Having double checked the handbrake, twice and debated leaving the car in first, I tentatively made my way to the back of the 45 degree angled parked car to put on my boots. It wasn’t until later we realised there was actually a car park in Appletreewick which we could of used. This oversight was probably due to the excitement of embarking on our first Dales walk: The walk we had originally planned to do in “Perils of Coffee” (A lovely walk round Burey in Whafedale). Appletreewick is a village in the Yorkshire Dales and is pronounced “Aptrick” by locals. The locals also boast of Sir William Craven, described as the village’s own Dick Whittington, having left the village for London to make his success and ended up becoming Lord Mayor and sheriff of London before returning to Appletreewick. The walk begins along the bank of the river Wharfe and the sun starts to thaw my rather chilled face, I realise what an awesome picnic destination these banks would make in the summer months. As the walk develops a diverse range of landscape and terrain is experienced. One minute a rocky valley the next a small picturesque village with a population no more than 30. Highlights of the walk include a derelict resevoir called Skyreholme dam, which used to supply water to a paper mill and Trollers Gill which involves clambering over a rocky stream for a mile or so before an obligatory investigation of a rather large cave entrance; could this be the hide out for the spectre hound of Craven. Dare you to go in! (umm… please note: I take no responsibility for anyone who does themselves a mischief from taking up something I say in jest and that may not actually be the opinions of the writer: insert any other appropriate legal jargon here). This is walk that is steeped in history and intertwined with folklore. Having the Ramblers Yorkshire Dales guide by David Leather really helped add context to the conveyor belt of lansdcapes and really bought the walk to life. On completion of the walk we stopped in the Craven Arms for a pint of Black Witch, Moorehouse brewery. The pub was so inviting and charming we stayed for a pint of Cruck Barn (Brewed by the Craven Arms) and in case you’re adding up the points, CB stuck to the tea before driving us back on a scenic journey made all the more beautiful by warm glow of two fine ales in the system!
A carbohydrate-heavy brunch and some strong coffee was just enough to get us into the car and onto the road on a less than inspiring New Year's Day. But the promise of a raging river Tees and some stunningly raw scenery, all followed by a pint in one of my favourite pubs ever, kept us motivated as we drove to our destination. As we got out of the car at Holwick, County Durham we were struck by the amount of water around. This was a continual theme of our New Year's Day Walk, as we encountered a significant number of impromptu streams and waterways carving their way down the slopes and over walkways. One was particularly problematic and caused much amusement (especially to those with wellies) when a couple of us (myself included) slipped on take off falling in knee and elbow deep! The Tees was magnificent and High Force (not quite the highest waterfall in England) was thundering! Totally worth dragging four hungover walkers out on a rather grey and wet day. The pace quickened with the thought of real ale and an open fire at the Strathmore Arms. As our return route drifted away from the torrential Tees, we made our way back on higher ground through rugged and ancient looking farmland. There are clearly a variety of ways to walk this stretch of the Tees with several opportunities to cross the river (including a rather fun "one at a time" hanging bridge). We stuck to the footpath that keeps to the left of the river and then takes you up a hill, and onto heathland which in turn leads to an elevated view point opposite High Force. A little futher up there is another viewpoint right next to the Waterfall which is equally dramatic. This is a relatively short walk of around two hours (at hangover pace) and could be longer if you are a photography enthusiast as there is plenty to point your camera at, even on a dull day! We made it back to a warm, welcoming Strathmore Arms in Holwick. With one wet leg from a misjudged leap over a stream making the chip butty and pint of Black Grouse (Allendale Brewery, Northumberland) all the more tasty!