So, with a location chosen, kit prepared and routes planned in the week leading up to the bank holiday there was only one thing left to do,keep an eye on the forecast. Pretty handy thing having a smart phone where you can instantly check the weather forecast by a variety of apps and websites. Pretty annoying thing when you check every 10mins in the hope that the grey cloud illustration attached to Friday’s forecast has not yet turned into a sun.
Not to mention you have to wait another 24hrs to see what is happening on Saturday due to the limiting 5 day forecast! (Met office – please sort this out, we know you all have a crystal weather ball and can see into the future way more than 5 days ahead!).
that grey cloud illustration had ceased to bugger off and make way for the
yellow thing, or at least the yellow thing half hiding behind a white fluffy
cloud. I started to build up a sudden fear that this memory of paradise from
last year’s Bank Holiday was actually a figment of my imagination, a selective
memory if you will, similar to all those memories of the times when I was
growing up and was forever outside, in the paddling pool, on the beach, with a sun-kissed tan.
It was always sunny in the summer in the 1980s….wasn’t it?
And so, as Friday approached and the grey cloud illustration had turned a shade darker with a 80% chance of rain, it seemed inevitable that this was not going to be the hazy summer’s days that I had hoped for. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fair-weather walker and will get out on the hills come rain, shine or snow, but it just seems that the majority of times I have been out this year it has been tipping it down with all claggy peaks and hours spent in a cloud. I just wanted a little break, a taste of the (hopefully) beautiful summer to come (let us not even approach the subject of last summer) and a chance to get my shorts on!
In the end I just had to do what all us Brits do when coming to terms with the fact that the weather is pants, think positive or simply just grin and bear it. With that, I stuffed every waterproof article of clothing into the bag and headed over to the chosen location: the Yorkshire Dales.
new and only campsite in the village, which in its humble beginning is a small field with a portaloo within stumbling distance from the pubs. Basic, but ideal for somewhere inexpensive to lay my head for the night. Whilst waiting for a my friend to arrive I thought I would take advantage of what was now a sunny afternoon (Say What?!) and headed up on to Hawkswick Moor from the bridge in Kettlewell. It’s not long up but you are presented with a lovely view down the valley and the craggy rock are interesting to look at and explore. For about 40mins I sat on the tops looking over the village and across to the hills behind, before running down to meet my friend where we put the tent up, had a
can in the sunshine (take that Met Office) before we made our way to said pubs for the rest of the evening.
take the next day, taking in Trollers Gill and surrounding area. This walk wasn’t at all about hitting peaks but more so about experiencing the rest of what the Dales has to offer; the enchanting wooded areas, moorland, babbling brook crossings and flowers blasted meadows with a pace that is set for exploring. I imagined waking up, sticking head out of the tent only to be
blinded by the glorious morning sun…’see, I knew it would be sunny like last year ’I thought sleepily to myself as sleep began to take over whilst thinking of shorts.
I was woken at 5.45 by a cockerel crowing but more worryingly by
the pitter-patter of rain on the canvas. No, I thought, surely not. I awoke again (round two of cockerel) and it was still there, the rain.
The third time, was actually reveille so I got out of my sleeping bag, threw on some layers and unzipped the tent…..oh dear god, what is this??
‘Oh well’, I though, let’s make the most of it, it’s only a bit
of light rain.’
With a farewell to my friend and a change of route, I set off to walk from Arncliffe to Malham Tarn, parking in the village before taking the well-trodden and marked path that leads to the Malham Estate. It was raining a little more heavily as I got my kit sorted and put my waterproofs on and set off through the drizzle and greyness.
entailed and throwing in some historical reference and mythological stories of the area. I may even tell hilarious and incredible experiences with the local wild life too, but to be honest it started off as a long walk of continuous batterings by the wind and rain pelting me as if tiny pygmies were hiding in the grass throwing needle like spears at my face. Visibility was rubbish so most of the views were minimal, the blustery wind was coming straight at me so slowing my pace as I fought against it, my hood was fixed so snuggly to protect my face that only my eyes were showing, of which were constantly squinted to prevent rain blindness (technical term? I think not.). It would seem the wildlife had the sensible idea of staying in the warmth and dryness of their homes, as did the people, for nothing was seen except a couple of DofE kids in the distance, highlighted only by their flailing orange survival sacks being used as a water shield!
It was grim, I didn’t have anyone to talk to to break up the monotony (though even if I had we wouldn’t have been able to hear each other due to the howling wind) nor did I have my headphones to listen to music which I sometimes do in these conditions. Therefore, it was just the elements and me.
I could have turned back and headed to the warm dry pub, but I didn’t, I kept on going.
Then it suddenly hit me, the beauty, the actual reality of the situation, the direct experience of such walks like this. Yes, it is well known that by experiencing rough, unpleasant times, it helps you appreciate the good pleasant times or that by cracking on and not quitting, when it is easier to do the latter, can provide a real sense of achievement, but I feel it goes deeper than that. Again, it’s as if you awaken some primal connection. That, by not overly experiencing the usual multitude of senses; sights, sounds, smells that I
would normally as they were made limited, leads to just focusing on the moment, on the basic aspects of the experience.
It helped me be in the moment, something that is rare to experience in a world where we tend to focus on the future, or look back to the past. For that, as I took off all the waterproofs, giving them a shake before I threw them into the car, I thought to myself ‘I’m actually glad that the sun had stayed away for the day’ followed swiftly by remembering a film quote of 'It can't rain all the time', just as the rain ceased and the sun poked out from behind the cloud.