I first walked from Jervaulx to Jervaulx last April, and wrote about it here. However, I failed to lead my fellow ramblers along the same route later that month as I’d said I would, because it rained…. and rained. I’d promised them the walk though, and today was the day: bright, sunny, blustery – a perfect winter hike. Except for one thing. Those floods that have dominated British news this winter are still making their presence felt.
The ruins of Jervaulx.
Our route today didn’t take us through pastureland. Sheep aren’t very good at being knee-deep in mud. It took us through soggy fields, and past lake after lake after lake: waters that simply were not there last time I took this route. It was all very pretty. Less pretty was the scene at stiles. Look at us skidding and sliding, trying to pick the shallower puddles as we waited out turn to get from one field to another.
We’re British though, always plucky in adversity. We soldiered on, sometimes a little weary of heaving mud-crusted boots along sticky, sludgy paths. But nobody fell over, nobody lost their sandwiches in the mud. Everybody enjoyed those vistas over the Dales, the starkly beautiful skeletal outlines of winter trees, the blue skies, dappled with characterful cloud. Were we glad to have made the effort? Well, I was, and I think my steadfast and dependable companions were too.
The path from Jervaulx.
This pond has become a lake.
A challenging stile.
Snowdrops near Thornton Steward.
Skies near Danby Hall.
The River Cover bursts its banks.
Sheep in soggy fields.
This is not a lake. It’s a field.
An unhappy field.
The days are short
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark.
John Updike, “January,”A Child’s Calendar
A bright winter’s afternoon. Just time, before the evening cold sets in, to get out for a couple of hours of brisk walking: 5 miles or so along familiar paths. So familiar that this time, I focus on the sky: changeable, unpredictable.
Sometimes it’s moody, sometimes cheerful, sometimes simply rather grey and colourless, at other times dramatic, particularly towards sunset. Come and walk with me to watch the clouds.
Winter has arrived. It’s taken its time. We’ve been accustomed to mildness, and lots of mud. Suddenly though, sunrise has been that rich blazing orangey-red, with vibrant yellow, that seems to arrive only on very cold days. And Jack Frost has been amusing himself by designing complicated patterns on car windscreens, making sure they’re good and hard to scrape off by a would-be early driver.
Our iced-up car windscreen.
Last Friday, we travelled over the Pennines to Bolton. The hills were, for the first time this year, covered with snow. We even had the mini-adventure of battling through a mini-blizzard. And the next day, we travelled back. Cars slithering and careering wildly, or worse, along icy roads, closed our usual road home: instead we diverted across bleak moorland via Todmorden, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, Howarth and Keighley – a real Wuthering Heights landscape, meeting only very hardy sheep for much of the way. These were the views.
And all to feed our wood-burning stove this winter.
You don’t do anything round here without getting written permission from the Mairie
8.30 a.m. on the dot: the wood arrives
…and is tipped….
…..and tipped ….
…. and tipped ….
…. till it falls into the street.
… and fills the road.
Here’s the man you need. He sells good wood.
Here’s our good friend Ken, loading (x 25)
…. transporting (x 25)
…. unloading and stacking (x25)
More uploading, Malcolm this time (x14)
More transporting (x 14). Please admire the home-made log transporter
More unloading and stacking (x 14)
9.55 a.m. Almost coffee-break time
10.10 a.m. Still a lot to shift.
Getting some stacked in the house, ready for winter
Time to clear the mess on the street ……
…. and sweep the garage. It’s 11.45 a.m. Not bad. As Ken said: ‘Time to log off’.