This week has started to show promise that the snow may have finally retreated and some warmer weather might just be around the corner! Such times, (much like the sprouting of bluebells and the arrival of swallows,) are typically marked by overzealous Fathers reaching for a pair of shorts and optimistic shops filling their shelves with BBQ kits. The excitement got to us too though and we headed up to Chevin Forest Park, Otley for a beautiful evening walk. The light was gorgeous and the woodland bursting with bird song. We caught sight of two courting nuthatches which was a particular highlight; but the sunset really stole the show!
Some landscapes are unquestionably spiritual, something about them just 'lifts' the soul. But there's no formula for them and like many things in life, they're all very subjective! As photo briefs come and go, some you remember, some you try to forget and some stay etched in your memory, clear as day. One particular brief which will always stay with me was a portrait for an article on a couple who's son had died of a heroin overdose. They were a lovely couple who turned a potentially tricky job, into a rewarding and encouraging experience. One of the things I picked up on during the photo shoot was how important the time they had spent on Holy Island was and how they had an undoubtedly spiritual connection to that landscape and environment. This is something I found myself reflecting on when I visited Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne. I have to admit I didn't find a divine connection to Lindisfarne. I found the landscape intriguing, the history captivating and the bountiful wildlife enchanting. Yet I found myself walking the perimeters almost emotionless, which actually surprised me. Maybe it was the disappointment of a cancelled boat trip to the Farne Islands or a nagging concern about the tides and getting cut off from the mainland. Whatever it was, I was missing something that many before me, profess and evangalise about when visiting Holy Island. This shouldn't be misinterpreted. Walking around Lindisfarne was awesome and I would recommend it to anyone. I just didn't find it as inspiring as I thought I would. Maybe it was the curse of expectation. This kind of scenario often occurs when I watch films: I have high expectations and am disappointed, low expectations and I thoroughly enjoy it! Maybe there's a lesson in there somewhere? After successfully evading the incoming that tide that mercilessly cuts Lindisfarne off from the mainland twice a day, we headed to our B&B in Beadnell. As we were shown to our room I felt a twinge of jealousy as I observed a hallway full of photos capturing close up encounters with Puffins on the Farne Islands. Encounters that I seemed destined (at that time), never to experience! Ignoring their taunts, we decided to go out and explore the Beadnell coastline. The stretch of beach we found seemed fairly standard. Nothing surprising or of outstanding interest. Yet the cluster of rock pools pulled me in to investigate. Before I knew it I had spent over an hour moving from pool to pool, barely looking up, mesmerised by these unique micro universes. On one of the occasions I did look up, I noticed a Kestrel hunting not more than ten metres away! This arguably unremarkable beach had actually become a magical and unforgettable experience. I lingered and explored until the tide forced me to abandon my newly discovered worlds. I pondered (while tucking into a steak and ale pie in a local pub), on how an underwhelming stretch of coast (at a glance) had upstaged a location revered and celebrated by hundreds of thousands. It's a lesson most are taught from an early age, but maybe one that takes a lifetime to learn; I scolded myself and renewed a promise to try and experience every landscape with reserved judgement and without any preconceptions!
I had wanted to give a more detailed account of our walk on Rombald's Moor. Though I envisage sighs of relief from friends and family as they read this opening line; I had hoped to give a more, or moor (that one's for CB!) descriptive account of the walk that started in Riddleston, that took us past lambs just hours old, of the beams of light that pierced through the densely wooded... err.. wood, as well as the astonishing aerial display from several lapwings as they tried to divert a red kite (the bird of prey) away from their nesting area. I even wanted depict the delights had from the pint of Black Moor, brewed by Goose Eye brewery in nearby Keighley which was supped in the Crown Inn, Addingham and wasn't bad! Alas though, I'm off to Skye in a couple of days and do not have time to spend on such a whim! However, I imagine after 8 days wandering round the famously scenic Isle, there will be no end to the drivel making it's way onto this site; so remember this gift of briefness when you wade through the swamp of waffle in the forthcoming posts! And here are the Pics....
If you're anything like me, you'll know just how dangerous 'popping out' for a coffee is. My most recent coffee excursion led to a browse around Waterstone's (or Waterstones as I believe they are re-branding themselves). Anyway this 'browse' led to the purchase of £30 worth of OS maps and a rather cool book on Yorkshire Dales walks. No wonder I got an espresso maker for my birthday! The following morning I woke up like it was Christmas, all excited about doing a new walk in the Dales from our new book, using my new OS map. Caroline was more like the parent at Christmas, who would like just five more minutes in bed and wishes the kids would go and quietly entertain themselves with their new pressies. Anyway a quick wash, a round of toast that barely touches the sides and we were off! Or so we thought. It seemed the car didn't share our enthusiasm for the Yorkshire Dales, so 10 minutes into our journey we had to turn back and book the car in for a check up. Luckily due to my premature, or arguably immature, overexcitement it was still relatively early. Remembering that we had been given an AA Walks Around Leeds and West Yorkshire book for Christmas we started hunting through the walk cards looking for a walk that was relatively accessible on public transport. We found one that started and finished at Burley in Wharfedale train station. The walk begins on Hag Farm Lane leading up to and through the farm, over some fields that offer the residing sheep lush panoramas and on through a variety of gates that remind you that you still haven’t burnt off as many of those festive calories as you would have liked. The highlight of the walk is Burley Moor. This relatively busy heath provides some great views, even on a hazy winter’s day (is that a Simon and Garfunkel song?) with low thin cloud you could still take in the sights. We took a moment as we crossed the moor to take in the scenery. There were plenty of different paths that offered interesting diversions and investigations. Pretty soon the moor quietened down as people went off exploring their own routes. We came across a beautiful icy stream cutting its way through the hillside, which was particularly fascinating. The walk then took us back onto a B road and a country lane, and then over some pretty lowland fields that we’d previously been looking down on. We eventually ended back amongst some pretty impressive houses that surround Burley in Wharfedale station. This was a very enjoyable walk, not too short and not too long with some lovely scenery and a good mix of terrain. Typically my keenness to photograph EVERYTHING meant we missed the hourly train by 5 or 10… But with every cloud… Rather with every missed train there is usually a good pub and Burley in Wharfedale is no exception, we headed into the village where we went to the friendly Red Lion Hotel for a pint of Midnight Bell from Leeds Brewery while resisting the mouth-watering specials on the board! A wonderful end to a day that began rather ominously.
An unplanned lazy lie in and poor visabillity meant we weren't able to do the walk we had planned to do last week. We headed up to Ilkley Moor anyway, just to stretch the legs and get some air. Parking as near to the Cow and Calf rocks as we could (this is evidently a popular weekend destination, as this was further than we would have liked), we changed shoes and set off. Neither 'climbed' nor 'walked' would be an accurate description of how we made our ascent, messily and laboriously may be more accurate. The top of the rocks themselves are not more than a 5 minute walk from the completely full car parks below but there are several places further up the road where you can leave the car if, like us, you leave it all rather late! The rocks were fascinating. A variety of carefully carved etchings, both contemporary and old including many dated in the early 1800s, were scattered over the irregular surfaces of the Cow and Calf rocks. In fact, there are reportedly a number of engravings throughout Ilkley Moor thought to date from either the late Neolithic or the Bronze Age, and Rombald's Moor (of which Ilkley Moor is part) is considered to hold the second highest concentration of ancient carved stones in Europe. After spending a considerable amount of time walking around and examining the rocks we walked back down (disturbing a couple of red grouse on the way) towards the Cow and Calf Hotel where we stopped for a customary pint. I opted for a Black sheep (Black Sheep Brewery, Masham). The busy bar staff were friendly and the slightly crowded pub had a nice atmosphere, despite food clearly being the priority of this establishment. The Ilkley Moor area is an intriguing landscape which clearly holds many points of interest. I will certainly be revisiting, just a little earlier next time, with a dinner table reservation at the pub for our return!