I try to grab every opportunity to get out for a day walking, trying to pick a time and a place that fits in with the weather forecast.
If it is rainy in Cumbria, then look to head to the Dales. If bad there too, check out say Silverdale or the North York Moors. The problem with this is that decisions on our walking venues are left to the very last moment.
When I got up the other Tuesday, I had every intention of making the long haul over to the east coast to the wonderful walking country that abounds around Whitby. I have a strong sentimental attachment to the area, but the distance really means we are pushing it to get there and back in a day. With still fairly limited hours of daylight, I took a last-minute reality check and decided to stay closer to home.
Over the last few weeks we have been to the West Pennine Moors, Windermere, Great Langdale, Arkengarthdale, Wharfedale and Wensleydale in search of new routes, and had some great walking. Part of the problem is we tick walks off as soon as we have done them, and consequently, as we furtively scan the contents list of various guidebooks, we think, “Done that! Been there! done that!”. Consequently, we are forever casting our net wider.
Doing this means we often overlook the gems much closer to home, even though it may be some years since our last visit. So it was, on that Tuesday, with nowhere in mind, we piled into the car with just a vague notion of going “...somewhere in the Dales”.
By the time we had reached the A59 at Whalley, we had narrowed it down to Nidderdale near Ripley or perhaps Pateley Bridge, Pen Hill in Wensleydale, Malham doing the Gordale Scar walk, the hills above Giggleswick, or Ingleton Falls. We live in an amazing area and are spoilt for choice.
On a whim I turned off at Sawley, and so that ruled out Nidderdale and Wensleydale. The trees were being buffeted by a gusty wind so Pen Hill would probably be a bit draughty. Furthermore, it was half-term so Malham might be busy. As we crossed the Ribble, recent rain had meant water levels were good so we reckoned it should be Ingleton Falls which ought to be impressive. After a protracted period of indecision at last we knew where we were going.
As we passed Buckhaw Brow at Giggleswick I was glad we had dropped that area as some rugged cattle were grazing near the path. Not funny when you have a dog. On a whim I headed into Clapham. It was fairly busy so we headed out towards Austwick along the lovely field paths.
We were not disappointed and yet another whim saw us seeking out refreshment in the bar of the Game Cock Inn. Outside again, we decided to follow the long track to Clapham via the tunnels, only to change direction as we neared our destination to follow Long Lane, vaguely in the direction of Ingleborough. Once there Clapdale looked enticing, so we dropped down to Ingleborough Cave. It was years since our last visit, and we passed a happy 45 minutes underground admiring the various flow stones and stalactites. However, as we strolled happily through the woods and back to the car in Clapham I couldn’t help but reflect on the chaotic decision making that had characterised our day. Never would I have thought at breakfast that I would be looking around a show cave later that day. An age thing? or perhaps I’m ready to get back into the routine of working at Reedley. Not long now!