Monthly Archives: April 2018

Linton Falls and Gambols

Another delightful five mile walk in upper Wharfedale – cunningly different from the similar walk we took in November (see an earlier Musing), being shorter (hurrah!), not including Burnsall, and having very different weather.

One of the challenges of walking some miles away from Harrogate is that you never know what the weather will be like when you get there! It’s always a bit of a gamble! The forecast was suggesting scattered showers, and the skies were alarmingly grey on our journey to Linton – but it stayed fine throughout the walk.

For our group of ten Probus walkers, gloves were definitely optional, and trudging up quite a few hills helped us maintain a good temperature. The Falls themselves are always worth a linger, being attractive in most weathers. One of us could recall having seen, on an earlier occasion, trout jumping the falls as they made their way upstream.

A pleasant walk along the riverside, with a brief coffee break next to the pedestrian ‘suspension’ bridge across the river. The engineers and sailors among us started to distinguish between pitching, rolling and yawing in attempting to explain the various cables controlling the movement of the bridge as we crossed. I think there needs to be a bit more focus on controlling the yawing! (but no such need to control the jawing!)

Comparisons were inevitably made with the Millenium ‘wobbly bridge’ in London wrt cost and beauty!

We crossed many fields, full of gambolling lambs, and walked along quite narrow country lanes bordered by high stone walls.  The sun was now fully out – it was even rather warm – and the views of the countryside were magnificent.

Among the many very pleasant conversations we had was a bit of a debate (inconclusive) about how far the distant hills were. Soon enough we commenced our downward stroll towards Linton and the Fountaine Inn for an excellent lunch.

This walk is definitely a contender for ‘best walk of the year’, helped just a tad by the lovely weather.

Maybe summer is here at last…?


A Walk on the Wild Side!

Just returned from a week in The Canaries, and having become used to the heat and the all-inclusive food and drink regime at the hotel, I thought the day after the flight home would be an opportunity to join in a Probus walk and to start eroding the excess weight (not the luggage, unfortunately!).

It was one of my favourite extended walks in upper wharfedale, starting from Kettlewell
With a prediction of light rain later we set off through the village en-route for Hag Dyke. The higher we got up the side of the valley, the stronger the wind, and subsequently the rain, arriving earlier than expected. This was a harsh test of legs, and even more drastically of my nose – which had been scorched in last week’s sun and was now frozen in wind driven hail!
Hag Dyke, not an attractive term, means an enclosed area of land at the edge of a mountain. The stone buildings are now an attractive youth hostel, but they date back to the 1680s when the lead mines opened.
Reaching the hostel, some 1525 feet above sea level – and it felt like it- we could see patches of snow above the hostel, on the slopes of Great Whernside. Had the weather been better we might proceeded further, but instead, guided by Bill our walk leader, we descended back towards the village by the ‘steep route’, as opposed to our outward leg which was apparently the less steep route. Really?
Buffeted, on or off, all the way down the steep valley sides until we reached the shelter of Kettlewell. At this point I received an unexpected ‘Facetime’ video call on my phone from my sister in Western Australia, proving that distance is no bar to communication these days – even in the Yorkshire Dales, where one might have thought that a mobile phone signal would be something miraculous!
The Racehorse Hotel provided us all with the obligatory steak and ale suet pie, and all was well with the world.
In spite of the challenging weather, I prefer Yorkshire to Fuerteventura (ironically meaning ‘strong winds’), except for maybe one week a year when it is nice to get an early dose of more predictable sunshine. Oh, and the winds are a darn sight warmer!

Geordie Genius


This week we were treated to a blockbuster of a talk about the life of Lord William Armstrong. I confess I have only recently become aware of this man, born in Newcastle in 1810, who became a key figure in the creation of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ for an expanding Great Britain. He was active in so many areas – science (especially electricity), inventions and engineering (especially bridges, reservoirs, ships and armaments). He and his wife also created a marvellous home, Cragside, in Northumberland, which with its landscaped gardens and surrounding estate is now owned and managed by The National Trust.

I was struck by how Armstrong was a ‘networker’ before the term was invented – sharing conversations and collaborating with his peers in society who included Brunel, Faraday, Stephenson and many others. His breadth of vision and his capacity for work across so many different areas were truly remarkable.

What an era that must have been! Our media is full of how our current age is a time of unprecedented change and opportunity (and risk), but Victorian times created so many innovations (engineering hardware rather than today’s virtual software) that powered our country (and our region) into a World leadership role.

Giants like Armstrong, who engineered those changes, became immensely wealthy, established and revered figures, who seemed to think about the less well off (Armstrong built and gave to the people of Newcastle lots of its present day infrastructure), and philanthropy was an important part of his legacy. Cragside itself remains a treasure for our nation to enjoy.

Our current crop of billionaires seem to be a less attractive lot than their Victorian peers, though some do endow vast funds to help improve our world. We seem less positive about the Amazons, Googles and Facebooks of today, and many major companies are owned by anonymous pension funds, whom we rely on but don’t regard or identify with.

Maybe it’s the passage of time that enables us to see the true contributions of these colossuses(i). Elon Musk (of Tesla and Spacex fame) may be seen in a hundred years’ time as the founder of a new world on Mars – quite a Columbus!