27 February 2017

Orchids and Cake

When we devised the long distance walk, A Dales High Way, we wrote two books. One was a Route Guide which is a practical little book of maps to help walkers find their way. The other is A Dales High Way Companion which includes lots of information about things to do and see along the way.

The Route Guide is designed to be kept in a pocket and consulted as you walk but the Companion is the book you read in the pub, containing chapters about the history, geology, archaeology and culture of the Yorkshire Dales. We enjoyed researching stories about the Quakers and Lady Anne Clifford, rock art and fell races. The one area we were weak on though was wild life and we asked Friends of A Dales High Way chairperson Julia Pearson to suggest birds and wildflowers walkers should look out for.

Below is a short guest post from Julia about the wonderful wildflowers shortly to be spotted in Wharfe Woods.

If you are walking Dales High Way in May allow a little extra time to enjoy the specialities of Feizor as you pass through. Of course the cake at Elaine’s Tearoom is available all year round, and comes highly recommended, so once replenished continue up the track towards Wharfe Woods. Passing through the gates on the brow of the hill you will spot some stone steps in the wall on the left, and a small gate on top. For several weeks in May this is the doorway to a botanical spectacle that is well worth a diversion. 

The woodland pasture is grazed by cattle and sheep at certain times of the year which helps maintain a rich diversity of plants adapted to the limestone soils. Swathes of wood anemone, cowslips, early purple orchids and bluebells create a colourful and heat-warming sight.   
Cowslips and Early Purple Orchids
Later in spring you can see the uncommon wild aquilegia and you maybe lucky enough to see a redstart, a bird that arrives here in late April to breed, nesting in holes in trees.

10 February 2017

People in a Landscape

Colin Speakman, the man responsible for creating the Dales Way is well known both at home and abroad as the author of over 50 books about the countryside including the best selling guide to the Dales Way

He is less well known perhaps as a poet but his latest collection demonstrates both his poetic skill and his love of the landscape. 

Of all the 28 poems in “People in a Landscape” one of my favourites is “Wharfedale”. It’s a beautiful, lyrical description of the valley that Dales Way walkers know and love so well.

Starting in the north where cloud and fell merge to mist the poem follows the river through Langstrothdale to the broad green floor of a glacier planed valley and the foam-white power of destruction that is the Strid, to emerge all anger relented  at Bolton Abbley where priors, dukes, came to dream, their ruins an echo, fading, of time.
It’s a depiction that is both recognisable but elevated, taking the reader on a journey not just through Wharefdale but through the passion that Colin has for this deep and secret place, a love that surely motivated him to create the Dales Way nearly 50 years ago.

People in a Landscape is available for £4.50 from Gritstone Publishing