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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!
“Oh we’re not real twitchers” protested Mum as she passed one of two telescopes to Dad and placed a spotting scope in her pocket to protect it from the incessant rain! I’m not sure anyone other than ‘real’ twitchers would have travelled one and a half hours to Bempton Cliffs fully aware that only cold winds and rain awaited their arrival… I say only wind and rain, but actually rather a lot awaited us at the RSPB cliffside reserve, and my noted lack of protest probably serves as a marker on my journey to becoming a ‘real twitcher’!
Having passed through the cosy and friendly (only thing missing being a tasty local beer served on tap!) RSPB centre/shop that serves as the entrance, I found myself mesmerised by thousands of sea birds rising and sinking from the sharp line drawn by the cliffs. The wind and rain evaporated (metaphorically speaking, unfortunately) as we watched gannets, fulmars, razor bills and guillemots!
The walking at Bempton Cliffs is relatively easy (in a good way) and captivating. The RSPB also offers guided walks but given my folks’ tendency to stop without warning for twenty, thirty minutes at a time meant we thought it best to decline. On one such stoppage, we (Mum) managed to pick out a puffin nesting with her telescope. I should probably point out, being May, (I know, it’s August now (!) this post has been on the back burner for a little bit) there were only a few puffins around, so we were thrilled to find one!
This is a great area for a family walk, even in miserable weather! There’s also plenty of walking options for those looking for a longer/more challenging ramble too. There is no question that I’ll be returning!
It’s the norm for me to mention a pint of local ale consumed at the end of my walks, but with my parents being more tea and scone people, I thought I’d refer to another custom equally common to that of a pint. On many of our walks I end up buying CB one of the little RSPB pin badges (found in RSPB centres and all good local pubs); on this occasion I bought her a gannet pin- no reflection on her eating habits, honest.
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!