I do tend to go on about Probus walks in these pieces – but I guess that they’re an important part of the club’s activities for me and for many of our members.
The latest Probus walk started from Swinsty car park and was a 5 mile mixture of
• the familiar (around the reservoir),
• the ‘seen it before’ – but not sure exactly where or when (along the river Washburn below Swinsty dam and on the fringes of Timble village), and
• the new (how do you get across Timble Gill?).
The distinguishing features of this walk were:
- The fabulous weather – clear, crisp, warm in parts (much better than a curate’s egg)
- The glorious countryside and the great panoramas
- The gill crossing – where until the 2007 flooding there was a footbridge, and now there is a tricky crossing on foot using random mossy stones in the Gill and a bit of paddling, and
- The stiles
I’ve never seen such a variety of stiles as means of crossing from one field to another. There were:
- Staggered stone steps, some several metres high, imbedded (not always securely) in stone walls
- Wooden steps of varying heights, often with accompanying (and temptingly large) dog access holes
- Deteriorated wooden steps with the last step rather high above ground level, apart from a single large wobbly stone
- Wooden fences, clearly intended for straddling, but with the ground dropping away sharply on the far side and the only assistance available being the end of a 2 by 2 inch stake driven into the ground.
Such diversity, offering a range of challenges for our group, made me wonder how we managed before Amazon and DIY stores were invented!
Individual farmers and local hired labour responded to each situation requiring a stile with individual, sometimes quirky, solutions. None of your ‘one size fits all’ – more ‘everyone is different’.
The Ramblers Association, and local farmers, do their best in maintaining this agricultural heritage, but it must be a never-ending ‘Forth Road Bridge’ task – like my personal To Do list!
We very rarely have a disappointing walk, and then it’s usually due to weather. This walk was voted ‘one of the best ever’ by members taking part.– and it was followed by a fine boisterous meal at the Station Hotel in Birstwith.
It is a Happy New Year!