Coverdale: A “Dairy Days” Walk

Posted by Graham Rogers on 2019-12-03

Sunday 24 November

This is not our walk. This is Bruce Stainby’s walk. Today Bruce is somewhere in the south Atlantic on his way to Antarctica and we stepped in to lead the walk. Starting from Carlton it is an eight and a half mile loop and it will constitute one of a number of walks that will form part of the current National Parks Project tracing the Wensleydale dairying heritage. It is a sequel to the very successful Swaledale Barns Project. And, equally, Coverdale is a place that is rich in social and landscape history.

I love this time of year however inclement the weather; and there is no better place to enjoy the boundary between autumn and winter than Coverdale. This walk on this particular day captured the magic of the moment. I like to walk to imbibe a sense of time and place. It is etched in the memory. For me there is no need of any technological “aide memoire” though admittedly modern technology helps us to store and share the moment and the memory.

Late November. Autumn in full retreat. All is quiet across the landscape and softened still by a rolling mist that cloaks the trees and the farmsteads. Nature has scurried to a safer place save for the rooks that lend a voice across the fields to demonstrate that life continues much as before. The rivers and the becks are in full spate from weeks of seemingly endless rain yet are a cleansing from summer’s heat and dust. The countryside is slipping into sleep but with the promise of renewal. This, for me at least, helps to convey a sense of the day and provide a refuge from the current political miasma that seems to cloud every waking moment.

This then was the backcloth to our walk which starts in Carlton with a short slog up the boggy fields as far as the track that traverses below Melmerby Moor. The path then extends via Gildersbeck Farm, Agglethorpe to connect with the track that borders Middleham Low Moor. We then descended through Tupgill Park and the “Hidden Corner”. We crossed the River Cover at Bird Rydding Wath to ascend the daleside by way of a delightful sunken lane where the thick layers of mud threatened the onset of trench foot. It is then a matter of a steady climb to the ridge followed by the return leg through Caldbergh and West Scrafton; lovely hamlets even when wrapped in mist. A short hop across the dale brought the walk to journey’s end in Carlton with its welcoming inn, The Foresters Arms, and its not so welcoming landlord who grudgingly charged me five pounds to renew a pot of tea. The beer was good though. However, this unfortunate experience did not detract from what was a memorable day enjoyed by all. Jane McLennan kindly supplied a number of pictures and they do full justice to a day spent rambling through a late autumn Dales landscape. I cannot imagine a more captivating place.

Graham & Glenys

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