Start Walking – Keep Walking!

Ariège, Aude, Blogging challenges, France, Laroque d'Olmes, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

I’ve only been a walker – a proper walker, yomping over moor and mountain, hill and dale – for the last fifteen years or so. It happened when we went to live in France. What better way to discover the secret paths of the Pyrenees, and get to know our French neighbours, and improve our French too, than join the local walking group?

So we did. At first it was les Randos de’Aubo in nearby Mirepoix. We explored the foothills and higher slopes of the Pyrenees, we investigated the nearby Aude, and enjoyed the fellowship of scouting new paths together. What I remember most was the achievement of climbing, climbing, often through seven or eight hundred metres before lunch, while constantly rewarded by mountain views, colourful plant life and changing vistas. Because of these calorie-busting achievements, we might walk as few at five or six miles. But it was harder – much harder – than walking ten to twelve miles round here, and I know I couldn’t do it now. But after the effort, there was a shared picnic lunch with a splendid view thrown in, a downhill walk back to base, and a convivial drink, in whatever bar was to hand near the end of our walk.

On Thursdays I went walking with a smaller group – mainly women – who’d got to know each other either through walking or singing together – I ticked both boxes.

Then we were among the founders of the walking group that developed in our own community, Laroque d’Olmes. We had the confidence by then to offer to reconnoitre and lead walks ourselves. And this group had even better picnic ideas than the last one. Marcel, our local butcher brought sausage to share, as did a local amateur charcuterie enthusiast Michel. Sylvie’s daughter was a sheep farmer, so she’d bring along sheep’s cheese. Someone brought a few baguettes, Yvette and I always had homemade cake. Jean-Charles had a bottomless bottle of wine in his rucksack. And everyone brought sugar lumps. Sugar lumps? Well, yes. Someone or other would bring a bottle of grandfather’s home-made digestif, heavy on alcohol and locally harvested fruit, and would dribble just a few drops of it onto your sugar lump for you to finish off your feast in style. And we would sit for an hour or more, chatting and relaxing before continuing our hike. I miss those moments as much as I miss the countryside and mountain views we shared together.

Now we’re in our local walking group here in Yorkshire. Again, we wanted to discover Yorkshire better by walking its footpaths. At midday, we eat our own pack of sandwiches and that’s that. But the comradeship is as good as it was in France.

Since lockdown, I’ve appreciated the pleasures of walking alone. Undistracted by companions, I notice the sounds around me – the calling birds, the running water, the sighing wind, and observe more closely the changing seasons. While I’ll always enjoy a walk with a friend, I suspect that my love of solitary walking will continue.

It was Amy who invited us to Keep Walking! for this week’s Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge #143. Thanks for this opportunity to indulge in a spot of nostalgia, Amy.

The world looks blue and green

Blogging challenges, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Yorkshire Dales

If like me you live in the country, the world does look blue and green. To fulfil Tina’s Lens-Artist Challenge, looking at the cool palette of blue and green, today I’ve rarely looked further than a few miles round our house. All I’m doing today is presenting a gallery of quiet images from the natural world. Most are from the gardens of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, and from the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve ventured to the North Sea, and to the Aquarium of the Horniman Museum. That’s about it. I think I qualify for Debbie’s Six Word Saturday too.

Another Day in the Dales … revisited

Blogging challenges, Walking, Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

Since the Yorkshire Dales – or other popular destinations – are understandably still not keen on receiving hordes of visitors, we’ll have another Virtual Walk, and revisit a post written in May 2014, shortly after we returned to England. It’s for Fandango’s Flashback Friday, and for Jo’s Monday walk.

ANOTHER DAY IN THE DALES

Burnsall –  Howgill –  Middle Skyrehome – Gill’s Laithe – Troller’s Gill – Appletreewick (often pronounced Aptrick locally) –  Kail Lane – and Burnsall again

What’s not to like in a walk that passes through places with such enticing names?  It was Rosemary who led the Ripon Ramblers yesterday and she’d organised not only a splendid walk with varied Dales scenery, but a warm sunny day too.  Here are my picture postcards from the day. Click on the images you’d like to see enlarged, or to have a slideshow.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday

Jo’s Monday Walk

Sea Fever translated into Dales Fever

Blogging challenges, Yorkshire Dales

With apologies to John Masefield, here’s my take on missing the Yorkshire Dales, just as he missed the swelling seas in Sea Fever. If I’m not allowed to go walking there at the moment, a few pictorial memories will have to do

DALES FEVER

I must go up to the Dales again, to the lonely hills and sky.

And all I ask is a packed lunch, and a map to steer me by:

and drystone walls and the wind’s song and the curlews shrieking

and a soft mist on the moor’s face, and the grey dawn breaking.

I must go up to the Dales again, for the rippling of the brook

is a glad sound and a clear sound I cannot overlook.

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds fleeting,

and the springy turf and a distant view and the young lambs bleating.

I must go up to the Dales again, to the vagrant hiker’s life:

to the hare’s way and the kite’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

and quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long day’s over.

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

 

 

Six Words? Twelve Words? All nonsense.

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Yorkshire Dales

Fish – clutter – drain – banana – starling – umbrella – buttermilk – sky – walking boots – bibulous – carbuncle – brain.

Just look at that.  Twelve words. I have to weave those twelve random words into a single poem.

Our U3A writing group is one of the few things that’s continued throughout lockdown.  It’s a positive activity at a somewhat negative time.  But what CAN you do with a list like that?  This, it turns out.  I’m not too displeased.  And here too are a few photos to illustrate the day.

Colsterdale

Wanting to de-clutter

my brain, I drive to

Colsterdale.

Walking boots? – Check.

Map? – Check.

Sandwich? – Check.

Banana? – Check.

Umbrella?  Don’t be silly.

 

No starlings here, but

curlews, skylarks

crest the sky –

that cobalt sky, patched

with buttermilk clouds.

 

A chattering brook

drains into the reservoir

where fish silently dawdle

and spongy bibulous mosses

make soft mats beneath my feet.

 

Contented now, 

I drive back to town.

I pass that new carbuncle and see

a socially distanced queue 

snake round the recently-opened 

supermarket.

 

Jo’s Monday Walk

Six Word Saturday

I’m Behind the Curve

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Yorkshire Dales

I woke up this morning to realise it’s already May: though without the accompanying balmy weather.  And I hadn’t yet done Jude’s April Photo Challenge.  I wonder if she’ll notice if I squeeze it in today?

She wants us to explore curved lines.  I’ve found this the most difficult of her challenges, so let’s see what I’ve come up with.

I’ve begun on one of my daily walks near the house:  An oak tree providing a natural arching frame over a field of rape, horizontal as the horizon.

 

Let’s go on a virtual journey to the Yorkshire Dales where in normal times, we love to walk: streams, rolling hills, drystone walls, snaking ahead of us on our path.

And at our nearby nature reserve, Nosterfield, brambles frame the local landscape in the autumn.

Lastly, let’s make a trip to Gateshead, and look at the Millennium Bridge framing the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

2020 Photo Challenge #17

 

 

The River at the Bottom of the Garden, at the Centre of our Lives

Blogging challenges, Yorkshire Dales

The river which moseys along and chatters beyond the back garden is our frequent companion. Whether we’re walking locally, out and about in Ripon, or having a morning in Masham further north, it’ll be keeping us company.

The River Ure is not a mighty river, wide as the sea, becoming ever slower and more stately as it forges its way to the coast. It’s not a super-highway for commercial barges, carrying manufacturing products to and from industrial heartlands. It’s not even a tourist destination, filled with pleasure craft and kayaks. Not far from us, it turns itself into the River Ouse, and even that doesn’t get to the sea, but instead flows into the River Trent, and then the Humber Estuary. So it has no delusions of grandeur.

But it’s our River Ure, home to water birds, otters, herons. We watch it through the seasons, as it surges to dangerously high levels in winter, then diminishes to an idle trickle in summer, exposing boulders and polished stones as venues for family picnics.

I’ve walked different stretches of it this week. Even under lock-down we’re encouraged to take exercise – alone – within reach of home. Put your (virtual) boots on and (virtually) come with me to visit those parts easily reached on foot within an hour or two. We shan’t meet a soul apart from the odd dog-walker, and we’ll shuffle away from each other, afraid these days to get too close.

Our river has refreshed, invigorated and calmed me. It’s been a real friend this week.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #89: A River Runs Through It.