Monday, March 24, 2008

It was indeed a good Friday


The weather report was for easter was high winds and snow storms. "Dreadful" was how they put it yet there is London woosy weather reporter dreadful and there is the Northern upper-lip dreadful which recognises that underlying snow showers might mean great blasts of clear sunshine in between.

So on Thursday night the Vanu tackled the Yorkshire Dales in its new, fully laden format.

We arrived at the campsite in the depths of dark and a well-meaning yet grumbly farm lady showed us to a spot before returning to lambing which she had been doing for the last 16 hours. I suppose she had every right to be grumpy.

On Friday the bright skies gave us hope and we set off to walk to the market in Ingleton - a 7 mile hike across the moors. We realised an oops in our plan (disconnected footpaths at the fold of the map) and instead, already armed with lunch, opted for a hike up Whernside from the North side.

As we watched the weather roll in we changed our minds back and forth... it was too risky, we were well prepared, we were too unfit, the weather would pass. Then it did.

As soon as horizontal snow had fallen (or should I say, blazed past us at epilepsy-inducing speed, occasionally stinging faces on the way), horizontal sunshine rained down... that is to say the wind didn't drop.

Eventually, in a fit of sunshine, Whernside was declared do-able and we continued on up the steep slope. A family passed us on the way down. The children looked fine & dad was in good spirits but mum warned us that it was "very blowy" on top. How much worse could it be?

And as the sun came out again we imagined their conversation back at the car, him saying, "see, they're up there in the sunshine now".

It was indeed very blowy but a constant force instead of the blustering I had imagined. As we decended the 3 Peaks bike race route I was glad that the wind was doing the gravity-resistance bit for me as my own legs were a bit shaky from the climb.

A couple, walking poles in each of their 4 hands walked the other way.The back of an organised group, they asked what conditions were like ahead. Was there any risk of "falling off? You see he is a little funny with heights". I asked which way they were going down. They didn't know, they were just going to "the next one"!

3 Peaks-ers. I doubted their chances of success on Ingleborough & Pen-Y-Ghent if Whernside was giving them concerns but wished them luck and continued on our way. There's little point in asking my opinion on danger for I am insane.

The day had saved its hail for us to be walking face into the wind. We watched it accumulate as we stumbled along the path-line, eyes-down. Then again it was gone and the bright yellow scortched frozen winter grasses dazzled us in the sunshine. For every snowstorm there was indeed an equal and opposite special moment of sunshine that made everything worthwhile. A day full of "this is the 'why'?" moments.