Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spring in the Yorkshire Dales

Easter walks in The Dales experiencing springtime abundance.

At Easter weekend I walked again with Les and Vera, this time in their own county. We had a fine 5-hour circular walk that took us up over the moor top and then down into the Dales. We started at Arncliffe village and climbed up Old Cote moor. The landscape there is treeless, open and bleak, later on in the summer there will be heather but now the moors are dark brown. On the moor top grouse sped up from their nests squawking away. We then wound down into Wharfedale past an empty grey stone farmhouse. Down in the valley the fields were green and the curves of the river glinted in the sunlight. I was bitterly cold and had to warm my frozen fingers with soup in the pub in Kettlewell. We then climbed up out of the Wharfedale with beautiful views of the horizontal layers of rock sediment laid down millions of years ago. We then descended through Hawkswick moor to the valley. The sun had warmed the valley and it brimmed with spring abundance. The lambs were skipping around but keeping close to their mothers, both lambs and ewes were numbered so we could see when there was ewe-lamb mismatch. Black and white oystercatchers were pecking for grubs in the pasture and sand martins had arrived early and were swooping up and down on the river surface. In the village there were spring flowers in the hedgerows, daffodils, primroses. The contrast between the grey bleakness of the moor top and the warm spring valley was striking. It was like an Alpine descent when one moves into a different vegetation type.

Easter Day (Apr 20) was bright and breezy and we walked on Ilkley moor, again experiencing the vast openness and the greyness of the bracken. Further down the gorse was in flower and giving the view a cheerful yellow aspect. Up here kestrels were hovering and ready for action. The bracken was not yet out and the view was unadorned. My iPhone weather reading was “6 deg feels like 2” that felt accurate. We were home for lunch of salad and cheese shared with Eve and Aleandro. Then I returned to London to be on call on Easter Monday.

It was a fine way to celebrate the spring renewal.

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