Cold, Wet Pateley Bridge


So… where did we leave off..?

After a couple of weeks with Wild Camping we spent the entire month of May at Riverside Campsite in Pateley Bridge. 

This was pre-booked several months prior as we wanted to ensure a good stretch of time at this favoured location. A monthly special rate of just £415 to include two bank holiday weekends was also too good to miss. 

Much as we are not overly keen on spending too much time on formal campsites this turned out to have the additional benefits of being a safe haven during the wettest, rainiest, yuckiest, muddiest May since records began…! 

We were delighted that we, by chance, got our favoured corner area, alongside the recreation ground and footpath and, as tradition dictates, cracked open a beer.

This will not be the usual lengthy mind-numbing blog as, in short, we spent a delightful month walking and cycling round this terrific location. Pateley Bridge is well worth a visit even without any family connections. A five minute walk from the campsite along the River Nidd brings you into the high street which has not changed in over 100 years. There are two butchers, a bakery and fishmonger in this one street plus the Oldest Sweet Shop in the world. Both butchers shops have the freshest, fullest display counters that I have seen in this country with enough meat and pies to feed the whole of Yorkshire (so God knows how they manage to shift it all each day). I know that it is fresh as the large butchers truck parks outside with whole pigs swinging from hooks out the back. And pies to die for. The fishmongers have daily fresh fish that we forgot existed- a far cry from the supermarket deli counter. There was real enjoyment in walking up into the high street in a morning to collect fresh fish or meat and a loaf of bread for the meals that day. Have never done this before and only really expected to do this kind of thing on the Continent so it was a delight. Mind you it was damn expensive. ! We quickly learned not to look at the price….. just make the transaction and leave..!

Apparently sausages come in these packages..!

And as for the sweet shop. Every sucker, chewer, gummy, slurpy, crunchy sweet you have ever had are there. Jars around the walls with sights from the past and they can be bought by the 1/4 lb rather than grammes. Joy. Couldn’t stop buying the chocolate covered peanuts and raisins and then a bag of American Cream Soda with liquorice stick. Michelle was also a liquorice fan with those Catherine wheel things…

As I say, the weather had a big impact on activities through the month. It did rain on just about everyday and we got proper soaking wet on several occasions but still managed to walk the hills and valleys in all directions to a total of over 165km in the month – We also managed to cycle on several days adding up to 82km. It was a surprise to use the bike at all. I thought that due to the hilly area, it would be too much for us aged chaps on heavy mountain bikes but it turns out there are several routes with only limited hills around the valleys rather than up all of them..(though still bloody hard) on quiet roads. Interestingly we managed to get both our bikes cleaned and serviced and new chain/cables etc provided by the government under the which periodically allows you £50 worth of repairs to any bike in order to induce people to get their bikes out of the shed and use them. This was certainly timely for our bikes and most welcome. The bike shop was just a few miles away and Dave collected our bikes from the site and returned them back to us three days later. Bargain…

The views and peace and quiet around the hills in this area are phenomenal and they are exactly what we both love. We regularly just stop and listen… to silence… and you can walk for hours without meeting anyone at all on the footpaths. 

We decided that we did occasionally need to go further afield so we took Ruby out for a day trip. Grassington-where parts of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ is filmed (another thunderstorm). It was here that I took a photo of some impressive looking thunderstorm clouds and sent it to the BBC Weather Watchers site and amazingly shortly after arriving back into Ruby….there it was…. my photo on the actual BBC six o’clock news weather forecast. Wow. 

Mr Ruby,,,,,That’s me…

So onwards now towards Malham. Our satnav app (Co-Pilot) has Ruby’s dimensions added so we knew the route was safe… but…there was barely room to fit along the width of the road, pulling wing mirrors in over narrow bridges and taking tight bends through valleys. The views from the top were awesome and breathtaking and the fun of watching the faces of the occasional walkers and cyclists was a delight.

Lengthy video of an interesting drive to Malham

As a matter of interest…. I have managed to repair the damage to the back bumper that I described in the previous blog. Took quite a while because I had to wait for it to stop raining and get warm enough to ensure the sealant would work. I am delighted with the result which almost looks as good as new. To be honest when you look closely the original finish was not too brilliant. A bit of a let-down by Bailey..

Fixed. Can you see the join?

Trina drove up from Portishead on 17th May to join us once the Covid rules had changed. She was unfortunately to suffer with the bad weather – thankfully the whole country was suffering too, which is always less frustrating. (Selfish I know!). As we also had the advantage of having her car available so we had a memorable drive up to Aysgarth Falls. This is a place not to be missed, within the Dales, with three impressive … water falls (weirs) on the River Nidd. The rain made the river run much fuller and more interesting however it also meant we got, horribly, thoroughly wet through despite waterproof everything being worn. We thought it would be handy to visit the cafe afterwards as this meant we could deposit several gallons of rainwater onto their floor and not into Trina’s car. ! It was the wettest we have been in many a year. We think Trina had a memorable visit despite the weather. 

My mum and dad came over to visit for the day on a couple of occasions which was a good trip out for them too. They managed to bring the good weather with them on both visits enabling us to sit outside Ruby most of the day. It was particularly good to use the opportunity to update some details about the Blakeborough family history and thanks to my mum and dad plus the sterling research from Mich’s mum and dad we put together a lot of pieces of the houses and workplaces of many of my Blakeborough and Newbould ancestors which were probably a scourge of the village! There are some interesting items of interest in the excellent little museum in Pateley Bridge. One notable comment in the occurrence book about one Mary Blakeborough who resided in the Work House (in that actual building where the museum is)- ‘Cutting off 2 inches off the top of her stockings’—Sept 22nd 1877- The punishment being ‘1lb of cooked rice instead of her regular diet’. Bad girl..! 

We also managed to find the actual house- Rose Cottage where my grandad was born in 1903, which was a wonderfully emotional thing. A visit by Jez and Vikki rounded off a great socially distanced catch up month.

Long walks to Stump caves, Brimham rocks and long cycle rides to Middlesmoor and Scar House reservoir combined to make this a terrific trip despite the weather. 

Did I mention Harrogate.? Well, the number 24 bus goes into Harrogate several times a day, through the small villages and narrow roads. Peaceful and interesting journey which we did twice taking the opportunity to visit Specsavers and have the joy of eating/drinking out for the first time in many many months. Plus a mammoth clothes shopping trip enabling us to ram even more stuff into the already overcrowded Ruby. 

June has brought the good weather for us and we are making the most of it and hitting the road again. Further Up North. See ya soon.

Did you know… The Yorkshire Dales is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are 35 AONBs in England, four in Wales, one (Wye Valley) that is in both England and Wales and nine in Northern Ireland. The first AONB was awarded in 1956 to the Gower Peninsula, south Wales. The most recently confirmed is the Tamar Valley AONB in 1994. The AONBs of England and Wales together cover around 18% of the countryside in the two countries.

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