Wednesday, 23 April 2008

If Disney did the Dales

I do realise that I'll probably get sued by the thought police for disney blasphemy, but hey you have to live on the edge some days.

If Disney did ‘The Dales’ I’m pretty sure that this walk would be their start point, ‘we’ll have a lovely backdrop and a gentle walk down to a pleasant waterfall where fairies used to live’, then we’ll have massive gorge with a waterfall you can climb up, oh and then a lake at the top of the mountain and animals and birds you don’t see elsewhere and then finish off with a massive ice age waterfall and a top pub at the end.

Except they’d trash it and rip the soul from the place, before applying as much sanitiser as possible just to make sure you couldn’t even catch a cold on site. Ok so I visited Disney last month and it did happen to be on an American holiday (I think they are allowed 5 per year). It wasn’t only that you virtually had to wear a safety harness to walk off the curb, it was the hollow looks in the eyes of the American people. I think this may have already spread further than Disney, the Americans have over serviced themselves right out of caring. The words still come out ‘have a nice day’ etc but the meaning is lost and the hopelessness is evident in every last syllable. Perhaps this is what happens when your elections are rigged and you have no say in your own destiny. Suffice to say Disney is pretty much off my holiday agenda in future although The Hulk is a mega ride.

Sorry, what reminded me of this wasn’t just the natural beauty and risk element of the dales but the previous evenings adventure into the Cas Ponte war zone.

Ponte Carlo was never the most salubrious place in the world, heck even the black death didn’t bother entering town but stayed a healthy 2 miles south. (from memory there is a stone near Ackworth that says the black death gave up here.....CB can verify) It does however have a decent town square with a ‘lively’ nightlife and some good local pubs…well it did a couple of years ago when I visited.

Whoever in their wisdom allowed the Xscape Complex, outlet shops and stuff to be built on a retail park between Cas and ponte and then put pubs into it really had to be off their heads. Firstly the soul gets ripped out of the town centre, I’ve not been there for 3 years but I would hazard a guess that it’s now pretty full of charity shops and 2nd rate branded outlets and a few pie shops. Conversely the precinct or Mall, trys to generate its dark soul by raising the living dead through the volume of music and blackness of heart in the topshop based pubs. Having had a meal in an overpriced branded Mexican we visited the safest looking pub and I reckon there wasn’t one tune played post 1985 and most were much earlier. Infact the last time I heard so much 60’s music was the Barclaycard xmas party circa 1983.

The company was good and the Stella worked a treat, though as I sang along loudly to Cum on Feel the Noise (not really) it did feal as if I'd been here once too often.

Even all this would have been ok but ….rather than put our friends to the trouble of re arranging beds and children, we decided to stay over at the £50 per night local premier lodge. I’m ok with the whole premier lodge deal normally, I never get round to using any ‘hotel facilities’ other than my room and the bar normally, so this one should have been ideal as they were the only facilities available….almost designed with me in mind.

Except we faced the railway line at first floor level, which on a Saturday night should have been ok ie the Pontefract main line is hardly going to be buzzin all night. It was tonight though with essential upgrading repairs as the phraseology has it. I was rescued by 5 pints of Stella and a stiff G&T and slept like a baby (wet myself, would be a top phrase here). Pam on the other hand didn’t….all night the trucks went up and down beeping the horns every ten minutes, she left the hotel at 5am. Having been rudely awakened I listed to the trucks for 15 minutes before they all packed up and went home and I slept like a second baby.

Pam got home ok, meanwhile having met Chris (another friend) we headed off for Malham at 8.30 Sunday morning. This trip had potential to be a fairly large group gathering at 10am on Sunday morning, but honestly the list of excuses from grown men was hysterical. It was like an England friendly in champions league week.

My 71 year old mother wants me to take her out to the pub, play pool and get her drunk on Saturday because she never has and I’ll need to drop her at the station Sunday morning.

My daughter has come home from Uni so I can help her with her homework and I’ll need to give her a lift back on Sunday

I’m normally a rough tough Yorkshire lad but I’ve got a bit of a poorly cough.

I’ve promised to play footy on Sunday morning, and this one from the bloke who could quite easily be late for his own funeral.

And finally from the one person who could always have a legit excuse ‘I had a surgeon go in from the front and refit a disc into my spine and I think it may be a bit strenuous’ actually used ‘it’s a bit grey’.

So two of us went for a walk…..firstly and absolutely incredibly we drove into the meeting car park at 10am to the minute …again….go me! It's so going to go wrong when everyone does turn up.

There is a second analogy for this walk, it’s a bit like bloke shopping; waterfall…yup, Gorge…fits perfect, 3 minutes round the corner to the Tarn…yes like that, get another one when it wears out and then HUGE Cove…a bit like discovering a fully signed copy of Inflammable Material by SLF in your local HMV…..all within a ten mile round trip…..excellent value.

As they say in Ponte ‘great place for tolliday lad’.

We were double packing with maps and it was going to be 7.8miles no detour, over the bridge by the smithy and onto the solid concrete moorland…… saves the paths. There were lots of lambs gambolling about and no rain, all the way to Janets Foss. The only really odd thing is the coins clearly hammered into fallen tree trunks on their edges. Janet was the queen of the fairies and lived in the cave at the side of the waterfall. Whatever, it was a seriously pretty walk and a proper, if medium sized single drop waterfall.

Then on to the very famous Gordale Scar and don’t spare the horses….erm unless there happens to be a butty van in the middle of nowhere. Bacon buns 7/10 (why butter them?) and coffees and a sit down (we’ve only walked a mile so far) and we felt almost recovered from our slight hangovers. The walk from here to Gordale Scar isn’t actually that far, but the landscape changes by the yard as the vast tract of harsh moorland opens up above you and the rigid side of the scar comes into view. You know how sometimes you don’t really read the details of things and have an 'oh don’t worry it’ll be fine', attitude (I have a reputation here). Well I may have made this mistake on this occassion, the guidebook said 'a small scramble up the waterfall is a great shortcut'. Well as we approached said waterfall, Chris took one look at it and said ‘we’re not going up there’. He then referred to the guide which actually said ‘ a difficult, dangerous and hazardous scramble up the waterfall’, too much detail. It was a daft thing to do, Chris nearly fell once, I nearly bottled it, but then thought going down a shear cliff face 20 yards was a really bad option. Having scaled the most difficult part, we had our first casualty of war……I suspect both a little relieved and tired from the climb we managed to drop my camera 4 ft and it died……all pics from here on in are very blurred.

We then scrambled the next 200 vertical yards to the top, and as is happening all too frequently, bumped into the group of pensioners who had climbed just before us. At least it wasn’t a bloody jogger this week!

Cross country to the tarn accompanied by the sound of curlews and the amazing rock escarpments from the days when rivers ran over these surfaces. I was never sure how tarns worked when I was at school, it’s a the top of the mountain and the water runs into it….thats not right. It was again pretty spectacular though, so we thought we’d walk round it. As is usual now, neither of our maps had this bit on, so off map we went. We are clearly new to this game as neither of us were too blokey to ask the way. The answer of ‘keep going left’ was in hind-site a bit obvious.

It turned out a good call though as we saw a pair of wild deer at very close quarters, a pair of nut hatches and then calcareous grass.

This grass was at the far end of the tarn and you actually need a permit to walk on the footpaths over this bit of wildland. I was thinking its part may have been overplayed as it was billed as ‘contains calcareous grass of international importance’. That was until I saw the 4 hairy mounds. If you have ever been to ‘Mother Shiptons wishing well’, there are hundreds of Calcified teddy bears strung up in the hard water by the waterfalls. As a pretendy chemist I can understand how this works but 4 mounds looking for all the world sheep shaped and covered in grass is a bit bloomin odd. (I wish my camera had worked). We decided not to hang about and head off for the world famous cove for fear of becoming cousin it like. Mark Viduka would have no chance out here.

Chris (my pal) really does Lord of the Rings references and because the paths were a bit cliffy and rocky and windy all the way down we had 6 battles, 4 escape references and at least 4 magic tricks that were missed out of the movie. He even offered an excuse as to why the eagle mates weren’t called in at the beginning to save all the walking and fighting. They really should have just picked up Frodo at the start, flown him to the volcano and just dropped the ring in. (tm.. Andy Shawcross).Sadly the excuse was….they were on holiday!!!!.

Without doubt Malham Cove is utterly amazing, as I’ve probably pointed out I’m not great at sight seeing, but this thing is really up there with The Pyramids as amazing. Its actually too difficult to explain; just approach it from the top, climb down the sides and then stand at the bottom. This used to be a full scale waterfall in the very old days and all the bits are still there, except for the water. Just awesome.
We went and looked at the nesting Peregrine Falcons which was really cool as the RSPB had set up super power camera/telescopes for free viewing. We watched mad climbers going up sheer cliff faces and then we thought the pub would be a great finish point.

We played beer lottery and walked passed the first pub, hoping there would be a second. There was and the tuna sandwiches served with side salad were a solid 8/10 whilst the mega Kingstone Press cold cider gets an incredible 10/10. Back to the car and home without so much as a dribble of the promised rain…lets hope next weeks turnout is as brave.
Sorry for the music free zone...The Foals albums good. I'll upload something and a few extra pics soon


Jelly said...

Not a bad write- up thought that my elderflower flavoured water would get a bit of a mention!

The waterfall climb was the best bit of the trip, glad there was no rain, we must have been mad, like the way that you missed the bit after I said "we're not going up there are we" you said "yep, you go first" and daft as you like I did !!!!!! Anyway, role on the next excursion.

PaulB said...

What you actually said was, 'yes I'll go up first, I don't want you falling on me' thanks