19 June 2021

Walk This Way

 I do love it when we find out how people have used our books. Sometimes walkers email to let us know they've enjoyed a walk or they post their pictures on Facebook. Sometimes they write blogs or make YouTube videos and share them with us and the world. 

To be credited in another book is especially exciting.

Julie Campbell is a walker and fundraiser, raising £000's for wildlife and animal rescue charities. She's written a book about her adventures which are enlivened by the antics of her two sprollies Mollie and Digger. I can't wait to read it.

28 April 2021

Three Peaks...

---in three weeks!

My days of attempting the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge - 24 miles in under 12 hours - are long gone but my love of climbing Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside remains, so it was a bit of a no-brainer that when we were looking for walks to celebrate the lifting of the stay local rule that we headed for the Three Peaks.

First Pen-y-ghent, the easiest and most satisfying of the three mountains. It's a short, sharp walk up from Horton-in Ribblesdale with a rocky scramble to make you feel like you've climbed a real mountain, then a gentle descent making a 6.6 mile circular. Just right for the first trip out. An added bonus was that we caught the end of the purple saxifrage flowering season. This alpine plant is commonly found in lime rich habitats in Scotland and Wales and the Yorkshire Three Peaks area is its most southern habitat in England.

Next Ingleborough, my favourite of the Three Peaks, where we also spotted a wild flower, the tiny, exquisite bird's eye primrose, and had fun watching the helicopter on its round trip from the nearby quarry where it was scooping up donated crushed stone and dropping it on the footpath at Sulber Nick. The aim is to improve this heavily eroded area which attracts thousands of walkers every year.

Our final peak was Whernside, the highest of the three but the least mountain-like. While Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough offer a rocky summit the great whale of Whernside is more of a moorland walk. It's a fine circular from Ribblehead climbing steadily alongside the viaduct and Blea Moor signal box to pass Force Gill waterfall before heading for the summit. The descent is very steep but much improved recently and the walk back to Ribblehead through farmland is a joy at this time of year with the fields full of young lambs.

We might not have broken any records but our Three Peaks in three weeks gave us some fine days out. Highly recommended. 

18 April 2021

Sparable Lane

Yesterday I led my first walk in over a year. On April 18th 2020 I was meant to be taking a group over Ingleborough with Friends of the Settle Carlisle line. That walk was of course cancelled. Yesterday's outing was a very different affair. Just 5 walkers and me (it was planned when the rule of 6 applied) on a 5 mile stroll between two of our local villages, Baildon and Bingley. The path between the two follows the wonderfully named Sparable Lane. A sparable was a cobbler's nail used to attach heels to boots and shoes and so-called because it was shaped like a sparrow's bill. There is no record of a cobbler's shop along the lane but it has been suggested that it was originally known as Sparrow's Bill Lane. I love ancient pathways; I love the stories they could tell, the hints that their names give to their origins and the fact that an old by-way was often the quickest, most straightforward way to connect two places.


12 April 2021

Wharfedale Walking

The Dales Way, the trail that follows the rivers Wharfe, Dee and Lune from Ilkley to Bowness, is still one of the loveliest long distance walks. And after all these months of lockdown its gentle terrain is quite challenging enough. I am certainly nowhere near previous levels of fitness and a riverside walk is just what I needed this week when we set out to walk from Addingham to Barden Bridge. The weather was perfect, cold and crisp with the sun glinting on the water and lambs following their mothers across the fields alongside. 

We had an ulterior motive. To check out the accessibility of the Bolton Abbey estate to Dales Way walkers. The estate is currently charging £10 per pre-booked group for people to enter the grounds whether they arrive by car, bus, bike or on foot. This they say is to control numbers and ensure social distancing during the pandemic. A better way I suggest might have been to issue 90% of the available capacity as car park tickets knowing that a small number of visitors would arrive by foot. Charging a single walker or a couple £10 for getting off the bus in the village and walking down to the river seems very excessive to me. The Dales Way Association has been assured that these charges do not apply to anyone walking the Dales Way so long as they walk through the estate on the Dales Way route from Bolton Bridge to Barden Bridge or vice versa. We are happy to report that this is true and we had no problems doing just that, even stopping off for ice cream on the way.

I hope that once lockdown is lifted we will also see the lifting of these charges otherwise I'm afraid many people may be accusing the Duke of Devonshire of making money out of a global pandemic.

12 January 2021

Always A Thrill

We've been writing and selling walk guidebooks online now since 2008 and it's still a thrill to get feedback from people. This morning a customer emailed, 

"Thanks for the book, the walks look really good. Hopefully normality will return by the summer and I'll be able try some of the walks later this year." 

Thank you Mr. R. and everyone else who is putting their faith in small businesses like ours. It's what's keeping us going - in every sense. 


5 January 2021

Big Paws To Fill

 In 2004 we got a puppy. A bundle of fluff from the local RSCPA that we called Jess.

She was listed as a collie cross but with her German shepherd coat and her spaniel ears and her terrier obsession with rabbits who knows! We had her 14 years and she became the face of A Dales High Way, our brand ambassador and the best walking pal anyone could wish for. 

She died in 2018 aged 14 and it's been a tough job filling the gap she has left in our lives but finally we've taken the plunge. Meet Gemma. Pure border collie this time with the energy levels to prove it. As I collapse into bed exhausted at the end of every day, trying not to think about my chewed chair legs and filthy floors I wonder what I've done. Was Jess ever this much work? Did she wee on the carpet or bite through her lead? Almost certainly yes, it's just that the memories of the hard puppy months fade with the years. 

We're back in lockdown as I write this and we all need a project. I know what mine is. Heel!

29 October 2020

Not Better, Not Worse

Beer and chips in the Flying Duck

Dales Way Association members come from all over the country and one of the highlights of the year is our annual meeting. As a constituted small charity we have a legal obligation to hold an AGM but that section of the day has always been the least important bit for me.  Every autumn members travel to Ilkley from as far afield as Essex and Northumberland, some of them booking overnight accommodation and some spending a few days in the Dales. We have a morning walk together followed by a chips and sandwiches lunch in the Flying Duck, a short business meeting and lots of chat and laughter. Over the 10 years I've been secretary I'm proud to call these people friends. So it was with a very heavy heart we contemplated cancelling the 2020 meeting. Even without the rule of 6 and the ban on meeting indoors (Ilkley is in the Bradford District and has had local restrictions in place for most of the last 3 months) we couldn't ask members to leave home and travel across the country in current circumstances. What to do instead? Zoom was out of the question with over 300 members and several of the committee less than enthusiastic. Postponing felt a bit like a cop out and cancelling altogether would be letting down our members.

So last week we compiled all the reports we normally present at our AGM into an Autumn Newsletter packed with information about the year's activities. We sent it out with a voting slip asking members whether they accepted the Annual Report, Accounts etc. and waited. I was blown away by the response. A huge number of people replied. Members of the committee got involved, responding to the comments and questions about their area of responsibility and I compiled the votes and emails into a set of minutes. We very much hope we'll be back together again next year, walking and talking on the Dales Way and enjoying our chips but I'll look back on our virtual AGM with pride. It's been hard work but a real pleasure to be in touch with so many supporters and to know that they appreciate the efforts of our small voluntary committee. 

The annual walk