About time too. Five weeks in England, and still we hadn’t got out and done a Proper Walk. With a Proper Group. Blame the general business of unpacking, organising furniture, pots and pans, clothes, books, pictures and day-to-day Stuff in our new home. Blame constant strings of communication with officials who Need-To-Know our new details. Add in those who fail to respond, perhaps because they no longer have local offices and, understaffed, are too overwhelmed with work (DVLA ?), and you have all, well, some of the excuses you need for our having failed to get a decent walk in.
There was a certain reluctance too. So many of our happiest times in France were spent discovering the region with our Sunday and Thursday walking friends. Apart from the scenery, we remember with so much nostalgia the conviviality and the leisurely picnics, as we all produced cheeses, charcuterie, bottles of wine and home-made cakes to share at the lengthy midday pause.
All the same, we shouldn’t have worried. Yesterday we met members from a local group, unsurprisingly the one from Ripon. We got ourselves to Wensleydale, to a picturesque village called West Burton, and had a hearty, but not too hearty, walk across to Aysgarth, before winding our way back. We loved it. The group was welcoming and friendly. The walk had just the right amount of challenge – we have become just a bit unfit – and the views were all we hoped for. The weather was good too. Breezy, but not cold, and plenty of sunshine.
There was only one small disappointment. At lunch time, British walkers sit with their own personal sandwich, get it eaten, then move on again. But even that disappointment was relieved when at the end, Our Leader spotted a tea shop. Sitting round over a large pot of tea, cakes for some, as we reviewed the day was a pretty good end to a pretty good walk.