SPAINING This has been the week for spaining (another dialect word) - separating the lambs from their mothers. I guess the mothers are pleased to see the back of their boisterous teenagers but that doesn't stop them making a lot of noise when they are separated! Our Swaledale sheep are taken away by their owner for spaining and then taken back on to "the tops" where they spend most of their lives. They come here again in the Winter, when the weather on The Buttertubs is too severe.
WHARFEDALE We have been, as usual, to Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival. An old lead mining village in the heart of Wharfedale, Kettlewell has staged this festival for some years now and it really draws the crowds. For me the journey there is as exciting as the scarecrows themselves because, although only twenty miles away, the scenery is marvellous.
We drove through Lower Wensleydale between fields of sheep and cattle, with Penhill on our left - at1727feet it is our landmark round here and serves as a beacon site for special events as it has done through the ages. Then we turn South into Bishopdale - a richly agricultural dale with water meadows on the right (full of sheep and cattle) and steeply rising fields on the left.
Suddenly the road narrows and begins to climb - here the roadsides are thick with Giant Bellflower and I look forward to seeing them every year. Then we are at the top of Kidstones Pass (1392feet). We need to stop here to catch our breath before the descent so we have time to look at the old Roman road leading off over the hills.
Then we go down - between two waterfalls - through the tiny village of Cray and into Buckden. As we drive down, Langstrothdale comes in from the East, bringing with it the young River Wharfe, and the whole of Wharfedale opens up in front of us The tiny village of Hubberholme with its beautiful church nestles in a valley to the right (more of that another time). In no time at all we are in Kettlewell.
The scarecrows have had a real soaking this year, but it doesn't deter the villagers and it doesn't stop the crowds. Visitors fill the narrow roads. Scarecrows sit in trees, hang from windows, climb ladders, paint houses.. There is the usual bridal group outside the church. Everywhere is bustling. The pub is doing a barbecue, the shop is selling mini scarecrows, the Post Office is selling ice cream, the Village Hall is doing teas. We walk round in the warm, damp weather and look for our favourite. It is the cricket match. I photograph it from the road above the cricket field (the nearest you can get to it). From that distance it is easy to think it is a real match until you realise nobody is moving! What do you think?