By now, sunshine had broken through, and it was a lovely, warm spring afternoon. We took second lunch sitting on the riverbank, soaking up the warmth, before the final stretch through Strid Wood and back to Bolton Abbey. All in all, it was a pretty good 10-miler – and one which we will more than likely do again.

Simon's Seat from the descent: new erosion control measures in the foreground

Dales Way, near Barden Bridge. In summer, this area is covered in parked cars

The Strid

In a nutshell: spring had sprung, and we were lucky enough to be there when it happened.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely area. In fact........ I'm looking for somewhere to take a friend this weekend, and it might just be here. Nice to have you back amongst the walking Jules and MissyG