You know when you have one of those days when nothing quite goes to plan? Ours was today.
After so long being ‘confined to barracks’ we decided to stretch our wings (in a socially responsible way of course) by packing a picnic and driving out to somewhere different. If it was too busy we’d move on to find somewhere else. Our aim was to find somewhere near water where we could fit in a decent walk then enjoy our repast. We’d prepared home made quiche, potato salad and various other goodies so we were well-supplied. Our cunning plan was to stay away from the coast and well-known beauty spots and head to some of the reservoirs in the Nidderdale AONB north of Wharfedale near the wonderfully named Blubberhouses, which has the Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs on its doorstep, both of which have wooded walking trails around them.
They’re less than an hour from where we live but we ‘ve never explored either of them. En-route we took a wrong turning near Bolton Abbey, which was a mistake that paid off as we discovered another area neither of us had explored – the Upper Wharfe Valley. It’s gorgeous but the narrow road North past Bolton Abbey was absolutely rammed with cars, motorcycles, bicycles and walkers. We were constantly playing ‘stop – go’ as drivers gave way to each other in the narrowest sections. At pretty little Burnsall there’s what pass for beaches on the river. Each one was swarming with people, which didn’t bode well. Bolton Abbey was bad enough but we’d figured it would be quieter around this neck of the woods. We passed through the edge of Grassington (which was equally busy) before enjoying driving on open roads as far as Pateley Bridge before approaching Blubberhouses from the North to reach our first planned stop.
That’s when it all went Pete Tong. The place was packed. The car parks were overflowing, many people had parked up on verges, making narrow roads even more sclerotic. Most people were doing their best to social-distance but with the weight of numbers it felt too uncomfortable so we flagged it and headed back towards Otley, thinking we might find a nice spot somewhere on the River Wharfe. Despite trying several locations we were disappointed. Much of the river’s inaccessible so the spots that are were busy. Giving up on that idea we drove over to Ilkley and headed up to the moor – with exactly the same problem. The roads were chocked with cars, meaning there was nowhere scenic to stop. Abandoning that idea we checked out a couple more places on the edge of the moor on the road towards Bingley. None were worth stopping at, so we gave up and headed back towards home via our last hope – the moors above Oxenhope. Wherever we went we encountered car after car. I’ve never seen the place so busy, but I think Dawn nailed it when she observed that with most people having had foreign and UK holidays further afield cancelled folks are doing exactly the same as us and day-tripping just as soon as the weather picks up.
We did try one last location, Ogden Water, a scant few miles from home. Just like everywhere else, it was an unpleasant traffic jam as drivers who’re clearly not used to such narrow roads try and get their lardbutt SUVs down roads designed for horse and carts. We didn’t even bother stopping. The result? After five hours travelling we ate our picnic in the front garden at home. It was the most relaxing spot we found all day!
That said, the day wasn’t a total loss. I got to see places I’d never visited before and we both got ideas for locations to go to in the future. Plus, Dawn got to drive on some open roads rather than just pootle to and from Huddersfield. The one downside was the roads were so busy it was hard to stop so I didn’t take a single picture!
Which rather neatly brings me on to the picture of the day. Let’s face it – it’s the only way that I can include one! Today’s was taken in Lisbon, Portugal on the 2nd June 2010 when Dawn and I were spending some time in the city with friends from the UK whom we’d met up with. I love the city’s old tram network and our little band took trams out into the town to explore, find a local bar and people watch. One thing I noticed was the way younger people ‘tram-surfed’. I caught this shot of three young girls in the act as their tram crawled past the little bar we were sat outside of.