Over the stable door: Nostalgia fuels welcome day away

How Stean Gorge in Nidderdale provided an adrenalin-fuelled afternoon for Jo Fosters family.

How Stean Gorge in Nidderdale provided an adrenalin-fuelled afternoon for Jo Fosters family.

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Last week we took a rare family day off. Tris was in charge so he ensured our destination was completely distraction free.

No wi-fi or phone reception could I muster up anywhere in the vicinity of our resting point meaning the family were privy to my undivided attention, no sloping off to check emails or race entries.

He drove us less than 30 miles away, passing my favourite restaurant The Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, and deep into the Nidderdale countryside, finally stopping at the village of Lofthouse near Scar House Reservoir.

After a few hours surrounded by pure nature with the warm sun on my face I stopped pacing and relaxed, thoughts of work drifted from my mind.

We picnicked and played by the river then walked to Middlesmoor, a remote village with a beautiful church to welcome visitors. Whilst Tris and my son headed for some refreshment I explored the church yard, hunting for my ancestors who are buried there. I had waited a long time to visit, my grandmother had told stories of them during my childhood so when I found their names on elaborately detailed headstones I was surprisingly moved.

I knocked on the door of a farm hoping someone might shed light on where Fosters had lived and finish my story. Mr Firth, a sheep and suckler farmer was incredibly helpful, pointing out across the dale where their farm still stood. It was high above the village on the edge of the vast moor which, 200 years ago, could only be reached on foot or horseback.

I stared up at my forefathers’ home, trying to imagine how it would have been to farm back then. On a serene summer’s day it looked the most peaceful place on Earth, but during desolate winter months, life must have been treacherous.

Our next stop was How Stean Gorge where we’d booked abseiling and gorge walking through the deep limestone caves. I thought Felix and Tris would love it and I wasn’t wrong.

Jumping under waterfalls, swimming through plunge pools and wading up the ancient underground spring water was more fun than I imagined. Our host Stan was reassuringly entertaining and it made for a memorable afternoon. It was a nostalgic, relaxing and adrenalin fuelled day off. Nidderdale is a wonderful part of the county with the bonus of having no long traffic jams to get home.

On another note, a hunting enthusiast is planning to walk 100km along the Western Front in October to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Richard Walton, who hunts with the Dulverton, has signed up to The Frontline Walk, to raise money for the Army Benevolent Fund, and follow in the footsteps of those who fought on the front.

“Hunts form a great community. There are few organisations today that still act as a community focus in modern society as hunts did 100 years ago,” Richard says. “I am walking in memory of the members of the thousands of field sports enthusiasts that served in the First World War.”

To read more about Richard’s journey, see www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Richard-Walton8

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