Post 189: 7 September 2017. A Visit to the European City of Culture 2017.
Day 6 of the ‘Best of 31 years of walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 days’ was meant to be a visit and walk around the European City of Culture – Hull.
However, my visiting young lady (Victoria), supported by my wife, had other ideas. She wanted to visit the shops of York and spend, spend and spend; well sort of.
Such a lady is, I have found from the past, an irresistible force that no amount logic or reasoning will steer away from her chosen course. I meekly submitted and let her ‘do her own thing’. I was pleased next day to learn that she had bought some jewellery, clothes and others items.
But for anyone not so inclined, the European City of Culture Hull, with a walk around the old part and the marina is well worth a visit, taking in three of my favourite museums, The Ferens, Wilberforce and Maritime. Even better they are all FREE.
Miles Walked – I haven’t a clue!
I went to the cinema and had a much needed rest day.
The next Day (7) we were off to Robin Hoods Bay and some of the best heather on the North York Moors. That’s a relief.
Post 188: 6th September 2017. A beach walk towards Sandsend and then to Whitby Abbey.
When I asked my German visitor Victoria where in particular she would like to visit in her 8 days available, Whitby was top of her list. She lives 4 hours from the coast in Germany and so trips to the coast are fairly infrequent. I was delighted with this choice as it would gives us the opportunity to go on one of the countries best heritage railways, The North York Moors Railway from Pickering to Whitby. I was not sure this was in Victoria’s plans but it was in mine, especially as we would be on a steam train!
After negotiations worthy of BREXIT about a start time, I picked Victoria up from the York Youth Hostel reception at about 7.30am. I was intrigued by the poster in the reception, highlighting York’s chocolate and sweets heritage.
We arrived at Pickering at about 9.00am and had a coffee and purchased our tickets.
Our train was getting up steam to depart at 9.25am.
We were lucky to get a seating immediately behind the engine, which would be good for photographs and videos. I was happy if a bit bleary eyed.
For the next hour and 45 minutes we enjoyed the journey through some of the best scenery on the North York Moors and much of Heartbeat Country, namedafter the Yorkshire TV’s series.
The ‘celebrity’ station of Goathland is also known as Aidensfield in the TV series and is the bewitching Hogshead in the first Harry Potter film.
The next station Grosmont is a 1952 British Rail style station, which just happens to be my birth year. It is home to the engine sheds where the locomotives are maintained and restored. It is also the junction with the main rail network. To get the full ‘steam effect’ click on the individual photographs.
We eventually approached Whitby crossing over the River Esk
and passing the impressive Larpool viaduct.
We had a potter around the harbour waiting for the fish and chips restaurant to open.
My choice of restaurant is always Trenchers and we were not disappointed :
My had my favourite dessert – knickerbocker glory! How could Victoria resist one?
NOW IT WAS TIME FOR A WALK TO BURN ALL THE CALORIES OFF!!!!
We walked along the harbour towards the two lighthouses and found a board which showed our route towards Sandsend.
We ascended the steps with great views towards the Abbey in great weather appearing. We posed under the whalebone and paid our respects to Captain Cook.
We then had a bracing but most enjoyable walk along the promenade towards Sandsend, returning back along the beach. Victoria had particular interest in the football – I can’t think why other than Germans like their football!
We then ascended back up to Captain Cook.
Then walked back through town past the famous, but temporarily closed (due to fire), Magpie fish and chips restaurant, to cross the swing bridge, and then ascend the 199 steps to the Church and Abbey.
St Mary’s Church is well worth a visit.
Outside there is a fascinating memorial.
We then moved onto Whitby Abbey, which was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It was a 7th century Christian monastery that later became a Benedictine abbey.
After circling the Abbey and the nearby Youth Hostel we descended back to the town.
Whilst waiting for the train we had a beer in a local pub. Victoria as elusive as ever.
Our train was steaming up to depart at 17.10pm.
After another enjoyable relaxing train journey to Pickering to arrive at 18.45pm,we then took the ‘country route’ via Malton back to York, the day rounded off by a fine sunset.
I won’t even argue that Whitby has to be included in ‘the Best of 31 years of walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 days’. It speaks for itself.
Post 187: 5 September 2017, York Minster, A Walk along the Medieval Walls of York and The New Walk to the Millennium Bridge.
We continued along towards Skeldergate Bridge, the start of The New Walk. My photographs from the floods, mainly in 2015, of this section are more ‘interesting’ than today!
Davy Tower adjoins the Bridge and it is alleged used to be a brothel in the seventeenth century. There was no sign of that today, but we could see the Bonding Warehouse on the opposite side of the river. Flats exchange hands for over £1 million now. It used be a nightclub, before being converted to luxury flats.
We passed what is the car park of St George’s Field where the ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin it is said can be seen. He was hanged on the Knavesmire in 1739. Blood curling feuds were also settled here and it is said screams can occasionally be heard.
We crossed the Blue Bridge. The first one was erected in 1738 for just over £100.
Looking back from the Blue Bridge the Foss Barrier can be seen, which was built after the 1984 floods and in theory supports a large gate used to protect the city when the river rises to a certain height.
In 2015 the pumps were overwhelmed and I witnessed a dramatic attempt by Chinook helicopters to rescue the situation, with new pumping equipment. A resident in the nearby house let me into his house to photograph the drama. I have never been so close to Chinook helicopters. I was in the houses on the right. I started in the gardens but the downdraught was too high.
The rescue mission went on most of the day.
With no floods today we were able to continue towards the Millennium Bridge to pass the Piking Well, which is a decorative well house and was believed to be able to cure rickets.
We soon reached the scene of another rescue in 2015. Whilst taking photographs near the Dyrdals Volvo Garage,Andrew MacPherson (now a Facebook friend) arrived in his car with a tiny canoe on the top. He began to unload so I went over and had a chat as to intentions. He was going to canoe to the City Centre! I thought he was mad until he told me he was a very qualified canoeist. I still thought he was mad!
I said I would go further up river and film him. In the excitement I completely forgot my camera bag (I had my camera and tripod) with some £2,000 worth of lenses and other equipment in it. I left it on the pavement. He realised this put it on his back and canoed up the river but we somehow missed each other. He later phoned me at home to say he had my bag! I asked him not under any circumstances to do an eskimo roll! I am forever grateful to him.
He could have rescued the beer as some York Residents did!
New forms of transport to overcome the floods were embarked upon!
With no floods today, Victoria and myself reached the Millennium Bridge, which spans the 80 metre distance from bank to bank.
Acting as an 8 day guide to a 28 year old Alpine walker was taking its effect.
Awakening from my slumber, we carried onto the other side of the River Ouse to the Rowntrees Park Cafe for a most welcome caffeine hit.
The elusive Victoria.
We carried on to rejoin the Walls back to York Minster. Being late afternoon they were very quiet.
There are good views from the walls
Until the classic view of York Minster is reached.
The Ouse is crossed again
And the end of the walk is reached.
Miles Walked 3
As long as there are no floods, the York Walls and New Walk are a MUST for inclusion in ‘the Best of 31 years of Walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 Days’.
Not only can you see the history of England encapsulated in one City, you will also get your camera bag back from England’s friendliest City should you lose it.
In addition, with Victoria not being a railway enthusiast, we hadn’t even been to the fabulous National Railway Museum. However, that would all change on Day 5 as I had a special day arranged for her! I know how to treat a lady!
Post 186: 5 September 2017, York Minster, A Walk along the Medieval Walls of York and The New Walk to the Millennium Bridge.
As we came out of Mannion’s Cafe there was some improvement in the weather as we passed York Minster, towards the start of our walk.
A good starting point for todays walk would be Simon Mattam’s very detailed guide book to the 700 year old walls. A Walking Guide to York’s City Wall, first published by Ebor publishing in 2004.
The guide was written for Friends of York Walls. The walls are fairly easy to follow without the guide and there are pavement studs marking the trail.
Built in ‘the Middle Ages‘ which began 900 years ago and lasted until about 500 years ago, the walls have survived the introduction of the canon, the English Civil War in the 1640s and 200 years ago a battle to knock them down for better traffic flow and fresh air. During Victorian Times a compromise was reached so that only parts were opened up.
So why is a City walk included in my ‘best of 31 years of walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 days?’
York still has most of the walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago, which is incredible. Many claim they give the best city walk in Britain.
My walk for Victoria from Germany was a variation on this to also include the New Walk, which was a tree lined avenue created in the 1730s during the reign of George II following the River Ouse. With the opening of the Millennium Bridge in 2001 it is now possible to cross the river and return to the city on the opposite bank with a stop off at the delightfully situated Rowntrees Park Cafe. Even in rain (but not floods!) the combination of the two walks makes for a great introduction to York.
We joined the walls opposite the York Art Gallery under Bootham Bar: the former is well worth a visit in its own right. There is so much to see in York!
It was just after 1pm.
The steps to the walls are near a plaque.
The great thing about starting the walk here is that you soon get some of the best views of York Minster.
Eventually we reached Monk Bar where there is a little museum.
Here we descended the steps. If you are tall like me watch your head!
We ascended more steps to the Ice House, which was made around 1800 and filled with ice so that it could be used for the rest of the year for iced foods and drinks.
An information board gives details of the Roman Walls that existed in AD 71.
We then pass the Merchant Taylor’s Hall. This was a guild hall and part of the trade association. In medieval York for example there were 128 master-tailors in 1386 when records began.
Between us and the Hall, archaeologists have cut into into inner ramparts and have left exposed a corner of a Roman Legionary fort.
We soon came to a plaque marked Jewbury, which was where medieval Jews buried their dead. There was a thriving community in 13th century York. All Jews were expelled from England in 1290 so they could no longer take care of their cemeteries. Archaeologists have discovered about 500 medieval graves and the skeletons hereabouts.
It was soon after this that we left the walls to head towards the start of the New Walk at Skeldergate Bridge. It is possible to continue along the walls to the bridge, but I prefer to head to Ouse Bridge, which gives the opportunity of seeing the Shambles and having a pint outside the famous Kings Arms in summer or inside in winter. Germans including Victoria like a beer.
We then briefly followed the River Foss, before taking a left turning past student accommodation to Walmgate and Fossgate.
Had this been 27/28 December 2015 we would have had to stop our walk due to the floods!!!
But today the sun was starting to come out and the flags were out.
And even the squirrels were out and about the city.
There are constant reminders of York’s historic past.
We passed the Shambles and the crowds.
And the Harry Potter shop and its queues! But ssshhh… don’t name it. These are Secret Diaries.
We arrived at the Ouse Bridge, which looked a lot better than it did in 2015
And walked past the King’s Arms, which in 2015 was completely under water. Famous for surviving regular floods there are marks inside the pub showing the height of the water at times of different floods.
There were also a few problems in 2007 and 2012! The canoeists remained optimistic of a pint or two.
The route of our walk to Skeldergate Bridge is along the fence!
Deciding to wait for a coffee at Rowntrees Park instead of having a beer at the King’s Arms, we headed onto the start of the New Walk at Skeldergate Bridge.
Believe me the Walls and New Walk are delightful walks when there are no floods! You can never say York Walks are not exciting or full of interest, which is why they are included in my 8 days of the Best of Yorkshire!
Keep reading the next blogs for when the helicopters and canoe rescuers appear!
Post 185: 5 September 2017, York Minster, A Walk along the Medieval Walls of York and The New Walk to the Millennium Bridge.
To condense the best of 31 years of walking in Yorkshire into 8 days MUST include walks in and around York.
The forecast for today was awful so we decided that Victoria should spend the morning exploring York and we would have lunch at Mannion’s cafe, which in my and other opinions is the best of the many cafes in York. Someone rated it in the top 15 attractions in York, which includes York Minster, The Yorvik Viking Centre, The National Railway Museum, Betty’s Cafe and such like!
We arranged to meet at York Minster and arriving early I took the opportunity to take some photographs, albeit in the rain. This does give York a special effect as the rain glistens off the pavements.
York Minster is the Cathedral Church of St Peter, the largest medieval building in England and the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps. I strongly recommend a visit to the top up the Central Tower, which is the highest point in York. 275 steps and 230 feet! Not for anyone with a heart problem.
I once managed it in 2010 after heavy overnight snow, when it was closed to the public. Where’s there’s a will……………Suffice to say I had spikes on my boots. I was able to get some unique photographs. One local vicar said they were the best he had seen of the Minster.
Victoria arrived and it was time for a delightful lunch at Mannion’s Cafe.
No proper walking yet but what would the afternoon bring? York shouldn’t be rushed.
Post 184: 4 September 2017, A walk to my trig point.
Following our walk around Sutton Bank I decided that Victoria, who desperately wanted to see heather which is not in the area of Germany where she lives, should see the view from my adopted trig point on my North of England Way,
On the drive there we stopped alongside the River Rye, where a Canadian walking friend is at peace after passing far too young.
Opposite the spot are fine views of Rievaulx Abbey.
The Cistercian Abbey was founded by Walter L’Espec in 1132. Its importance can be judged by the fact that thirty-five years after it was founded there were 140 monks, 249 lay brothers and 260 hired laymen, a large community. The Abbey nestles in a tree-covered valley whose narrowness accounts for the fact that the church is aligned from north to south instead of from the usual east to west. The monks created great wealth, from sheep farming (at one time they owned 14,000 sheep), iron working, fishing and salt production on the coast. Canals were used for floating blocks of stone on rafts from the River Rye to the Abbey for carving. Around the time of the Dissolution, however, the abbey declined and fell into debt and by 1536 only twenty-two monks remained. After 400 years of life, the site was eventually stripped for building stone and, in due course passed to the Duncombe family. It was acquired by the state in 1918, and is now superbly looked after by English Heritage.
Continuing our drive to the trig point, I felt we had earned a reward of one of my favourite Ryeburn ice-creams and a coffee in the cafe next to the car park in Hemsley.
Helmsley is a delightful market town, but we had no time to look around as it was now after 3.30pm.
Refreshed we headed out of Helmsley towards Pockley, then ascended along a dead straight one car lane past Low Farm, Middle Farm and High Farm, where we parked.
Coming from Germany, Victoria must have wondered where on earth she was going!
We walked up the ascending track. It was some 25 years earlier I had done this same walk wondering where I was going as I devised my coast to coast route. I had been disappointed that my route had so far not reached the proper heather moorland. All was to change when we went through the gate at the top of the track and a vista opened up before us that made us speechless.
We turned right along the escarpment to my adopted trig point, where one day I will rest in peace along with at least one other walking friend who is already there. Bookings are still open!
I do need to paint my trig again! Next Spring?
Whilst sitting on a bench dedicated to Dee (does anyone know who Dee is?) we listened to the silence of the place and looked at the expansive view of a patchwork of heather.
By a strange coincidence, I came back to this point in much better weather a few days later on a new walk I had just started, The Cot Combo Walk (see later blogs).
We then descended the heather lined track back to the car.
Victoria was very happy that she had seen so much heather.
It was about 5pm by the time we got back to the car.
Interestingly ashes cannot be scattered in Germany, so perhaps one day Victoria may decide to join me and my other walking friend at the trig. A walking club with a difference and attitude!
Post 183: 4 September 2017, A walk around Sutton Bank.
Our route to our next walk involved driving towards Thirsk, turning right there and then going through Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe, which has the longest place name in England and the cliff itself, which provides the name. The hairpin road to Sutton Bank regularly gets blocked by lorries, caravans and such like and indeed we thought this had happened to us. However, we managed to squeeze past a broken down lorry and continue up the very steep hill. A dramatic entry to the North York Moors National Park and Sutton Bank .
Day 3 of 31 years of walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 days had to include what James Herriot described as the finest view in England. What he didn’t anticipate was that when Victoria and myself arrived at the car park at 9.45am the area was covered in thick mist. I was immediately called in to become the finest view in England, but I thought Victoria fitted the bill much better than me. I was ‘forced’ into posing for the photograph.
James Herriot was in my opinion wrong as to his assessment as, for me, the finest view in England is from the more remote and less accessible Harter Fell in the Lake District, looking towards the Scafell Range of mountains. I only found this because the location is on my ‘On Foot from Coast to Coast: The North of England Way’ route.
But on a clear day the view from Sutton Bank can be stunning, so had to be included in my list of the Best of Yorkshire in 8 days.
My claim to fame is that I had the same editor, Jenny Dereham at Michael Joseph (part of the Penquin group) for my book as James Herriot and Alfred Wainwright. I was their first new author (the others were already published) and probably their last!
Austerity in Britain has become really bad as instead of the toilets being opened at about 8am, as they used to be years ago, they now don’t open until 10am causing this day a loss of 10 minutes of valuable walking. What has the world come to!
Leaving the car park we headed north along the top of the escarpment. Every cloud has a silver lining and, with all the mist, we came across fantastic web patterns in the bilberry plants thereabouts.
Now you may wonder why I have included a photograph of myself in snow. It is for comparison purposes. Whereas I am still going, the sign to Boltby has been replaced. Does that mean I am irreplaceable. My wife would probably say so especially after my 44th wedding anniversary the previous day, when I was on ‘leave of absence’. The snow was certainly deep in 2010!
We dropped off the escarpment and I thought Christmas had come early when I saw what I thought was a Christmas tree. It was a thing of great beauty and intricacy built by spiders. Incredible. Never seen the like of such before. Nature is full of surprises.
We then passed the former home of Siegfried Farnon who was James Herriot’s boss in All Creatures Great and Small.
Nature is full of colour. I think the antennae were zoomed in on me.
One of my favourite lunch stops is at Gormire Lake, where there just happens to be a swing over the water. I was able persuade Victoria to have a swing but, as ever, the rope held fast! Now if I was to do it with my extra weight it would probably snap? No I am not that daft.
Gormire Lake is one of the few natural lakes in North Yorkshire and due to its beauty legends have arisen. However, the name means ‘filthy swamp’. The Woodland Trust manage the area, which is a haven for wildlife. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
It is rumoured the lake is bottomless, that it swallows witches or geese and spits them out miles away in wells and that a white mare leapt off White Mare Crag complete with doomed rider into the lake.
We eventually got to base of the hill on which the White Horse of Kilburn is located.
We then had many steps to climb. My pulse rate went up from 52 to 132 by the time I reached the top!
The White Horse was a bit grey.
It was carved out of the hillside in 1857 by John Hodgson, the village schoolmaster, with some thirty helpers. It is 314ft by 228ft. The underlying rock is limestone and the horse needs regular maintenance to keep its white coat.
We continued along the escarpment towards the car park with fine views now that the mist had cleared somewhat.
However, it was still too misty for gliders to take off.
There was a sad reminder that this is also an area of past tragedy’s. We will remember them.
Arriving at a location sign we were able find out we were 981 feet above sea level!
It was now nearly 3pm, but the day was far from over and we would be heading to some very special places later in the day………………………
Post 182: 3 September 2017, Wedding Anniversary, The Yorkshire Wolds, Robert Fuller Gallery, Most Famous Deserted Medieval Village in England, Rambler’s Rest.
If you think BREXIT negotiations are bad, try negotiating a walking day out with a German, visiting, walking, female who happens to be 28 years old, on your 44th wedding anniversary! If I can do it successfully then so can our BREXIT negotiators.
In the end I planned a local walk on the Yorkshire Wolds so that I wouldn’t be away for too long. I also planned to cook steak and chips with all the trimmings alongside homemade chocolate and vanilla ice-cream and strawberries on my return.
However, what really saved the day was that Celia (my Wife) is the World’s Greatest Armchair TV watching cycling fan. Having watched every minute of the Arctic Tour, the Tour de France which Chris Froome won, she was now watching every minute of the Spanish Vuelta which Froome was leading. When I mentioned that I was sure she would prefer to watch this rather than going out for a treat she agreed!
We did agree a later departure time for the walk to give us time to open our anniversary cards. There aren’t that many! With regard to presents we agreed we would put money aside towards an extra cruise.
It was a dry sunny day as Victoria and myself headed up Garrowby Hill (in the car) towards Thixendale. Turning off the A166 along a little lane we came to the Robert Fuller Gallery and made an impromptu stop to look at his gallery. I had been a few years before but it is much improved and we were blown away by the pictures on display. This is where he works when not in the field.
I really could do with buying a bigger house so I could have some of his wonderful creations on my walls. Being a keen landscape photographer my own walls are already full of my and my wife’s own photographs. I particularly liked his paintings of peregrine falcons, which are found at Malham Cove and the top of York Minster and red kites, which are now found on the Yorkshire Wolds and red squirrels, which are found in the Yorkshire Dales.
The penguin pictures are exquisite.
He is clearly a perfectionist of huge talent and I strongly recommend you find this oasis of creativity hidden in the Wolds. You will not be disappointed.
Not surprisingly we actually only started walking from Thixendale at 11.25am after looking at the posters near the village hall.
There used to be a youth hostel in the village but it is now closed. Seems like youngsters are less likely to go to these remote places.
I first did this classic Wolds walk with my family in the early 1990s after having moved to York in 1986. It starts with a hill so family walks were fairly infrequent.
However, you are soon into David Hockney (the world famous painter) country. He has painted the Thixendale trees hereabouts, which adorn the dry chalkland valleys. If this was the chalklands of the south of England there would be lots of folks around, but here in Yorkshire you’re unlikely to meet many people – probably none on a weekday. But ssshhh keep it a secret.
A little church could just be viewed in the distance and that was our destination.
We dropped down to the church and the most famous example of a deserted medieval village in England,
Little remains but the noticeboards give an idea of what it must have been like.
We were disappointed to find the only bench by the village pond was occupied, but we found a sheltered spot on the grass for a lovely lunch-time picnic. The sun came out for a while.
We then moved on to the more recent church and farm remains.
Delightful Wolds walking took us back towards Thixendale to finish the walk at about 3.30pm.
Now in theory I was due to go back home early, but the sun was out and a short drive over the Wold’s to the Rambers’ Rest at Millington for coffee could not be missed.
We arrived at 3.55pm and it was due to close at 4pm. We had the place almost to ourselves and a most welcome coffee. I strongly recommend a visit there. No cake this time as it would not be long until steak!
Arriving back home my wife had clearly enjoyed the cycling as she offered to cook the steak. No wonder we have been married 44 years! Here’s to the next 44 years and many more walks!!!
A classic Wolds walk and day and a must for the Best of Yorkshire in 8 days.
At this point, as I was about to leave Malham, I had what’s called a Change of Plan. The weather was so good it would have been a crime to go back to York and not show Victoria some more of the ‘Best of Yorkshire’. In life, walking and photography, when there is an opportunity you have to take it even though you might feel a little bit tired. The opportunity this weather offered could not be missed.
One of my most favourite little known places is actually outside the National Park and partly because of this it is little visited. It is the upper part of Nidderdale, around Scar House Reservoir.
Leaving Malham Cove and the crowds, we were soon on delightfully quiet roads heading up steep and bendy tarmac with glorious views either side. They are the sort of roads that car companies use to advertise their new cars, where one gets a sense of freedom on the open road.
Easy Rider in a Volvo!
We passed Malham Tarn, which could be just seen in the distance.
I was constantly on the look out for pull-ins to stop and capture the views before us. As we crossed over the Pennine Way at Great Hill Scar and descended towards Arncliffe and Littondale, I had to do an emergency stop to capture the view of Yew Cogar Scar alongside Cowside Beck. Wonderful names and wonderful views.
Arncliffe came into view crowned by quilted heather above it. The wall patterns added to the intricate scene. Victoria stared at the walls for a long time as where she lives in Germany no such walls exist. It is a privilege to be able to show new overseas visitors around the area as they add to ones perspective of the area. We can take so much for granted.
It would have been good to turn left at Arncliffe and go into the ‘cul de sac’ of Littondale with its hamlets of Foxup, Litton and Halton Gill. However, it was after 3.30pm and time was pressing on. So a quick right turn and then a drive down Littondale past Kilnsy Crag soon brought us to Grassington and back into the more touristy area. However, I had another objective in mind and we pressed onto Hebden where the roads again became quiet.
In the Greenhow Hill area, notorious for cyclists due to its steepness, we could soon see the environs of Nidderdale in the far distance .
It was then a steep drop down to Pateley Bridge and a sharp left before the playing fields to follow the road to the Gouthwaite Reservoir, whichis passed. No time for bird watching there today!
At the end of the reservoir we passed the delightful Yorke Arms at Ramsgill. I will stay there one day!
The road then became more winding as we ‘sped’ onto Lofthouse, with Nidderdale becoming more enclosed and beautiful as though capturing you with its magic spell.
No wonder Janet Street-PorterCBE, former president of the Rambler’s Association, media personality, journalist and broadcaster has houses in this area.
After a quick stop at the very clean and well kept toilets (you can always tell a place by its toilets) we carried on a little further to a Yorkshire Water lane on the right. This looks as though it is a private lane. Don’t tell anyone (we don’t want it to get too busy – these are Secret Diaries) but it is possible to drive along the tarmac single lane.
Ascending the lovely valley we finally came to a car park with benches and toilets. Nearby is a huge ornate dam holding back Scar House Reservoir. It and Angram Reservoir just a little further up the valley were built to supply water to the Bradford area of West Yorkshire. The dam contains over one million tonnes of masonry and was built to last. It rises 55 metres above the river and is almost 600 metres long. It was completed in 1936. The dam height is 71 metres (233 feet). It is fed from Angram Reservoir, which in turn is fed from the mountain Great Whernside. It was once home to 1250 villagers who lived and worked building the dam. The Nidd Valley Light Railway was constructed to enable the reservoirs to be completed. The railway opened in 1907 and closed in 1937.
The geographical half way point of the delightful Nidderdale Way is the dam. The full walk which I completed in 2003 is 53 miles and starts at Ripley.
It was now 5pm and the light was starting to fade.
We listened to the silence and counted our blessings – we had made it on time.
Only the odd bird broke the silence of this special place.
So that was some of the best parts of the Yorkshire Dales seen and we are still only on Day 1!!
It was my 44th wedding anniversary the next day, so how could I keep my wife happy, but also keep on with this ‘project’ to show my overseas visitor the best of 31 years walking in Yorkshire condensed into 8 days?
Post 180: 2 September 2017, A Walk to Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove.
My walking friend, Victoria from Germany and myself left York at about 8.00am heading for what I regard as one of iconic geological features of Yorkshire – Malham Cove. It was a bright sunny day.
Arriving at Malham at just before 10.00am, we soon started walking and took my first photograph of the 8 day adventure at 10.17am. It was some Duke of Edinburgh girls practising their climbing skills.
The walk through woodland to Janet’s Foss in dappled sunlight was very pleasant. It promised a good day.
We passed a log with many coins in it, which are meant to bring luck if you make a wish to Jennet the queen of fairies.
Janet’s Foss was surrounded by adults and children and it was difficult to get a photograph with no one in it, despite waiting for sometime. In particular, an adult in a Star Wars shirt would keep getting in the way. I was wishing someone would beam him up. Harry Potter comes to these parts and I am sure would have sorted him out. Victoria was a great fan. She was aged 28 and one of the ‘Harry Potter generation‘. Anywhere associated with Harry Potter gets invaded by fans. Unbelievable. I am not a great fiction reader much preferring reading non-fiction and real adventures (such as climbing Everest).
Now it is not for me to say, but I did wonder whether Star Wars fans are not really au fait with the customs and norms of the countryside, the main one being that other people want to photograph waterfalls and such like without hoards of people in the photograph. Some consideration of this would not go amiss.
Janet’s Foss has been used a natural sheep dip for local farmers, a location for family swims and celebrations and may even be the home of Jennetthe queen of the fairies in a cave behind the falls or another small cave to the right.
The waterfall itself features tufa deposits forming on rock behind the waterfall. Tufa is formed by calcium carbonate rich water precipitation.
We continued to Gordale Scar campsite, which looked pretty full. Gordale Scar is a limestone ravine with two waterfalls and has overhanging cliffs of over 100 metres – very encapsulating and impressive.
I had many years before scrambled up the left hand waterfall, but today there was too much water and I decided not to attempt it. Plus I was quite a few years older!
We therefore retraced our steps back down the ‘valley’ to the road, where were turned right to a much quieter path off right, which led to the top of Malham Cove.
There were fabulous views of unique field patterns.
We stopped at the top of Malham Cove for lunch. There are few finer lunch stops in the UK. People would often go to the edge of the cove in front of us and we watched in trepidation in case anyone fell. People do take too high a risk for an ‘adrenaline’ view.
People were like ants on the top of the Cove grykes (gaps) and clints (blocks) which formed through erosion by water of the limestone. It was here that heroes Harry Potter and Hermione pause to wonder if they will ever defeat the evil Lord Voldemort – and at what cost. There is clearly a Harry Potter effect judging by how busy the cove was. I had never seen it anything like as busy before – now a real tourist honeypot.
The views down from the cove were also impressive.
After lunch we carried on up the dry valley above the cove towards Malham Tarn. I had plans to take my German friend to other iconic locations and so we did not continue to the Tarn, instead turning back down the dry valley to the top of the cove and some clint and gryke hopping over the tops of them. Again the views down the valley, the next part of our route, were stunning.
We descended some 253 feet of steps to the bottom of the cove. One surprise was to see no climbers on the cove cliffs. There is usually some mad person hanging on the end of a rope on the cove.
We followed the well maintained path to the village of Malham, with only one slight disappointment that there was no sign of peregrine falcons, which normally reside on the cliffs and raise chicks there.
Arriving at Malham we had a well earned Yorkshire Dales ice-cream.
A fabulous start to our day and the 8 day ‘tour’.
After such a dramatic start to the best of Yorkshire in 8 days – where next?