mental health, Walking, wellbeing, Writing

Roy’s Ramble – Week 11

2021 arrived and I decided to take on a huge challenge. Walk from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG). This is Week 11.

DAYS 71-77

Day 68 on Day 71
DAY 71
(12th March 2021)
A simple way to get fit
Langsett reservoir (c) Wikipedia

The hardest thing at the moment is keeping track of the days. Not only because the week for my diary starts each Friday but because in January, Day 1 related to 1st January. Now I’m having to really work hard to keep tabs on which day we’re up to. All part of the challenge. I’m staggered that we’re still going strong after 10 weeks. I can’t believe it has been 10 weeks. In two months time, I will have finished, although the way my foot has played up over the last 24 hours we’ll see. It’s become really painful and I think it’s starting to realise that keeping up 9.2 miles every day is no mean feat, but I can’t have a down day. Not if I’m to reach my target by the set date. A down day means the days after have extra mileage on, so I’m trying to keep things consistent, but physically, it’s starting to get tougher and tougher.

Drifted off on a bed of dreams last night only to be woken at 4am by a rowdy bunch of revelers pitching up a short distance away. There was a lot of shouting and partying. Thought I was quite safe as I crept into bed last night.

Today started off with getting back to the exercise video. I need to make it more regular really but I’ve not got myself into that routine. Managed 3,000 steps. Rain overnight has left me with a damp tent once more. Getting used to this.

It was then on to video editing. This took far longer than it should have because the internet kept dropping, so it ended up being a whole day task. Thankfully I was able to crack on with a few other jobs at the same time. Lots of walking whilst working (standing office is the way to go), and it’s soon dinner time. We head out to the shop and we’re having pizza this evening as it’s been a busy week and we frankly can’t be bothered to cook.

It’s a one walk day today and we set off late. A good walk in which we saw our neighbours and had a chat, and then headed uphill. It has to be really from where we live. We’re in the bottom of the valley. Typical for Oxford. We take in one of our usual routes around the back of the hospital. It appears as though the new temporary air paid is now in place and where it will remain for two years until the works down the other end of the site are complete.

As I continue my journey I pass the Langsett Reservoir, holding 1400 million gallons of water (or 2,119 Olympic swimming pools), and holding claim to being the largest reservoir in the area. Not the biggest in the country though. That’s further north in Northumbria. From here, I turn right and head along a Roman road. By gum, it’s long, but the views are breathtaking. A 360 degree panorama of our green and pleasant land, atop of which in the distance stand a guard of wind turbines.

You’ll never guess what’s ahead. It’s a community hall. We’ve not spoken about those for a while. We’re hoping to open our one up again soon where we run youth club, but this one is strange in that it’s basically in the middle of nowhere. There are buildings around but not in the immediate vicinity. I wonder how these spread out communities operate and cope? Is it as easy, or perhaps easier, to call on a neighbour? Maybe if you’re more reliant on them you grow to accept them more. I sometimes wonder whether communities in cities and towns are strained as everyone is living on top of one another. I’ve never lived in an area where things are dispersed like they are on this part of the route.

These winding country lanes, as with Cornwall, offer different views at each turn. I’ve never been this close to a wind turbine before. Not the base anyway. I can almost touch it. I’ve been close to the top of a few, which seems strange, but there was a holiday recently (and I forget right now where – probably in the north of the country), where the roads seemed to be almost level with the blades. There has long been controversy over these structures. Yes, through the power of wind they can provide us with electricity, but at what cost to the landscape?

Every so often, there’s a gap in the hillside and it drops down to a stunning valley view. The route stretches out in front of me with field upon field and barely a residence, although from time to time a large farmyard looms out of nowhere. Slowly but surely, the rain decides to move in. Another quarry up ahead, but we’re skirting the edge of that and crossing the Holmfirth Road. That name’s familiar. Ah yes, it’s where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed.

Last of the Summer Wine was a British classic, a staple of Sunday night television, devised by Roy Clarke who also created Keeping Up Appearances (Patricia Routledge) and Open All Hours (Ronnie Barker). ‘Summer Wine’ ran from 1973 until 2010 and followed the youthful antics of an aging cast of characters who would end up in some of the most ridiculous comedy situations, but it was good, wholesome fun that the whole family could enjoy.

We pass east of Holmfirth, and our next main passing place is Shepley, a village of around 3,000, and its name meaning ‘sheep clearing’. It’s a busy village with lots of local amenities and social clubs and activities. Prices for a three bed house are in the realms of £400,000, but if you have money to burn, then you could spend just shy of a million on a five bed detached. The village has a train station so good transport links. Am I turning into an estate agent all of a sudden?

I might stop the night though. As the rain has started again, and it’s quite heavy tonight, I’m going to snuggle down inside the sleeping bag, and hope that the rain will help me get off to sleep and not be a hindrance. It’s usually good at relaxing me. I do enjoy listening to the rain. I’m stopping amongst the trees on the Penistone Way if anybody wants me.

DAY 72
(13th March 2021)
Huddersfield Town Hall (c) Pixabay
Dalton Bank Nature Reserve (c)
Robin Hood’s Grave (c) wikipedia

Awoke to a mixed morning of sunshine and then a sprinkle of rain, then it went, and it really couldn’t make its mind up, and yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s a youth club wellbeing walk again this morning.

For our walk this morning I set the young people off through the woods with a photography challenge, then when we arrive at our hot chocolate break point, covered in mud, we have a chat about the brain and mindfulness, and I get them to write positive postcards to themselves. There was excellent teamwork on the return route as well. It was great to see.

I pass through a couple of small villages as I scoot around  Huddersfield. I’m not stopping or even passing through the market town, but I think it’s worth mentioning it. The Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson was born here in 1916, taking charge of the country between 1974-1976. One of my favourite actresses of our time, Jodie Whittaker, is also from this neck of the woods (just outside of the town). I first spotted her in Broadchurch (filmed in West Bay where I passed through a few weeks ago). There is a lot of Victorian architecture including the train station, which has large pillars at the entrance making it appear more of a stately home. Huddersfield saw a lot of civil unrest during the industrial revolution, leading to the downfall of the cloth trade.

After the walk with club, I head back to the youth centre and complete some admin and maintenance tasks that are required to be sorted before we reopen. Initially the plan is to reopen to community hirers, and frankly, this is quite good as it also means we can do more outdoors skills work, which is always fun. A couple of hours and there’s only a few bits left.

I come home and have a bit of Whatsapp time with some friends before starting on some manifestation work. I’ve not spent time on myself like this for a while and it was enjoyable. I only made a little start, but finished off later in the evening, after another walk.

The evening walk was painful. Having insisted that I’m going to do at least 9.2 miles each day to reach the target, I’m feeling the burn – literally. My poor foot is struggling and as such I can feel myself overcompensating in order that I keep going. What the chiropractor will think, heaven knows. My hips will be twisted beyond recognition. It wasn’t especially cold this evening which is good but I was hopping along good and proper.

I’m heading north quite quickly now. On the right is Dalton Bank Nature Reserve. So far, experience has told me that if it says Bank in the name, a train line used to pass through the area. From above, I wouldn’t say it’s especially clear, so I’m going to delve in a bit deeper. The land is owned by the Woodland Trust, stretches across 50 acres, and is very steep, rising by 75 metres sharply. With a mix of conifers and local trees, it’s apparently a good fungi hunting ground. Ironically, in a place where nature is in abundance, there’s a business that sells artificial grass.

The River Colne (the Yorkshire one, not the Hertfordshire or Essex one) can be seen through the trees to my left. Two brooks in the Pennines marry up in wedded bliss to form this river, which I eventually cross a couple of times in order to join up to the next part of the road network. There’s a Lower Quarry Road here, which evidently and not surprisingly, lead to another quarry. The more I read and see about them the more intrigued I get and I’d quite like to visit one to see one for real. I came quite close once on the Isle of Portland, but not close enough to stand at the bottom and see the vastness sweep up either side. I cross the train tracks and pass Robin Hood’s grave. I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this. We know he was back down the road a little way from a previous entry but I wasn’t expecting to see his grave here. Where else I suppose? He’s burried, supposedly, near the priory where he died, but apparently nobody has seen the relics. Curiouser and curiouser.

I’m going to go off the road for a while, mainly because I think walking the river a little way will be more enjoyable. It always is. I’m glad I do because in a weird twist as often happens around these virtual parts, I’m suddenly walking along the M62. Best keep my wits about me. Regular readers will know that I’m not that daft and would I be doing this for real, I would be taking the path less travelled. There’s a real downside to the motorway sections, which everybody on the Facebook page admits to – there’s nothing to see. It’s a shame the app works it out like this. On the plus side, it has also provided a different route allowing us to visit some different places than would perhaps normally be visited, so I can’t really complain.

What it does mean though is that for tonight, I can air the damp tent and actually lay my head on a proper bed. There’s a Days Inn at the services. I’ve never been in one but they seem like your basic roadside services with a continental breakfast thrown in. Looking at the online reviews, I’d be better in the tent. Ah well. Can’t win them all. Some people would cry out for a bed for the night. Dinner looks to be a fast food takeaway burger and fries unless I can be clever in my attempt to warm up a Waitrose ready meal. In reality it was steak and chips tonight. Some perks to doing this challenge at home!

A few pages of the book as usual before bed. Sunday will soon roll around. I reckon I’ll be in Bradford by tomorrow night.

DAY 73
(14th March 2021)
She knew!
Saw these on the walk. Not sure what they are.
Noisy devils these two
Cherwell Boathouse
The University Parks
Linked art
Lister Mills, Bradford (c) wikipedia

It seems that those noisy tent neighbours have moved into the hotel for the night and are stopping a few doors down. At 2am I’m woken by shouting outside the window. Shame as I was having a really lovely dream. I’m finding this broken sleep really isn’t helping me at the moment.

Nevertheless, I get up and decide to do some baking. I mentioned completing a manifestation booklet last night which a friend sent me and as an outcome, I’m going to try and do some more baking, because it’s one thing that I love to do. I do this before the day has properly gotten going. Small cupcakes with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in. It’s a recipe I haven’t tried, given by a friend. We like to share recipes. I don’t think I’ve got it quite right but I amend it to suit and they’ve turned out OK.

Following some breakfast (yes, I did the baking before this), I change and head out on a walk. I’m really wary as despite soaking my feet last night, I’m in pain. Absolute pain. I said at the beginning of all of this challenge that I had a problem with my foot. A few years ago as I was starting in the job that I loved that made me ill, I managed to stand on a wine glass. Despite an operation, not all of the glass could be removed, and it’s in my heel. Every day when I walk, I’m basically walking on broken glass – Annie Lennox had the measure of it. I know my usual limits but now with this walk I’m getting to a point where I’m pushing beyond the point of excruciating. This on top of knee issues and the overcompensating from not walking on the glass heel means my back is turning into an absolute mess. I can feel it all twisted.

Today, we walked 5.57 miles across rough ground, through mud, and by the river. The pub by the river is having building works done. I can’t say I’m overly excited as it looks as though the outside area may be becoming unrecognisable, which will be a shame, but essential to keep the business afloat.

I loved the sights and sounds on this walk (we’ve not done this route for ages), but I had to dig deep and try not to complain about how painful it was. Back home I know I’ve still got four miles to keep me on track. Getting the hiking boots off is a relief but my foot cannot take any more, and my head is in two minds whether it can continue either. This is one of the first points I think I’ve felt like it’s never going to happen within the timeframe. We’ve kept the end date a little flexible and people have said as long as it’s during Mental Health Awareness Week that’s fine, but I’ve set a date I’m a determined cookie, so that’s what we’re still aiming for.

After my miles today, I’ve turned on to the M606 and arrive in the city of Bradford, the sixth largest in the country. As with many places in the area, Bradford too was big in the textile field, especially wool, so much so that the city became known as the wool capital of the world. I saw a neighbour on the way out who said that Bradford is an interesting place due to its mix of countryside and history of the industrial revolution, still evident. The textile industry has been in decline and mills in the area have either gone or been converted for other use. One of the most prominent landmarks still in existence and reminiscent of former times is the chimney at Listers Mills, once the largest silk factory in the world, once employing 11,000 workers. The chimney stands at 76m in height, similar height to the Taj Mahal, and examples of this were seen as part of the Opening Ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics as they rose out of the stage.

In a prominent position next to the Bradford Interchange railway station is Centenary Square, which is more circular than anything, Bradford Magistrates Court stands proud alongside the Registry Office. In front of both, the mirror pool, the largest urban water feature in the UK which can be switched between calm and peaceful and thunderous. This modern installation is a far cry from the nearby Oastler Shopping Centre which is reminiscent of traditional markets, with this all under one roof.

If you’re thinking of visiting Bradford, the top three attractions at the moment are the Alhambra Theatre, National Science and Media Museum, and the Industrial Museum. These three venues alone show the true diversity of the city. From the arts, to science and modern media, through to the history of the area, there is something for everyone.

It’s been a really busy week and as the day draws to a close, self-care is in order to try and prevent the already creeping in anxiety doing more damage, and in an attempt to not let a headache take over either. A bath seems a good option.

Due to its sprawling size and all the things to see, there was no way I would get through Bradford in a day, so I try to find a hotel to stop in. No such luck near where I am so I’m offered staff quarters at a nursing home – at least it’s a bed. It’s here I’m allowed to take my bath (salts are amazing!) and I head off for an early night. Keeping my fingers crossed for no rowdy partygoers here.

DAY 74
(15th March 2021)

A lovely morning and I slept well. Leapt up and onto an exercise video. I’m ready to face the day and even make some cheese and marmite scones. Sadly, grey skies soon loom overhead, and they’re not the only thing darkening the doorway. I’m writing the entire day’s entry at night (I sometimes try and do bits during the day). Today has been a very difficult day. It’s not one I want to relieve in a hurry. I shall go so far as to say that an external force, claiming to be human, has not shown kindness. The polar opposite, and this has sent me into a downward spiral.

I could go into great detail, but there’s two reasons not to. Firstly, why should I relive it and bring the negative energy that clearly dominates another’s life that they feel they need to project on to me? What good will that do? It’s plagued the day, because that’s what these things do. Secondly, by relieving it in great detail, I’m putting on you, dear reader, and you don’t need that. I know many readers of this blog are having their own mental health battles and I don’t want to add to that today, even if I were to put a trigger warning.

Primarily, as a result, I’ve remained at home today, but a positive came in the form of more excellent feedback for my coaching services. As the day drew to a close, I spent some time meditating and went for a pleasant night walk.

Virtually, I pass a variety of golf courses and sports centres, and am soon on the outskirts of the city. Something I haven’t seen for a while is a farm shop, but there’s one here. Ludbrook’s Farm Shop ‘brings something new to the area, providing you with home reared meat with 100% traceability & locally produced products’. Sounds good. They’ve even set up offering an afternoon tea platter for £14.99. You get a mix of sandwiches with meat fillings, pork pie, scotch eggs, tomatoes and salad, strawberries, scones, and a fresh cream sponge cake. I’m on my way.

I cross the River Aire (92 miles in length) and find myself in Bingley. The two names of Bradford and Bingley were once synonymous with a now defunct building society and I remember the openness of the building in town we used to visit where, unlike today, it didn’t have screens to protect the staff, but low desks. It was certainly friendly and as a child even I could see over the counter.

Further up the road is Bingley station. It’s a grade II listed building and was opened in 1847, although the current incarnation has been here since 1892 when it was moved. The boggy area to the north of the station apparently caused many headaches when the station was built as everything kept sinking. Today, this seem to be all on track. Opposite the tracks is Bingley Little Theatre, a small theatre with a big heart and producing great things. It’s also a hirable venue. I hired a theatre a couple of years ago to produce a play that I’d written and it was a great experience. Sometimes you need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

As bedtime arrives, I, not surprisingly, choose an ideal location to pitch the tent – opposite the gas works!

DAY 75
(16th March 2021)
East Riddlesden Hall (c)

I seem to be getting a bit more of a better wellbeing regime for myself. Today I was up and doing my fitness video again (as in copying a professional, not leading one – that’s not my specialty). After that, it was on to baking a fast fruit cake. This is one of those recipes where it’s made fast, but also devoured pretty quickly too. Then into an important meeting that determines some potentially important work for me for the future. It’s one of those where you sort of lay yourself bare and by the end of it I am exhausted. It happens when you throw your energy into something, and I’ve certainly done that. I used to find the same thing at the end of rehearsals for any show, even if I’d only had to walk on stage and say one line. Was always hungry by the time I got home.

I woke up outside the gas works on the outskirts of Keighley. Strange place to make a cake, eh? It’s a former mill and market town, and parts of its history can still be seen in the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, a five mile stretch, of heritage steam line. Again, as with most places locally it’s industries have long focused around textiles. A few rivers converge around the area and it’s well known for flooding, with one of the worst being in 2000 when hundreds were left homeless. I’ve never personally experienced being flooded out but it does seem to be one of those things that brings communities together. I wonder why it’s always disasters when this occurs. It’s rare to hear of people just being neighbourly for the sake of it, isn’t it? How different the world would be if we were.

The market town today is primarily pedestrianised and has a lot of amenities including an indoor shopping centre, cinema, and various music venues. Slightly north of where I am at the moment is the National Trust site of East Riddlesden Hall, a 7th Century manor house. Today visitors can enjoy the manor, the gardens, and plenty of activities for the children.

I check in with a friend around lunchtime and we have a natter about good quick recipes now I’m getting into the daily baking. Pinterest is our friend. I’m soon into studying and prepping class, amongst many other tasks. I share some baking with my neighbour and check in on her. We still do our community bit between us and I’ll pop to the shop later for her as she’s just started isolating. Not covid related but she has to keep away from the dirt of the street (I presume that includes me – ha!) due to going into hospital soon.

It’s then into one of the most amazing classes I’ve run for a while. Things really clicked. I finished that class and received even more excellent feedback from a client that I finished with yesterday. Life feels really positive today. Good things have happened. Have you ever had one of those days? I say one because I often find something’s around the next corner wanting to drag it down, but a new friend I’ve made online is positive beyond measure and it’s rubbing off so I’m determined to see as much as I can in a positive light at the moment and presume that nothing too bad’s going to happen. It’s got to work, hasn’t it? I mean I teach positive mindset with my clients. I need to work on it myself a bit more at the moment I think. I hit one of those low lulls in proceedings.

And so the evening arrives and I’m out for a night walk. I love walking at night. You don’t see a lot, but you see quite a bit. It’s contradictory saying that but you can’t see a lot of the day time things of course but the evening lets you see the beauty of a tower block (they are when lit up – think of the stories each balcony holds), and for tonight example, the stars in the sky twinkling like baby teeth.

With today’s miles which I presume to not really be a lot as I’ve mainly been walking around the house, I’ve actually clocked up around eight miles, which keeps me fairly on track still.

Along from where I set off this morning outside the gas works there is an outdoor activities centre. They’re ideally suited for this part of the country really. I’ve always fancied being an activities leader at one of these. Marley’s is a vast place with, amongst other things, a full size floodlit football pitch, indoor sports hall, ten other football pitches, and 25 changing rooms.

I cross the River Worth, pass a Toby Carvery (not been in one of those for years), and begin tracking north-westerly once more. I’m very much in the industrial area with many parks and businesses around, although the appearance of more trees and fields suggests we’re leaving the residential areas behind. I follow the River Aire for a while and it’s so peaceful. It’s close the Liverpool and Leeds Canal and that for me is a bit of a scary thought because on holiday last year, when we had that strange time in between the lockdowns, I ventured up this end of the country and Liverpool seemed miles away. Now, I’ve travelled even further, walking, and I seem to have made it in a rapid time. I can’t comprehend how big my achievement has been sometimes. Who knows what I’ll do when all of this is over?

As you know, I’m keen, maybe even fanatical is the word, about our canals. I think that’s become fairly obvious throughout all of this diary. Not a week goes by when I don’t mention them. The Liverpool and Leeds one is a respectably large 127 miles, crossing the Pennines, and I bet it’s an amazing journey through that landscape. I found during lockdown two chaps who due to mental health issues stopped living the fast paced life that we’re all generally stuck in and now live on a canal boat. They’re called Foxes Afloat and their videos really are fascinating. I’ve sat and watched hours. Maybe they’d like to meet up (virtually) and do a video together?

In the side of a hill is the Farnhill Pinnacle, a cairn or memorial, commemorating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. In appearance it is a large tall boulder with a crucifix on top. Inside however is a box, a sort of time capsule, with various artefacts from the year.

For tonight, I’m going to lay my head on a comfy pillow in the Hotel Rendezvous overlooking the canal. These are some fancy rooms and a true luxury after last night’s gassy stopover.

DAY 76
(17th March 2021)
Ribblehead Viaduct (c) pixabay
Yorkshire Dales (c)Pixabay

Back to being up and going again with the fitness vid. The routine’s working. I’m then on to baking. Today I’m attempting bread. I found a recipe on Pinterest for an Irish cheese and beer bread. It’s only now, as I’m typing this entry late at night, that I’ve registered it’s St Patrick’s Day, despite us talking about it all day. What dream world is this I’m living in? It’s a strange taste. Do you ever find you don’t savour each mouthful of a meal? Phones have a lot to answer for. We always have this want and need to be connected. Should we be putting phones away at dinner and really focusing on each bite? Really, we should. Let’s attack the senses.

This morning I’m busy writing articles for a couple of magazines and sorting out a few bits for work. I keep receiving some lovely positive comments about what I do, and that’s always appreciated of course. Around lunchtime, I talk a walk. A fair pace was chosen today and I went out armed with a notepad. I do this as a matter of course and it often remains in my pocket, being brought out when the spark of a story or idea strikes, but today I walked with it out all the time as I have a project in mind and I wanted the walk to be focused on developing that. It worked. I filled two sides of the notepad with thoughts and ideas. It’s great when you let go like this. It was a bit like free writing. If you’ve never tried it, you must.

Back on route and I’ve left the hotel and continue to follow the River Aire. I skirt around the market town of Skipton, classed as one of the best places in the north of England to live. Despite this making it seem like a fluffy place, ironically considering the name means sheep town, it was home to a prisoner of war camp during the first world war. It’s in its sheep cotton trade that it’s become well known though and as a result, the town has become quite prosperous. To this day, a traditional market is held four times a week and they even have a Sheep Day. Skipton, as with Bradford & Bingley, has it’s own building society, and this is the main employer locally. It’s in Skipton too that the founder of one of our best known and loved High Street retailers was born, Mr Marks and Spencer himself (well, Mr Spencer was).

Past Keelham Farmshop and then once more out into the fields. My afternoon walk was lovely, taking in parks, woods, and ending sat on a bench overlooking the peace of the river. As I pondered the excitement of new chapters in my life and the birth of new ideas (hopefully lots coming to fruition soon), this was suddenly overshadowed by a message to say that a mutual friend had died this morning. She wasn’t very old at all. It’s so sad. She was one of those who could light up any room. I’m sad for a while, and I did cry, but my mind soon turned to the happy memories I hold, and I came home and wrote a poem about her. I often find it’s a good release for me. It’s an act that I enjoy (writing), and by writing about someone who has passed on it often feels like a service, an honour I am paying them. Friends rally round and hold me up. It’s so important that we surround ourselves with people who can do that.

After dinner, I’m up to the youth club once more. I seem to spend my life up there, but then when your life is being a youth leader, it’s no surprise. There’s a few jobs still needing to be finished off and I’ve advertised some furniture on Facebook Marketplace. One person arrived, and the other didn’t, presumably one of those who likes to mess you around as he’s now not replying to any messages despite telling me he was on his way. I waited nearly an extra hour for him to arrive. It makes me sad to think that there are people who would do that to you, especially after the day I’ve had, and the fact that the money is for charity to help keep the club running. If anybody knows the person who wanted the desk, I’m presuming he is horrendously lost or driving from Australia as it was three hours ago he was driving and his profile says he lives in Oxford. Although the city is a nightmare to navigate, I’m pretty sure I’d have seen him by now.

Anyway, my miles today have allowed me to press on across the hills north of Skipton. As you would expect around here, the fields are lush and we are seeing signs of spring appearing. The trees in the distant climbing up the hillside are showing signs of turning from brown to green once more, and the tree-lined road that is suddenly upon me is providing more shelter from today’s sun that it would have done a few weeks ago, proof the canopy is starting to fill out once again.

There’s not a lot to see for some time other than a couple of small hamlets. I could carry on but it’s been a bit of a day, like a rollercoaster of emotions, so I’m going to pitch the tent. I’ve managed more than eight miles so fairly pleased with that. The plus side is that if I stop now, I don’t need to camp in the middle of the field. There’s a lovely place called Threaplands House Farm Camping and Caravan Park. It has facilities. That will do me! A stone’s throw on the opposite side of the road is a massive quarry. It looks larger than any I’ve seen along the route. The shadow cast on the overhead shot shows it’s really deep. I’ll explore (safely) more tomorrow.

Rosemary’s story
DAY 77
(18th March 2021)

I woke up at a strange time this morning. I was taught recently that you shouldn’t look at the clock if you wake during the night as your brain starts to overthink about the time and you’re less likely to get to sleep, so I can only presume from the fact that the birds were singing it was probably around 5.30am. I laid for a while and although it didn’t feel like I slept I suppose I must have as I eventually woke at my usual time.

Virtually I’ve woken from my slumber in the tent, pitched on the well-kept Threaplands Caravan and Camping site north of Skipton.

After my exercise, I was back on the baking. Today, something slightly healthier in the form of breakfast bites with oats and so on. It only has natural sugars which I was really pleased with. I’d love to say I’m eating healthier throughout this walk but as I’m currently munching on a chocolate bar, that would be a lie. A little of what you fancy does you good.

I mentioned last night about a massive quarry across the way, so I take a walk to see. Tarmac Swinden Quarry is in action from 6am to 5pm every week day and then each Saturday morning as well. It’s barely visible from the road with most of it sunk deep into the ground, although the actual depth I’ve not been able to find. I’m soon heading north with fields, glorious fields, as far as the eye can see.

Back up the youth club I trundle again in an attempt to sell more furniture to boost our funds. As per yesterday, I end up sat around waiting for a time waster. It’s a shame that people feel the need to do this and whilst it may seem funny to them, it actually reflects more on them as a person. I wouldn’t normally feel like this. I realise there could be a zillion reasons for not turning up but to not reply to messages either does seem extremely odd. I’ve heard that people do this for fun, send you on a wild goose chase. That’s sad that they don’t have anything productive to fill their lives, especially when the money is for charity, and for children. It makes you wary about selling anything else and wanting to just dispose of it and that’s a real shame as we’ve had some good items. I slowly get wary of people too as a result.

At home and I’m into study and running class. It’s a bit of a ‘repeat each day’ kind of week this week as I’m sure you can tell but it’s a case of needs must, however, a few conversations with other small business owners has sparked some ideas in my mind and the development of my own looks exciting. In class today I’m working with a child who has had some friendship issues at school so we work through those and soon life is good again. An evening walk helps clock up the miles but it’s not enough so that’s right, it’s back to the faithful cooker top to walk on the spot for an hour.

I’ve passed through the village of Threshfield, laying claim to a population of less than 1000, the most improved secondary school in north Yorkshire, and another quarry. This time somebody has taken a google picture of it. It’s not as exciting as I thought a quarry probably was. I’ve only ever seen them in things like high speed chases on the TV. It’s the glitz and glamour clearly. Proof that what you see isn’t always what you get. I continue to follow the River Wharfe, which primarily is a county boundary between West and North Yorkshire.

The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Grass Wood is on my right and is ‘one of the largest broadleaved woodlands in the Dales’ ( and if you are lucky you might see a tawny owl, pied flycather, or a redstart. The area is primarily ash tree, and at this time of year, you may spot the bluebells beginning to peak through.

As I reach Conistone and Kilnsey, I spot a place called Kilnsey Park. I’m immediately drawn in by the fact their website says it’s ‘Where People Connect with Nature’. Sounds like my kind of place. For those who enjoy the great outdoors, this looks like an ideal place to visit. Activities, farm animals, local food, walks, pony trekking. You name it, it seems to have it. Behind it sits the impressive Kilnsey crag, made up of limestone with a witchy tale to tell, and directly opposite, rising on the other side, Conistone Dib and Pie, two landmarks with walking routes through them. The Dib is something of a gorge you walk through it seems whereas the Pie is a piece of rock on top of the hill with the appearance of a pie. There are many rocky outcrops around here.

Skirfare Barn is further up here on the right and it’s a bunkhouse. Quite a good looking one actually. Often you can find bunkhouses aren’t well kept. They are meant for quick stopovers usually, but this one actually has images of the inside and it looks really well looked after. It’s a shame I’m not stopping the night but I’ve a way to go yet before the next stopover. I cross the River Skirfare and follow it for a couple of miles until I reach the village of Kettlewell, small by comparison to many we’ve passed through. It has a population of around 350. It used to have a smelting mill, which was a water-based mill used for smelting (extracting a base metal from the ore) and the remnants of it can still be seen.

For a small village a lot has happened. At one point it was nearly completely destroyed by floods, and in 2014 the Tour de France passed through. The area was well known for mining as one point too. It’s in Kettlewell that I stop for the night. I’ve chosen well. It’s another campsite. Wharfeside. It’s fairly basic, although has a toilet and showers, but it’s classed as a quiet site, which means adults only. Normally you have to book for a week at a time, but through their kindness, I’m allowed a one night stay. You don’t ask if you don’t get.

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