Day 3 – The Inn Way – It’s a Mystery, Home Alone, My First Lamb, Going Over the Top, 16% Age Discount, Arcadia, To Provide a Bench or Not? Penguins in the Dales! A Mountain, False Summits, Time for a Sleep.

Post 244: 29th March 2018, The Inn Way – Yorkshire Dales, Arncliffe to Buckden. 

The alarm clock went off at 3.45am! My gear was already packed in the boot of the car, apart from my rucksack with food and flasks still to be done. The forecast was for good weather and I planned to resume The Inn Way again for the second time without Sid the Yorkshireman, Carol and Alf, all of whom were still unavailable.

But first my wife Celia was off on an adventure, going on a Mystery Cruise, and so I was dropping her off at Leeds Coach Station for a 6.30am depart to Dover.  I would be ‘Home Alone’ over Easter.

Celia had been invited to join me on a walking holiday in the Bavarian Alps later in the year with a German walking friend but, not being a walker, preferred to cruise. I have been surprised by how many people when told she is going on a Mystery Cruise have asked me where is she sailing to?! That’s the point you don’t know. Today I have heard that she docked in Ghent but, because you don’t know which port until you dock, she lost an hours sleep as the time zone is different! We are cruising together to Greenland and Russia (Baltic) later in the year!

The ‘drop off’ in Leeds went well but I had a bit of trouble getting out of Leeds, despite the sat nav. Give me driving in the countryside every time over cities.

As I got towards Grassington the fog came down for the second time this week, but I still prefer that to driving in cities. It cleared and I parked in Arncliffe near the Falcon Inn.

At about 9.00am I left the village along a road that was closed – at least it said it was until a landrover came hurtling along and I briskly stepped out of the way. It screetched to a halt and this bubbly, cheerful, young lady jumped out and headed for the lambs and starting feeding them. She then asked me if I wanted to hold them. Having never held a lamb in my life, how could I say no? They are surprisingly light, not surprisingly – very warm and certainly not nearly as cuddly as I am! However, they are a lot cuter than me.

I explained to the lady, who was a keen walker and local to the area, I was walking The Inn Way and ‘going over the top’ twice! She said I ‘should’ be alright. Now the ‘should’, should have been a would to increase my confidence so I asked her to guess my age. She said 55. Now this is over a 16% discount on my real age and as a bus pass holder I was delighted.

I said goodbye to the welcoming lady (my friends later said asked whether she had been to Specsavers recently as they were worried about her eyesight) and headed off the road to the not too promising path. There had been heavy overnight rain and I hoped the paths weren’t flooded like this all the way.

P1100639My fears were soon allayed as the final mist lifted and wonderful green velvety grass paths welcomed me. P1100640I had entered ‘Arcadia’ (as opposed to arcades in Leeds)  with wonderful soft paths, stone barns and the ancient Skoska Wood, which is the largest ash and rowan wood left in the Yorkshire Dales, now protected as a nature reserve.   The valley of Littondale was carved by glaciers and the meltwater thousands of years ago with its Yoredale rocks lining both sides of the flat valley floor. It has changed little since then and it felt like I stepping back in time to a less hurried world where nature predominated. P1100641P1100642P1100643The water in the River Skirfare was crystal clear and the low sun was casting ethereal reflections of the trees onto the river.P1100644P1100645P1100646P1100647The sudden contrast from Leeds or for that matter any city was stark.

Despite the rain overnight, the river had largely dried up in parts through the permeable limestone, only to emerge further downstream where there were less permeable rocks. A very strange phenomena.

P1100648P1100650Certainly the sheep and lambs were enjoying the warming sun, peace and tranquility of the day as they sunbathed. No other walkers were about. Many birds were singing their hearts out.

Litton soon came into view and The Queens Arms. It was time for a coffee and banana break on a small bench in the sun, just beyond the pub (Arncliffe please note and get the Parish Council to cough up for one. Even 55 year olds would appreciate it, not to mention those like me with a bus pass.). Rumour has it that Arncliffe won’t provide a bench as people might sit on it! I would be happy to come to the ‘opening ceremony’ and try it out when built.  

It is believed that the inn probably provided refreshments as far back as the 17th Century. It is a classic example of an old drover’s inn with flagstone floors, low beams open fires and wood burners, and is the home of Litton Ale Brewery. The inn uses local ingredients and provides homemade food and great ale. I was surprised to see penguins in the area and that was without a drink!P1100662I then began the ascent of Birks Fell to Buckden in Wharfedale. This is now a designated mountain (a hill above two thousand feet at 610 metres or 2,001 feet). On old imperial maps the highest point was shown as 2001-feet, but this was revised to 608 metres (the trig pillar is currently shown at 607 metres on maps) upon metric conversion. In 2006 the Ordnance Survey agreed with walkers that it was indeed over 2,000 feet just north-west of Birks Tarn.

In Alfred’s Wainwright’s book ‘A Pennine Journey – The Story of a Long Walk in 1938’ he says:

“There is only one way to know a hill, and that is to put your feet on it and walk. Wander about leisurely if you wish, but better still, make the summit your objective and struggle up it. Plunge into the bracken and heather, and wrestle with the thousands of tentacles that would hold you back; splash through the streams that silver the hillside; scramble up the rocks and know the thrill that enslaves the mountaineer; sweat and pant, slip and tumble, and curse if you are so minded, and rest often. But get to the top………..

Either you will never want to see a hill again, in which case you may safely assume that the rot has settled in your soul so deeply that nothing will remove it; or you will hunger for the next opportunity, do it again and again and keep young forever.”

He also mentions about running down on the descent, but this is unwise for a so called 55 year old + 16% like myself as I am likely to trip up and be stuck on the fell. Given my wife was away I could be there for a while until someone found me ‘dead or alive’. I only met one other person on the climb I was about to start.

I soon passed an unnamed farm (on the map) and clearly the sheep were desperate to join me on the mountain.

P1100664As I ascended I kept looking back to the stupendous views. Who decided the shape of each field with its drystone walls and what was the rationale behind the shapes and sizes of the fields? IMG_1536P1100668P1100671P1100672P1100673P1100674P1100677The ascent looked long! IMG_1537And looking back was long. P1100678Nearing the top a little snow was clinging on. P1100679After the gate the trig pillar came into view and the descent, sometimes slippy and boggy, began. P1100680P1100682IMG_1538I was surprised to see frog spawn on the path. P1100683I passed a young man who was walking the route from Starbottom in reverse to me.

After a long tiring descent I reached Bucken to find both the Buck Inn and cafe closed. I had hoped to get a Dales ice-cream having missed out on one on my previous walk. This contrasted with when I did the Dales Way in 1990 and On Foot from Settle to Hadrian’s Wall in 1997 (see earlier blogs) when the cafe and pub were thriving. However, the cafe is for sale and it is planned that the inn will re-open.

Fortunately, I was carrying my own provisions and was able to have lunch on a huge bench (Arncliffe please note).

There was a bed and breakfast for ‘Mad Hatters’.

P1100689It was time to leave The Inn Way and find a route back to the car at Arncliffe.

I then joined The Dales Way towards Starbottom and it’s velvety level grass paths were a delight to the feet and the mind, as the sun came out again in the sheltered valley.

I would strongly recommend The Dales Way for anyone wishing to walk their first long-distance walk. But do it in 6-7 days in order to savour it (see 1990 blog), not in 4 as I had been encouraged to do by my walking companion at the time.

I was somewhat surprised to see a propeller aeroplane come hurtling low down the valley. P1100693There are some delightful colourful enclosed ways on The Dales Way, which offer shelter from any breeze. P1100695Opposite the bridleway to Starbottom I took the ascending bridleway in the opposite direction, leading towards Old Cote Moor. This climb was particularly noticeable coming at the end of the day’s walk and there seemed to be many false summits where I got to what I thought was the top, only to find there was another one ahead. However, the views below of the meandering River Skirfare, slowly finding it’s route like a large snake, made the effort well worthwhile. Also, given my car was over the hill, there was no choice – I had to keep going. My bus pass was no use. P1100696P1100697P1100698P1100699Before the top and the heather line, I passed the young lad again. It was about 2pm and he said the Falcon Inn was due to close at 3pm. I hoped to make it for a cup of tea and icecream or cake as all my provisions had now gone. P1100700The descent followed with some relief. This is when most accidents happen and so it was important to keep concentrating on where I was putting my feet. It was clouding over, getting cooler and felt as though rain would arrive soon. P1100701P1100702P1100703Just before the village it was only appropriate the walk would end with lambs just as it had started. P1100710P1100711I arrived at the Falcon Inn at 2.40pm and fortunately the landlord was welcoming and provided a pot of tea and a warm delicious scone by a warming fire. A proper Dales Inn. A great end to a great and challenging walkP1100713P1100715P1100717P1100719

Miles Walked 13.2

Steps 30,000

Calories Burnt 3,200

PS:   When I came out of the Inn it was raining!

On the way home I found a delightful cafe at the bottom of the main street of Pateley Bridge, which had loads of varieties of Dales home-made ice-creams, pancakes and cakes, all reasonably priced.  A well earned reward.

It could become a regular stopping point. There is 50p parking for an hour just off the road a little further up on the right. IMG_1542I hit bad holiday and works traffic just after Knaresborough and so had a 30 minutes sleep in the car until it died down.

It had been a long day for a 55 year old! 














Day 2 – The Inn Way – Simply Magic, Chasing the Dawn, fog, frost, Vauclusian Springs, Perfect Timing, Except for the Dales Ice-cream, Airborne, On Top of a Pie, England’s Worst Caving Accident, One of My Best Walks Ever, Volvo Birds’ Airbags?

Post 243: 26 March 2018, The Inn Way – Yorkshire Dales, Conistone to Arncliffe

Sid the Yorkshireman and Carol  were unavailable today as they had ‘other more urgent priorities’. Now what could be a more urgent priority than going to the one of the best parts of the Yorkshire Dales on a day with a superb forecast for sun and dry weather?

They will of course be summoned to a hearing of the Ethic’s Committee which rules on these matters. If their reasons are not compelling the punishment could be that they are set adrift on a boat to the Isles of Silly Persons or even worse to a country over the channel that is in the EU. Given that Sid the Yorkshireman feels uncomfortable going to the t’other side of York that should sort him out.

I thought for one minute about whether I should walk solo and looked at the weather forecast and decided an early start was needed as there should be a good dawn to chase. I therefore left home just before 6.30am which also meant avoiding the worst of the traffic. After ignoring the sat nav that wanted to send me to ‘jammed’ Harrogate, I  passed instead through Knaresborough and soon after the dawn came up. Not the ideal location but it was worth getting up for early. P1100496Leaving Pateley Bridge on the B6265 there were few cars, but some lovely views. P1100497P1100499However, approaching Grassington the views turned to thick fog, which lasted until I arrived at Conistone. Very strange as I didn’t remember fog being forecast.  There was more of a hard frost in the Conistone area than fog. I started walking at just after 8.30am with clear blue skies. Conistone is a good example of an Anglian settlement that goes back to the 8th century with ploughing terraces on the hillside. The first thing that strikes you is how quiet it is.

P1100504Following the road and then a field path, Kilnsey Crag came into view. P1100500P1100502The River Wharfe was passed.P1100503P1100505I crossed the frosty fields towards the Crag and The Tennant Arms pub. P1100506P1100507Kilnsey Crag was formed when water from Vauclusian Springs had worn subterranean ramifications, to finally emerge from the limestone near its base. Here the series of springs burst out where the basement of Silurian slates is not far below. Glacial meltwater would have supplied the springs. Close up to the limestone crag is an impressive site and it is a favourite haunt of rock climbers. It is 170-feet high with an overhang of 40-feet.

Leaving the crag along the B6160 there were white sheep, black sheep and brown sheep in the adjoining fields. P1100514 A couple of accommodation units for groups were passed.

Leaving the B6160 I was now entering Littondale, a glacial U-shaped valley with flat valley pastures and steep wooded sides and drained by the River Skirfare. Three deer were enjoying the peace in the fields just off the lane to Arncliffe.P1100521The frost created interesting patterns. P1100524Whilst mist was still lurking behind me back towards GrassingtonP1100526P1100527I arrived at Hawkswick Bridge and the route crosses the bridge to the hamlet of Hawkswick, only to cross back shortly afterwards.  Hawkswick was named after the birds of prey that once flew in the area.

P1100530There were lapwings ‘dancing’ in pairs. I could also hear curlew. The countryside was coming alive after our long and cold winter. Later I saw a dipper and heard skylarks and a woodpecker. P1100537There were some vibrant colours in the walls. P1100532P1100533P1100535A farmer then pulled up with his buggy and trailer and took new born lambs out of the trailer. Marvellous to see as the lambs had found a new exciting world to explore.

P1100544P1100538However, they were staying near to ‘mom’ even if it meant going airborne. P1100545‘Mom’ was keeping a close eye on them.

Soon after a large meander in the river, which one day long after I have gone to ‘heaven’, will form an ox-bow lake, I came across a fisherman from Leicester who was looking for brown trout. He had once cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats and now had a desire to walk it. Impressive. Little did I realise at this point I would go to ‘heaven’ much earlier than I thought.

P1100552P1100553Suddenly and rather strangely the mist came ‘enveloping’ up the valley. It went much cooler and I felt very disappointed fearing this could be in for the day. P1100555Arriving at the Anglian settlement of Arncliffe, meaning ‘eagle cliff’, there was still some colour to be found.P1100556The present church, dedicated to St Oswald, dates mainly from 1796 and 1841. The church tower dates back to the late 15th century and there is a memorial to the local men who died at the Battle of Floden in 1513, when the Scots and English were still fighting each other. The bell is from 1350 and one of the oldest in the country and is believed to have come from Fountains Abbey.

P1100557Trouble makers in the area were  put in stocks. P1100558It was coffee and banana break time but surprisingly, despite its spacious Anglian village green, there are no benches. I think this gives the wrong message for the village. The only benches are for the use of patrons of the Falcon pub. I had no choice but to perch on an ancient drinking monument.


The traditional Dales pub, The Falcon, has a good reputation and was recommended by the fisherman as a place to stay.

P1100559It was now time to leave The Inn Way and find a route back to my car. This was to be a circuitous route over Middlesmoor Pasture to Kettlewell and then back along the Dales Way. I was still disappointed with the mist as I climbed the steep path through Park Scar Wood, whilst trying to avoid trees falling on my ‘crop of hair’.

P1100561P1100564At the top of the pasture and with perfect timing the mist started to move further along the valley and at the same time disperse. I sat and watched it, quite mesmerised. I had gone to ‘heaven’ as I hadn’t seen the like of it in over 30 years of walking in the Dales. See separate video on Facebook. Here are the later stages of the mist rising, along with the emerging views below of Littondale and Arncliffe and with the sun now radiating a comforting warmth.

IMG_1519IMG_1521P1100571P1100570A couple passed me in the opposite direction and I watched as for some strange reason they veered right and missed the gate to descend to the wood I had just come up. They walked and pondered as to where to go for a long time and in the end seemed to find an alternative but incorrect way down.

Just as I got up to carry on walking another couple of walkers from Harrogate and Sheffield University stopped for a chat. They were only the third and fourth walkers I had seen all day!

The views were still stunning as I reached the ‘heather line’. P1100573 P1100575P1100577Littondale disappeared from view and I then started to descend into Wharfedale towards Kettlewell. 

I didn’t get far as there were yet more stunning views and I decided to stop for lunch. What better place could there be to have lunch? Who needs to go to expensive restaurants when there are views like this.

Great Whernside loomed like a huge table top, still clinging to its disappearing snow line. Kettlewell nestled sheltered at the bottom of it. P1100578P1100579Buckden Pike could be viewed to the left. P1100580The villages of Starbottom and Buckden were in view nestled below Buckden Pike, all in warming sunshine. It was time to apply some more suncream. P1100582If I was going to finish the walk I had to get going again, but could have quite happily have sun-bathed for an hour or two. There were breathtaking views as I descended to Kettlewell and an intended Dales icecream – my first of the year. I had earned it.

P1100584P1100585P1100586P1100590P1100591I found a couple of pubs but, despite trying two cafes (one was closed and the other sold the wrong sort of ice-cream) and a shop there was nowhere to buy a Dales ice-cream. The ice-cream parlour had the supply tied up but I was too early in season or had arrived on the wrong day.

Turner had been in this area.P1100592There was also the youth hostel (now also a Post Office) which I had stayed in on my 1990 Dales Way walk – my first long-distance walk. Hard to forecast then that I would now be on my 55th!P1100595I left Kettlewell with a sad heart having been denied an ice-cream, but was pleased to be back on the Dales Way 28 years later than when first on it. P1100596It soon brought back the need to go through and over many stiles on the Dales Way, some which have springs on the gates that can make you airborne if you are not careful. P1100597I soon passed Scargill House in its wonderful peaceful setting. P1100598P1100599I then passed a lady walking the Dales Way solo. Only the fifth walker I had seen all day! P1100600Kilnsey Crag came into view on the other side of the valley and Conistone Pie on my side of the valley. I climbed to the top of the Pie but found out that I am not good at taking photographs of myself and gave up. I am not of the ‘selfie’ generation.

As I descended to Conistone, still in warm sunshine, it seemed only fitting that Kilnsey Crag would come into view again.

P1100619A visit to the 8th century St Mary’s Church finished the day perfectly. It is the oldest church in the Southern Dales. It has a poor box and Norman font. In the graveyard is a sad memorial to a group of six young men who were killed by rising floodwater whilst they were exploring nearby Mossdale Caverns on 24th June 1967, in what was England’s worst caving accident. P1100620There are some beautiful Dales craft works – such detail! P1100623P1100622P1100624On the way home I called in for an ice-cream at Birchfield Farm ice cream parlour just after Pateley Bridge – but that was closed too!!  Some things in life are not meant to be.

But I did see some more delightful Yorkshire views.


One of my best walks EVER. Simply Magic. 

Miles Walked 13.7 

Steps 29,000

Calories Burnt 4,500 – plenty of allowance for ice-cream then! 

PS – A bird hit my Volvo and now I get a message saying that the Pedestrian Airbag needs a service! They need to fit bird airbags. 









Against the Clock, Winter Trousers Off, Retirement, Spring has Arrived.

Post 242: A Circular Walk from Lastingham

Sid the Yorkshireman had an appointment in the afternoon and so we decided to give The Inn Way – Yorkshire Dales a miss and go somewhere closer to home.

The temperature had increased considerably for the day and so I decided to not wear my winter trousers for the first time since about November. I also replaced my winter body warmer with a lighter one.

The miniature daffodils were out in my garden.


We came up with a circular walk starting at Lastingham, one of my favourite villages on the North York Moors.  Leaving the village at just after 9.00am, heading north onto the open Spaunton Moor, Ana Cross soon came into view. P1100461 This is an impressive cross standing some 10 feet high. IMG_1474

P1100462We decided it was too windy for our coffee break and continued to a bench at the top of Rosedale Chimney.  Sid the Yorkshireman and Alf decided it was still too windy on the bench so dropped down off the ridge, so I had the bench to myself.

The views were stunning.


P1100470There was no one else about apart from the three of us – almost perfect solitude.

We briefly followed the lane south before leaving it to descend to Loskey Beck.

We then ascended from the beck before taking a southerly path through the heather.P1100471Arriving at Hutton-le-hole  we had the luxury of a bench each for lunch. This would be much busier in summer and even this coming Easter school holidays. P1100473There were just a few sheep to keep us company.

P1100474Carol, who often walks with us, was at work for her last week before retirement. Clearly when she retires she will be joining us for walks a lot more, judging by the cake she was given by her colleagues.


We wandered through the picturesque village of Hutton-le-hole where the sheep kept it well ‘manicured’.

After a steep ascent sweeping views towards Rollgate Bank and Farndale could be seen.P1100479Passing through the quiet village of Spaunton, where little seems to happen, we noticed the recycling bins for alcoholic bottles and cans were well stocked with empties!

Above Lastingham we reached Victoria Cross. 

P1100481P1100482A final descent with views of the church took us back to Lastingham

With temperatures of up to 12 degrees it really did feel as though spring had arrived at last, especially in the sheltered villages.

Miles Walked 9 

Steps 20,000

Calories burnt 4,000

Day 1 – The Inn Way – Yorkshire Dales – 55th Long-distance Walk, Sid the Yorkshireman is Certified as a Grumpy Old man, Who Gives a Crap, Bamboo Toilet Paper, A Nervous Breakdown, Snow Angels.

Post 241: 19 March 2018, The Inn Way – Yorkshire Dales – Grassington to Conistone

It was with some anticipation that we embarked on our second Inn Way, but this time instead of the North York Moors it was the Yorkshire Dales.


In view of the forecast of icy roads early on we delayed our departure until 8.00am. Our intended route was blocked first by a road accident and then cars coming off the A64. We therefore carried onto the A1 and followed the sat nav to Wetherby. Big mistake as it then took us towards Harrogate and a huge jam. We turned round and went through Knaresborough to get onto the Pateley Bridge road B6265. Sat navs have their limitations and we often find our local knowledge is better at avoiding jams.

Now Sid the Yorkshireman has allergies to traffic jams and this was a disaster given that we were going to the Yorkshire Dales, which he regarded as the far side of the World. He became, to put it mildly, somewhat negative. He was losing walking time. At this point it was decided to certify him as a grumpy old man.

I was overjoyed with the views before us and stopped the car to take some photographs – more delays.P1100375P1100376P1100377P1100378By this time I needed a comfort break and we followed a sign for toilets to I think Dacre Banks. It took a while to find the toilets as they were not very well signed – more delays. P1100372They served my purpose, but Carol and Steve thought they were some of the worst toilets they had come across. However, they looked okay from the outside once you had found them!

According to a new book Rebel Prince about Prince Charles he has a fondness for “premium comfort” lavatory paper. For once I have complete support for Prince Charles  as after Blue Planet II my wife cancelled our luxury not recyclable quilted Sainsbury’s toilet paper and replaced it with something that simply didn’t work. It was grounds for divorce, but fortunately she saw reason and we now have super strong Premium Bamboo toilet paper from ‘Who gives a crap’.  As a keen environmentalist Charles would approve.

According to the firm: “It is like wiping with clouds. Made with 100% forest friendly bamboo, has no inks, dyes or scents. 50% of profits help build toilets for those in need”. Perhaps Dacre Parish Council should get some?!!!

By this time Sid the Yorkshireman was having a nervous breakdown, but all was not lost as outside the toilets there was a pump and sign!

Speeding onto Grassington, with roads free of ice, we arrived at just after 10.00am – over two hours of travelling, twice the norm. Fortunately, we got the last free car parking space in Grassington as otherwise we would have had to get the men in white coats for Sid the Yorkshireman to take him away – he doesn’t like paying for parking. Most people spend over £700 a year on car parking. Sid the Yorkshireman probably pays about £7 per annum. It was unheard of to have our banana and coffee break in the car but we did. It was then onto the start of the walk further down the main street.

Now as you can see Sid the Yorkshireman  has a ‘new’ hat on, which he thought he had lost but found it again (there is theme here). He brought this on the walk in case the Russians invade and so with that hat on they will think he is on their side.

P1100381Fortunately, I had my infamous ‘1991’ hat on which will go down well when the Americans come to rescue us. This has been lost and found more times than I have had hot dinners, such is life when you are of bus pass age. P1100382The great thing about walking in winter in the Dales is that it is very quiet. In summer the main street would be packed.

Leaving Grassington there was still some ice about.

P1100386The buds on the trees were still being held back by first The Beast from the East and then the Mini Beast. Now it is not for me to put forward conspiracy theories, but I have read that it is possible to control climates and is it a coincidence that the bad weather comes from the East? Now Russia just happens to also be in the East. Hmm….

P1100387Near Town End Farm there was some confusion as, since the guide book has been published, the farm has expanded and the path redirected. However, our route was quite picturesque being snow lined.P1100389

P1100390P1100391We joined the correct path along the edge of Grass Wood. 

We then emerged onto a clearer track with superb views of Kilnsey Crag.

 We dropped down to Conistone and found benches in the centre for lunch in the warm sun. Lovely.

At this point we left The Inn Way to find our way back to the car. We followed he path to Bell Scar and Dib. This was quite dramatic with snow coming down on top of us and big icicles and narrow passageways.

We eventually emerged to more open ground P1100418P1100419Before being confined again as we joined The Dales Way 

The Dales Way was my first proper long-distance walk, which I completed in 1990 and now I was on it again 28 years later not feeling a day older!

P1100427P1100428  This was proved when we went into ‘snow play’ and became snow angels.





Eventually, we got a grip and continued our walk.P1100433The RAF had received reports of strange folks in the area and buzzed us. P1100443 Some of the stiles were interesting. P1100445And there were some stunning expansive views. P1100447P1100448We arrived back in Grassington, which even if you are not religious had a poignant message in God’s own County of Yorkshire.


P1100449It took only an hour and 15 minutes to get back home and Sid the Yorkshireman was a lot happier and you never know, on this walk, he may come to love the Dales as I do, not just  the North York Moors? 

Miles Walked 7.3

Steps 18,000

Calories Burnt 3,300

PS We are on The Inn Way and forgot to take photographs of the Inns.  Oops!




A Day off from Long Distance Walks with The Launch of the Alternative Grand Tour – The Last of the Summer Gear. 

Post 240: 15 March 2017

The previous day I had gone to collect my car in the Midlands following its replacement clutch being fitted. The previous clutch had ‘exploded’, which as I explained in my previous blog is the first clutch replacement in any of my Volvos for over 30 years. Rumour has it that it might have been the Russians in retaliation for the expulsion of their Ambassadors.

Having left York at 6.00am it had taken over 5 hours to get to Wolverhampton in my courtesy car, a BMW Series 2, but only just over 2 hours to get back in my Volvo V40. By no means would I like you to jump to the conclusion that Volvo are better than BMWs. I even got a creme egg and dime bar courtesy of Volvo as well as all expenses paid.

It always seems easier getting back into Yorkshire than leaving it.


I had done enough driving in the last few days and so Alf brought out the emergency reserve transport (his main car was not available due to grandchildren duties). Now we might have done better using the bicycles outside the Lockton Youth Hostel.

P1100364What was worrying is that the wire in the boot was in case the exhaust came even more loose than it was already.  The rubbish (milk bottle and Sainsbury’s bag) in the back were what we collected at the end of the walk. The ‘other bits’ are another story. P1100369However, we had nothing to worry about as there was a decent first aid kit, especially if there were lots of insects about. P1100367

All we had to do now was find the CD player and CDs. This proved impossible as there were only tapes and a tape player. Alf’s children must have had a strange taste in music  as I didn’t recognise any of them. P1100366

Having completed The Inn Way, North York Moors, we had planned to start The Inn Way, Yorkshire Dales, starting from Grassington. However, the forecast was for heavy rain all day so we decided to find a short walk somewhere else, hopefully a bit drier. We thought about the coast but high winds were forecast and in the end we decided on a 7 mile walk around the Hole of Horcum on the North York Moors, which we should finish before the rains came. Coincidently an almost exact replica of our planned walk was in this months Country Walking Magazine.



We were due to start walking from Levisham, but there is a very steep descent and ascent for about a mile to get to the village and Alf wasn’t sure the engine would cope with it. He decided to risk it, despite noticing a gap in the road barrier where presumably a car had gone off the road in the bad weather at a bend to plunge to the valley bottom below.

We started walking at about 8.30am and put waterproofs on from the start. I decided not to take many photographs as it was dank and misty. However, I had to take one entering the Hole of Horcum. P1100360

At the bottom of the hole we had a very early lunch.

We climbed out of the valley up Dundale Griff to Dundale Pond and back to Levisham. We finished walking at 12.30pm and with some spare time decided to audition for Top Gear given that we understood the Top Gear Grand Tour series was due to finish.

Ours would be the Alternative Grand Tour – The Last of the Summer Gear. 

We started by demonstrating the safety features of Alf’s Toyota Corolla GS. We were not sure what the GS stood for but it was possibly, Gone to Seed, but then we weren’t sure whether it referred to the car or the car owner? Or it could stand for ‘Great Scot’.

It certainly did not refer to the chap on the bonnet testing if the pedestrian air bags were as good as on his Volvo V40. No airbags were found. Such bravery and athleticism for someone with a bus pass. We had set up special lighting effects (yes the car lights still worked) for filming, which basically made my legs look supernatural. There are rumours.

IMG_1404 (1)

Unlike with a Volvo V40, the bonnet did bend under my weight!

Our next task was to compare the BMW Series 2, the Volvo V40 and the Toyota Corolla.

The BMW costs in excess of £25,000 and comes with a decent boot of 390 litres, can do 0-62 in 8.8 seconds, maximum speed of 130 mph, is supplied with alloys and had Drive Performance Control Eco, Pro and Comfort and Sport Suspension

The Volvo V40 is about £20,000 and comes with Sensus Connect Navigation, Cruise Control, Alloys, Rear Park Assist, LED lights, the first ever Pedestrian Airbags on a car, three point safety belts and side impact airbags, Drive E-power trains (engines) balancing responsive power with class leading efficiency, IntelliSafe innovations to support you while your driving, helping to protect you against accidents and protecting you if if one occurs. 120 hp, 89 CO2 (so no road tax), twin exhaust pipes with chrome sleeves, roof spoiler, an Information Centre, heated front and rear windows, City Safety, Speed Limiter, SIPs, WHIPS ABS, DSTC (Dynamic Stability and traction Control), Automatic Headlight levelling system, Home Safe and Approach Lighting, IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System), Bluetooth, High Performance Sound System with radio, CD and DVD (only when not driving!), 1969cc engine, top speed 118 mph, 0-60 in 9.2 seconds, extra urban mpg 62.8.

However, the 17 year old Toyota will appeal to the more prudent driver and offers of over £50 are invited to purchase it. It has aerodynamic sleek lines and turquoise colouring.




Registered in 2001 its CO2 emissions are 162 and presumably the road tax is quite high and it is not eco friendly. It would make an excellent car for any scrap exchange scheme.

It comes with wheels, lights, a steering wheel, a glove box, tape player and chairs. It offers a vibration service for all parts of the body. It has a top speed of 55 mph with the wind behind it.

The exhaust could drop off at anytime and at the present time Sid the Yorkshireman says it sounds like a rally car. Not only does he need to go to Specsavers he also needs a hearing test (they do both).

However, the good news is that it has a working clutch.

On the way home the rain came………


Miles Walked 7.1

Steps 17,000

Calories Burned 25,000




Day 17- My 54th Long-distance Walk Completed, Car Broken Down, The Angel of the North, An Emergency, The Tour de France, Supermoons and Super Snow and Cold, Age Shall Not Weary Them, 211 Miles Walked. Who Reads the Secret Diaries?

Post 239: The Inn Way, 13 March 2018, Rievaulx Bridge to Helmsley

“The cars broken down” Celia, my wife, said on the telephone on Saturday when we were in the Midlands visiting our two 95 year old mothers for mother’s day. “The clutch is not working”.

“Well telephone Volvo Assistance”, I said from some two miles away at my mothers.

“What’s the number?”, she said. “I am in an awkward position at the Co-op.”

“Well put the hazard warners on if its dangerous.”

“There is a card with the number under the CD box and one in the glove box (for belt and braces). I will get a taxi and come to meet you. ”

By the time I got to Celia and the mother-in-law, the car (not the mother in law) was about to go on the lorry loader to be taken to the nearest Volvo garage in Wolverhampton.

We then got a taxi to the mother-in-laws a couple of miles where we were staying.

It was the first time in about 17 years that a Volvo had let me down. The last time was after dropping my daughter off at Northumbria University when my old Volvo 440 ground to a halt under the Angel of the North, due to an alternator problem. The AA had no problem finding us and took us home with the car on his lorry loader.

This was somewhat different as my car was only 15 months old and not meant to break down and I had planned to finish the Inn Way in Yorkshire on Tuesday. We had already postponed once due to the Beast from the East. This was an EMERGENCY.

I got onto Volvo Assistance and on Monday they had a courtesy car at the door. BMW 2 series automatic sport. Not a Volvo V40, but I could make do.


We travelled back to Yorkshire in pouring rain all the way, but I knew the forecast was good for Tuesday and the Inn Way. I also knew by now that a new clutch was required for my car and parts had to be ordered by the garage. I had not needed a new clutch since an old Volvo 340 had needed one about 30 years ago!

So we arrived at Helmsley at about 9.30am to start the last walk on The Inn Way.

This walk, which we had started on the 23rd November last year had been one of the most challenging I had done as we had walked throughout the winter over and through the North York Moors. I had fallen in two bogs, having only fallen in one other bog in the rest of my life. We had encountered deep snow, ice, cold winds, overflowing streams to cross, hills, fog, mist, paths that weren’t there, Carol and Sid the Yorkshireman had both had falls, we had found new routes and paths we hadn’t done before in order to get back to the cars, deep puddles blocking paths, mud and more mud. It had tested our outdoor gear (e.g. waterproofs, insulation, my 4 hats on once occasion, and spikes), knowledge, energy levels, map reading and experience to the maximum. During this time nature has revealed itself with great beauty and power with Supermoons and Super Snow and Cold.

I had loved it!

Today was to be, as in the Tour de France’s last day, our celebration. We knew we would finish the walk and this was a day to really enjoy ourselves.

The forecast was good and much warmer and sunnier than previous walks. Spring had arrived although perhaps briefly. We soon passed Helmsley Castle just after the entrance to Duncombe Park.

P1100315Sir Charles Duncombe, a wealthy London banker and Lord Mayor of London, bought Helmsley Castle and its estate in 1689 on the death of the Duke of Buckingham.

P1100316P1100317We passed the Ionic Temple.P1100318Ascending there were good views back towards Helmsley and the walled gardens of the castle, which are well worth a visit.  P1100320P1100321Carol had her first tree hug of the day. P1100322

We reached Duncombe House, which was built in 1713 by Thomas Browne who later adopted the Duncombe name. The house is occupied by Lord Feversham and is open to members of the public.

P1100323After passing a tree felling area we reached Griff Lodge and The Cleveland Way and The North of England Way. P1100324A helicopter flew over us just as in the Tour de France! Were they filming us?! P1100325Rievualx Abbey could then be seen in its magnificent valley sitting. The monks were not stupid in picking this sheltered, picturesque location.

P1100328 We then reached Rievaulx Bridge, which was where we needed to resume The Inn Way. Repairs were being carried out to presumably where cars and lorries had skidded into it during the bad weather.P1100329We carried on past Ashberry Farm to have our coffee and banana break at a bench with wonderful views in energising spring like weather.

P1100338P1100335P1100336P1100337All that remained was to walk back three miles along The Cleveland Way and The North of England Way to Helmsley for our celebratory lunch at Mannions. 

P1100340Carol and Sid the Yorkshireman were very happy with the delicious food. P1100343Helmsley is a delightful market town to visit out of season, but in the summer can suffer from its popularity with many people visiting.

P1100342All that remained was to have a final photo call in the market place to finish a fine challenging walk.P1100352

Now where did I put my 1991 hat? 

We couldn’t find it anywhere so we drove back along parts of the route, but with no luck.

However, when we got home I found it deep in one of the many Rohan pockets I have. “Age shall not weary them”.

Any typos or other mistakes are not due to gin!!!!

Miles Walked 8.1

Steps 18,000

Calories Burned 3,300

Daily Mileage

Day 1 – 12.8

Day 2 – 13.4

Day 3 – 14

Day 4 – 14.5

Day 5 – 14

Day 6 – 13.2

Day 7 – 11.8

Day 8 – 10.2

Day 9 – 11.2

Day 10 – 12.9

Day 11 – 12.6

Day 12 – 12.1

Day 13 – 13.1

Day 14 – 10.5

Day 15 – 10.2

Day 16 – 9.4

Day 17 – 8.1

Total Miles Walked 211

It is possible to walk The Inn Way as a linear walk and reduce the total mileage to an 89 mile walk. 

Who Reads the Secret Diaries?

65% of readers are women

34% of readers are men

1% are ?

The biggest age group reading are aged 45-54 – 19% women.










Day 16 – The Beast from East, Storm Emma, A Weather Bomb, Kia Meet, Snow Heroes, Free Range Children, Rievaulx Delights, Penny and the Penny Farthing.

Post 238: 5 March 2018, The Inn Way, Cold Kirby to Rievaulx  Bridge.

As for most people in this country, last week had been very strange indeed as Britain was hit by weather unlike anything I or others had known in this country before. It was the coldest weather on record in March. Then the Beast from the East polar weather met Storm Emma with Atlantic blizzards to dump even more snow on the country. ‘A Weather Bomb’ and a ‘Perfect Freeze. Much of the  snow has been different to the norm in Britain in that it was powdery ‘ski snow’ which, when the winds came, moved about and formed huge drifts blocking roads and paths.

It must have been bad as we hadn’t done any proper walks on the North York Moors since the 22 February – a week and a half before. I had tried to stop myself from ‘seizing up’ by going on walks around my village, but even on those short flat walks the biting cold and strong winds were unlike anything I had experienced, except for being on board the deck of a ship off Norway at night in the middle of Winter, waiting for the Northern Lights to appear.  It is the sort of cold that ‘hurts’ and drains energy after about 30 minutes. On the Moors it could have been fatal so we wisely avoided going there. Doctors had said that anyone aged over 55 shouldn’t do snow clearance as breating in the extreme cold could affect their lungs and during activities cause a fatality. This advice came too late for me as I had already cleared snow from my drive and paths! I was not sure what they would have said about walking up and down over hills in the cold.

As soon as the temperatures increased and the thaw began we decided to head out to the appropriately named Cold Kirby to continue on The Inn Way.

We knew the roads around the Cold Kirby area had been closed for a few days and when we left the main road at Sutton Bank, we immediately came across a ROAD CLOSED sign. However, the road seemed mostly clear, albeit with snow piled up either side. A tractor was removing the last vestiges of snow off the road and we asked the driver if the road was now passable to Cold Kirby. He thought it was.

So continuing our journey we came across some interesting views!


P1100222We arrived at Cold Kirby to have an impromptu ‘Kia Meet’P1100226After slipping and sliding a few weeks ago on the Moors, Sid the Yorkshireman had decided to splash out on winter tyres and wheels to add to his 4 wheel drive Kia. He did this just before The Beast from the East arrived and so there is no doubt that he is to blame for the bad weather. 

He had travelled half way round Yorkshire to pick up wheels and tyres. His winter tyres are the ones on the left and the other Kia’s tyres are the ones on the right – quite a difference in tread, not to mention that the winter tyre compound gives more grip in cold weather.

Carol posed in front of the Church of St Michael (see previous blog) and the mist that entombed the Moors.

P1100227We had an interesting start to our walk and thought that if the next 9 miles were going to be like this it could be a really tough day!P1100228P1100229P1100231P1100232We then had a tricky steep descent into Flassen Dale at which point Carol decided to put her spikes on. I already had mine on and Sid the Yorkshireman didn’t.

P1100233Here we encountered some forest workers who, incredibly, informed us they had worked through all the bad weather the previous week!!! Snow Heroes. 

We thought the Euro Forest sign was amusing and wondered what it would be called after BREXIT.P1100237We ascended the other side of the valley. Much of the tree clearing was related to pheasant shooting, which is widespread in this area and brings a lot of income to it. P1100238P1100239We arrived at Pond Farm, Scawton where the sheep were very ‘friendly’ or more likely very hungry. P1100242After a coffee and banana break we visited the unique Norman Church of St Mary which is little changed since it was built by the monks of Byland Abbey in 1146.P1100245In the porch there is a memorial to five crew members of a Halifax bomber that crashed nearby in 1945. P1100243P1100244There are also the remains of a carving. P1100247The font cover is unusual. P1100246We descended to Nettle Dale where The Cleveland Way crossed our path. It is the spaghetti junction of a number of paths.

Small springs emerged in the area. P1100251There are some rare ducks.P1100252And delightful treesP1100254Shortly afterwards we reached Reins Farm where there were free range childrenP1100255 We descended to Bow Bridge over the River Rye, which leads to Rievaulx Abbey. P1100257In the mist it was very atmospheric as we walked towards the Abbey for a lunch stop. P1100258


P1100264This imposing Cistercian abbey was established in 1132 by twelve French monks and named after the valley Rievaulx, meaning valley of the Rye.  St Aelred, the third Abbot, developed the abbey into being largest monastic establishment in England, with over 500 lay brothers and 140 choir boys.

After lunch we continued along the road past the Abbey.

We then came across a resting place of a good Canadian walking friend of mine Penny, who will be forever missed, will forever be young and will not grow old like the rest of us.  It would have given her great pleasure to see the snowdrops and celandine that were growing in the vicinity, topped off by the snow. P1100274At Rievaulx Bridge we left The Inn Way to follow The Cleveland Way and The North of England Way back towards the car. The nearby house was built in 1885. P1100275We then entered Nettle Dale again as, at long last, the sun appeared. P1100276P1100277P1100279P1100281We then had a long and gradual, but tiring ascent along the secluded and snowy Blind Side and Tanker Dales, with springs appearing.

At the top we came across a desolate field and some unusual sheep with delightful faces. P1100289P1100292The snow created some delightful effects. P1100293Arriving at Cold Kirby there some unusual sights. Whatever is a Penny Farthing doing there?  Also the cow is not real.

At least back in Cold Kirby the fog had cleared.P1100296Finally, after the walk, I couldn’t resist stopping off at Sutton Bank to admire the views.

P1100301P1100302P1100304P1100308A fine end to the day.

Miles Walked 9.4

Steps 21,000

Calories Burnt 3,200