Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Fancy a drive?
























































Then hop in the car and we'll be off through Swaledale on a lovely sunny Autumn afternoon, when the sky is deepest blue and pretty white clouds are floating about aimlessly. Once the farmer sets the car in motion he is not too keen to keep stopping for photography, so any photos we take will have to be taken through the windscreen I'm afraid.
We'll set off across Bellerby Moor - almost impossible to photograph without very expensive equipment as the view is huge. Alf Wight (the real James Herriot of "All Creatures Great and Small") thought this view was the best in the Dales. I've tried to give you a taster with my photograph from the road (it is army land and you cannot venture on to it without permission). Between the dying heather flowers (the brown in the foreground) and the village of Marske on the green hills in the middle ground lies the whole of the dale with the River Swale running through it. This is the grouse-shooting season, so that brown of the dying flowers is a perfect hiding place for the red grouse, which are a similar colour. We see one or two pecking along the road edge (once the shooting starts they quickly learn not to rise up from the ground) their plumage shining in the sunlight. Up here you feel on top of the world.
We drive through the little town of Reeth, so full of walkers' cars that it is impossible to take a photograph (shall return there one day in Winter so that you can see it). The first village we come to is Healaugh. These little villages were mostly built for the lead mining industry in the days when there was no motor traffic - hence the very narrow roads. The cottages are so very close together and there are now no garages, so that cars are left on the road - it is the eternal problem of The Dales.
Shortly after driving through the village the River Swale meanders along the side of the road. You can see it shining through the trees in the photograph. It is a benign river today but it can rise twenty feet in an hour in heavy rain and this section of the road floods easily and regularly.
We drive on through Low Row and into Gunnerside (named after a Viking chief), cross the Swale (see how low it is) and drive high up along the edge. Here the fields with their stone walls and stone barns are looking particularly green and fertile today in contrast to the blue sky.
At High Oxnop we turn off to go through one of the passes through the Pennines into Wensleydale. Let's stop the car, park it and get out for a walk - there is a sharpness in the air but the sun is still shining. Be careful where you tread, this is high marshy ground and the going is very wet and slippery. Wherever you look streams drain off the moor, carrying the water down to the valley floor and the river.
The Swaledale sheep are still out here on the tops. Soon they will be herded down into the valley to meet the Tup and then spend their winter on lower, more winter-friendly ground. Turn and look back at the view into the dale - it is so beautiful.
Fungi are shining wetly in the sunlight - tiny orange toadstools, bright orange fingers. By the side of the road as we drive on there is a sharp scar and a trail of scree down the hillside. We speculate on the stone. The Dales are famous for their limestone escarpments, but this stone looks too dark. Any geologists out there who would like to guess what the stone is?
We reach the top and suddenly there is Wensleydale stretched out in front of us - another wonderful panorama. We'll go there tomorrow. Be waiting on the side of the road for a lift!
Photographs - left to right on each line, from the bottom:
Bellerby Moor. Healaugh.
River Swale. Gunnerside.
Swale Bridge. Fields in the Dale.
Moorland stream. Swaledale sheep.
View down the Dale. Fungi fingers.

25 comments:

Arija said...

It is ao nice to go on a drive with you and thank goodness we get to see it from the front seat. Beautiful scenery, absolutely lovely country side.

Titus said...

Lovely journey Weaver. My favourite the sheep with shadow on the road.
This has been a very good Autumn so far!

Totalfeckineejit said...

I don't know what the mystery stone is Weaver, but the rive itself was pure gold! You live in an area of natural beauty with that rugged edge to it which makes it so real.Your trips ,wheteher on foot or by car are always a pleasnt experience.Mrs EEjit loves to join me on them too.I'm glad you or the farmer were drivng this morning, my head is still banging after the ball.Willow put on a fantastic night.I'm so sorry to have missed you,I was looking forward to having our dance and the shouting 'You've been Tango'd'
(ask Dominic!)As for me thank goodness I had me wellos ,on the way home in The Maseratti (Jimmy the Butler was drivng) I had to wee into one and hurl into the other, but at least it saved the connolly leather! Pip, pip!

Amanda Sheridan said...

I've been following your blog for a while now on Google Reader and just want to say how much I enjoy reading what you have to say and looking at your lovely photos. It's more than 20 years since I last went to the Dales but you post today brings it all back.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Apologies for missing letters and spelling mistakes,Everybody knows Maserati only has one T and a cappuccino.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Lovely drive. That will have blown away the cobwebs after the Manor Ball. Hope your feet aren't playing up too much today!

Phoenix said...

Oh! how i'd love to go on this ride..

Teresa said...

Gosh, that was enjoyable! You're an excellent tour guide, Weaver!

Golden West said...

The green rolling hills and water are so beautiful, Weaver, your countryside is just lovely.

alison said...

It looks lovely - Hmmmm - makes me feel a bit homesick!

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for the wonderful ride! It makes me long for England. My sister, brother-in-law and myself are planning to go next year to Cornwall again.

Susan said...

Thanks for taking us along for the drive. Beautiful!!!

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Dear Weaver of Grass, I really enjoyed the photos, in particular the one with the meditative sheep.
And I enjoyed also the poems in your posts.

Can you imagine the weather here in Venice and the countryside?
Temperatures: three days ago it was 18 C to 26 C, tomorrow it's foreseen 2 C to 12 C.
I think I had foreseen this one week or more ago commenting on a post of yours.
Now we have got a dry, penetrating north-easterly wind.
I feel a Tiresias of weather changes.

maggi said...

Thanks for the journey in this beautiful part of the country.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I'll be waiting. Going on drives with you is like entering the landscapes described in the books of my youth. It all feels quite other worldy, romantic, and yet familiar. How lucky you are to live with such beauty and history!

Heather said...

Bellerby Moor looks so beautiful - the sheep in the middle of the road reminds me of those in the Forest of Dean, not far from where I live. They lie in the road at times and I am always amazed that more are not killed by motorists. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive today and look forward to the next one.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Ooh, what a lovely drive! The countryside is so beautiful, I feel as if I've been holiday!

Cloudia said...

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I can smell the fresh air. Thanks for the most lovely drive.

Pam said...

"Fancy a drive?" Yes please! Anything to bring back memories of fun times driving around your country. Enlarged them all to lose myself in the greenery and images. Wonderful!

ChrisJ said...

Was the heather beautiful this year? I miss it all so. Not that I am unhappy. Just wish I could be in two places at once. I love your drives and walks.

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Nice to have shared a little of the journey with you!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you all enjoyed the drive. We forgive you for your rotten spelling TFE - obviously you are still recovering from the ball. I must say I feel quite warm today after reading about the temperature in Venice in Tomasso's comment. Come on a drive round the Dales with me anytime - or pop in for a cup of tea. Thanks for the comments.

steven said...

hello weaver - i came late for the drive. life piled up awfully quickly and some very difficult pieces are unfolding for my family but i made it here for the drive!! this country is close to my heart - literally. my family hails from yorkshire and lancashire. durham also but we don't speak too loudly about that lot!!! when i see this it's like home for me. thankyou. steven

Bovey Belle said...

Lovely photos. I'll show these to my husband later - it will make his Yorkshire blood call to him again . . .