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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

All creatures great and small...

Yesterday: Where do I start?

Generally, as the day goes on, snippets of conversation or odd encounters, people we meet and sights we see, will spark a creative neuron and I'm off, in my head, writing the blog as I walk. Trouble is, by the time I reach 'civilisation' (and an internet connection), and done all the usual stuff like showering, drinking tea, finding somewhere for dinner, navigating cave systems... it's late at night and all those gems have long since flown the brain!

Things like our Doctor Dolittle moment. There are many paths between Muker and Reeth. You can opt to climb higher, towards the ridge, the mining track and stupendous views across Swaledale. Or you can choose any number of rambles alongside the river, left bank or right, hugging the water, or passing through fields. Or there's always the road, which meanders along the valley, never too far from the river. We chose the lower route, variously ambling alongside the water's edge, through swathes of wild garlic peppered with bluebells, dodging tree roots and fallen branches, on and on across lush green pastures. Lots of sheep. Lots of lambs (ahhhhh!) and a fair few cows. And usually they run away when they see you coming. But not today.

At this low level, you pass through field after field, linked by the slenderest of gaps through dry stone walls, (our guide book has it that they're built for whippet-thin farmers, although we didn't see many of those), each with a tiny spring-loaded gate which positively fights back as you try to pull it open. Try pulling against the prevailing wind and you've lost the battle before it's begun.

Anyway, as we approached one particular gateway, it became clear the path was closely guarded. By several cows. And they were all looking our way. Er, no, actually, they were MOVING our way. Cue a rather rapid dredging up from somewhere deep in memory of my own advice on reaching cows in a field ('Call out mountain rescue?', second edition, only £9.99 from lol!!)

1: Let dog off lead - he'll sort himself out and run faster than either you or the cows if being chased! (That one's easy. No dog.)
2: Identify the nearest exit. (Yep! I've identified it. It's the one immediately behind the cows. Those cows that are closing in on us.)
3: Don't panic! (Shiiiiiiiit!)
4: CLAP YOUR HANDS! (Not panicking, honest!)

Well, d'you know? It worked. Clapped a couple of times, the cows parted, leaving the footpath clear towards the gate, which we headed for RATHER quickly. Just as well because they were pretty bright those cows, realising pretty damn soon that they were, in fact, bigger than us. And back in they came, just as the second of Gail's little legs squoze through the gap. And there they stayed for quite some time (our bovine friends that is, not Gail's little legs!) huddled together on the other side of the gate - and if Sally is reading this, we might even get a pic added. Just here!

And while we're on 'cows', there was this morning's gem from Gail, as we discussed, walking through yet another field, this time with lots of cows, and their babies, whether some of these cows might actually be bulls. 'Mmmm,' she says. 'Some of 'em have udders, and udders don't.'

Sorry. You had to be there really. It was funny at the time.

Then there was the Tourist Information Office incident. In we popped at Reeth, just to check where our accommodation was. 'Straight down the hill, out of the village, first house on the right. So we walked down the hill, left the village, in fact walked on through Fremington and out the other side. No sign of of our B&B. Until we reached the last house on the left. We figure she must drive into work that way.

Anyway, tea and cake now well and truly demolished at Richmond, so just nipping up to our B&B to check in. Part two of yesterday coming soon, to a computer near you...


  1. COWS!!!!!!! Now what would your mother have done????? Bx

  2. Ah yes... Church Bay, Anglesey, more years ago than I care to remember... herd of cows invade the beach, where one's mother has laid out towels, tartan blankets, picnic baskets, wind breaks, variety of beach toys... all the usual detritus of seaside holidays in those far off days... You have never seen anyone pack her things and run quite so quickly!! Poor Mum never lived it down!