As I walked home from TTB’s soft play party (a friend’s second birthday) on Saturday evening, I stopped just after the railway bridge to take in the view of the moor over the town. Sometimes it’s so cloudy or foggy that the moor is completely hidden, but most of the time it stands proud behind the town and on sunny days it’s just glorious to see. The grass has grown on it now (wearing it’s summer clothes) but I love seeing it covered in snow, detailed by the darker outlines of the foliage and rock formations.
We decided to go for a drive out into the Dales after dinner, instead of doing bath and bed for TTB as usual. I try to stick to a routine with him as it works best but sometimes the lure of doing something exciting is too much and I try to think of it as teaching him to be flexible rather than as disrupting his routine. I thought he would probably fall asleep in the car, and I might even be able to transfer him without waking him up. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, he fell asleep about 8pm but woke up after an hour and was to interested in watching the scenery to drift off again. It then took me an hour and a half to get him to sleep when we got home which was incredibly frustrating, not least because it was “self inflicted” in that I had deliberately disrupted his routine! The drive was so beautiful though that I’m trying not to spoil it with thoughts of how frustrating bedtime was/how I’m an awful mother for disrupting the routine.
The plan was just to go for a shortish drive up to Hubberholme and back again but there was a road closure which forced us onwards. We went up to Aysgarth, along to Leyburn and then home via Ripon and Harrogate. It was some drive! There aren’t really many places that it’s safe to stop and take photos, even in the evening when it’s blissfully devoid of tourist traffic but you’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s stunning. I’m always agape at how BIG the Dales are, not only how high each moor is but just how far into the distance they stretch: you can see for miles and miles and it’s just layer upon layer of hills. You climb so high up the roads that you need to make your ears pop, and then when you descend again into a valley your heart is in your mouth as the road is so steep. I love to see the river curling through the valley, too.
I’m trying to fix in my mind the things that I saw as we drove … the quarry train, all of the sheep and cows and hearing TTB’s delight as he realised he was seeing actual real animals (and making his animal noises too!). The Tour de France decorating (painted yellow bikes and bunting everywhere), the bride and groom in the garden of a village hall who were being photographed while spraying champagne, the two people on a tandem bicycle. All of the birds! SO many wagtails, and even (I think) a couple of yellowhammers. A grouse, pheasants, magpie. A hedgehog! Trundling along the side of the road – seeing a live hedgehog in the wild: a first for me. The cows so far up a moor that they seemed to be defying gravity, the way the drystone walls snake along the undulations of the ground, making sense of the landscape and dividing them into fields. The glimpse of a tiny waterfall, the clear amber colour of the river at Kettlewell.
The feeling of surprise at how unexpected Leyburn was – like a waterfall stranded high above the tideline but full of thriving life. How intense the sunset was, and how we saw it to the left of us on the way out and then as we turned East we outran it for a while until we chased it back again as we travelled westwards-home. The windfarm just out of Harrogate – I had forgotten it was there! We used to pass it all the time when we lived in Leeds. Menwith Hill and the silhouette of the “golf balls” against the sky. The clarity of the sky as we came out of the ravine, and the hay-striped fields awaiting the tractor to make them into silage. Seeing farmers still at work, squeezing the most out of the daylight hours. Fewston Reservoir, and memories of our walk there, years ago. And then, almost there, calling out the placenames that have always made us laugh. Finally, home. A beautiful evening seized and appreciated for all that it had to offer.