A couple of weeks in the Yorkshire Dales
I’m back at Terra Infirma Towers after a two week family holiday in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, staying in a stone ex-farmhouse near Hawes just 75 miles from our home. This was our fourth holiday in the area in the last 12 years, but in a different village as the house we had stayed in for those previous trips had reverted to a family home.
It was a very active holiday. I have treated myself to a new gravel bike and it turned up just before I left, so I spent plenty of time thrashing it across Yorkshire ‘gravel’ – more like loose rocks than the packed cinder paths I’m used to at home – and up and down those precipitous Dales roads. We also did some lovely family walks, got dragged to the cheese factory by the older boys (strong eco-messages in the presentation ✅), and, to reaffirm our middle class credentials, the obligatory wild swim (which lasted all of 25 minutes).
While I away, I read English Pastoral by James Rebanks, a rather gorgeous story of someone taking on their dearest grandfather’s Lake District farm (not far from where we were), describing the move from the old ways to modern farming techniques, and trying to roll the farm back to the levels of biodiversity he remembers as a child. It’s both aspirational and pragmatic – he admits he doesn’t make any money out of the farm in its current state, so good thing he’s such a skilled writer that he can actually make some cash out of his books to subsidise his project. Clearly our farm subsidy system is not up to the job of making agriculture sustainable just yet.
I also got stuck into Landmark by Robert MacFarlane, all about language and landscape. I’m growing increasing obsessed with our UK landscapes and how humans have shaped it. In fact my personal highlight of the holiday was the evenings the weather behaved, supping a local Bainbridge Blonde ale while watching the setting sun send swashes of light and shadow across the dry stone walls of the dale and the rocky crags of the fells above.
It made me muse on all the newspaper articles about people being frantic to get (fly) abroad for their holidays. The media’s use of the word ‘staycation’ for a UK holiday implies it is some kind of hardship (I only use ‘staycation’ to mean ‘a holiday in your own house’ which I quite enjoyed the one year we were forced into it by imminent arrival of a baby). Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling – and the carbon from my globetrotting is still in the atmosphere – but I was in heaven less than 2 hours’ drive from my own bed.
And now I’m back in the thick of my to do list!