The forecast for the weekend was quite good – no more rain, and some sun and warmth to boot. Seemed like a good enough excuse to go off for a couple of nights in the van.
Also, we’d just recently had a new toy fitted to the van – a super, duper satellite tv system. It needed testing out.
We did have a digital freeview tv, but it wound us up constantly. I really don’t understand how the government could ever say that this was the system everyone had to have. In a good 75% of the places we’ve ever spent the night in with the van, we’ve been totally unable to pick any channels up. We couldn’t even get any tv with it parked on the drive outside our house.
On top of that, we’d found that on our last few summer holidays, 6 weeks in Europe without any access to any news, was quite a strange experience. Three summers ago, suddenly finding out about the riots that had spread from London up to Manchester, as we just happened to walk past a newspaper stand one day in France, was very odd.
And so, after a lot of thought, discussion and saving up, we gave in and just last week, had this amazing, fully automated, satellite dome fitted.
It had to be tested properly, so we planned our weekend’s wild van camping around a spot where we knew there was absolutely no digital tv signal whatsoever. Malham Tarn.
We arrived around 7:00pm on the Friday, to a pretty cool evening. The sky was fairly clear and before we knew it, there was a large, bright moon shining atmospherically down on us. With everyone quickly fed, a little wander in the dark was called for. Bliss. No-one else around, absolutely quiet and that wonderful clear smell you only get miles and miles away from the nearest big city.
A few hours later, the bed was made up and as we snuggled up under the duvet, the tv was ceremoniously switched on. It was magic! The channels we had, the rubbish we could watch! Flicking between programmes, we watched dross we’d only ever heard of! Even the doggies were impressed! It was so amazing, I don’t think we fell asleep until gone eleven…….
Anyway, we couldn’t spend all weekend glued to the goggle box, so after breakfast the next morning we set off on a wander. The route we chose was a 12 mile one – across the Monk’s Road from Malham Tarn to Littondale, along the river to Hawkswick and then back over the moors on another ancient road.
The Monk’s Road over to Littondale apparently used to be used by medieval monks from Fountains Abbey. All the land over here was once part of the Abbey estate and wool from the sheep that were farmed, had to be transported to market.
I don’t know what happened to the weather mind. Far from sun and warmth, we had nothing but clag and drizzle.
And poor Tilly got stuck in a stile.
It was a shame about the mist. Halfway across to Arncliffe you start contouring along a terrace around the top of an amazing ravine – that of Cowside Beck. Sadly though today, the views were a bit lacking.
Dropping down to the village of Arncliffe though, the visibility improved somewhat and we stopped for first lunch beside the river Skirfare.
The river was followed for a couple of miles to the settlement of Hawkswick, from where we started a long, drawn out ascent back up over the tops.
The higher we got, the claggier it got and the wetter the rain got.
Luckily, we were in our trusty Paramo and were in the ‘Comfort Zone’.
The lack of views was again a bit of a disappointment but the route was nevertheless very atmospheric – and even a bit spooky in places.
And so, on we plodded, back to the van. Afternoon tea, stickies and Jumbones beckoned, and I even heard Dixie whisper to Tilly that she was looking forward to some back episodes of ‘One Man And His Dog’ on the new Pleasure Dome system…