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Lessons learnt from the Yorkshire Dales

No shit.

There’s nothing like a short ‘n’ sweet break in the countryside to make you appreciate life’s more simple pleasures, and this weekend’s lovely trip to the Yorkshire Dales did exactly that.

An autumn trip up north for a reunion with old school chums is becoming a regular annual event and this year some much needed time-out from city life was particularly welcome.

So here’s a quick run down of some of the things I discovered from 4 days and 3 nights in Yorkshire Dales.

Rope swings are a timeless source of fun

We discovered this most marvelous rope swing near a waterfall and not too far from our cottage. Cue much merriment and feeling like a kid again.

How to feel 12yrs old again (me in the blue hat in the air)

Ten points if you can spot me.

Never sit too close to a real fire without a fire guard

Did you know coals explode? I didn’t. I very nearly became a burning ball of Abercrombie and Fitch branded clothes. However, sitting next to a real fire when it’s -3 outside is still a wonderful thing.

Flying a kite is terrific fun – and strangely calming

Thanks to my mate having the foresight to bring a kite (and thanks to his wife’s foresight for buying him the kite for Christmas), for the first time in my life I actually flew a kite. Watching it zoom around against bright blue winter sky and startlingly bright sun was magnificent. No one tells you that one of the great things about flying a kite is feeling the natural ebb and flow of the air as it pulls your arms in all directions. A good reminder that nature can be incredibly strong.

Let's go fly a kite...Mary Poppins eat yr heart out

I’m the only person I know who gets excited by the thought of a walk across a snowy moor just because the Bronte’s did it 200 years ago.

A short (2.5mile) walk across the Yorkshire Moors from Haworth, hometown to the Bronte sisters (who once upon a time wrote a couple of books you may have heard of) are the Bronte Waterfalls, so named after the description by Charlotte Bronte which you can read here.

We (Ok, I…) got very excited and took everyone off on a two hour walk in -1 weather in search of these stunning falls, which –due to the icey conditions- had turned into not much more than a trickle rather than a gushing torrent.

It was still a beautiful walk though and for the first time since reading Wuthering Heights in school, I was able to appreciate what Emily Bronte had meant when she described the wild beauty of the moors.

"Top Withuns" = the original Wuthering Heights

Walking the Moors

A pint of ale and a packet of crisps is magic after a 2.5 hr walk in the snow

Enough said.

When you see snow clouds in the distance and you’ve got a 40minute drive, get back to yr car and start driving tout suite

Like only city bods could do, there was lots of “Ooooh look at those clouds,” discussions on the walk back across the moors as we marveled at the heavy snow clouds hanging in the sky. Not one of us thought that just maybe that the clouds might have an impact on our 40minute journey back through the winding roads and hills of the Dales to our cottage perched at the top of a very high hill. Which is how we got into the following situation…

Damn. Damn and Brrrrr.

There’s nothing like a cute farmer with a tractor when you’re stranded in the snow

Sometimes you have to admit defeat. Attempting to drive a Skoda up a steep and windy hill in a snow blizzard is one of those times.

Fortunately, a lovely cute farmer had decided to head out with his tractor to see if any one might need a hand getting up the hill.

Which, obviously, we did.

I couldn’t help but notice whilst he tied his rope around the hook-thing on the front of our car that he was without hat or gloves.

They’re tough people up north.

Hot farmer was too quick for my camera

As an additional point, it’s also worth always keeping your car manual in your car. This is to make sure that when a hot farmer rocks up in his tractor offering to tow you up the hill, you can locate your car’s tow er… thing (loop…? hook…?) quickly and efficiently and avoid having to do this:

Where's the thingamygig?!

There’s still a sense of community spirit in the countryside…

Faced with the challenge of getting down a massive hill with all our luggage (i.e. wheelie cases) in order to get back to our abandoned cars parked 2 miles away in the nearest village, we did the only thing we could and called the neighbours for help. And help they did, coming along in their 4×4 to help us pack up and get back down the hill.

4X4 - a very useful vehicle

Worth also noting that the only reason we got up the hill and back to our cottage the night before was because a total stranger pulled over and offered us a lift home… again, in his 4×4. Moral of this story? If you hire a cottage at the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere and during winter, consider hiring a 4×4 vehicle.

So you could say the big lesson I learnt this weekend is that there’s no denying the fact that people are much nicer to each other -and strangers- in small villages and towns. This in itself was wonderfully reassuring and life-affirming.

Can’t help but wonder if visitors to London can claim the same when they head home?

Yorkshire Dales = Not London



7 thoughts on “Lessons learnt from the Yorkshire Dales

  1. Another good blog entry James. Sounds like you had a great time.

    However, I was hoping that you did a rendition of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Height’s on that moor! “Heathcliff, its me, Cathy come home. I’m so cold, let me in-a-your window”

    Oh and yes, us up north are hardy folk! We thrive in the cold and snow.

    Posted by Mark Ryan-Daly | November 30, 2010, 7:08 pm
  2. Damn – I was rather looking forward to seeing the hot farmer!

    Posted by phdavies | November 30, 2010, 7:11 pm
  3. what a fun weekend. And I for one appreciat the Bronte part having walked the Moors and visited Howarth several times! Being a fellow northerner I hope I count in the ‘friendly people you know’ bit. x

    Posted by Lisa | November 30, 2010, 8:26 pm
  4. Ah – the delights of Yorkshire!

    Posted by Calum Clements (ADCC1978) | November 30, 2010, 8:27 pm
  5. Told you the kite would be fun 😉 Just a shame that when it finally snowed enough to use the sledge, it was still in the boot of the stranded car miles away!

    Posted by Stephanie O'Connell | December 1, 2010, 11:12 am
  6. Dammit, I really wanted to get in there with the “its meeeee, its catheeee, I;ve come home nooooow!” I can actually picture you gaily skipping down the dales screeching at the top of your voice. You must be the only tone-deaf Welshman in the world! haha x

    Posted by Danboy | December 2, 2010, 7:15 pm

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