I posted yesterday about our visit to All Creatures Great and Small country as part of our week-long break in the Yorkshire Dales, and thought I’d continue with the James Herriot theme in this post. It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet is one of Herriot’s books and I had an incident that shouldn’t happen to an author!
My parents don’t live too far away from Hawes where we were staying and my dad has always loved hiking but doesn’t get much of a chance to go these days. We’d suggested that Mum might like to spend some time in the holiday cottage with the munchkin while Dad, the hubby, Ella our sprocker spaniel, and I went for a walk.
The weather forecast for the whole week was pretty dire all week but it looked as though Monday would be the best day so they drove over then. We waited for a break in the rain after lunch and set off on a 2-hour circular walk – about the maximum we were willing to brave knowing it would bucket it down again. For me personally, there’s no pleasure in walking in torrential rain because the joy of walking is the beautiful scenery and if that’s obliterated by cloud and rain, there’s no point.
It was a lovely walk but we certainly encountered some weather during it! Bright sunshine gave way to torrential rain and then back to sunshine. I caught a rainbow but was gutted to realise that taking the time to do a panoramic shot meant I missed a red squirrel! And I wouldn’t care but the panoramic shot didn’t even work so I could have ditched it and seen the squirrel!
Dad had completed this particular circular walk before and had told us that there’d be various stiles across the fields. What we hadn’t appreciated was that many of these would be squeeze stiles. I’m not sure I’ve come across these before. They’re basically a narrow gap in a dry stone wall with a fence on one side to stop sheep getting through them. Did I mention they’re narrow? Did I mention the name ‘squeeze’ stile. Oh my goodness! They are not designed for short fat authors!
This is what a squeeze stile looks like, but this was actually one of the easy ones. As you can see, the stones are all fairly even and the gap is a reasonable size. I wish I’d taken a photo of one of the really challenging ones…
… although you can probably get a pretty good idea from this picture of me being ‘stuck’ in one.
Some of the stiles were up a step and others were up several steps, and this meant that the amount of wall the walker needed to squeeze through varied. Even where there was a lot of wall to pass through, someone of average height or above would pass through the gap with their legs only. But someone who’s 5 ft 2” like me is trying to squeeze the top of their thighs, their backside and their belly through the gap. And that’s one heck of a challenge when the person is as wide as I am, as you can see from the very flattering photo above!
I had to breathe in for every single stile and even sit on top of one of the walls and shuffle across because the gap was way too narrow. I was at serious risk of being wedged and feared we might have to call out the fire brigade to release me! It definitely shouldn’t happen to an author!
At another point, there was a stile by a gate and a metal pin stuck into the ‘gap’ at one side and the solid wooden gatepost was at an angle at the other, making a narrow gap even narrower. This presented another challenge. I couldn’t squeeze my backside or belly through because of the metal pin, and I couldn’t get my boobs past the sloped gatepost! The men tried to open the gate but the string closing it was too tangled so I had to climb over it and hope it would take my weight. That could have been mortifying, although I’d already had significant embarrassment from the squeeze stiles.
My dad, in the meantime, was as spritely as a mountain goat making easy work of the hills and stiles. He’s 76!
There were only a couple of normal gates on our walk and one opening with no gate at all. What a sight for sore eyes!
My legs are still covered in bruises and my stomach muscles were killing me on Monday night and the following day from all the breathing in. But I did enjoy the walk. And it was worth it for the amazing views.
We joined the Gayle Beck (which runs off the River Ure) at the south of Hawes. The water was pretty fast-flowing and the ford fairly deep. A couple walking their dog at the other side were obviously looking to cross the ford and let the dog test the depth first. They soon turned round and retreated!
Didn’t stop me having a large cream scone at the Wensleydale Creamery the following day, but more about that in Part 3 coming tomorrow.