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.