Another glorious day and with our fickle weather, you grab these days and make the most of them.
The Dog and I drove to Clapham, a pretty little village just off the A65 and just inside the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It was quite busy with cars. We parked up and wandered towards the Cave Rescue HQ on the Main Street and found the footpath between two buildings. We followed the narrow ginnel to a kissing gate and popped out in the middle of a farmyard.
The fingerpost pointed to the left so we crossed the yard and went around the corner. A wide concrete track went up between between fields and turned right by some glorious trees in full autumnal colours. We followed the fencing, as instructed and started crossing fields. The views were far reaching and beautiful. In the distance I spotted a group of cows. I sighed deeply – they were in our field, they were actually on the path we needed and right next to the gate that we needed to exit.
I didn’t want to abort this walk – it had taken me ages to decide to walk it in the first place. Let’s see what happens when we’re closer. We were now in their field and they were not for moving. Two walkers came through the gate – the cows were right next to the fence so the walkers had to divert up the steep incline next to the path. The cows hardly moved. I felt slightly happier, but I had a mad dog who liked to bark and round up large animals. I shortened her lead, gave her a stern warning and started to clamber up the incline. I hoped The Dog wouldn’t take off as I would go flying. She must of felt my vibes as she was very self controlled and we passed the beasts without incident.
We carried on, crossing through stiles with little gates, strolling across wide meadows. We came across medieval terracing in a field where small holders cultivated small strips of land. Finally we dropped into the small village of Austwick, a mile and half from Clapham.
We walked through Austwick, another pretty village. I was pleased they had retained their bright red telephone kiosk. Many years ago, BT decided to update their boxes. They chose a design of complete ugliness, all glass and steel, with the charm of an urinal. It looked like it had been designed on the back of an envelope, late on a Friday afternoon after a liquid lunch. BT decided to blight the country with these monstrosities – they’re bad enough in the middle of a city – so many pretty villages suffer the indignity of these dreadful boxes, usually in a prominent place. Luckily, Austwick has resisted somehow and hung onto their original one. Usually they are turned into a mini library or hold a defibrillator or some other useful community project.
We strolled up the Main Street towards the little dinky primary school. It was full of little stone cottages, but here and there some thoughtless developer, back in the 70’s, had been allowed to build a squat little bungalow or boxy house with no imagination whatsoever. Thank God for planning permission today, so new homes today are built out of stone and got some character though there seems to be an aversion to add a chimney, even just for aesthetic purposes.
We turned into another lane and started to climb. It was a steady pull. I could stare at the houses better – one of my favourite hobbies while walking. They were all pretty, with lovely gardens and views.
Our pull up the hill was short and we branched off onto a field via a wall stile which took some effort. I paused to take off my coat. It was pleasantly warm. We walked across a couple of fields to a ladder stile, where The Dog totally misjudged it and fell back onto the grass. She’s usually pretty good on all stiles, but occasionally she makes a dogs dinner out of it. She recovered and gave me a look of “I meant to do that” before a more successful attempt.
We jumped down into a lane lined with stone walls. The Dog was off lead and we trotted together back towards Clapham. The views were splendid – Ingleborough peeked over the fells and Robin Proctor’s Scar, a limestone cliff, was prominent on our right. It’s a good climbing area. Not far from here are the Norber Erratics, where during the last Ice Age, boulders were dumped by the glacier on top of limestone. The limestone has weathered away so now boulders balance on boulders. It is a natural phenomena.
We came up to woodland, a path to our right. We carried on and dropped down on a steep path down between a wall. At the bottom we passed under two long tunnels, dark and dank, before being popped out back into the sunshine and back into the village.
We wandered down to the beck for The Dog to have a paddle and then I went to the village shop for a loaf of fresh bread. It’s a brilliant little shop, stocked full of everything – groceries, gifts, fruit and veg, jams, tourist books, cards and all sorts. I ended up getting all my shopping I had planned to do the next day. I’m very much into supporting these small little enterprises – they are usually run by the community and staffed by volunteers and I shop most of the time in such places. I even got a free cloth shopping bag made by the locals and donated to the shop. I was very happy.
We wandered back to the car, I had to cajole The Dog into the boot. She looked tired, but wanted to stay. She finally jumped in and we drove slowly home.