Towards the end of May when trees have come into full leaf, when the dawn chorus has risen to a rich ear-splitting crescendo, where every meadow, pasture and roadside verge puts on a multi-coloured display of wild flowers, then nowhere on earth is more beautiful than the Yorkshire Dales. It is a real privilege to be able to run through such a wild landscape. Last Sunday we took full advantage of all that this sensuous environment has to offer.
We set off up Hebden Ghyll with its babbling beck, primrose banks and flowering wild strawberries, over the old Miner's Bridge and past Loss Gill Side where a dozen or so black, and very lively, Aberdeen Angus stirks decided it would be great fun to race us for a couple of hundred yards or so. Of course, they won and stood there looking very pleased with themselves as we plodded on past old lead mine workings towards the gaunt hill top hamlet of Yarnbury.
The walled lane towards Bare House provided some welcome relief from a keen wind that became colder and stronger as we rose higher. Otherwise the sun shone from an azure sky with bright fluffy clouds. From the top of the lane a breath-taking view opens up to reveal the whole of Upper Wharfedale with Buckden Pike and Old Cote Moor dominating the north west horizon. All this is rich, well drained limestone country with walled fields, old barns and turfy paths that are a joy to run.
More black cattle were determined to bar our way, but we shooed them off, crossed the well trodden Dales Way and continued by old Iron Age settlements and field systems into the jaws of Conistone Dib. The wide upland pasture narrowed and funnelled us into a tight, rocky gorge with steep-sided walls made even more dark and gloomy by overhanging trees.
Eventually we emerged into bright sunlight to run through the charming little village of Conistone before taking a rising track with fine retrospective views of Kilnsey Crag, a monolithic landmark with an overhanging roof where rock athletes can test their superhuman skills over 150 different routes.
|Looking back to Kilnsey Crag|