THIS SUMMER we’ve had so much cool rainy weather and few mornings like this; warm but not sultry; clear, bright sunlight and intensely blue skies with fair weather cumulus. With trees in full leaf and verges frothing with Cow Parsley the countryside now has the fullness of summer but grasses, flowers and foliage still have the un-nibbled freshness of spring.
We’ve missed out on this, a favourite spring walk through Wharfedale, in the last two or three years and when we arrive at Skipton we discover that we can’t get to our starting point at Bolton Abbey by bus because the county council has been cutting back on rural services (except at weekends), so we opt for a taxi. But we start our walk from the bus stop and just over the wall, down in a culverted water course, the first bird that we see is a Dipper flying low just above the water under a old stone bridge, which I guess is where it has its nest.
‘Have you seen any Kingfishers?’ a couple ask us later on the walk. No Kingfishers but we’re pleased that despite the recent heavy rains there’s a lot of activity around a Sand Martins colony in the riverbank at Gibson’s Mill, where a pair of Oystercatchers are standing on the sand below and a Grey Heron stalking in the pasture beyond.
Whenever I see Bolton Abbey, whether its on television or on a calendar, I always think that it’s about time we visited it again and at last here we are. Some day I’ll buy the guide book and study the ruins but today we’re here for a riverside walk, so we backtrack along the Dales Way to its official starting point in Ilkley.
Addingham is perfectly placed for a coffee stop and when we reach Ilkley we take a break on a bench in the shade of riverside trees overlooking the Old Bridge where the sign ‘Bowness 82 miles’ marks the start of the Dales Way.