Tuesday 11 September 2012

More Swale watching

The following day, my brother and his wife offered to meet up with us in the Swaledale village of Reeth. But first, a quick visit to the river below Rowleth End in search of Dippers, which we subsequently dipped (i.e. didn't see them), but happily discovered that the Grey Wagtails were still around.

By mid morning, when we arrived in Reeth, the place was buzzing, so we immediately sought out some peace and quiet in the nearest tea shop (don't look surprised, here was double the usual amount of Tense genes, where else were we going to go?). Call it Brothers in Alms. Anyway, we can heartily recommend The Copper Kettle.

From the village green, we headed down into the valley and crossed over the river on a small suspension bridge. I tried in vain to photograph Sand Martins as they returned to their nests in the river bank to feed their young. I was nowhere near quick enough. We walked downstream to the village of Grinton, crossing back over the river on the road bridge, and then gradually climbing up the opposite hillside through High Fremington, ending up at Cuckoo Hill.

Following a breather, spent gazing across Reeth and on into Upper Swaledale, we pottered back through the fields alongside Arkle Beck. In the lee of one of the field barns, young Swallows and House Martins were gathered in an old tree, rather like carefree children on a huge climbing frame.

By the time we arrived back on the village green, it was twenty to three in the afternoon. All the pubs had stopped serving lunch (despite plenty of folk being in a similar situation to our ravenous selves) and it started to rain. Oh what a quandary! A veritable culinary conundrum! Where could we seek solace from the fickle Summer weather and the growing hunger pangs?

Well, there's always The Copper Kettle!

When my post meal digestory slump kicked in, we crossed the green to a pub and sat out the showers. The boys, as designated drivers, ruefully watching the girls, who weren't. Before we went our merry ways, we called into a baker's shop (yes really, at 5 in the afternoon on a Sunday, there was a baker's shop open). Provender was purchased for a light evening meal,  goodbyes and hugs were shared, then Clan Tense ceased their gathering. The Lowlanders returning to the east coast, whilst the Highlanders drove up into the hills.

I must've found the narrowest, awkwardest bit of road possible, because by the time we had navigated across the hillside (with much reversing to let cars through and the occasional gate to open) my eyes were on stalks and I was wide awake. Trembling slightly, with shallow breathing, but definitely awake.

We parked by Surrender Bridge, one of the many sites in these dales where ruinous buildings survive from the old lead mining industry. By the banks of the Old Gang Beck, on a dilapidated wall of the Smelting Mill, we discovered a female Red Grouse. Two weeks into the shooting season, she was probably as glad of the peace and quiet as we were.

Not far away, just below an old peat store, we met Mr Red Grouse scurrying across the rocks between patches of Heather.

When the low sun put in an early evening appearance, the Heather lit up like a wonderful radiant carpet of purple hues. Indeed, possibly no-one was happier than one of the local sheep, from the eponymously-named Swaledale breed.

I'm not totally sure it was supposed to have a Mohican hair do.

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