Burnley and Pendle

Cyclists Touring Club

C.T.C. Notes - Wanderings in Wharfedale - c1930

As a pastime camping is becoming increasingly popular amongst the members of the Nelson section. This was evident last week-end, when no less than ten tents, accommodating sixteen persons, were erected in a remote part of one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful dales. A spot “far from the madding crowds' ignoble strife,” where the call of the cuckoo echoing across the dale mingled with the babling of the brook that came down from the mountains.

On leaving the meeting place at Colne, we rode along the much frequented highway to Skipton. Here we paused for our usual breather and to do a little shopping. After this expedition we proceeded, passing through Rylstone to Cracoe, where we stayed to tea. What can be better when tea is over than to continue still farther into the country instead of returning, as an ordinary club-run entails, to the homes of the multitudes? Thus did we go deeper into the heart of the country, through Threshfield and into Upper Wharfedale, where the breath of spring was proclaimed on every hand, whether by the delicate greens of the freshly awakened hedgerows and trees which here and there were bursting into bloom, or by the oft repeated call of the cuckoo resounding down the dale. On arriving at Kettlewell, we began climbing that arduous road that leads over Park Rash into Coverdale, but only as far as Park Rash, for there was our destination, and an ideal site it made despite the unevenness of the ground. Having erected our tents, the rest of the evening was spent in wandering about the neighbourhood and chatting around the camp-fire. And so to bed, to be lulled to sleep by the whispering of the wind in the trees, the prattle of an occasional stone rolling down the hillside, and the murmuring of the brook nearby. “There’s tongues in trees, sermons in stones books in brooks, and good in everything.”

In the morning we scrambled over the moors to the mountainous summit of Great Whernside, and returning by a different route we stumbled upon a broken-down relic of one of the ancient industries of the Dales, that of lead-mining.

After our mid-day meal, we prepared for the event of the afternoon — the exploration of Douk Cave. As if not satisfied with its surface, we must needs pry into the very bowels of the earth. "If a thing is worth doing-" Douk Cave is a water course, reputed to extend nearly a mile into the heart of Great Whernside. During its course it opens into vast caverns from which branch passages, leading into the eerie blackness of the unknown. Tradition says that a number of human skeletons have been found within its recesses. Needless to say, we did not encounter any such gruesome remains, nor did we explore it to its full extent. What little we did was quite sufficient to make us appreciate the warm sunshine and the brown moors that greeted us on our return from the nether regions. As it was nearing tea-time, we did the best thing possible in returning to camp and satisfying our humble cravings.

At last the inevitable must come, and we must return from a life amid canvas and stitches to dwell amongst bricks and mortar. With our camping equipment again on our bicycles, we left our temporary abode in Arcadia, and passed along the ever-fresh lanes, through Hetton and Gargrave to the car-haunted main road leading to home. Thus the little holiday ended, leaving us with still more snapshots for the never-full album of retrospection.

-J. H. G.

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