Saturday, 28th January 2006
The day opened with a promise; the rising sun soon high enough to illuminate the haw in front of the cottage. For the uninitiated, a haw is a type of enclosed hill. This one takes its name from the village and, to be truthful, is not immediately in front of the cottage. Instead, it towers over half the village. However, a good bit of it can be seen from our kitchen window, which is good enough for me. Its various moods change in accordance with the weather. When the top can be clearly seen bathed in sunlight and the sheep are spread over its grassy mounds, contentedly feeding, I know that we are in for a good day. Today was one such day; a good one for a walk.
After a short drive, we reached the village of Malham. A delightful village set amidst green hills (it is difficult not to be around here). Malham is one of the Dales’ honey pots for visitors throughout the year. The summer is particularly crowded, so, apart from a foray to the annual Malham Show, we tend to save our own visits for the low seasons when the area is relatively quiet.
The focus for today’s visit was the spectacular Malham Cove, with its 300 feet high limestone cliff and surmounted pavement. It is always an impressive sight and today was no exception. The sun illuminated the cliff face such that the whiteness of it shone with a vividness to be remarked upon. Every now and again, a cloud obscured the sun and, as it did so, the cliff took on a darker hue. Even that was worth watching. It was as though we were looking at a watercolour painting, with God in the process of applying a light wash of Payne’s Grey.
A climb to the top of the cliff was rewarded, not only by the fascinating limestone pavement itself, but also by a stunning view down into Malhamdale, through to the hills of Lancashire and, although I cannot be sure, possibly beyond. The weather was so brilliantly clear that the horizon was difficult to pinpoint with any accuracy. From our vantage point above the cove, we were able to look down to where a pair of Peregrine Falcons nested in the Spring of last year; the memory of them soaring above the valley still vivid.
As I now sit writing, it is 5.13 p.m. and, although the end of January, the sky is still a light blue colour, with a tinge of redness in the east as the sun sets. Such has been the beauty of today. It will be rounded off with a meal at one of the best country pub restaurants in Yorkshire, if not in the country. The Angel Inn at Hetton has previously won all types of awards year upon year. However, it has just been approved for Michelin status. I am not surprised. We are indeed fortunate to have it as one of our favoured ‘locals’.