Just for a change, I’m going to start this post with a little quiz, aimed at testing your meteorological skills.
Take a look at the following photos and study them carefully. Some were taken in the Dales this Christmas and some last Christmas. Using your powers of observation and knowledge of all things ‘weather’, see if you can identify which photos belong to which year.
I feel it’s only fair to warn you mind – some of them are a little tricky!
I’m not going to give out any of the answers, but I’m sure that some of the more observant amongst you will have already twigged that this year’s Christmas trip to the Dales was somewhat wet.
We did have a bit of variety in the weather though. Some days were manically windy with persistant heavy rain, some were manically windy with showers, some were just manically windy and we even had a couple which were just torrential rain all day.
We made the most of it though. There wasn’t a day we didn’t get out, even if only for a few miles in the morning, and we did in fact manage two longer walks on a couple of the ‘manically windy with showers’ days. The dogs had a fantastic time. Sometimes it seems like they’re never happier than when soaking wet and plastered with mud. And after all they have the perfect waterproof coats – light, warm, breathable, easily cleaned and never need re-proofing.
And I have to say that there was something very cosy about spending an afternoon in a nice warm van while a storm raged outside, armed with chocolate, whisky and a Dean Koontz novel.
We started off the holidays on the caravan site in Hawes and by Boxing Day had decided that a longer walk just had to be done. Luckily, the weather that day was a touch drier even if the wind hadn’t let up at all.
We set off from the site and took the Pennine Way across the fields, to the village of Hardraw.
From there, we continued on the PW up the lower slopes of Great Shunner Fell.
We didn’t get very high up the fell before it became nearly impossible to walk in the wind, so veered off left down the western slopes in the direction of Cotterdale, eventually ending up at the main Hawes to Garsdale Head road. The road was then crossed and we continued along the river Ure to Appersett and through the fields back to Hawes.
All in all, only about 6 miles, but pleasant enough given the weather.
Since we’d left it a bit late when booking our little Christmas jaunt, on the 28th December we had to leave the site at Hawes as it was fully booked for over New Year. So that morning, we made our way across to a tiny farm site just outside Ingleton.
Ingleton has very bittersweet memories for me. When I was young (pre-teens), we used to go there once or twice a year, in our little touring caravan. It was an old, wooden, 10 foot long van, which had originally been a 2-berth but which my dad had altered to a 4-berth. Me, my parents and a large boxer dog called Candy, would holiday in it, staying in a small site right next to the river in Ingleton – directly opposite the entrance to ‘The Waterfalls and Glens’. I can quite clearly remember one particular Easter, when it was so cold and snowy we had to put newspaper under our sleeping bags to try and keep warm at night!
Anyway, having fairly recently lost both my parents, I indulged my emotions one afternoon last week and wandered into Ingleton on my own, taking a few photos and re-living a few memories.
So, how about the weather? Did it improve at all once we’d crossed over towards the western Yorkshire frontier? In a word, no. In fact if anything, it got worse. We did however, have one more day when it was slightly less wet and took full advantage of this to do an 8 mile circuit from Clapham.
For once, there was no trouble finding a parking space right in the centre of the village and we set off walking along Thwaite Lane which goes towards Austwick. This track also goes past the Norber Erratics – famous in geological circles.
On reaching Crummack Lane we turned left and wandered up Cummack Dale. It’s obviously very pretty, but today looked very grey and damp.
We climbed steadily up to Sulber, where once again the wind hit us making walking a bit of an effort.
Views of Ingleborough were totally obscured by low cloud, as we made our way back via Long Scar and Long Lane.
Feeling refreshed but battered, we made our way back to the van and then back to Ingleton.
The next day the weather reverted to all-day torrential stuff again, and then continued in the same vein for the rest of our stay. We returned to Hawes briefly for a couple of nights (the site had vacancies again as people were going home early due to the weather), but did eventually come home a day early ourselves. Still, despite the trip ending up a bit wet and windy, we had had an enjoyable break. I managed to eat loads of chocolate, drink some whisky, catch up on a couple of Dean Koontz novels and watch three Stephen King DVDs. I also managed to ingest far more calories than I exercised off – but what the hell!