Wild-ish Walking in Wensleydale

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Weather, Wensleydale, Yorkshire Dales

The red tops blazed next week’s news: ‘A September Scorcher! 30º!

Anyone living north of Watford Gap, or west of Slough knew better than to believe it, because only south-east England counts if you’re a London-based hack.  We Yorkshire types needed to read the small print to discover that northerners could merely expect pleasant warmth, a gentle breeze and no rain whatsoever.  Which was fine for a Sunday walk in Wensleydale.

On the way over there, it rained.  Getting ready for the walk, it rained.  The wind snatched urgently at our waterproofs and blew our hair in our eyes.  Mist rose from the valley bottom.  Grey cloud descended and thickened.

We didn’t mind.  The rain soon stopped: it was warm, and those grey skies made for moody, atmospheric scenery.  But our friend Gillian, who’d planned the walk, doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘stroll’ and had us battling boggy paths, and huffing up rough pastureland on semi-vertical hillsides.  We took it in good part.

But what rewards.  We had the constant backdrop of the Wensleydale hills.  Semerwater glittered at us from a distance: but close up, insistent waves rushed constantly towards our toes.

We had a march along a Roman road.  And at the end, blue skies, sunshine, and a relaxing cup of tea on the village green at Bainbridge.

 

This week’s photo challenge is to make use of empty, unoccupied space in our pictures : to make it part of the story.  As I walked yesterday, I tried to use negative space: in this case, mainly the sky.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge  #114 – Negative Space

And another walk for Jo …

Jo’s Monday Walk

 

 

Howardian Hills

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Weather

Early morning mistiness: looking across to the Howardian Hills.

We’ve just come back from a weekend in the Howardian Hills – that slice of Yorkshire that includes Castle Howard, where that iconic TV series Brideshead Revisited was filmed in the 1980s.

For farmers, it’s a wealthy little corner of the county, with fertile fields offering a steady income in return for careful husbandry.  Well-constructed farm gates at the end of tidy tracks are handsomely buttressed by smart stone gate posts.  Crops stand to attention and weeds show their faces only at field margins.  Agricultural labourers are no longer tenants in those postcard-perfect villages.

Trees neatly marching across a hill crest.

Our late August break was not accompanied by late summer weather.  Although it didn’t rain, skies remained sulky and black.  Wind bustled and gusted fiercely against our faces.  The temperature hovered at 11 degrees all weekend.  Perfect for this week’s Photo Challenge, for which brightly luminous blue skies contrasting with the golden hues of harvest simply Would Not Do.

This month's final assignment - Experiment with using two or three Complementary colours. Try to make one or two colours the focus of the image, and use the other colour to enhance the overall image.

I’ve taken images from fields, from distant vistas, and from the one abandoned ruined grange we came across, where farm animals still grazed in the grassy yard. I’ve played around with colour contrast: aiming to make my results what my eyes thought they saw, rather than what my camera knew it saw.

This is what my eyes, not the camera saw.

I liked the only splash of colour here: those orange beaks.

2020 Photo Challenge #35

The Warm Light of Day

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Weather

I’ve been thinking about the light as I’ve been on my walks this week.  The clear light of the early morning: the clear bright colours that the midday sun encourages, and the warm golden light of evening.  Sadly, the weather turned a bit cold and cantankerous as the week drew on, but I did my best to outwit it, or make use of it.  And I’ve included just one photo from the winter months, to remind us of the atmosphere of a misty cold day that began with a crusting of frost.

Click on an image to see it full size, and to reveal the caption.

2020 Photo Challenge #2

That Wind Last Week

North Yorkshire, Weather

Beaufort Scale 8. Fresh gale at 62-74 kph (39-46 mph).

Twigs and branches break off of trees.

22nd & 23rd May 2020.

That wind!  It animates me – I feel alive, alert.

I need it to tug me, bend me. I want the battle. I’ll resist.

I step outside.  The wind slaps at me, stops my breath.

It whistles and whines through the trees, lacerating leaves.

Branches bend and bow – some break.

It soughs and snatches at the swishing grass.

Swifts swoop, scud, soaring at its will.

I feel its power.  I’m energised, excited, strong.

 

 

A Grey Day? Or Perhaps Not.

Blogging challenges, Weather

I chose Tuesday as a day to record the changing conditions outside the kitchen window from sunrise to sunset, for Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge in which she invites us to observe a single view throughout the day.  As the day wore on, I wondered why I’d bothered.  It was a dull, somewhat gloomy day.  Just grey and rather cold, nearly all day.  But when I downloaded the pictures and looked at them, I discovered far more had been going on than I had realised.  You take a look too.

5.40 a.m.

A favourite?  Maybe 8.00 in the evening.  The weather’s picked up and the light has softened as the evening draws in.  And finally, I’ll show you some of the lilac that features in every shot.

# 2020 Photo Challenge 19: Light.

You asked for 6 photos, Jude.  Sorry, you’ve got ten.  Plus one.

Winter Walking in Nidderdale – with Added Mud

Blogging challenges, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Walking, Weather, Yorkshire Dales

Mud. I can’t be doing with it. Viscous, squelchy, squishy, sticky, over-the-top-of-your-boots kind of mud. We’ve had ground slick with treacly mud here for weeks and weeks. But then there’s also Cabin Fever, and the need to plan a walk for our walking group in a fortnight’s time, when spring might have sprung. Walking won out over yet another day indoors.

Just outside Lofthouse, our walk begins.

My friend Chris and I set forth for the Yorkshire Dales, parked up in Lofthouse, and set off. Really, it could have been worse. It was a full twenty minutes before we came upon our first serious mudbath: prior to that we’d only had water-on-the-path to deal with.

Chris paddles across the path previously trodden only by sheep.

But climbing now, we saw what the fields were like: yes, those are fields you’re looking at. Gouthwaite Reservoir’s not here: it’s over there in the distance.

The path between Lofthouse and Ramsgill, with flooded fields down below and Gouthwaite Reservoir in the distance.

We had our rewards though. The views: the remnants of a snowscape: sheep – and oh look! Our very first lambs of the season – a little huddle of black ones, and just one snowy specimen with its mum.

This sheep inspected us as we sat on a log for a snack.

Swaledale sheep make the logo of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

And then, a pleasant surprise. The café at How Stean Gorge was open – on a weekday in February! Coffee and home-made cake while enjoying the view of the stream jostling and hurrying through its narrow ravine. I forgot to take a photo for Jo, but the website shows the Yorkshire Slice Chris and I shared.

How Stean Gorge seen from the café .

The view of Nidderdale and Gouthwaite Reservoir from Middlesmoor.

We were on the home straights now. All we had to do was struggle up a steepish hill to the now barely-populated village of Middlesmoor. Just outside its church, on the path that plunges down to our starting point are thoughtfully-provided seats. This is one of the best views in England, and despite the wind, we wanted to appreciate it.

And then, half way down the hill- a traffic jam. This herd of cattle blocked our path. The farmer asked us if we’d mind waiting five minutes. He turned out to have a countryman’s clock, but no matter: we weren’t going to argue with all those cows.

Cows make themselves at home.

Finally, the cows moved on, and so did we. We got back to the car just as the rain, and then the sleet, started once more.

It was good to be out walking again.

An entry for Jo’s Monday Walk.

Sunday Rando – French style

Aude, France, Pyrénées, Walking, Weather

It’s time for my monthly trip to the archives.  And an opportunity for me to remember, as I stare out at the rain sodden garden, that the grass isn’t always greener…..

November 14th 2014

Sunday Rando

7.00 a.m. Sunday.  22 Ariègeois radios were switched on for the day’s weather forecast.  ‘It’ll be an exceptionally sunny and hot day for the time of year, throughout France.  Temperatures in the south will reach 23 degrees in some places.’  22 satisfied listeners, members of the Rando del’Aubo, switched off their radios…. without bothering to listen to the end of the forecast.  Instead they turned to the more important business of packing their rucksacks for a rather heavy-duty walk an hour and a half’s drive from Mirepoix, la Forêt d’en Malo.

François talks us through the walk. This is it, in cross section.

With a stiff climb of 700 metres in prospect, a 14 km. walk isn’t a stroll in the park.  But the payoff as you emerge from the forest is an extraordinary panorama of the Pyrénées, jagged teeth of rock emerging from the thickly forested mountainsides: especially lovely in autumn as the trees turn from yellow, through ochre, to magenta and crimson.

As we drove eastwards, the cloud and mist descended. We parked, we walked, we climbed, we scrambled and we struggled for three hours as the mists became ever damper and more clinging, and an unexpected cold wind whipped across the mountain side.  And at the top, this was our view.

We hadn’t listened to the end of the forecast you see.  What we should have known that our little patch of south eastern France was a little bad-weather cold spot.  There we were bang in the middle of it.

As we finished our walk, the weather lifted a bit, and gave us a small taste of what we should have enjoyed.

Later, back at home, our smug families and friends recounted how they’d spent the day in shorts and tee shirts.  Maybe they’d had a little bike ride, a gentle stroll in the sunshine, a drink on the terrace in the hot sun……

 

A winter walk: footprints, snowy sheep – and just one robin.

North Yorkshire, Weather, Yorkshire Dales

A field near North Stainley.

I think I like this kind of wintry day best of all. We’ve had a carpet of snow on the ground, blanking out grass, pavements and drifts of snowdrops. But today, it’s just a little warmer, and the snow is softly melting into the ground. But still here. We go out for a walk, before the cold descends once more. Winter footprints are visible now, because the impacted snow has dissolved away, leaving a silhouette of – what? Is that a crow print? A pheasant? Oh look, those are rabbits – look at how they land, four square and neatly as they run. And here’s a dog of course.

The landscape assembles itself into broad strata of austere colours: raw umber earth; no-longer pristine snow, almost dappled in places; perhaps some olive-shaded grass, and behind all these, a line of winter trees, their skeletons highlighted against the grey sombre skyline.

We see this robin on a fence post.

But apart from him, sheep are the only living creatures we spot on our walk today. Against the snow, they aren’t white at all, but a slightly dirty cream. They scratch an unsatisfactory meal from the less snowy parts of the fields. They come to look at us. We look at them.

Then we look for snowdrops instead, and for wood. It’s forbidden to go out at this time of year without coming back with an armful of kindling for the log burner.

And how glad we are to get back to our log burner! We enjoyed seeing our familiar landscape clothed in its skimpy veil of whiteness. But we appreciated getting back to warmth, a fireside, and a nice cup of tea even more.

Here’s a contribution to Jo’s Monday Walk (Jo’s own walks tend to be in Portugal these days. That’s where she lives. Feeling chilly Jo, reading this?)

Click on any image to view it full size.

Ragtag Saturday: Frosted fields

North Yorkshire, Ripon, Walking, Weather

It was -3 degrees in the night. It was still -3 degrees, at nearly nine o’clock in the morning. But I started my walk anyway. Right here in the garden, next to this hellebore.

Here were the pleasures of scrunching through crisp, frosty grass.  Through small puddles, frozen solid.  Watching long shadows extend the trunks of trees across the width of a field.  Sheep doing their best to scratch a breakfast from the hoary grass.  Bracken with delicately rimed edges.  A car on the roadside, blinded by Jack Frost’s artwork.

The sun rose and despite the cold, quickly burnt off the chilly white from the fields. The newborn lambs, which I’d hoped to spot in West Tanfield had been kept indoors – I could hear their plaintive bleating in  barn.  Instead – winter blossom, catkins, and a sky-blue sky.

This is my contribution to Ragtag Daily Prompt: Frosted.  And though I walked on a Wednesday, posted on a Saturday, to Jo’s Monday Walk.

As ever, to view any image full size, simply click on it.

Happy New Year!

Weather, Yorkshire

I didn’t intend to post this evening, but the sunset, even though I couldn’t actually see the sun, seemed cheerful and optimistic despite the whisps of forbidding grey which kept on drifting across the pastel pinks .  This is England after all.  This is our weather.  And our current state of mind. 

I whipped out my phone to record the clouds.    It seemed a good opportunity to wish you all a happy new year, wherever you are.

Goodbye 2018.  We’re driving off and forward to 2019.