From our farm to the ancient city of Ripon is barely twenty five miles, but the journey passes through lovely scenery and through some interesting places, which I would like to share with you now and then.Today Tess and I went to the nearest place of interest for our afternoon walk. Ulshaw is a tiny settlement, just a couple of houses, a splendid RC church and a seventeenth century bridge. I have posted a picture of this bridge before; here it is again with the very pretty church of S Simon and S Jude in the background.The River Ure rises up at the top end of Wensleydale (used to be called Uredale or Yoredale). By the time it reaches Ulshaw bridge it is quite a wide river and as it drains all of the uplands of Wensleydale, it is subject to flooding and can easily rise twenty feet in an hour if there is heavy rainfall up the dale.Within a stone's throw of where I stood to take the picture of Ulshaw Bridge flows the River Cover. It rises at Cover head at the top end of Coverdale and flows down through some very hilly country to Cover bridge and it is here that the two rivers converge.Tess and I set off along the bank of the Cover. Evidence of flooding is everywhere although the river today is quite benign, if flowing quickly. Great swathes of washed stone lie in the middle of the river Cover, brought downstream from the uplands and now lying in such heaps that they are changing the course of the river - for now. Fallen trees litter the banks where they have been washed up as the water receded.This is Tess's first visit and she is ecstatic. In another six weeks or so the grassy bank will be covered with violets, primroses, wood anemones, cowslips - this is a marvellous place for wild flowers - we even see the odd purple orchid - but today, with Spring still a little way off there are just the red-tinged alder bushes and - joy of joys - the hedgerow is lit all the way along with hazel catkins. Across the river, on the far side, a young willow tree with its feet in the water shines out like an orange beacon.Where the two rivers converge there is a spit of land grazed by sheep belonging to the Coverbridge farmer, Tony. He often has to move them away when there is floodwater coming, but today they graze happily, heavily pregnant and soon to lamb.At the far end of the river walk lies Jervaulx Abbey, now a ruin, but today we are not going that far, so we just walk as far as what used to be the abbey's fishponds but are now the home of swans, coots, moorhens and a few ducks.This land all belongs to the Danby Estate and the Scrope family. The first Lord Scrope fought at the Battle of Crecy. Danby Hall, with its magnificent view of the river, is still lived in by members of the Scrope family today.In the Summer there will be sandmartins. The holes in the bank are there, waiting for their arrival. We saw two goosanders and a swan, we met two spaniels, two retrievers and a Jack Russell terrier (and their owners of course!) but other than that we had the bank to ourselves. The peace and tranquility were profound. We came back happy - me feeling refreshed and renewed - Tess feeling ready to set off rabbitting with the farmer. Bliss.
Photos from the top:
Orange willow on Ure bank.
Ulshaw bridge and church.
Stones washed down by the river Cover.
Hazel catkins in the hedge.
Where the Ure and the Cover meet.