Blisters, Tarts and The Old Dame.

Post 66:  6 April 1993: Day 8 – Hawes Youth Hostel to Aysgarth Falls Youth Hostel- 13 miles

With a relatively short easy days walking ahead, we had a late start at 10.00am, then went into Hawes to purchase some blister kits for Dan. However, when in the chemist, he decided that the money would be better spent on a custard tart! I realised that without a blister kit he would not finish walk and brought some extra ones, just in case.

As we climbed from Hawes towards Cam High Road, we came across a newly born lamb that was clearly suffering from effects of  previous nights appalling weather. We didn’t know what to do with distressed creature, but just as we were about to leave a farmer arrived and took it into a barn. The incident reminded us that the Yorkshire Dales can be a very harsh environment.

The climb between the fells of Drumaldace at 2015 feet and Yorburgh at 1700 feet was tougher than anticipated, then, much to my surprise, Dan burst into a big grin as he decided to tuck into the custard tart he had carried for some 2 miles.

The Big 50_6778_edited-1A little further on we were able to admire Semer Water in the valley below. This glacial lake, surrounded by natural unimproved grassland, is one of the largest expanses of natural water in the Yorkshire Dales. The surrounding nature reserve supports a wide range of flora and fauna and is important for its breeding and migratory populations of wild fowl. It is thought that Iron Age lake-dwellings once existed at Semer Water. The valley containing Semer Water has no satisfactory name, although Semerdale is sometimes used. Above the lake the valley is referred to as Raydale. This is real Dales country.

As we descended towards Bainbridge a brightly coloured rainbow shone before us, with the outline of Addleborough providing the backdrop. Dan was beginning to suffer with his feet, was forced to stop, change his socks, then put the blister pads on which I had purchased. It is not only the stomach that should be looked after on a long-distance walk, but also the feet.

Arriving at Bainbridge a few cottages were passed, one of which on the right had the following sign:

The Old Dame School

Mrs Eliza Blades

186? To 1875

Reading

Writing

Arithmetic

2d per pupil per week

This seems a bit cheaper than private education in the 20th century, where fees can be up to £10,000 per annum.

The Romans came to Bainbridge in about AD80 and established a succession of forts on Brough Hill, a grassy hillock to the east of the village, occupying the site almost continuously for over 300 years. At the centre of the village green, medieval stocks are a reminder of past punishment and were still in use in Queen Elizabeth I’s time.

Although the Rose and Crown overlooking the green is dated 1445 (above the front door), its present appearance suggests an early 19th-century building. Low Mill on the east side of the green has been restored, together with its fine waterwheels; it exhibits dolls’ houses, which can also be made to order. The River Bain, on which the mill is sited, drains from Semer Water into a steep two-mile course, entering Bainbridge over a fine cascade of waterfalls above the main road. It then flows down the eastern edge of the village into the River Ure, being regarded as England’s shortest named river.

The next village on our route was Askrigg. Most houses in Askrigg date from the 18th and 19th centuries, the period of the village’s increasing prosperity through its clock-making, lead mining and textile industries. The Richmond – Lancaster Turnpike, which came through the village in 1751, was also a major influence.

The main street widens near the 15th-century parish church and has as a focal-point an iron bullring in the cobbles. The church is the largest and the most imposing in Wensleydale and the nave roof is one of the finest, if not the finest in North Yorkshire. Opposite is Cringley House, the ‘Skeldale House’ of the BBC television series ‘All Creatures Great and Small.’ This was the surgery-home of Siegfried Farnon, his brother Tristan, and James and Helen Herriot. Through his books and later the films and television series, James Herriot became the world’s most famous vet; he died in 1995 leaving an estate of five million pounds, a staggering sum for any author.

We finally arrived at Aysgarth Falls Youth Hostel in pleasant sunshine, which we took advantage of to view the spectacular Aysgarth Falls, best seen towards the end of the day when all the tourists have gone, or during the long summer evenings. The River Ure, confined between wooded banks, falls over a series of broad, shallow terraces extending over a mile. The falls were at their most impressive, bursting with energy and vitality after the exceptionally heavy overnight rain.

Returning over Aysgarth Bridge to the south bank we passed Yore Mill on the left. The mill was built in 1784-85 as a corn mill but has a chequered history including being burned down in 1853. Rebuilt to twice the original size it subsequently had a variety of uses; between 1912 and 1959 it was a flour mill. Since 1967 its roomy interior has housed the Yorkshire Carriage Museum, which has a fascinating variety of old coaches and carriages, as well as an unequalled view of High Force.

Further up the hill, again on the left, is St Andrew’s Church. Although it was largely rebuilt in 1866, its 4½-acre churchyard indicates its earlier importance as the mother-church for the whole of Upper Wensleydale. Inside the church the exquisite wooden screen filling the south side of the chancel was brought to Aysgarth from Jervaulx Abbey at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was carved in about 1506, by members of the famous Ripon School of Carvers. At its western end is the delicately carved Vicar’s Stall made from two bench-ends from Jervaulx.

Alf took his leave as he had to return to work. Dan and myself were looking forward to a quiet evening in the inn across the road, but were surprised to find it packed with players competing in a big darts competition. We eventually managed to get a seat to rest our weary legs and a drink to quench our thirst.

Cool Volunteer Managers, A Day Off Cycling, a Race with a Threesome, Lunch with Brunel, St David’s!

Post 65: 21 September 2016

The next morning I had my breakfast and then did a packed lunch to take with me on the Brunel Cycling Trail from Haverfordwest (about a 35 minute drive) to Neyland, a round ride of 19 miles.

Just as I was about to leave a New Zealand and French lady, who were camping nearby, turned up for water and use of the public facilities.  The place was getting more international by the minute. They enquired as to why the Volunteer Managers did their job. They explained that they had hostelled over many years and wanted to give something back.

The New Zealand lady said ‘COOL’!!!

I nearly creased up laughing as under no circumstances could I describe my friends as COOL and neither am I!!! The water bottles were filled.  Big smiles and compliments can produce results. We even offered them tea.

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The cycling ride is described in my ‘The Secret Diaries of the Brompton Cycling Family’ blog and includes lunch with Brunel.

If you need a further incentive to view the cycling blog you can read in the blog about my Top Gear running versus cycling race with these three ladies. I had all the cycling gear and they had just their legs!

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After the excitement of the race and getting back to Haverfordwest, I decided I had better get ‘back on course’ and so drove to St David’s, Britain’s smallest city in terms of population and size.

On the way there I saw a Crab Flag!  This was to indicate that someone was selling fresh dressed crab. I could not resist and knowing my friends liked crab I slammed on the brakes and bought three.

The present cathedral was built by the Normans after being destroyed earlier by Vikings in 1087. Pope Calixtus II  declared two pilgrimages to St David’s are the equivalent of one to Rome.

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It is a beautiful and tranquil place place to visit. See slideshow:

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I then headed to Whitesand’s Bay for a coffee

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It was great to eventually get back to the lovely and relaxing views from the hostel balcony after such a busy day!

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There was also a great dinner of dressed crab, beef in red wine and fresh fruit salad and the obligatory wine. Not for the Volunteer Managers of course as they were ‘on duty’.

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22 September 2016

The next morning a female camper and dog came for a water refill after a bit of a windy night! Rather her than me!

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It was time for me to leave the hostel and head home. I had been duly ‘stamped’.

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Unfortunately, Beer in Devon seemed a bit far and in the wrong direction so I headed home via Newport and Aberystwyth.

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Newport

See Aberystwyth slideslow:

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They say you should never go back but, having been back once to this hostel, I will be back again………………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day to Remember

Post 64: 20 September 2016

Sometimes in the great outdoors you have a day that is etched in the memory forever  – this was to be one of those days. The effort of driving what turned out to be a 750 mile round trip all became worth it on this day. It often occurs when you least expect it. It is often related to weather but also stunning scenery and the people you meet along the way.

It started rather well with this view to wake up to and breakfast.

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After breakfast and the departure of hostellers the Volunteer Managers carried out their duties to get the hostel spick and span for the next hostellers. This was a sight to behold!

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However, they did a superb job so I took some photographs of the hostel for posterity.

One of  the dormitories.

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Due to my ‘age and infirmity’, I had booked a 2 person en-suite for myself. Actually being a light sleeper, I just wanted a good nights sleep. Having stayed in over 100 hostels, mostly in dormitories, I am now an ‘upgraded’ youth hosteller.

The comfortable lounge

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The hostel had certainly improved since I last stayed in 1971. It opened in 1957.

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With all duties completed and packed lunches prepared there was time, before the next hostellers arrived, to go for a 6 mile circular walk to Strumble Head (Pen-Caer) and the fort of Garn Fawr.

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We met some of locals en-route.

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A farmer explained that some of the old buildings hereabouts were used to detect U-boats in the Second World War and others as viewpoints in the First World War. A posting here would have been much more preferable than to the Somme.

A slideshow of some of the delightful walk is below:

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It was in evening after dinner that the view from the hostel developed, see slideshow:

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It was time to open a bottle of wine, sit on the balcony and just watch the scene unfold. By this time  four more German female hostellers had turned up and it was great for them also to catch this changing scene. I didn’t get to the bottom of why there were no young male hostellers, German, English or any other nationality. Perhaps they prefer to stay at home with their computer games, X-boxes or watch endless hours of football on TV? Some of these young female hostellers had got to this location solo by flying, train, bus and then walked the last quarter of a mile to the hostel with luggage. I was very impressed. As the slideshow shows there were superb light effects  and eventually the sky started to turn red.

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The finale was impressive. There is nothing quite like watching a sunset with old friends, new friends with an international perspective, in a stunning location. And a glass or two of wine! Very memorable. See slideshows:

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A day to remember…………………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choughs, Seals and Special Light

Post 63: 19 September 2016 

After the long drive and cake and tea it was time to sample a bit of the coast path hereabouts. I was not to be disappointed. Unfortunately, I forget to take my camera and as always that’s when good pictures arise. We saw seals in the bays below the hostel and choughs (the bird that looks like a blackbird but has red legs and beak), which were once nearly extinct in this country and even now are fairly rare. There were two quite close to us in a field – my first ever sighting of a choughs. 

My friends had to be back by 5pm to open the hostel and so on our return I grabbed my camera and then headed back down to the seals. They were busy feeding their young. See slideshow:

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and this single photograph.

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Walking back to the hostel it looked quite impressive.

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Back at the hostel I decided to give my bicycle a clean as I hadn’t had chance after rides at Centre Parcs the previous week. Friends have recently said they can’t keep up with my whereabouts and activities I have to say neither can I at times!!!! Stick with it.

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Not a bad location to do a bit of cleaning! The first of German visitors had just arrived as shown and like me was impressed with the views.

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Now someone had remarked that Bromptons were the Benny Hills of bikes. Not for me to say who said that.

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The views from the hostel was superb, but were to get better.

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No doubt David Birch, whoever he was, appreciated the view and still does…..

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As the evening went on the light conditions became interesting. They say you should not take photographs towards the sun. Well I always ignore that advice and I think you will see in the slideshow below why:

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But this was only a prelude to what was to come later in the week……………………..

 

 

 

 

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Arrival at Pwll Deri! Where Is that????

Post 62: 19 September 2016

The chance meeting with the two guys with crosses was not an everyday occurrence – in fact it was a once in a lifetime occurrence. Almost as incredible as the missing photograph (from 1,000 I took in Norway) at Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, which just happened to be the one I took of Jesus on the Cross at the front of the Cathedral – see Post 22, 22 November 2015 ).

I continued along the A487 on what seemed a never ending road. Desperate to find a gents I eventually saw a sign at Newport (a WC sign not a sign from the Almighty).  It took me to a car park near the harbour. Another photographic opportunity

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On reaching a hairpin at Fishguard I saw a sign for the Fishguard Fort, braked hard and got in the car park at 1.40pm. I knew I was running late but thought my friends at the hostel would have given up waiting for my arrival and already gone out. Mobile phone reception was non-existent in these parts, so I couldn’t telephone my revised ETA.

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It was a short walk to the fort, which was built in 1781 after a raid by privateers in 1779. The Irish ferry was in harbour.

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After Fishguard, roads got narrow and narrower and seeing a sign for Strumble Head I couldn’t resist another diversion.

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There weren’t many signs for Pwll Deri, but there were signs saying the roads were not suitable for coaches. Also grass was growing along the middle of some of them.

Thank goodness for a Sat Nav – navigating these roads solo by map would be very difficult.

I finally arrived at the hostel at about 2.30pm having left Cannock at 5.45am! A small YHA sign pointed down towards cliffs. Not trusting it I walked down the track and found the hostel car park.

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The two Volunteer Managers, student friends from 1770-1973, were still there.

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Time for tea and homemade cake (between us we had three!). The view from the dining room was one of the best I had ever seen from over 100 hostels I have stayed at over the years.

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The views were to get better over the next three days………………………

The Slowest Long Distance Walk Ever?

Post 61: The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – 1971 to 19 September 2016 and continuing. 

In 1971 during a vacation from the University of Swansea I and a university friend decided to walk part of the Pembrokeshire Coast path starting at St David’s and finishing towards Fishguard. In reality we only managed as far as Pwll Deri Youth Hostel at just over 28 miles. It didn’t qualify as long-distance walk of over thirty three and a third miles.

All I remember about the walk was singing and drinking beer outside the Youth Hostel with some Germans as the sun set. I was after all only 19 and in what Wordsworth described as ‘The Hour of Thoughtless Youth’.

Now by a strange coincidence I was invited by two other University friends some 45 years later in 2016 to join them at the same hostel where they were acting a  Volunteer Managers for a week. This was an opportunity to continue the coast path.

20 September 2016: Having broken the journey from York in the Midlands in order to make arrangements for my mother to leave hospital, I left a day late for Pwll Deri Youth hostel, 6 miles from Fishguard at 5.45 am. It rained for a couple of hours, which did not bode well. However, at 11.25am I reached the sea. p1040071

Continuing along the coastal road with Snow Patrol, Katherine Jenkins (well I was in Wales) and Lindisfarne (to give it the 1970s ‘going back’ feel) blasting out on  the CD player and disturbing the peaceful countryside, I suddenly saw two chaps carrying huge crosses along the road. Driving a further mile I pondered whether I had been driving too long and was having hallucinations? After a further mile of pondering, I decided I would have to go back and check them out.

Sure enough I soon passed them and pulled into a lay-by to await their arrival. I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were carrying heavy, huge wooden crosses along the busy road.

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This was to signal the start of a very interesting and enjoyable few days stay in Pembrokeshire……………now what on were these chaps Lindsay Hamon and Emyr Mattias doing? They had started walking with these crosses at St David’s, where I had done some 45 years earlier. Unlike me they eventually planned to walk as far as York. Now I had taken two days to drive down never ending winding roads from York. I hate walking on tarmac, especially if they are busy roads as this was. They had expected about 20 people to see them off at the City of St David’s  with its Cathedral, whereas about 250 people turned up. I thought I was doing the slowest long-distance walk ever having started some 46 years earlier, but perhaps they were doing the slowest long distance walk ever? After a chat about their task and long-distance walking in general I offered them food and a donation but they settled for a banana each and so I left them to tackle the next hill up the road. I did promise to see them in York if they let me know their arrival date. They did say how pleased they were that I had stopped to chat to them as I seemed to understand the massive size of the task and challenge they were undertaking. I will shortly be emailing them to find out their progress. There is little doubt that their faith and commitment is incredibly strong.

 

 

The Devil’s Causeway, Horizontal ‘Walking’, Wallace and Gromit

Post 60: 5 April 1993: Day 7 – Dentdale Youth Hostel to Hawes Youth Hostel- 12 miles

It was a damp morning as we left the hostel, having been joined by Alf; hence the change in weather for the worse.

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Dentdale

We soon walked under the impressive Dent Head Viaduct, over which runs the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line. The line was constructed by the Midland Railway between 1869 and 1876. Towering viaducts and bridges and long, deep tunnels represent an heroic example of Victorian engineering. In 1963 the Beeching Report started the decline of this railway but in the 1970s Dales Rail was formed to keep the line open and thriving. One of the most ironic characteristics of rail travel at the end of the 20th century is that leaves on the lines can force trains not to run. Mountains, rivers, bogs, rock and valleys can all be successfully negotiated by trains but leaves, now that’s a different a matter.

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Dent Head Viaduct

After crossing Steeps Moss, a bog, Cumbria is left and North Yorkshire entered; time to put the umbrella away if you’re daft enough to have brought one. I once met a group of walkers who swore that an umbrella was useful equipment on a walk. In addition, Mike Harding’s wife took one with her when she went trekking in the Himalayas, mainly to keep the sun off her. Nicholas Crane also took one with him when walking over 6,000 miles from Cape Finisterre in Spain to Istanbul in Turkey. What happens when the wind gets up, which it invariably does when it is raining? In addition, surely the arms start to ache when carrying an umbrella?

Snow-capped Ingleborough soon came into view ahead to remind me of my intrepid ‘Three Peaks’ walks, described earlier in the book. After a descent to Gayle Beck, the Cam High Road is followed, a Roman road dead straight in the manner of Roman road construction. The section was once called the Devil’s Causeway, in the belief that no human hands could have engineered such a road so well, or so long. Pity they didn’t tell my local Highways Agency about their construction methods as the three miles of road from home to work seems to be under permanent repair or improvement works; the rest of the country doesn’t seem to fare much better. In the Middle Ages, men feared nightfall on the Cam High Road. They hastened onwards, glad to hear the sound of Bainbridge’s horns carried to them in the wind. Wolves roamed the tops and the hornblower sounded the alarm as a warning for all shepherds to bring down their sheep and cattle to safety. In the 20th century, the only alarms heard are car and house alarms, set off by joy-riders or burglars going about their business.

If, as we did, you have ever stopped for lunch on the Cam High Road at the height of 1800 feet, the chances are that you will be found next morning in a state of rigor mortis, attached by ice to your frozen sandwich. The winds seem to blow directly from Siberia and it is rumoured that your extremities can drop off. Fortunately we had a flask of soup with us and so were able to avoid the full effects of ‘drop off’ or hypothermia. Have you ever noticed how packeted soup tastes like dishwater at home, but on the hills it is quite acceptable. To attempt the Cam High Road in summer is not much better, as the winds seem to come directly from the Sahara, resulting in sun-burn that makes the skin peel off in thick layers, as though a satsuma. However, there are wonderful rewards; on a clear day, there are marvellous views of hill and dale and, looking back, the flat top of Ingleborough can be seen, 7½ miles away. In addition Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, Wildboar Fell, Buckden Pike and Great Shunner Fell add to the circle of high fells surrounding you.

As we descended to Hawes it started to rain, and, not realising that the grass had become like a skating rink, I fell forward with such panache that Torville and Dean would have been impressed. As I aquaplaned down the grassy slope, I entered the record books one of the few people that has done a section of The Pennine Way and The North of England Way horizontal. With a pack on, gravity has full effect, making it very difficult to stop. By the time Hawes was reached the rain was coming down in torrents; Alf was living up to his reputation. There is only one thing to do in that sort of weather, go to the pub or a waterfall. At Hardraw, 2 miles outside of Hawes, it is possible to do both. The only access to Hardraw Force is through the inn, paying a small entrance fee on your way. The inn is open every day from ‘dawn to dusk’ (according to the landlord ‘dawn’ is usually about 10.00am). We followed the path past the bandstand to the impressive falls, best seen after heavy rain. The 96-ft high shimmering column of water is reputably the highest above ground in England. It was painted by Turner and every spring it is a natural amphitheatre used for a brass band concert. However, on this wet day a hasty retreat to the inn was the order of the day, how convenient.

Hawes has a number of other attractions, not least the Wensleydale Creamery in Gayle Lane, ‘home’ of the famous Wensleydale cheese, the museum portraying the history of ‘Real Wensleydale Cheese.’ In addition to the museum there is a viewing gallery where you can watch cheese being made, a cheese shop with free tasting, and a licensed restaurant. Try some Wensleydale Wallace and Gromit cheese or Wensleydale cheese with apricots – absolutely delicious and guaranteed to give you energy for remainder of walk!

Hawes Youth Hostel has a reputation for providing ‘home’ cooked food and on this occasion it lived up to it; the fruit pie was delicious. However, the weather had become so foul with rain and gales that we opted out of a visit to various pubs in centre of town. Instead we had a quiet night reading.