1st July 2021
So. Here we are once again. Into July in England and with the country drowning in summer rain and thunderstorms. !
On leaving the cosy overnight stops of suburban Pontefract we headed slightly north for a wild camping site on Ilkley Moor. But first we thought we should pop into Thorpe Arch near Wetherby to watch the Leeds United players at their training ground on their first day back at work. For some reason we thought there would be a patch of grass with a fence around so we could overlook the training pitch. Bit naive really..!
When we arrived at the location given on the post code we found ‘The Grange‘ and ignored the ‘Private’ sign and headed in to a huge secure complex with modern large stadium-shaped buildings and a smiling security chap or two on the gate. ‘Oops sorry, didn’t realise it was private, we will just have to come in and turn around’ – hoping to get a better view. ‘That’s ok just pull into that area and turn, you can see a bit before you leave’. Brilliant. Top man. However before I could dump the clutch and drive in, a big artic truck headed our way from the site. ‘Oh sorry, you will have to turn round here now instead-there is a lot of building work going on so we cannot get past now’ says Mr Security. Bugga. Well at least we can visual where it is and the size of the operation. ‘Come on mighty Leeds….’
The night of 1st July and we parked up at a car park in Ilkley just below the famous Ilkley Moor. Flatish tarmac location in a great out-of-the-way from much traffic, protected by trees from the bit of wind and with an easy walk up onto the moor or down into the village. Both of which we did. We always check for signs of anything that may disturb our sleep on a camp plot and all looked well. There is a cattle grid alongside (but we are used to cars thundering over them now) and apart from a couple of rats prowling round (yuk) we considered this to be a cracking site. Quite quickly we walked up onto the moor and headed over to the Cow and Calf outcrop of rocks giving a stunning view across the area on all sides plus a view of just one aircraft heading into Leeds and Bradford airport in the distance. This really brought back memories for me from when I was a little kid at the same spot. One slightly less stunning part was the abandoned pizza boxes and McDonald wrappings (other outlets are available) left sitting on top of the rock by lazy tourists. Selfish gits.
Next morning and a walk into Ilkley provided a pleasant experience. Bit like a mini Harrogate, with a Betty’s Tea shop and all things posh. Right nice. – We went to a cheaper place along the road…! and grabbed a couple of smoothies… (no, not a pair of 70s rock stars!).
2nd July and we pitched up at a Caravan and Camping temporary pop-up site at Settle further up in North Yorkshire. We had booked two nights at just £9 per night- and later extended to four nights. As previously mentioned these sites only provide drinking water and toilet disposal points for that money, however you also get a nice big patch of grass alongside the Settle Football club pitch. More importantly you are made very welcome and there is an element of security from the organisers and stewards. Must tell you about the steward that met us on arrival though. Gawd, what a clown. His name was Dave but we called him the Wing Commander. When checking in he demanded to see both of our C&C membership cards for some reason. ‘I have a photo of mine on my phone only, I don’t carry mine,’ says I. ‘Well you should ‘says the Wing Commander. Oh, he sounds a bit full of his own self importance we think. ’I don’t carry my drivers licence everywhere either officer’ says I, calmly. He then requests ‘step from your vehicle so I can talk you through the site ‘- so I oblige – reluctantly. He pointed out the water tap and then the chemical toilet disposal point ‘It is behind that building but the walkway is blocked by bags of sand to prevent flooding, you will have to walk right round the site and along the path by the river and back along the long way’- As I looked I noted another camper guy walking straight toward the building with his toilet cassette. ‘Well what about him?’ says I. To which the Wing Commander replies ‘He is going to climb over the bags of sand, but if you do you can’t blame me if you trip over’ Talking to us like kids- And unbelievably, we saw him a few days later clambering over the sand bags himself. ! What a WingCo. !
Anyway we had a decent couple of days here. The weather was consistently average as it has been this summer to date. We did take a ride on the train from Settle into Carlisle along some beautiful views on the hour and half trip. It made serious attempts to drown us in rain again so we decided it was time to visit another castle, with a roof, that we could walk round during the downpours. Carlisle castle is pretty fair and part of English Heritage so a free couple of hours. As you may know we have not had electric hookup for quite a little while during our wild camping and pop-up sites in Ruby. The main downside is Michelle cannot straighten her hair as she does not have 12v straighteners (leaving her looking like Crystal Tips..!). So the cheeky lass took her straighteners into Carlisle and whilst inside the derelict kitchen larder in the castle I turned to see her tucked away in a corner with her straighteners plugged into a 230v socket and calmly straightening her hair…and giggling…! Gawd, King Richard III must have been spinning in his grave.
Next day we took a long walk up a big hill (nothing new there then) across into Fiezor in much better weather and luckily found Elaine’s Tea shop for a well earned coffee and cake.
Whilst on the campsite we accepted some advice from some other aged motorhomers called Derek and Joan that walk several miles up and down these same moors ‘Guess you have been walking for some time then?’ – ‘yes indeed’ says Joan, ‘he is 90 and I am 87’ -!! And still pretty nifty on their feet. This incredible couple made us realise we had to keep doing this stuff for another 30 years or so..!
5th July was a sad occasion, Steve Robbins, a good friend of mine, had died suddenly in his sleep on 9th June and his funeral service at the crematorium was being streamed live online. I had served with Steve for several years at Bristol Airport, played golf with him hundreds of times and done three golf tours to Spain with him so it was a great loss and an emotional morning. ‘Cheers Steve, you will be sorely missed. ‘
Once again on the road we had identified (well Mich had), a great place to stay in the car park of the Station Inn at Ribbleshead. The car park was the usual sloping gravel affair that we are used to but with plenty of space.
On visiting the bar and asking the young bar gals there, ‘Are we okay to stay overnight in the car park?’- ‘ yes, no problem, stay as long as you like and park where you want’ then ‘it would be ideal if you come in and have a meal or drink though’ and that was it. ‘ oh, and there is a drinking water tap and a toilet disposal point out there’. Free and wild right in the middle of the North Yorkshire moors and just a couple of hundred metres from the famous Ribbleshead railway viaduct with 24 arches running across the valley. This railway bridge is a major feat of engineering from 150 years ago and a great thing to see. An ideal opportunity to give Derek the Drone several outings (particularly as there were no trees to crash into!). I entertained myself for many hours flying round taking photos and videos of the trains.
Of course the moment we went out without Derek a steam train arrived, looking glorious and blowing out heaps of black smoke and steam. Thankfully Mich took great footage on her phone whilst I grabbed photos.
On the first morning we decided to make a picnic and go for a walk along one of the nearby hills. It turns out we accidentally (due to my poor map reading) walked up Whernside, the tallest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Christ, no wonder we were so knackered when we got back. !
Thankfully we could grab a slap up meal in the Station Inn. This car park was one of those parking spots where we could just sit in Ruby at any time just watching the world go by. The pub on one side, the trains going over the famous viaduct in front and views across the moors on the other side. Very fine location and memorable pitch with friendly, welcoming hosts.
9th July and we arrived at another pre-planned three nights at a pop-up site in Kendal. A huge field with the bonus of hills on the side and Morrisons on the other.. ! We were in need of stocking up our food and beverage supplies and the availability of this site just outside Kendal town centre was pretty fine. Not the best, but it worked for us to have yet another walk and a visit to the town. First however we had to head into the Westmorland General hospital in Kendal as I had developed a tooth ache which was becoming more painful by the day. So the dentist had a good long, deep look, cold air, warm water, tapping, biting down and x rays but could not find the problem. Well… £28 less and no work done on my teeth. Mind you at one stage he said ‘well we can give it a go but I would hate to drill the wrong tooth..’ ! what. Too true mate. I will just see how it goes for the next few days. It still pains me a bit several days later but maybe it will just go away…!
We also had the delight/fear of watching England in the Euro finals against Italy. We were initially intent on heading into Kendal town centre to join the revellers but the weather was wet and cold so we decided on a cosy, noisy, joyful night in to watch it together. Worryingly however was this… we were watching the match on our dependable 12v TV. Full time was fine, extra time was fine but just before they penalty shoot-out the warning message came on the screen ‘ Low Power Supply, this TV will shut down very shortly’ . Nooooooo!… not now, …to be fair we had struggled a bit for the first time in 7 months with the solar power. The lack of sunshine and the water covering the solar panel was not helpful, but we had not been onto electric hook-up for several weeks and it was finally giving up…. But not now….nooooo. A mad scramble to get out one of the laptops, log in, and get back on line meant we got to see England….. ….lose…… Damn it. ! .
From here we had a healthy drive to the Lake District proper but for now I will leave you with this message….
Did you know…The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is a walking route of 24 miles (38.6km), and includes 1585m (5200ft) of ascent.
It takes on the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, usually in this order, and in under 12 hours!. These peaks form part of the Pennine range, and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Pen-y-Ghent (694 metres)
Whernside (736 metres)
Ingleborough (723 metres)