Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Elton, Gratton & long dale.

Another two week stint at the cafe, and we were praying that our walk would be in good weather. Well, it was just about perfect. VERY windy (but helped to blow the cobwebs away). 

You can see a video of the windy trees around Elton church HERE

I decided to start the walk from the quiet village of Elton. We'd not been here for a number of years, so we were looking forward to re-acquainting ourselves with the area.

The  route, 8.5 miles, 12,000 feet of up and down.

Across the road from where we parked is the local pub, the Duke of York. As far back as I can remember, this place has been run single-handed by a lovely old lady named Mary. Whether she is still there, I don't know. It was our intention to call in for a beer later on after the walk, if they were open.

This fabulous old barn, with foot-worn steps, is at the side of the pub.

I wish I had a pound for every footstep that passed up these.

 I recalled there are some very well preserved pigsties at the rear of the pub, so I took Sue round for a look.

Then, it was time to start the walk proper. Off into the heart-lifting summer meadows we went, passing Oddo house farm & revelling in the amount and huge numbers of wild flowers now at their best.
Buttercups and daisies vied for starring roles in pictures.

Big, pink heads of clover were juxtaposed (21 points in Scrabble for that word) with a bright yellow buttercup.

We reached the beginning of Gratton dale, with it's preserved lime kiln (hard to see now, with all the summer growth).

Deep breaths of pungent,spring scented  air, and we started the walk up Gratton dale. 
This is a steep-sided dale, but far from being claustrophobic, gives a real sense of the great outdoors.

May blossom, another at its best.

Almost like a brides bouquet!

We steadily gained height and broke out into more open sided terrain.
This is looking back down the dale. At this point, we saw a hunting kestrel, hovering and diving into the grass.

Gorse - of course!

Sue, through the cowslips.

Although JUST past their best, these dale sides were covered in a carpet of cowslips, mixed with orchids and the occasional patch of bluebells.

At the top of Gratton dale, we took a sharp right into Long dale.
Looking back, you can see why it's not a misnomer!

As I said earlier - almost PERFECT conditions.

A line of egg and bacon plant, with a few forget-me-nots thrown in for diversity.

Millennium marker stones, one of 18 in total, stand in the corner of a walled niche.
For more information, click HERE

Climbing to the top of the dale now, as it opens up even more.

I saw this stone over a wall, next to the road. I first thought it was an ordinary milestone, but upon inspection, found it to be another of the Millennium stones. 
You can click on it (and any other picture) for a larger version to read the inscription.

A nice patch of bluebells, and unusual whitebells at the side of the road.
You often see one or two of the white ones, but this many together is rare.

You can see a video of the bluebells waving in the breeze HERE

After a short while, we left the road and went across the fields towards Ringham low.
The buttercups here were profuse, to say the least!
I can't tell you how much joy this time of year gives us, we absolutely LOVE it!

....when all at once, I saw a crowd, a HOST of.......
(Apologies to Wordsworth)

I was spotted by some locals as I took their picture.

It's been a few years since these have seen any milk!
Mind you, they make lovely planters.

'What a fabulous drive', we thought. Way too grand for just a farm?

We took a sneaky peek at the place inside impressive entrance stone walls. Hidden away in a copse, complete with stone lions on the gateposts, Mount Pleasant 'farm' had been renovated to a very high standard, and sold for two point three MILLION pounds a couple of years previous.
With 46 acres, and six bedrooms, this place was FAR from your 'ordinary' farm!
Click HERE for details.

The view alone was priceless.

Lambs, enjoying the warm sunshine.

The next part of the walk was exploratory. The actual path went along that buttress on the right, but we decided to walk down the dale.
This tree was growing sideways out of the rock face - incredible!

The narrow, green dale was really pleasant to walk down, with heavily scented air, and dappled sunlight streaming through the trees.

You can see a video of this dale HERE

At the head of the nameless dale, following Rowlow brook, we emerged into bright sunlight and more blooms.

Beauty among the buttercups :-)

In a small copse near Anthony hill, an unexpected blast of blue from some late-flowering bluebells.

Rock outcrop on Anthony hill.

An amazing fact - the spring that feeds these troughs has NEVER dried up, in living memory!

We walked up the fields to Elton, as I told Sue all about the ski tow that they used to run on these slopes.
She was a bit sceptical, but I was SURE I'd seen lights in the trees years ago.
Upon investigation, I read that the tow is not now in use, but was very well used by the Elton ski club in past years.
See HERE for a local newspaper report from 1987.

Sadly, when we got back to Elton, the Duke of York wasn't open, so we still don't know if Mary is there or not.