Once again Jo and Dennis lead the way on the annual winter hike. This time the walk was in North Yorkshire and started at Bolton Bridge, near Addingham. Ten club members turned out, appropriately dressed for the expected winter conditions, only to find out that it was very mild but windy day. After a quick exchange of news we set off alongside the very swollen and fast flowing River Wharfe. We walked alongside the river, up towards Bolton Abbey and noticed the catkins on a willow tree, a first sign of spring! Further along the waterfall near the footbridge was very impressive due to the recent heavy rainfall. We crossed over the bridge as the adjacent stepping stones were nowhere to be seen due to the river level been so very high. We passed the Abbey, crossed over the main road and began climbing up onto Addingham Moor. The wind became stronger as we climbed higher up the valley side but a high stone wall provided us with shelter whilst we had a very pleasant picnic lunch. There were fine views of Simon’s Seat and Beamsly Beacon in the distance. After lunch we passed the Barden Reservoirs and their wind farms which power the water pumps that pump the water up into these reservoirs where it is then stored until it is needed. At this point, the rain started, although it felt more like a hail storm than rain because the wind was blowing it horizontally right onto our faces! The views of the hills disappeared and the clouds closed in around us. Thankfully after climbing over a few slippery stone wall styles and crossing a couple of fields the rain stopped and we could look around at our surroundings once again. Everyone somehow managed to remain cheerful and we carried on walking and chattering as though the rain had never fallen. As the weather improved still further Fairfield Hall could be seen at the bottom of the valley through the trees. We came down off the higher ground into a more sheltered area and we walked through the Hall’s livery yard much to the delight of the horse lovers amongst us. As the Fairfield Quaker Chapel was nearby we made a small detour to visit it and its grounds some of which were covered in snowdrops. The chapel which hasn’t been used for religious services for many years now is in the care of the Historic Chapels Trust and open to visitors. From here we followed the popular Dales Way for a short while until we reached the lay-by where we had parked our cars earlier in the day.
Thanks go to Jo and Dennis for taking us on another very pleasant walk.