Tuesday, 11 March 2014

A Carpet Of Crocuses

Arrangements were made, the car duly packed and off we set. Off to Yorkshire for a week to stay with a friend and to walk some dales and moors.

Our first excursion was to Lime Kiln quarry where we saw this huge hole in the ground, not as large as some in the world, but big enough to impress! 

My wife and I bought ourselves some serious looking gumboots. They are rated to be comfortable to 20C below freezing and are the first pair that I, with my wonky feet, have been able to wear for any length of time. So having acquired ourselves the Rolls-Royce of Wellingtons, we needed to put them through their paces and there is nothing like the Yorkshire moors for this. We decided to do a 2.5 hour walk culminating with a visit to the ruins of Bolton Abbey and began with an easy stroll over some fields to the woods.

What neither we, nor the people who had rated the walk "an easy two and a half hour walk" in the guide book, took into account was the lengthy period of rain that had preceded our little rambling. We soon left the woods behind and crossed some pastures with the ubiquitous north Yorkshire flocks of sheep and dry-stone walls, which hold an intense fascination for me. The walls, not the sheep! Them, I leave to my dear wife to spin and knit into all sorts of wonderful things.

Here is the lord of the manner surveying all he owns..... Please take note of the new cap, bought specially for this photo-shoot! And the gumboots...

However, at the top of the hill, things became a tad less easy, as the footpath which was barely discernible at times crossed what I recognised as an area of distinct wetland. We did attempt to follow the track. Honestly, we did. However, even with our gumboots it soon became apparent that this would not work, so we eased around the field close to the walls, trying to step from tussock to tussock, but at times sinking deep into the mire.

And on and on. And on. One field of mucky mire led to the next, followed by another and another. The views we were presented with, however were astounding, as we reached the high point between two separate Dales and had views the length and breadth up and down both. This shot below is from halfway back down into Wharfedale.

Eventually we found ourselves off the moor and back at the Wharfe river, which has a very civilised walking track laid out so we managed to pick up our pace a bit, encouraged by the fact that our car was in a parking area that was locked at 4:30 p.m.! Yet we still saw some delightful things along the way, including some Mandarin ducks.

It was with great relief that Bolton Abbey ruins hove into view. This is just one of many ruins of previously magnificent abbeys that were destroyed on the orders of King Henry VIII in the Dissolution. 

The ghosts of the great abbeys dot the countryside throughout England but seem to be much more common here in North Yorkshire. Maybe it had something to do with the air? Possibly also the area was (is) good for the raising of sheep and during that time, wool was worth it's weight in gold, if not more and English wool was in the greatest demand.

Anyway an easy 2.5 hour walk took us only 4.5 hours and trust me, I slept like a baby that night!

As we were in Harrogate, which has some terrific displays of crocuses, we took a walk into the town and refreshed ourselves with a coffee and I was captivated by the threefold reflection of the Union flag in the car directly in front of our table.

But Harrogate in the springtime is dominated by crocuses in massed displays.

The beauty of each bloom can only really be seen close up.

The town has a long wide area called The Stray and it has these mass plantings along all of it's edges.

And in some areas, different colours dominated.

Just because I am a Harry Potter fan, I wanted to go to and see the Ribblehead Viaduct and although it was rainy and misty, that lent a bit of dramatic atmosphere to the scene.

Another day saw us taking a stroll along footpaths in Nidderdale. This time we cleverly chose a walk that didn't go through so much wetland and we had a much more enjoyable walk, only getting semi-lost on one occassion. Even that was lovely as we saw some delightful little scenes like this river, glinting in the sunlight while we walked through the woods

This was a happy girl (we hadn't yet discovered we needed to turn back!) enjoying being out and about in this wonderful area.

Nearing the end of the walk we passed a number of pastures delimited with the usual stone walls (have I mentioned that I love them?). This old oak tree had grown up in the middle of one of them. 

On our last day we took a walk in the gardens of another old Abbey, this time it was Fountains Abbey, which was a splendid visit, with its water, manicured lawns and ruins. 

It is a really imposing old building and must have been awe-inspiring in its day.

My trusty walking companions took time out to pose for me. Thanks for the hospitality and great company, Lynda!

The old storage area of the abbey is called the Cellarium and is highly photogenic, with its columns and stone roof.

Those old wals are not solid stone, having only a facade of worked stone. 

The inside is filled with concrete (invented by the Romans, if you didn't know).

Fountains Abbey itself is situated near the city of Ripon and such was the power of the clergy that they were able to do things such as having an area cleared to make it possible to view Ripon Cathedral from the church of St Mary's, on the hill in the gardens of Fountains Abbey.

We really are blessed to live in a country that has such beauty and history almost underfoot with every step we take!