September 25th, Grassington.
“…That day was a Saturday, which wasn’t the best day to arrive, since all the local buses that serve walkers only run on the weekends, and we didn’t walk on Saturday or Sunday; we explored Grassington (up a steep hill from the B and B) and got some lunch at the Dales Kitchen, then returned for some relax time. As David wasn’t feeling great, I went out later to the “supermarket,” which we would call a small neighborhood convenience market, and foraged for some stuff for sandwiches and stay-in comfort food.
The next morning, we had our first experience of the dreaded mealtime bell. David was getting ready and I wandered out to look at the garden. Then I heard an old-fashioned brass bell ringing and remembered they had one on the kitchen dresser. Realizing it was the signal for breakfast, I came in. David was still upstairs, and I found they were all waiting for us!! First day and already we’d let the side down. I asked them not to wait for David, which meant that he missed an interesting event — grace said to a tableful of hungry guests who had no choice but to sit through an earnest prayer before being free to tuck in to toast and orange juice.
That morning, the grace was:
Oh Lord, let our faith be not like porridge, cold and stodgy; but like cornflakes, crisp and sweet.”
Later on, I took off on my church excursion and ended up driving off with one of the other guests to the combined service at Kettlewell, while David stayed home, waited, then got worried when I didn’t return after 3 hours.
Meanwhile, Martin and his wife and 2 kids turned up. Well, I got churchnapped but really should have insisted we stop and tell them the plan back at the B and B, but we were running really late by then (I had walked over to the Linton parish church and found a notice on the door about the combined service, and nobody about. Then another guest turned up with, eventually, a car). As David said later, “Next time, cell phones.”
Well anyway, the combined service was really great and the interesting thing was that as the Celebrant prepared the Eucharist at the altar, a lady slipped behind some curtains at the back and got the water for tea and coffee going, and got trays of cookies and cups and saucers “sorted.” As soon as the words of the dismissal and response were said, out came a bevy of tea-ladies with trays and served us where we sat in the pews! The stained glass was mostly modern — two young men in WWII airman and commando uniforms in windows near the back, with insets of people fishing, hunting, or farming. Also at the front were two WWI soldiers standing at the feet of a shining white figure that was described as the “Angel of Mons.” I need to remember to look that up (Edited to add: it appears to have been a legend based on a fictional story).
Anyway, eventually David, Martin, his family, and I all were eventually in the same place at the same time after some waiting around in various places and we got a late lunch. The two kids were pretty well behaved and the little girl (Heather) was quite flirty and cute. Ben, the boy was wiggly and mostly fun. We went for a short walk down to the waterfalls and back and they reached their limits, so we waved bye-bye and a small sigh of relief escaped us — very small, they’re pretty nice kids.
That night (Sunday) was our one and only night “in” at the B and B. Well, it was good, but once again we were not in our places at the stroke of 630pm and so the dreaded meal bell (DMB) pealed. This was David’s first (but not last) experience with the enforced grace, which had struck me as odd since the Brays were not joining us for meals. Beryl (a very heavy woman) would just stand there with several notebooks and take her time picking a grace to read out as we all fidgeted. Consensus for this meal was “good, but no more meals in” immediately after we got upstairs. The room was very comfortable and had the requisite corner converted into a shower/toilet/sink cubicle, and also one window overlooked the small fountain and bit of garden by the front door. But the door was just a few oak planks and it didn’t feel like we had any privacy, since you could hear people’s conversations from other rooms… anway it was nice but we probably would have been a lot more comfortable at one of the small hotels (similar to Stow’s Unicorn) up the hill in Grassington.
After a “bistro lunch” that turned out to be sangwidges in the tea shoppe (bistro is apparently weekends only) and a fruitless excursion around the church, we found a lane and eventually a footpath heading back “over the tops” to Grassington. Up til now David hadn’t been too impressed with Grassington foodwise or lodgingwise, or indeed at all… but as we climbed away from the village through a small pine forest, the weather and our spirits improved. then we spotted the first of many training jets and props, flying low up the valley. At last something to cheer — a clear path, clear skies, and jets pretending to chase each other over the hills and up the dales.
It was a good 6 miles over the tops and we stopped to chat a couple of times to compare notes with other walkers. One chap was a long-distance man and by his description he had already walked 9 or 10 miles and likely to walk 4 or 5 miles more before he stopped. More jets were spotted, then just as it looked like we’d make it to Grassington before dark, we met a young guy with a big pack who asked if he was on the right route for Kettlewell — was it about an hour away? We answered “at your pace, yes — at ours, another two!” He appeared to be really fit and would have a pretty easy walk — all the steep part was downhill for him.
We made it in via an old “green lane” — not paved, between 2 walls above the farms — and had dinner at the Forester’s Arms pub. The whole time after climbing out of Kettlewell on that first steep bit it had been sunny.
Bought en route in Kettlewell: warm hat and gloves. Hat needed, gloves not, thank goodness…
The next day was also perfectly clear – we couldn’t get to Malham without a car (AAAARRRRGH) so we found a circular walk (David’s pick, good choice) to Bursall down the river, and via Hebden and the fields above Grassington. Met many happy and well-mannered dogs and their people. Lunch was another tearoom sangwidge – seems like the safest looking choices always turn out badly. A tuna sangwidge in Britain is just tuna straight out of the can, with all the veggies on the side and mayo or “salad creme” (huh?) in plastic packets on the table. Oh, well.
Afterwords May 31, 2004
Oh, my God. There’s just one entry left, and so many pictures… well, they’re all on David’s Britain 2003 gallery. There are so many that deserve to be in this post, but it’s already a little image-heavy.
I will add that all during this time, we were very concerned about Stuey’s progress post-surgery, and found our way to the local Internet access point whereever we happened to be. In Grassington it was at a sort of jobs centre, across from the candy place. We checked in at least once a day; they got used to seeing us there.
Also, when we were trying to find the trailhead on the outskirts of Kettlewell (the trail directions were somewhat confusing as to which road or path we should be on “past the church” as there were two) we came across a red door. On it was a sign that indicated something of how the local people felt about tourism in general, or maybe they were fed up with the congestion in the village when “Calendar Girls” was being filmed there. It’s a little easier to read here.