Thursday, 10 July 2014

A Walk in Airedale and ‘Le Tour’

We are at Gargrave, a pretty village nestling across a young River Aire, consisting of small stone built cottages, which date across time; the earliest of these that I have seen must be from the Fifteenth Century, though like all places in the United Kingdom, this parish does have its fair share of Twentieth Century council built ones as well.



Meadow Crane’s-bill in Gargrave Woodland Walk


…and Red Dead Nettle


Victorian Post Box in Gargrave

We are moored just below the bottom lock of four, at the most northern point on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, at the same latitude approximately as Lancaster and York on our eastern and western sides respectively. The Sun is shining as it seems to mostly these days, there are few clouds in the pale blue sky and today’s early morning light breeze has since died away to nothing.

All is quiet on this superb section of UK’s waterways.

We're here for a few days as Janis has gone away to sea on a steel built brig called ‘Stavros Niarchos’. She’s a member of the Sail Training Association and goes away at least once a year, during the Summertime while I remain here happily and contentedly on my ‘boat sitting’ duties.

There’s plenty for me to do that ensures I never become bored. There’s ship cleaning duties that never seem to be complete and a list of non-stop outside maintenance and painting jobs that never gets any smaller. Of course too there is always endless reading to be done and nonstop walks in this beautiful countryside. Unfortunately when the weather is so fine there is always a clash of loyalties towards the latter or the painting and usually the walking wins.

Last Saturday the weather was wonderful, just like now, so I set off in the morning down the towpath towards Skipton, four miles away. Never having been there before I thought it would be a good opportunity to explore the town and the visitor moorings before we took the ships down there. However everybody else seemed to have the same idea for the towpath at that time of the morning was so busy with pedestrians all going the same way; I had never seen such a busy walkway.

It transpired that all these people of all ages were off to see the ‘Tour de France’ which was passing through the town at around midday.

It turned out to be a great festive occasion and reports would have us believe that around two million spectators altogether arrived at the little town to watch the event, even if it did only last all of twenty seconds as the speed cyclists whizzed through. However the television crews with cameras and helicopters were on the scene and one therefore had a much better view of the proceedings anyway and with professional commentary too, on the big screen set up in the square adjacent to the canal basin. Everybody was sporting yellow jumpers, including the church tower while flags and bunting fluttered cheerfully everywhere amongst the happy din and the continuous clink of charity buckets.


The Yellow Jumper of ‘Le Tour de France’


DSCN1062  and Spectators

Many spectators


All was well in this little town of Skipton; a quite delightful place.

Soon the people began to go home and it was time for me to retrieve Janis’s bike, which she had left earlier locked up at Skipton Railway Station, when she had caught the train to Leeds on her way to Newcastle. It was there waiting for me and in the warm afternoon sunshine I rode it back along the towpath, gingerly but carefully dodging the pedestrians and arrived home well contented with my day.


Tranquil evening peace

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