Garsdale and Grisedale

 

Today’s walk is a bit of something different and I pondered long and hard over the map to try and find somewhere that I was unfamiliar with within the usual areas of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. As usual one of the main governing points relating to walking was the inclusion of a suitable pub, and the pub featuring today is the Moorcock Inn which is just down the road from Garsdale Station. I had been the past the pub numerous times previously whilst driving along the A684 towards Hawes. I did a little bit of research on the Internet prior to setting off on the walk and it transpired that the pub was under new management and have been closed for a brief time for refurbishment so this seemed quite promising, and another appealing point about it was the curiosity I had harboured when I had passed previously.

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The Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head on the A684

As usual we set off on a Saturday morning and approached via Sedbergh on the A684 Hawes road. We managed to park at the side of the road near the adjacent junction with the B6259.

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OS Route Map
3D Route Map
3D OS Route Map
Route Profile
Route Elevation Profile

We got out of the car, changed our footwear and pulled our rucksacks out of the boot and made a start on the route, however, that start proved to be short-lived because Mrs Muddy Boots needed to use the loo and so a visit into the Moorcock Inn was required so she could use the facilities. We walked around to the front of the pub and entered through the door and were pleasantly surprised by the internal layout, with the large room on the left being a relaxed seating area with a counter at one and providing coffee, teas and cakes, and the area to our right containing the public bar and dining area. The ‘coffee’ area had stone/slate flooring whilst the dining area to our right was carpeted, there was a large sign reminding inconsiderate walkers about their footwear when entering the dining area.

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The discrimination I receive!

Whilst Mrs Muddy Boots availed herself of the facilities I went and purchased two large coffees, a scone with cream and jam, and a substantial piece of chocolate cake and took a seat by the window. I can’t remember the exact cost for this but I did check with the lady behind the counter to see that she added it all up correctly as it seemed a little low, however she confirmed that the price was correct – Yorkshire prices again! You can’t beat’em!

We lingered over our coffee and cakes and then decided we really had to make a move and exited the pub via the front door and turned right onto the main tarmac road. After a short time of walking west along the road we came to a signpost on our left which indicated the Trans-Pennine Bridleway, we took this route and headed towards Dandrymire Viaduct on the Settle and Carlisle line, we passed under the vast structure and then started a gradual ascent of the path leading to Garsdale Station.

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Dandrymire Viaduct

We ventured slightly off the planned route and walked onto the platform of Garsdale Station itself, and came to the conclusion that it was a shame that the majority of railway stations in this country were not of the same high standard of architecture and upkeep.  It had all the appearance of being a heritage line, not an actual station on the national network. The station was built in 1876, as was Garsdale Head itself, which is a collection of railway workers cottages and the station buildings themselves. It was originally called Hawes Junction however this changed when the line to Hawes was lifted (although the Wensleydale Railway is trying to reinstate the tracks back along their original route)

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Well kept station buildings at Garsdale
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Garsdale Station looking south… Next stop St Pancras!
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Garsdale signal box needing a touch of paint

Whilst mooching about on the platform I spotted a little red squirrel which had come from the pine forests situated to the south of the down platform and it skipped, hopped and darted along the platform, then down onto the track, across the track and then scurried up onto the platform I was stood on and subsequently disappeared between some of the nearby houses – I went to try and find it to get a close up shot, but couldn’t see it anywhere. I was really pleased at seeing this as red squirrels are a rare treat and I was fortunate to have my camera to hand and grabbed some shots of it.

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Red Squirrel waiting for the train

We departed the railway station and descended the tarmac access road until we got back onto the main Sedbergh to Hawes Road. We crossed at a farm called East Clough and then headed upwards through a field with Highland cattle and plenty of mud. Mrs Muddy Boots wasn’t happy about the cattle at all, as she convinced herself that they were all bulls and they were going to charge, in my view they look quite friendly and just generally disinterested.

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Image from a shortbread tin

We soon reached a wild, grassy plateau and looked down into the valley to our left in which ran Grisedale Beck, and tried to see what was highlighted on the map as Clough Force, however there was very little to be seen, except an excavator down in the bottom where the beck ran which appeared to be clearing the remnants of the recent flooding; it was possible that Clough Force had been swept away or we were looking in the wrong place. We continued walking along the footpath and came across a recently renovated vernacular Pennine farmhouse which is marked as Blake Mire on the map. It had a new access road created to it and the view from this location was quite extensive and uninterrupted which  gave the appearance of it being quite isolated, which it could be after heavy snow.

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Farmhouse at Blake Mire
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Disused barn with Blake Mire farmhouse to the rear

We passed through the small picket gate in the surrounding drystone wall, past the shippon end of the farmhouse and we picked up the new access road rather than the public footpath and this quickly took us down to Grisedale Road, which is the main public thoroughfare that runs up the valley and forms the main access route for these isolated farmsteads. Grisedale Road is marked as a public road on the OS map but is really single track tarmac strip and has clumps of grass growing through the centre of it due to its lack of regular traffic. We continued walking north on Grisedale Road and gradually ascending the side of the valley. Grisedale itself is now largely unpopulated but was at one time an area of quite extensive farming, and higher up the valley there are a large number of now derelict farm buildings such as West Scale and East Scale farms which have an romantic, secluded isolation to them, although it is a bugger of a trip to nip to the local shops – I presume Tesco would do deliveries here though.

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Looking south down Grisedale from East House farm

We continued walking up the metalled road until we got to East House which is the last farm on this road. The tarmac road continues past East House, going steeply uphill until the tarmac abruptly stops and the route turns into a gravelled bridlepath that runs along the side of the valley at high level. This appeared a little odd at first, as though the tarmac gang decided to knock off on a Friday afternoon and then come back on Monday to continue laying the black stuff and just didn’t turn up again to continue the job. Once we got to the end of the tarmac road the path actually levelled out and we had a choice of turning left, up and over Grisedale Common, or continuing along to South Lunds Pasture. Being the gluttons for punishment that we are, we turned left up the hill and across the tussock strewn moorland grass, and headed along the bridlepath over Turner Hill and then down towards High Shaw Paddock. The steep uphill climb soon had us out of breath and panting, and we had to stop a number of times to get our breath back and to take in the extensive views. As we were ascending Grisedale Common we were being followed by two other people with large rucksacks who gave the impression of backpacking somewhere, although the major long distance routes were not nearby. We continued along the bridlepath, reached the summit of Turner Hill and began the easy descent down to High Shaw Paddock.

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The view east from Turner Hill
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Looking north to Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang from the descent of Turner Hill
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The derelict High Shaw Paddock with Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang Common behind

On the approach to High Shaw Paddock took an offshoot footpath to our right that led to Shotlock Tunnel. The field in which we walked through was a little rough underfoot with very little definition of the path and made for quite hard going, it was obvious that the footpath through it had not been used in years. We quickly descended the hill and arrived at a small metal gate along which which was a gravel track parallel to the railway lines, we passed through this and turned right over Shotlock tunnel and back onto the B6259 road leading up to Mallerstang.

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Looking north from Shotlock Tunnel

After crossing the tunnel we arrived at the road and took a right turn to the south west and after about 100 yards we climbed up a steep road embankment to a public footpath that lead through a wall and down a hillside to an area called Beck Side. As in Grisedale, there were a number of run down and derelict farm buildings here, and it must have supported a much larger population that it does currently.

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The sign to Beck Side
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Remains of an old farm house at Beck Side

We crossed over the infant River Ure and walked alongside it for a short distance, this obvious riverside path removed some of the planned route and we bypassed some recently rebuilt farmhouses in an area called Lunds. The footpath we took actually ran past what appeared to be an old chapel with a number of long neglected grave stones within the consecrated ground surrounding it. We paused here for a short time and actually went into the chapel itself which was a small stone structure the small valve tower at one end and was whitewashed internally with a timber pew against one gable. There was very little information about this building so I made a mental note to look it up when I got back home to find more about it. It was quite sad looking at the structure and the surrounding gravestones as they have long been forgotten by the families that had paid for them to be erected and to act as a memorial to their loved ones. The majority of the headstones were over 200 years old and date from when the population of this area would have been much larger than it is now. The descendants of these people are most likely moved on to other parts of the country or even the world and wouldn’t know they even exist.

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The interior of Lunds Chapel
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Lunds Chapel with decaying gravestones
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Looking north beyond Lunds Chapel

We left the little chapel at Lunds behind and ascended Cowshaw Hill with its lone timber signpost indicating the route of the public footpath we continued making our way along to  Blades Farm. On the way to Blades Farm we happened to cross one of the worst fields in existence.

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Lonely signpost atop Cowshaw Hill

The footpath was marked across the field on the map, however we could see no sign of it when we got there.

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nd had to make out an approximate route from A to B. The ground underfoot, which could not be seen due to the length of the grass, was rutted and uneven and increased the risk of twisting one’s ankle. After struggling across this extremely poor ground for fifteen minutes we arrived at the farm track that led to the Blades habitations, and we both agreed that this was the worst path we had ever crossed in a long long time and just walking steadily on even ground was a blessing. We continued along the farm track that led to Blades and passed left through a small gate, behind the buildings and crossed a small secluded beck, and ended up on a gravelled track that provided access to Blades.

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Secluded Beck behind the Blades farmhouses

Soon this left the Blades access road and turned into a public footpath running alongside the River Ure we stopped at Ure Force where the river tumbled down a number of limestone slabs and created an interesting waterfall and pools.

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Ure Force tumbling over limestone slabs

At this point we walked onto a well made track and a substantial bridge crossing the River Ure which led from Yore House back to the main tarmac road leading up to Mallerstang. We took an obvious shortcut of a footpath along the nice grassy swathe which brought us out directly to the rear of the pub.

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Bridge leading to Yore House

We arrived back at the car and changed our footwear (again!) and decided to go back into the Moorcock to rebalance our fluids and also to peruse the menu. We entered the pub and as I approached the bar and ordered a couple of drinks, Mrs Muddy Boots found a table and read through the menu. The menu wasn’t huge, but appeared to be good home cooked food; nothing fancy, nothing drizzled, just good cooking which one would expect in a pub like this. It turned out on reading the menu that this was a “temporary menu” and was only in place until the new owners had managed to find their feet and produce something better – I really hope they stick to well produced ‘pub food’ and not gastropub stuff with jus’, drizzled this and that and pan-seared stuff. The pub was busy but we found a table, sat down and sipped our drinks and studied the menu. A large number of people in the pub were eating too, so we could see what was on offer as various plates of food were brought out, and it looked good too, so we proceeded to go back to the bar and order our evening. We both went for steak pie and chips; the pie was home-made and the proportions provided were more than ample for two hungry walkers. We got stuck into the food when it arrived and really made short work of it, and due to the proportions we had to decline the pudding. After finishing our evening meal and ordering some more drinks the time to leave arrived and we had to reluctantly face the long drive back home.

As we made our way along the A683 towards Sedbergh, and the M6, and drove west into the setting sun,  we were treated to a superb sunset with the sun dipping behind the Howgills which was a fitting end to a great day’s walking.

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Sunset behind the Howgills

 

 

A Circuit Around Littondale

Today is a Saturday, and it is also walking day; the first day of the weekend and the day for catching up on those jobs that cannot be done during the week. One of those jobs related to my car which had been off the road for some repairs and I had been lucky enough to have the use of my mothers car for the time that mine was unavailable. I had agreed to drop it off for her on Saturday morning so I decided to get it washed and valeted prior to taking it back and then setting off on the walk.

We got to the car wash, and they said it would take about an hour as there were others in the queue before me. This gave us time to kill. Fortunately there was a Cafe next door to the car wash and they were open for breakfast. Mrs Muddy Boots persuaded me, against my better judgement to call in and grab some breakfast. I knew temptation would get the better of me, and it did, and a “Full Monty” was duly ordered. We sat down with our cups of tea and awaited delivery of our food. After a short time the waitress appeared with two rounds of toast each and then a large plate each of bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, sausages, tomatoes, hash brown and fried bread. All this for £4.95 including the tea and toast. I did think this would be sufficient to keep me going for the next few days, if not for the duration of our walk today.

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The Full Monty

After finishing off the huge breakfast, we collected my mothers car from the car wash and valeting shop and drove it back to her house. We then proceeded to drive to the Yorkshire Dales along the A59 towards Skipton and then up wonderful Wharfedale and into Littondale.

On arriving in Arncliffe the only practical place to park was outside the Falcon Inn. There are no parking restrictions as such, but I am wary of parking outside the houses of others as they may require the place to bring shopping in from their cars and I don’t like being inconsiderate. Additionally, I live in a small village which has a very popular village pub, and many people go for a ‘run out’ to this country pub and then park directly outside my house which is very frustrating when trying to unload my car, and even more frustrating as the pub has a large car park which these inconsiderate people seem unable to use. As is usual on walking trips, Mrs Muddy Boots has to nip to the loo at regular intervals, so we went into the Falcon so she could avail herself of the facilities and thus I started this walk with a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker inside me.

Distance – 6 miles
Ascent – 937 feet

OS 3D MapRoute Profile

We exited The Falcon through the front door and turned left to walk down the side of the pub. This took us along a walled track past a small, attractive telephone exchange and along onto what possibly was an old drovers road that lead up the fellside.

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Old Drovers Road Leading from Arncliffe

As we started gaining height we came across a signpost on our right indicating the path to Malham which was six and a half miles away, via the Monks Road (as the OS Map has it). Fountains Abbey used to own much of the land around here, so it is likely that the name of this path came about from its use by the Abbey.

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Signpost outside Arncliffe

We made our way up the Monk’s Path which rose high above Cowside Beck and above Yew Cogar Scar. The sun was trying to break through the clouds and it was quite warm. As the path began to level out we sat down on the soft, springy grass whilst admiring the vista up Littondale. The sun had broken through the cloud and was now beating down on our faces. We lay back on the soft grass looking upwards watching the clouds changing shape and passing by against their blue background. Well, with the huge breakfast, and a couple of Timothy Taylor’s inside we both nodded off for an hour. I awoke to the sound of skylarks and sheep, whilst Mrs Muddy Boots slowly stirred, stretched languidly and mumbled about staying there for another couple of hours.

After a short time we reluctantly arose, pulled our rucksacks on and continued gently ambling our way along the Monks Path high above the tumbling Cowside Beck with the glorious expanse of Littondale stretching out behind us, and apart from us there was nobody else around.

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Looking back to Littondale from the Monk’s Path
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Arncliffe from the Monk’s Path
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The View up Littondale
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Looking toward Potts Moor and Out Moor above Litton

We continued walking steadily uphill and arrived at a small dry valley named as Clowder on the map. We turned off the Monks Path and proceeded to walk upwards across the tussocky moorland between small limestone outcrops of this dry valley until we reached the highest point of the walk. We were quite fortunate as there were a number of intersecting drystone walls up here with gates at the points they intersected and some small sheepfolds which allowed us to pass through into different pastures.

As we started the descent to High Cote Moor, Mrs Muddy Boots started walking back uphill towards  a section of galvanised wire sheep fencing blocking a tumbled down part of a wall. At this point there was a sheep which looked like it was scratching its back against one of the timber fence posts. As She got closer she shouted me to come back up as the sheep which she had seen had both its horns tangled in the wire fencing and could not free itself. I walked up to the fence and the sheep was wanting to run away from me. I got a strong hold of it by the horns and managed to free one side of its head, and then the other. Now I know sheep are a bit thick, and their sole ambition in life is to die, but I do feel this one sensed I was trying to help it and it stopped struggling after a short while until its head was free again, and at this point it trotted off and at a distance of about ten yards, stopped, turned around and made several short bleats which I understood to be it saying “Thank You” – you can’t beat a nice bit of anthropomorphism!

After my good deed of the day we continued walking down the hillside to the obvious bridle path at High Cote Moor. We picked up the path and made our way along it north eastwards gradually descending to Arncliffe Cote.

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Looking down to High Cote Moor
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Cote Gill dropping over a limestone outcrop
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Looking up Littondale from above Arncliffe Cote

We made steady progress down from High Cote Moor as the bridlepath was both well made and clear. We passed through the small, ancient farmstead of Arncliffe Cote and eventually arrived on the main tarmac road up the valley. We turned right and made our way along the road to Outgang Lane which lead us to the River Skirfare, which sounds like be a Norse name if ever I heard one, although I am no expert on these matters. Our arrival at the river was greeted by a substantial steel footbridge leading across to Hawkswick, although we didn’t cross the bridge, but turned left to the path which runs alongside the river.

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Footbridge to Hawkswick

As we made our along the valley floor through lush, green pasture land back to Arncliffe there were parts of the path that had been washed away by the floods earlier in the year and deep scars in the earth on the river banks were indicative of the force of the water that had come down this valley. As the ground was flat we managed to get a good pace going and we soon arrived back in Arncliffe via the Old Vicarage, which is a grand looking building for such a small place, and we passed between it and the church of St Oswald.

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St Oswald’s Church, Arncliffe
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The village stocks at Arncliffe, on the approach to the Lychgate of St Oswalds (should be brought back into use in my opinion)

We walked through the little side streets of the village and came out on the Green onto which most of the cottages face. We walked up the green and back to The Falcon Inn. As is usual, we had to rebalance our fluids, and on entering the pub a couple of pints of the landlords finest brew were ordered. The Falcon is unique in that it has no cellar and very little space behind the bar, and the casks are tapped and a large jug is filled from which the Landlord then fills the pint glasses with a practised ease.

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The Village Green at Arncliffe
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The Falcon Landlord handling big jugs with ease

As we sipped our beers we contemplated ordering our evening meal here, however we decided that as this was the second time we had been in here in one day we should try further up the valley at Litton and see what the Queens Arms was like. After we finished our drinks we drove up the valley a couple of miles until we got to Litton. There were a large number of cars parked outside the pub, so we weren’t hopeful of getting a table, however when we got through the door and ordered a drink the bar staff found us a table for two in the dining room.

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Testing a pint of Greene King in the Queens Arms
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Wall map in the dining room of the Queens Arms

The dining room was very well presented with attractive table settings. We ordered Steak Pie and Chips and a King Prawn Curry, both of which were really delicious and were served in ample proportions too. We had to decline the pudding. We slowly finished our drinks and reluctantly paid our bill and left the establishment. We got into the car and began the long drive home whilst discussing what a great day we had both had.

Littondale, we will be back!

 

Sunday 11th October – Bolton Abbey and Strid Wood

As autumn had truly arrived, Mrs Boots and myself decided to have a short stroll around Bolton Abbey, the ruins of a 12th Century Augustinian monastery on the banks of the River Wharfe, in Yorkshire. Previous experience here, and from when we did the Dalesway, showed it could be quite glorious and a riot of colour when the trees were in peak form.

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Autumn Leaves near Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire

As the walk was along very well made paths through woodland, the usual outfit of ‘walking gear’ was discarded and the Country Gent look of a window pane check Harris Tweed jacket and jeans came into play although I did stick to a pair of leather walking boots as a nod towards practicality. It was like I was walking straight from the page of a Barbour catalogue, and all that was missing was the chocolate Labrador dog and flat cap. In all fairness, it made a nice change from a pair of walking shorts and my well travelled, (and well worn) Berghaus ‘Windstopper’ fleece that is usually covering me in the cooler months.

Total Distance – 5 miles
Total Ascent – 690 ft

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OS Map of the Route

3D Route

3D View of the Walk

Route Profile
The Elevation Profile of the Walk

It had been a few years since we last came here, and the places for car parking are quite abundant due to there being several car parks available, so we decided to stop at the Bolton Abbey village car park and walk down to the ruins of the priory. We drove past the Devonshire Arms coming from the A59 and turned left into the village car park. I did remember to bring some change along with me as I thought it was a ‘pay & display’ type of arrangement, however I was wrong and we had to pay on entry, or to be more accurate we were robbed on entry by a kind faced, pleasant elderly chap in a wooden hut who was masquerading as Dick Turpin without the garb of a Regency fop. The chap didn’t even wield a pair of flintlocks and demand that I ‘stand and deliver‘ either, but one thing is certain is that it was Highway Robbery. This car park attendant relieved me of eight quid whilst keeping a gentle smile on his face…yes, that is no typo, EIGHT ‘EFFIN QUID! – Having no choice to park elsewhere as we were hemmed in to the rear by other vehicles, we entered the car park, found a space and stopped the motor. We thought it prudent to avail ourselves of the facilities provided in order to maximise our value for money, although I didn’t really need to go. For some mistaken reason I had thought the car park was a National Trust one, and had the anticipation of smugly using our membership to avoid laying out the cash. It transpired that the car park actually belongs to the Bolton Abbey Estate, part of the Duke of Devonshire’s back garden, and we know that Chatsworth House, in Derbyshire, does cost a few bob to maintain so who can blame them for getting as much as they can – supply and demand and all that malarkey.

We left the car park and its facilities and strolled through the ‘village’ of Bolton Abbey towards the ruins of the Priory. Calling it a village is a tad ambitious really, as it seems to be no more than a collection of about twelve houses. I’m not an expert on the collective nouns of dwellings and the numerical thresholds, or other criteria that dictate what they are called, but it is definitely not a village in my book. In the same way that people who live in the suburbs of big cities call their own areas villages, such as “Didsbury Village” in the endless, sprawling, monotonous suburbia to the south of Manchester. The last time this area could have been close to a village would have been at the start of the industrial revolution; how can it be a village when it is completely surrounded by masses of housing and urban sprawl and there is no demarcation of a Green Belt?… Pfff! I rest my case m’lud.

We continued to head towards the Priory ruins, and passed through a very rough looking opening in the old, but nevertheless impressive Priory boundary wall which appeared to have been made by some builders I’m sure I have mistakenly tendered work to in the past. We followed the well made gravel path downhill towards the river Wharfe and the Priory ruins.

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Ruins of the Augustinian Priory adjacent the village of Bolton Abbey

As we got closer to the ruins we could see the masses of people gathering down by the river and stepping stones. I had forgotten how busy this place gets at weekends and we should have known what it would be like from our second experience visiting here  which was more than twenty years ago, and an episode in our life that we still talk and laugh about to this day. We first came here late one evening in summer in the early 1990’s and not long after Mrs MB and myself had met. The area was deserted and had an air of romantic dereliction about it, so we decided that we would come back during the summer with a picnic hamper and blanket and sit by the river relaxing in the sunshine and admiring the ‘picturesque’ in the manner of late eighteenth century aesthetes such as Wordsworth at Tintern Abbey. Later that year we proceeded to do exactly this. We made a good range of picnic type comestibles, packed into a wicker picnic hamper, complete with leather straps, fine porcelain crockery and silver cutlery and set off to Bolton Abbey. We arrived there mid morning, and found a decent spot close to the river. There was just us and a couple of others walking dogs. We laid out our blanket and settled down on it under the growing heat of the morning sun in anticipation of relaxing solitude whilst languidly nibbling on the treats we had made. Visions played through my mind of a scene from a Merchant Ivory film production, all dappled sunlight and soft focus cameras. During the next two hours the whole of Bolton Abbey transformed from an oasis of beautiful and quixotic solitude to a Yorkshire Dales equivalent of Blackpool beach in the 1930’s, and then to further ruin our day, we had placed the wicker basket on an unseen ant-hill and they were now happily crawling all over its contents. We quickly packed up and despondently trudged back to the car in dismay, vowing never to go back to Bolton Abbey, or more veraciously, never to go back on an August Bank Holiday weekend.

We had a wander around the Priory ruins and studied them in greater detail than I have ever done before. As I work in construction I always look at these ruined buildings with the thought of the physical labour and cost that went into putting them together, and how much the outlay would be today to build such a monument, if it could get built at all with the restrictive planning laws we now have in force. After a lengthy mooch we left the Priory behind and crossed the river Wharfe by the footbridge (we avoided the famous stepping stones on which there was a large queue forming due to a woman in a burka who had got two thirds of the way across and then panicked and had frozen) and followed the Dalesway footpath along through the woods which run beneath Cat Crags. Whilst there were a number of people around, it was certainly less crowded than the Priory ruins. We ambled along the well made path which snakes its way roller coaster-like through the mature deciduous woodland until we started to drop downhill to a ford in the road and crossed Pickles Beck by the adjacent footbridge and picked up the Dalesway to continue walking along the riverbank again.

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Bolton Priory from Cat Crags above the River Wharfe
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Remains of stone tracery in the North Transcept
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The Roofless Chancel at Bolton Priory

We soon crossed the wooden bridge over the Wharfe and approached the Cavendish Pavilion where we decided to stop for tea and scones. The Pavilion has undergone a large transformation in the twenty-odd years since we first came across it. It is also a wedding venue now and scrubs up well for an old girl (the Pavilion was originally built in 1890). Now, I don’t want to be a whinger, but the price for two teas and two scones with cream and jam seemed to have come from the same “How to Fleece Your Customers with a Smile” book as the car parking charges. It was about sixteen quid for two. One of the reasons we go to Yorkshire is for Yorkshire prices, and these were not Yorkshire prices.

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Wooden Bridge over the Wharfe at Cavendish Pavilion

We decided to sit outside to eat and drink and to watch the world go by as the weather was quite pleasant. It was interesting to note that about 85% of the people walking past were young families who appeared to have come from the same mould as each other. The Dad was late thirties dressed in a nylon down jacket, jeans and Hunter wellies. The ‘missus’ was also dressed similarly but with blonde hair in a pony tail, and it felt like I was sat watching an Ark building convention due to the large number of “Noah’s”  running around. A name that seems to be the male equivalent of Chelsey, fashionable now, but a hinderance to its owner in future when it comes to getting your CV on the ‘must interview’ pile when applying for jobs. The Cavendish Pavilion car park was visible from where we were, and they we all getting into and out of the same type of Audi / BMW. What came to mind was that they were all trying to be so different from their contemporaries, but have ended up being the same, even down to their choice of children’s names. Identikit Families – maybe there is a section in Ikea where you can get one?

We finished our tea and continued on our way along the Dalesway footpath and continued up through Strid Wood. The ultimate objective of the stroll was to get to the Strid. This is a narrowing in the bedrock of the river and the whole of the river Wharfe tries to pass through this narrow cleft in the rock. Imagine the river being twisted through ninety degrees for a short distance and then back again and this will give a reasonable representation of the Strid. The Strid is only about two metres wide, and foolhardy visitors have in the past tried to jump across this roaring chasm. Failure is invariably fatal, however, as there is no recorded incidence of anyone having survived a fall into the swirling dark waters of the Strid which mercilessly sucks its victims into the underwater caves and eroded tunnels which lie hidden underneath each side of the rocky channel. It has even been immortalized by William Wordsworth in his poem, “The Force of Prayer

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“The Strid” on the River Wharfe

We had a lengthy pause at the Strid before turning around and walking back the way we had come. The path was much quieter now with the majority of the families having headed home, no doubt to get their evening meals and get little Noah ready for school. This is one of the reasons we always set off later than most on our walks because the crowds tend to have a herd instinct and will all vanish around the same time of day. The sun had started to lower in the sky and the light was fading as we approached the Priory, and we continued past back through the gate in the old priory walls and across the road to the car park. Again, we maximised our value by taking advantage of the facilities on the car park again and eventually got back to the car.

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The River Wharfe at Strid Wood
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The Bodgers Camp near to Cavendish Pavilion
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Bolton Priory and The Stepping Stones

All in all it was a pleasant stroll and the autumn trees were truly magnificent in their varied hues. The walk is very accessible and could partially be done by those with limited mobility, however they may struggle on the steep sections through the woods nearest the Priory. Give it a go, but try to get there on a quiet sunny day in mid Autumn.