Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Water Water Everywhere.............

Yesterday was a lovely spring day and so I headed out to get some fresh air and, if nothing else, document a momentous event in the history of the motor car.

More of that later.

One of the benefits of living in N.Leeds is that it only takes about 30 mins to get up into The Dales and so, after a lovely carvery lunch at The Wellington Pub on Wetherby Road (get there early as it gets very busy), I drove up the A1 until I reached the A684 turnoff.

I love this road westwards as it takes you through tiny hamlets and villages with names like Little Crakehall, Patrick Brompton, Constable Burton and Swinithwaite in just a few miles. You couldn't make those up if you tried.

The picturesque church at Patrick Brompton, aptly named St. Patricks, is right on the main road and next to the Green Tree pub. I'm sure both are popular on a Sunday and I can just see the congregation moving from one to the other - although which way I'm not sure.

I like to stop there for a while as the setting is so beautiful and even the scenic graveyard is worth a visit........a temporary visit of course.

But my real destination yesterday was Aysgarth and it's famous triple flight of waterfalls known simply as Aysgarth Falls.

These were the falls featured in the 1991 movie "Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves" where Robin (Kevin Costner) first met and then fought with Little John (Nick Brimble) and both got kinda wet.

I just hope it was filmed in high summer as the water was extemely cold yesterday.

The following year, the Falls played host to the crew filming "Wuthering Heights" but I don't think Ralph Fiennes even got his feet wet.

The very steep road down to the Falls leads off the A684 and there is a car park a few yards down on the right which is part of a cafe/restaurant - and so payment is necessary.

Being tight, I drove back up to the pub at the top of the hill on the A684 and parked there for free. I told myself it only added a few yds to the walk which was fine on the way down, but those yds seemed like miles on the way back up.

As soon as you start down the hill, you can hear the roar of the Falls.

As waterfalls go, Aysgarth isn't impressive in the classic style - a long drop into a scenic pool.

It's more in the style of the Horseshoe section of Niagara but on a MUCH smaller scale of course.

These Falls spread over a large area but although the 'drops' are quite small, the overall effect is still impressive and well worth a visit.

Given the time of year and that I don't think schools break up until next week, I almost had the place to myself. In high season I very much doubt that I could've got parked up at the roadside pub and I know that I'd have had plenty of company down by the Falls.

As it was, I was able to pick my spots for taking photos and not be bothered by kids, dogs or screaming babies. I really have become the quintessential 'old fart' who likes his scenery unspoilt by such distractions.

This view shows the 'horseshoe' section and without having the movie to refer to right now, certainly looks like the area where Costner got much more than his toes wet.

I've been here in summer and seen numerous kids wading across the rocks - and good luck to them, I say.
As a youngster I'd have done the same myself as I was always one for crossing streams, climbing rocks and
generally not being content to sit still on the picnic rug with mom and dad when we'd be out for the day.

I hadn't taken the tripod with me as I knew the walk down and up that hill would be bad enough with the camera equipment and so I settled for the monopod as it's almost like a walking stick and so had more than one use.

I wanted to take some slow speed photographs to give that satin look to the flowing waters and I felt the monopod would keep the camera steady enough for that purpose. Being able to sit on the staircase like rocks and set the monopod firmly between my legs and on the ledges below meant I got the (rock) steady platform I needed.

I took the usual photos to 'freeze' the water (shutter speeds above 250th/sec) but then dropped it down to a 15th/sec or even a 10th/sec to get the results you see here.

I like both views but prefer the slow speed ones better. Most point and shoot cameras aren't capable of taking them and it shows some degree of photographic skill and ability even though I regard myself as a simple snapper.

If nothing else, it helps me to justify the cost of my camera when I utilise it's capabilities like this !!

Visitors reach the Falls by going through a couple of gates at the bottom of the steep hill and crossing a small grassy park area which has plenty of picnic tables and room for families to spread out and enjoy the views.

Just above the Falls, before the waters of the River Ure reach the limestone rocks, there is a very calm and serene area with incredible trees and their roots which are mostly above ground for some bizarre reason.

Yesterday a slight mist lay over the water and it was slowly creeping up onto the land. It was quite eerie and with no one else around, I felt a few chills that weren't fully explained by the sudden dip in temperature.

After hearing noises coming from under the extensive root system, I told myself I'd seen enough there was little to be served by going further.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I packed up and headed up THAT hill to get back to the car. In previous years I'd have semi jogged it's length but yesterday age and health were both against me and several snails passed my wheezing tortured body. Half way up I paused for breath at the gates of St. Andrews Church which claims to have the largest churchyard in England.

Apart from giving it the cursory glance it usually gets from me, I didn't have the energy or the inclination to go in. The rest of the hill beckoned and I needed all my strength to master it.

I've never been so happy to see my car and was glad I had a 6 pack of coke in the trunk. I needed them all.

I took the B6160 down to Kettlewell and it was a joy to be on it when not in any rush at all. It's a classic narrow Dales road with just about room for cars to pass. It would not be possible to travel on it with any sort of US trailer, 5th wheel or motorhome as any vehicle other than a family car would have problems with oncoming traffic.

At one point I came up behind this tractor pulled slurry tank and was happy that I had the time to keep well behind it at a 'safe' distance.

Why ? What is slurry, you ask ?

Farm slurry is a mixture composed chiefly of water and animal sewage. It has a distinct odour, noticeable when the substance is carried in tankers, or spread over fields.

Yes, it's nasty stuff and as often happens when you're NOT in a rush, it turned into a field after only a few minutes and I was able to speed on home. But you can see my point about the narrow road.

At this time I was keeping a safe but close eye on my car's odometer which had been clicking relentlessly towards the magic 100,000 mile mark on this trip.

I wanted to record this momentous event and was glad that I had the B6160 mostly to myself as I planned on stopping and taking a photo of the odometer on 99999 and then again on 100000.

In case anyone thinks I took these pics while driving, you can clearly see the speedo pointer thingy is resting on zero - ok it's looks more like 5 mph but I can assure you I wasn't moving !!!

My car may be old and as proved by the odometer, has been around the block a few times, but there isn't a bit of rust on it anywhere and it gets me from A to B the few times I feel like a trip to B. Very pretty place.

Anyhooo, after watching the sunset over some sheep in a field near Kettlewell, I made it to the A65/A660 and back to Leeds in time for a late supper.

So if you're in the area, give Aysgarth Falls a visit. Just remember, despite what Hollywood would have you think, it's not anywhere near Sherwood Forest !

1 comment:

Daphne said...

Great photos, especially the tree roots, which looks very Lord of the Rings. I hope there were people today at the Horseshoe section of Niagara saying "Hey, this is a bit like Aysgarth Falls."

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