21 December 2011

Escape at last

Its been almost a month since I've written anything on here and what a month its been! A month of proofreading and spellchecking and chasing down those damned apostrophes - and that's only the Christmas cards!

Today, finally, we stopped - the new book is at the printers, the ride2sride programme is designed and ready to go, the website is up and running (have a look at www.ride2stride.org.uk if you don't believe me) and yes - the Christmas cards are written.

It's December 21st and the shortest day so we escaped from the computer and took ourselves up onto Ilkley Moor to the Twelve Apostles stone circle where Yorkshire men and women have been keeping an eye out for the sun for the last 3,500 winter solstices.

Like most of them we failed to spot it so we skipped the dancing naked round the cairn bit and legged it down into Ilkley for that other age old tradition of partaking of mind-altering substances. Cheers!

24 November 2011

It's a tough job ....

..... but somebody's got to do it!

In our house no walk is complete without a decent pub at the end of it. In fact we have been known to slow down the last couple of miles and "Whoops, just missed that train - better have a drink while we wait for the next one"

No surprise then that many of the ride2stride walks will end in pubs where the lovely Jeff and his friends will be music making. Today I had a ride up and down the line just checking out the facilities.
The Crown, Horton-in-Ribblesdale
The Station Inn, Ribblehead

The Moorcock, Garsdale

Like I said - tough job but someone's got to do it!

14 November 2011

I think we got us a festival

Walkers on Hangingstone Scar, Mallerstang

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the twinkle in our eye that was ride2stride: the Settle - Carlisle Walking Festival. Well it's really happening!

A little group of us met to talk about the idea and decide whether it really was a goer or just a figment of mine and Tony's wine-addled brains and one of the first things we asked ourselves was "what would success look like?"

We decided if over the course of 7 days - May 1st to 7th next year - we could offer 12 walks from different stations between Settle and Carlisle, 3 music events somewhere along the line and 2 talks on relevant subjects we'd think we'd cracked it.

Well - so far we've got 16 walks ranging from easy strolls around bluebell woods to strenuous hikes over Mallerstang Edge; 3 guided walks around the construction site of Ribblehead Viaduct and Settle Old Town; talks on the part that railways have played in getting people from the grimy urban centres to the heart of the Dales AND music in the station pubs at the end of most walking days.

Jeff and his singing partner Di
Jeff, from the 3 Peaks Folk Club, is setting up the music sessions. He's an organisational genius who's middle name should be "Sorted". In fact I'm seriously considering offering him to Italy for a couple of weeks.

You can follow our progress at http://www.ride2stride.org.uk/

7 November 2011

Allotment life

Poppies on my plot

There's only 26 plots on our allotment site and we're a pretty healthy lot so the 45 people on the waiting list can find themselves hanging about there for a very long time.

On Saturday we had a clean-up day followed by a bonfire and I asked a couple of hefty looking chaps to help me clear a patch at the top of my plot. It was covered in small trees and bushes - a couple of self-seeded oaks, some box, a few ashplants and a spiky fir-tree sort of a thingy (the people who had the plot before me had a gardening business and used the allotment to grow shrubs to replant in their clients' gardens).

I thought there might be enough space to make a seating area but when the ashplants and the spiky thingy had been dragged off to the bonfire we found that there was a clear square about 12' x 12' that will make a very nice mini-plot. So - if you're at the top of the waiting list you'll be my new neighbours at Number 26a Canalside Allotments. The other 44 of you will just have to be patient.

28 October 2011


Tony and I are writers with a very small "w".We've written two guides to the Dales High Way long distance walk and last year we worked with Colin Speakman to update his original Dales Way book. Our next project is a book of walks from the Settle-Carlisle railway. It's called Dales Rail Trails and it's due out in January. There - advert over but you need to know the background!

Anyway, one evening about a month ago we were half way down a bottle of red and chatting about the new book.

Him - We'd better think about a book launch
Me  - What about a party?
Him - What about a party on a train?
Me  - With live music
Him - And a walk first

And before we knew it it was sounding like a festival. We dropped the idea of it being a book launch, got some other people involved and there we have it. Ride2stride, the Settle-Carlisle Walking Festival will run from May 1st to May 7th 2012 with walks, talks and music from stations and in pubs along the length of the line.  Aaaah - what have we done. I blame the bottle of red!

16 October 2011

A Grand Day Out

Just look at that sky!

After the murky weather of the last week we couldn't believe our luck when the sun came out for the first ever Friends of A Dales High Way walk. You can read all about it here.

11 October 2011

More Apple Day

It's eleven years since we held our first Apple Day event.

It was a modest affair in the local college with a handful of volunteers baking apple-y treats and selling unusual varieties. Over the years we added games, competitions, a stall where you could identify varieties, cider tasting, pruning demonstrations and finally when we began selling trees we moved out of the college and onto Bowling Community Orchard. Last year we served food to over 1,000 visitors in our field kitchen.
The field kitchen before the rush

So, what's it all about? Well, the official line is that Apple Day celebrates the diversity of English apples and the pub quiz facts are shocking - over 6,000 named varieties are known to have been grown in the past. Go on - have a go - cox, russet, granny smith er, er... At Apple Day you can taste the different varieties, both raw and cooked, and we label the dishes with the type of apple used - not so much Apple and Ginger Cake as Lord Lambourne and Ginger.
Identifying apples

What I like about it though is the coming together. I like meeting my mates to drink cider and talk about menus, I like cooking with other people and serving alongside them on the day. I like getting to the orchard at 7.30am and finding everyone already hard at it - the stalls, the competitions, the kids games all being set up, the apple press being installed and the cooks getting their priorities right - proper coffee for all the volunteers. No-one has to worry about anyone else - you do your bit and you know they'll do theirs.

By 11am the public start to arrive - in their hundreds. It's a family event and I sometimes wonder if it hasn't taken the place of the traditional harvest festival. A celebration of the food we love to grow and cook and eat - together.