Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday 17th January

  What a wonderful day this turned into!  An appalling nights sleep left me feeling headachey and grumpy and tired.  Thank goodness I don't give in to the first obstacle of the day!  A short hike with good friends across the moors, specifically to take in Bridge 30 on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, put paid to such negativity.  For steam train enthusiasts, this bridge is in the process of being replaced. For non enthusiasts, just a grand excuse to get out!

Starting from Goathland and heading off through the closed station towards Beck Hole, we immediately came to a short but steep (for me) uphill track through snow, mud and water.  Soon realised my summer boots from Canada, although very comfortable, were maybe not going to be up to the job.  Nearly everyone else was sensibly wearing their wellies.  The group of 9 of us were soon well stretched out .... I take my sheepdog role very seriously - bringing up the rear and checking that the group are together!  What a day - blue sky and sun.  After a week of grey skies, this was beautiful.
Having gained a little height, we immediately headed downhill - through snow/ice which had me faltering and then to steep snow and ice covered steps.  My knees were not happy.  Thank goodness for poles and thoughtful, patient supportive friends.

Arriving at Darnholm we marvelled at the location of the picturesque ivy covered home next to the ford and stepping stones.  I tentatively asked whether the stepping stones were part of the plan, a little un-nerved by the fast flowing river washing over the stones.  Some joking and teasing had me smiling with relief.  Meanwhile the younger element of the group were busy chucking large chunks of frozen snow into the river to watch the man made icebergs wedge up against the stepping stones.  Oh, to be so young and uninhibited!

Soon we were trudging uphill again and I wished I had stripped (1 layer anyway) before starting off.  Not too far, but definitely steep and a good aerobic exercise!  I could feel my temples pounding as my heart raced and I was once again reminded of my lack of fitness.  Tried to disguise my feelings of nausea, but unsuccessfully.  Nevermind, we were now well on towards the escarpment, but I couldn't resist a quick hello and nuzzle with a calm endearing pony waiting patiently at the fence surrounding his field.  I got the impression it was feeding time, as on the other side of the farm, a small flock of sheep came running towards us baa-ing loudly to announce their interest in us.  Not long before we were above the railway line and could see the bridge under scrutiny ahead of us.  A perfect place to stop and fuel the tanks, helped down with a cup of tea.  Martin is a star at brewing tea in the out of doors and came prepared with stove, large pan, 6 mugs, choice of teas plus milk and sugar.  A slight misunderstanding nearly had me without a cuppa, but fortunately it was all put right without too much drama. Lesson: tea should never be joked about! Thanks Martin. It reminded me of the days Dave and I never went out without a brew kit and of the hoards of photos we have of us enjoying a brew with a view. Specifically a holiday in Mayrhofen, Austria comes to mind whereby the quality of each days hike was determined by the "brew view".

Next stop, the village of Beck Hole and a visit to the Birch Hall Inn for a lunchtime pint, or in the girls' case ...  a large pot of tea!  I was driving, so no alcohol for me. The timing was perfect - the one big table and bench, in the sun, unoccupied ..... and few people about.  A large snow mound in front of my place on the bench proved to be a perfect foot support.  It wasn't long before this tiny pub and narrow street became very busy with Sunday strollers or drivers and their dogs  We sat with smug expressions, I am sure, as we made the most of the early afternoon rays and lack of a breeze. Conversation, laughter, teasing .... the time flew by.  Once the winter sun dipped down behind the houses, the temperature dropped considerably and the female members of the group decided we should make a move. The menfolk meanwhile still had beer in their glasses so we thought we would get a head start.  The boys had long since disappeared with their railway enthusiast friends from the village and we guessed they had returned to Goathland.  Their energy? - I am so envious!

The route back to the carpark in Goathland had us sliding a little on the snow, on the gentle gradient of the path following the former railway line and alongside a fast flowing beck.  Passing a small holding we were treated to the clucking of hens and a rather funny rooster struggling with his "cock a doodle doo".  We laughed at the possible explanation of him having a frog in his throat!  Imagine - a rooster with a frog in his throat!!  Tee hee!!  It wasn't long before we were back at the cars and learning another lesson in patience as we waited for the menfolk to appear.  They bravely talked of their hardy woodland adventure, compared to our tame route back.  We think they stopped for another pint in the pub!

So that was the end of our day ... nearly!  A smaller group headed into Goathland - the setting for the popular tv series Heartbeat, for another pot of tea/coffee.  All too soon it was time to head home, and we nearly made it before dark.  The thin sliver of the new moon was a lovely sight in the clear sky on the journey. Happy.

Special thanks to .....
Martin, for being prepared for, and brewing, tea for 6 on the open moors.
Sarah, for pouring wonderful tea at the pub and her care and concern on steep up climb.
Dave, for much encouragement on the steep downward steps and for stealing my poles!
Neil, for much needed drinks at the pub.
Gail, for her entertaining tales of her scottish family.
Rob, for his croggie bicycle ride.
Wills, for his "5 pounds and 30 pence"
Josh, for remembering my name.
I should sleep well tonight! I pray that the help needed in Haiti, for the thousands of people continuing to suffer following the devastaing earthquake, will reach those most in need very soon and that a degree of comfort is achieved for these poor lost souls.  My heart goes out to the population there,


  1. Hi Clare. In my usual mode of checking e-mails almost never. So glad to see the link to your blog. Tom and I have been remembering birthday skiing trips -- with all that snow maybe you'll have one after all (though it looks as though it's melting). We miss you and will miss you even more on the last week-end of Jan. Good times, those. OK, only you could describe the scent of a mucked-out barn as, what was it, sweet and delicate? So many times when I was a farm kid on the business end of a shovel I thought, my what a sweet and delicate aroma... Thanks for the perspective!! And curling cancelled due to ice...we'll have to tell Kevin Martin that (our Canadian Olympic hopeful). As much as I enjoy curling and am a die-hard Kevin Martin rink fan, I do think it requires the Olympic athletic prowess of, say, knitting? You will be proud to know that Eddie the Eagle came to Winnipeg to do a leg of the Olympic torch run. Canada was excited!! He's still big news here. Hi and all the best to you from all my family. Beautiful photos. It sounds like a great crew to hike with and lots of fun. I'm understanding most of your broken English -- keep working on it. We're praying for the people of Haiti too. Unimaginable. Thanks for your honesty in your blog. Praying for strength, comfort in sad and lonely times and much joy. DB

  2. Hi Clare - Neil here in Edmonton. Sounds like you are doing well and getting out on the land! thanks for the link to your blog. As you know I am off to Nepal again this spring (and fall too) and looking forward to being in Asia again. Be well, Neil

  3. Hi Clare:
    How are you? I keep thinking about you and missing you. We've been going through a lot of anguish with my dad for the past few months so I haven't kept up with my emails. I don't know if you are still doing your blog. I don't really know how they work. I hope you read this and will let me know how to contact you otherwise. We are going to Cuba with the choir for a whole week next Sunday. I'm looking forward to it.
    If you would like to get something from the postman I would be happy to comply if you send me your address.
    Take care,
    Carol D
    your former neighbor(still in mourning)

  4. Hi Clare,
    I finally found your blog, thanks to Carol. Brilliant! Keep 'em coming! And if you ever get to Lincolnshire/Norfolk, take lots of pix because my grandpa's from there.
    Cathy and the kids are well -- the former exhausted, the latter exhausting. We sure do miss you, though -- it's like the cul-de-sac's missing a tooth.
    Also, if you want mail, we'll oblige if you send your address. Send it to if you don't want to advertise.
    All the best,
    MAACK (Michael, Annika, Alex, Cathy & Ken)