We all have special places. They’re worth going back to now and again I think. As teenagers we’d go walking, hosteling and drinking in the Yorkshire Dales. Over Pen-y-Gent on the February snow, one party member slides down a slippery slope, we followed the smoke outlets of Blea Moor tunnel, then walked over Ribblehead Viaduct. A few pints of Theakstons, inedible food cooked by me, chucking up at Malham hostel. Whernside in dense fog, avoiding the YHA morning duties, heavy backpacks.

This weekend back there with Tim and Tom. We said it was a bit like Foggy, Compo and Clegg in ‘Last of the summer wine’. The 2003 Ford Ranger is the perfect vehicle, carries the gear and drives well over the snow-covered roads. The AA man gives us the magic spray to get her going. Enforced wait gives us chance to explore Buckden; farm track – let’s go up there – Tim can’t resist the challenge and shoves the manual wheelchair along it. Dinner on Friday was Shirley’s lasagne, and breakfast was porridge, sausages and toast. Between, some Theskstons XB at The Buck. Trust equals being pushed on the steep, icy path, buy then who wouldn’t trust these two? Self-catering with full disabled facilities, attention to detail, in extremis. Visitor’s manual advises not to have a fire in the house because the nearest fire station (Hawes) is a good 45 minutes away. Wise words. Undressing and dressing; I need help, that’s how it is just now. We get on with it; low single digit temps mean it takes a while. 

Snowy landscape, bright blue sky, endless drystone walls, sheep, can it be this beautiful? Bring the suicide bombers here, give them time to reflect. Tim suggests the interesting roads, the Ranger in Tom’s hands is the best. Ribblehead comes into view. The bogs, the Moor, the stories of the navvies, the vision. In Sebastian’s room in Sydney I had a photo of the scene. I loved the beaches, the warmth and the Aussies, but the photo was always there. The power of home. Where’s yours?

Yorkshire Pudding, onion gravy, roast beef at Ye Olde Naked Man Cafe in Settle, then a walk/ride around the town. More driving; Tim gets the back seat again. Then it’s the quiz, oh no not the older folks in The Buck with the lady reading the questions. Scampi and chips, XB, and ‘what was the date of the first train journey from……’. Give me strength; the Love & Marriage questions were the funniest; as were the answers. Global warming; is it true? Always a good debate with the lads from Nunthorpe; always was. Tea and toast. Wheelchair, undressing. So it goes on.

Malham. If you don’t know where it is, take a look on Google Maps. Malham Cove, Gordale Scar, Limestone pavements, Malham Tarn. Geography Field Trip capital of Yorkshire. Spiritual home for all our hiking trips. Hangovers, The Buck Inn, OS 1:25000 map, will we get served (no problem)? Now the Tramper allows us all to get out on foot and wheels. Pags comes; last seen in 1985; great catching up with him and so many names and stories from schooldays. ‘Does it have a heated seat?’ ‘Your arse’ll warm it up’, says the man from The National Trust. Great vehicle, the Tarn glistening in the sun, windy and a snow flurry, minor frostbite, good over the grass and around the icy puddles. People striding past with walking poles. Adapt. Stunning landscape. Pilgrimage to The Buck Inn. Part of me felt I should apologise to the landlord for saying (in 1983) ‘sausages with an I, you spell it with an a. Back down the A65/A59 to York.

How great to have friends to suggest and arrange a time like this; who do things none of thought we would need to do; who talk of the next trip, who give you a good ribbing. Thank you Tom and Tim. Next time with Jane, Valentina and Sebastian.


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Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

One thought on “Dales”

  1. Hi Andrew, what great mates you have and so good to see you enjoying the stunning countryside, whether on 2 legs or four wheels. Thanks for sharing this adventure with us. Christine and Chris

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