Trusty’s Hill and Rutherford’s Monument

Blogging challenges, Scotland, Walking

This composite image of my walk was automatically generated by Google. I think it’s grasped the sweep of this landscape quite well.

A sortie to find some carved Pictish stones on what might once have been a royal fort, followed by a climb to visit a local landmark, the obelisk to the Reverend Samuel Rutherford seemed like a plan for a late afternoon last week.  It was only a three and a half mile walk after all.

What I hadn’t taken into account was that this is rough, undulating landscape, and entirely beautiful.  It demands we take the time to stand and stare.  So I did.

Trusty’s Hill proved to be a chance for a first viewing of the Rutherford Monument, as well as an opportunity to peer at Pictish carvings.  This site was the site of an ancient fire so fierce that the stone there vitrified.  The hill might, round about 600 AD, have been a citadel. It was certainly a fine vantage point from which to view  what could once have been the lost Scottish kingdom of Rheged.

The view from Trusty’s Hill

Onwards to the Rutherford Monument, built by grateful parishioners to honour the memory of a priest who, though an academic, a thinker and a teacher, cared for his flock in practical as well as spiritual ways and who was constantly at odds with the establishment to the extent that he was awaiting being tried for treason at his death.  These days, there’s a Millennium Cairn, detailing all the ministers of Anwoth and Girthon since 1560 , and a trig point on two adjacent hills.  All three provide splendid views to the Fleet estuary far below and the hills beyond.

Then it was down, down through a wooded trail to reach Anwoth Church, now roofless and ruined, before coming back to Gatehouse of Fleet along a quiet county track.

 

Jo’s Monday Walk

2020 Photo Challenge #39

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

 

 

A Bleak Walk is Just Perfect

Blogging challenges, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, Walking

I love bleak.  Typically rolling English countryside is lovely. And you can’t beat a verdant Daleside vista, criss-crossed with dry stone walls dividing its pastureland, its river along the valley floor edged with trees.  But here in Yorkshire, every now and then, I have to have my fix of bleak.

And one way to do this is to go over to Angram and Scar House reservoirs, both constructed in Nidderdale during the inter-war years last century, to provide water for the citizens of Bradford. Here are slopes, sculpted by long-gone streams and the often savage weather. These hillsides are covered in thin, tussocky grass – and not much else. Few trees.  Few buildings – the odd hunting lodge or barn.  But there are sheep, and birdlife too.  One of our memories of walking here was once seeing a small meadow pipit struggling to feed ‘her’ baby, a cuckoo fledgling three times her size.

My friend Sandra and I went there this week.  The day was perfect.  Not too hot and not too cold.  Briskly breezy.  And as we arrived , the reservoir was as blue as we’ve ever seen it, almost cobalt in its intensity.  We planned to walk our way round both reservoirs.

Scar House Reservoir

Which way though?  Clockwise?  Anti-clockwise? Sandra counselled clockwise, and Sandra won.  That way, we’d get a slightly boring bit of track over and done with.  We’d get the wind-in-our-faces over and done with.  And most importantly, we’d get the squishier, less managed paths of Angram Reservoir over and done with.

It’s rained a lot lately, so walking round Angram involves some wet pathways.  Not muddy, just paddleable.  Juncus grass lining the route offered the odd springboard to drier grassy ground.  But with water to right of us, bald barren hillside to left of us , the route is easy to see.  And each reservoir terminates in a stout dam, each worthy of  walk in its own right, and in Angram’s case, with water tumbling to its sister reservoir below.

Finally we left our wet pathways behind, and joined the springier drier turf pathways of Scar House Reservoir where sheep kept us company.

But even though we knew from the car park that we weren’t alone, we felt that this particular expanse of hillside, sky and water was ours and only ours for the six and a half mile walk in the middle of nowhere.

Scar House Reservoir

 

Jo’s Monday Walk

Six Word Saturday

In Search of a Druid or a Trout – Revisited

Ariège, Blogging challenges, Pyrénées, Walking

It’s re-post a Golden Oldie from France time.

August 27th, 2012

In search of a druid – or a trout

Mont d’Olmes: local playground for skiers.  You wouldn’t travel any great distance to spend a holiday here, but for locals, it’s the ideal winter sports spot.  It’s a wonderful area for walkers too.  We’ve only just begun to discover the wealth of footpaths, mainly across truly ‘sauvage’ slopes, with views downwards to Montségur, Roquefixade, and northwards almost, it seems, as far as Toulouse.

It’s alright waxing lyrical though.  For many people living in the area many years past, and until the early years of the 20th century, these slopes were the places where they came for long hours each day, working both on the surface and by crawling through narrow airless tunnels, mining talc.

Le lac de Moulzonne glimpsed through the trees at 8.00 a.m.

Talc?  Yes, that stuff you sprinkle on babies’ bottoms.  That stuff those Olympic gymnasts plunge their hands into before taking to an overhead bar.  That stuff that apparently still has many industrial uses, notably in the ceramics industry and for plastics paints and coatings.  This soft soapstone was found here on Mont d’Olmes and is still mined in nearby Luzenac.  Here though, all that is left are the gashes in the mountainside where the workings once were, and a few ancient trucks once used to transport the material down to civilisation.

Come and take the path we took last Sunday.  We walked in more or less a straight line, up and down hill after hill, as the path became increasingly rocky and impassable.

Our reward was the occasional handful of raspberries or bilberries, then a lunchtime picnic by l’étang des Druides.  No, sorry, l’étang des Truites.  Whatever.  Nobody seems to know which name is correct.  Some say the person making the first map of the area misheard and wrote ‘truite’ – trout – instead of ‘druide’.  We saw no trout.  We definitely saw no druids.  But we had a jolly nice picnic.  And I paddled.

And then I ruined a perfectly good day, in which morning chill and mist had given over to hot sunshine, by falling flat against the rocky path, cutting open my face and chipping three teeth.  I hope the druids weren’t lining me up for some kind of sacrifice.

August 2020, PS.  Don’t worry.  I’m fine.  The chipped bits, which were only small, have smoothed down nicely.

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

A Tale of Three Birds: Chapter Two: the Curlew

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Wildlife

We went to Colsterdale on Sunday.  It’s nearby, but feels remote and isolated, because the only road through leads nowhere very much and so it remains one of North Yorkshire’s best kept secrets.  Perfect for a Day Out whilst maintaining that all-important Social Distance.

Edged by the pastoral views of farming country, it climbs to become stark, treeless, commanding views to the distant North York Moors, and to the higher parts of the Pennines.  Its ascetic bleakness is what appeals to me.

 

We’d almost reached the area where we planned to park and begin our walk, when I saw them.  There!  There on the roadside!  Look! Two curlews, almost within touching distance.  These are shy, beautifully camouflaged birds normally only seen and heard as they quarter the sky, calling the evocative plaintive sound – ‘cur-lee, cur-lee’ – which gives them their name.  These two were probably drawing a would-be predator away from the nest.

Whatever the reason, it was such a privilege to watch these birds at close quarters, with their mottled, camouflaging plumage, and their distinctive long downward-curving beaks.

YouTube RSPB video

They flew away after a couple of minutes, and we began our walk, relishing the space, the wild emptiness and the only sounds those of distant curlews.

Jo’s Monday Walk

Addendum: several commenters have expressed surprise about the curlew frequenting moorland.  Just to show how very much at home the bird is in these surroundings, here is proof.  It is the symbol for the nearby long distance walk, the Nidderdale Way.  FAO Jude, Agnes

geograph.org..uk

One More Walk in the Woods

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

Greensitt Batts

Heslett Wood

Coal Bank Wood

Piccadilly

Five Ponds Wood

Mickley Barrass

I walk in the woods daily.

Join me just one more time.

Light shafting downwards through the trees.

Loamy paths, wild garlic, bluebells, campion.

Silence: except for birdsong, purling streams.

The tang of sap, earth, flowers.

#Six Word Saturday

Jo’s Monday Walk

Walking Every Single Day During Lockdown

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking, Wildlife

I’ve made discoveries on my doorstep:

Woodland

Greensitt Batts, West Tanfield.

Farmland

North Lees, near Ripon.

River bank

River Ure at Sleningford.

Lakeside

The White Pond, near Musterfield.

Pasture

Hall Farm near Tanfield

Wildlife

A new walk, every single day.

Six Word Saturday

A composite walk for Jo’s Monday Walk

Round the Edge of the Village: It’s All About the Texture

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire, Walking

Sunday’s walk, on a cold blustery afternoon, along a too-familiar path, could have been a non-event, a means to burn off a few calories and not much more.  Jude’s challenge this week brought me ideas though.  ‘Look for texture’, she said, ‘close in on your subject and capture the texture and not the context’.  Challenge accepted.

Here we are by the village pond.  Here’s Mrs. Mallard.  And here are her feathers.

And – a sure sign that spring has sprung – here’s a dandelion.

Off to the track through the fields now.  I trudge past the sheep, stolidly munching grass and hay, and spot a rusty old shed at the end of the pasture. Lichen on rust.  Perfect.

Well, you can’t wander through the woods without finding a fallen log.  And fallen logs mean knots, nooks and crannies, velvety moss.  I take a couple of shots.

Oh look.  Here’s a muddy bit:  and I haven’t got my decent boots on.  But oh, look again!  Here’s texture a-plenty. A goose-print; a – er – what – squirrel perhaps? print; a different bird print (offers, anyone?); and a dog-print.  And finally a cracked-mud print.  That was good value.

Any walk in our countryside produces any number of long-established oak trees.  So here is some bark – both shots from the same tree.

The last shot of all doesn’t follow the rules.  But here’s a farmer doing his Sunday afternoon ploughing.  Unturned earth, turned earth, and all being thoroughly investigated by a host of sleek white black-headed gulls.  If that isn’t a symphony in textural contrast, I don’t know what is.

And since this is a post for Jo’s Monday Walk too, I’ll just mention that there was tea and Drenched Lemon Cake waiting for me when I got home.

#2020 Photo Challenge 13: Texture.  ‘Get close to your subject and capture just the texture itself, without the context’.

Jo’s Monday Walk.