Ramblin’ Rosie: Orton to Ravenstonedale

Sunday, 25 May 2008

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Once again we eschew the Lake District and head for Westmorland and the limestone country. Longer days mean we can do this, and I note that we’ll be going even further afield in the coming weeks but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The day was sunny, which was nice, and the wind was brisk, which was, well nice in one way because otherwise it might have been almost too warm for comfortable walking. On the other hand, it was coming from the east, which meant we spent almost the whole linear walk going straight into it, and in one or two places it was a trial making progress against it. Out on the wild and windy moors indeed, but I won’t pursue that line too hard in case Tom or his lapine proxy pounce on me.

These are not, in any case, the dour gritsone moors of Cathy and Heathcliff; these are the gentle limestone moors, grazed by many Swaledale sheep and the odd pony, criss-crossed by drystone walls and mercifully well-drained (although it was nice to note the funky little bridge provided to cross a boggy bit.) And it’s sweet walking on springy turf where even the wind is mostly pleasant on the skin. The efficacy of all that drystone walling was amply demonstrated at the afternoon break as we basked in warm sunshine on one side while hearing the wind howling on the other. The easy walking compensatewd for the lack of spectacular views, for the limestone country is pleasant and expansive rather than stunningly dramatic.

The last part of the walk, after descending to the valley and crossing the ghastly A685 road – there used to be a perfectly nice, winding A685 but there just has to be a flat, straightish track for the boy racers at the expense of the land, doesn’t there? – was less enjoyable being across farmland but the best was saved until the last. There, at journey’s end, was quite the nicest pub we’ve ended any of these rambles at. The King’s Head, Ravenstonedale.

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