It occurred to me at the weekend that as we only have six more weeks of the school year left, it would be a good idea to make the very most of every available little snippet of child free time before it all disappears in a puff of smoke. I need to make my child free days work hard in the weeks before the summer holidays (my to-do list is a thing of mammoth proportions), but also I really want to make the most of the time that J and I have to hang out together just the two of us. So we've decided that for the next six weeks, Mondays are to be used for leisure and pleasure only, no chores allowed. I am so grateful for this day in the week when neither of us needs to work, and after eighteen months of this routine we finally no longer feel like we are bunking off! It's safe to say that we really enjoy our Mondays together and I appreciate them very, very much.
As soon as we'd deposited Little B at school yesterday we drove straight out of town and up into the Yorkshire Dales. We're lucky to live close to the Dales and within 15-20 minutes we can park in any number of small villages with access to mile upon mile of public footpaths through the most glorious countryside.
Yesterday's walk took us from the picturesque village of Burnsall up to Trollers Gill which is an ancient Limestone ravine.
The footpath down through the ravine is a bit of a rocky scramble as you are actually walking down the dry riverbed. For most of the year the river flows underground here and the rocks are completely free of water, but we once tackled this walk after weeks of heavy rain and pretty much paddled our way down, much to the soggy dismay of the Little People!
Emerging out of the shadowy gorge and into the bright sunshine of the day is quite something, and it kind of feels a little bit like being in a film - it's very Hobbit-esk!
The limestone landscape really feels ancient here, and it's incredibly peaceful with just the sounds of the birds and the sheep. It was lovely to see so many butterflies too, they were impossible to capture on camera, but I especially enjoyed seeing some of the small blue ones fluttering around as we walked.
There is a part of this walk that follows a small road for a mile or so, and although I much prefer walking in the fields or on farm tracks, this road is rural and generally pretty quiet.
Our seasons have shifted in the blink of an eye, and so far June has really felt like early Summer. The grasses are high and full of pollen and the endless days of hot sunshine have been absolutely blissful.
The verges and hedgerows are looking beautiful, with foxgloves and ox eye daisies blooming their hearts out.
See? Doesn't the landscape look like pure Summer to you? It's like we fast-tracked through Spring in double quick time this year, landing in Summer long before we are used to it. I'm not in any way complaining you understand, I absolutely adore the Summer season and am delighted we've been given a head start.
I wanted to stop and photograph pretty much everything, the long distance views and the close-up details all looked lush and camera worthy. But J was marching us along as we were near the river, which meant we would be nearing the end of our seven mile hike and a pint of cold beer would be in our near future. I bet he could practically taste that beer, and we were very hot and weary by this point.
Oh, but just look at the meadows, how can we walk past them and not stop to take it all in? Just look at all the flowers! Stop stop!! I have to stop and look and breathe it all in!
Ah here is the river, and the final stretch of the walk back into Burnsall. All is well.
When we arrived back in the village, we had a little debate about where to go for our lunch. Usually we are picnickers and come prepared with our own fodder, but yesterday I think we were so eager to get out of town that we clean forgot to bring anything but water. So on a whim we pulled in at the Devonshire Fell, which is rather a posh hotel perched up on the side of the hill above Burnsall, with stunning, far reaching views. Gosh, did I say it was posh? I was almost too nervous to step into the bar with my flip flops and shorts and my rather tired and bedraggled look. But I ventured in and ordered up the longed for ice cold beers, and dared to ask for a lunch menu, crikey, it was devilishly expensive. You can take a quick look at the start of this video to see what I mean - it was all very refined and not the kind of down to earth village pub scene that we are used to. Linen napkins and heavy silver cutlery, you get the picture.
Anyhow.....the upshot is that we enjoyed a spectacular ploughmans lunch for two sat outside on the sunny terrace with views to die for, and well, it was all ridiculously lovely. Such a treat and a perfect taste of early Summer.
ps if you're not familiar with a ploughmans lunch, there's an interesting write up about it here. It's very British, and very suited to outdoor summer eating.