Sue Woodcock: Blown away by the beauty of a Dales’ spring and the wind

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I KNOW that down south they are desperate for rain. They are welcome to some of mine. The weather up here has been a bit wild to say the least, with wind so strong I can barely stand up in it.

The chickens, when they venture out, get blown all over and squawk in outrage when they are propelled across the field. They are quite canny because I noticed one going round the back of the buildings and being blown back into the barn.

Down in the river, the water rushes down in a muddy torrent like a rough sea. Where the river bed drops, the water falls is a foaming mass of white.

On my way to church, I stopped to see what Linton Fall looks like. It showed nature in all its forceful, extreme glory. On the hillsides, the white of water is gushing from the cave entrances.

The showers can be very localised. I looked up the dale and saw a black cloud moving down the valley below me. I watched it moving on and then got inside before a bigger and blacker cloud headed my way. I’d had time to let the dogs out before they got drenched and then sat in front of the fire.

I woke up sometime later and asked the dogs if they wanted to go out. When I opened the door, they took one look, and ran upstairs to snuggle down in the bedroom.

On the Skipton bypass there is a wonderful display of vivid purple flowers adorning the banks. The cow parsley makes a lovely white lacy display, delicate and prolific. There are kingcups blooming by the stream by Kilnsey Rock where, even in high winds, rock climbers, like multi-coloured spiders, dangle on their ropes. Many years ago, I was one of them but then discovered that in caves you cannot usually see how far you might fall.

The winds brought branches down all over, and driving up the dale was almost a game of dodge the bits of tree in the road. I even got out and moved a couple.

It brought down walls as well, and my neighbour’s had a huge gap in it. Some of mine were repaired this week by an excellent local waller who made a great job of it, much to the disgust of the sheep who cannot now get into my little meadow unless I open the gate for them. I may even get a hay crop off it.

There are a lot of birds nesting in it and they are best left undisturbed until they have at least fledged the chicks.

The partridge have long been a favourite of mine and there are plenty of brilliantly adorned pheasants around with their wonderful plumage. Down in the mire I have spotted snipe and birds of prey are hunting regularly.

I always have jackdaws around, but a few crows have materialised as well. I can quite understand why a collection of crows is called a murder. They can be vicious and I think are responsible for a lack of turkey chicks this year. Nature can be very cruel.

The reality TV series is still attracting visitors to Grassington. A couple called on me, having driven up from Essex. It was the lady’s birthday and her husband wanted to give her a treat as she wished to meet someone from the show. They had never visited the Dales before and were blown away by the beauty of it. What also impressed them was the friendly reception.

My friend who has moved up to live in the Orkneys, came back to visit. She is fitter than I have ever seen her and is very happy there in a small community on one of the smaller islands.

She has Nelson, one of Brillo’s pups, who is being looked after by friends while she is away.

While we had temperatures of -15 and lower this winter, the worst she had was about freezing.

She told me about the wonderful people there and their slightly old-fashioned and simple way of life.

I finally put my place on the market – a difficult decision but I believe the right one. I am not getting any younger, and the thought of more winters like the last two does not fill me with anticipation.

I am still waiting for my Rayburn to be mended. Roll on hot water and cooking facilities.

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