High Above Swaledale

Yesterday's spontaneous bimble on Ingleborough ended at a much greater pace than it started. We had lingered so much, exploring all the clints and grikes of this huge limestone massif and the views from the plateau summit, that we were in danger of missing the last train back home from Clapham station. I had made the error of not factoring in the mile long walk from the village to the railway - quite significant with only an hour to get down. I took a run ahead with the aim of trying to organise a taxi for us but when I asked at the New Inn the barman simply suggested that the owner would drop us down in time - which gave me license to enjoy a pint before we were chauffeured to the train. The inn has been restored to its former glory in the last year and I feel compelled to give it a plug. I’m sure we’ll return for an overnight stay at some point.

With rain forecast for today the idea was for me to go into the office and get done what was needed before hopefully taking off for a little adventure. With a capriciousness typical of this summer the day dawned blue and bright with no sign of the rain, neither in the sky nor in any revised forecast. Still feeling considerably less than perky it was soon obvious that I wasn't going to achieve anything workwise so I was whisked away by my guests. There was little point protesting!

We drove up Wharfedale to the top of Fleet Moss where we dropped M off to cycle down the hill, into Hawes (where we reconvened for a coffee) before following him up over Buttertubs, scene of all the commotion the previous weekend. We rendezvoused again at Gunnerside where TJ and I left on our own to walk to Reeth. I've cycled through Swaledale many times in recent years and have explored all the little moor roads that connect it to Wensleydale on the south side, but I've not explored any of it on foot since I walked the Pennine Way getting on for forty years ago! I’ve been looking forward to a more intimate exploration for a very long time.

There is something unique about each of the dales in the Dales, an elusive quality that is very hard to articulate. Swaledale simply feels like it’s remained unchanged for centuries. There is very little reference to the modern world. It’s all beautifully conserved but it’s still a working valley. The Lead mines brought great prosperity here and that is evident too in the quality of the buildings. It’s picture postcard beautiful but authentic at one and the same time. Our walk, first along the river, then climbing up on to the fell above Feetham here, before descending back down to Reeth, has only confirmed this as my favourite Yorkshire dale.

NB TJ's take and Lulubelle's take.

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