On September 16th members of the Titchmarsh Walking Group set-off for their annual walking weekend away. Their destination was Reeth in the beautiful Swaledale valley - part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. That morning, however, as people headed up the A1, the weather was far from beautiful. Heavy rain lashed the road making driving conditions particularly hazardous. The outlook for the weekend wasn't good.
Reeth is a traditional market town with strong farming roots. It is surrounded on all sides by lush meadows - mostly full of sheep and cattle. With it's mix of old limestone buildings and the constant background hum of agricultural vehicles you could be forgiven for thinking you've strayed on to the set of Country File. It isn't long, however, until you realise that you are in walking country. Walkers are everywhere and on this weekend 20 of them were from Titchmarsh.
To everyone's great surprise, no sooner had the group arrived in Reeth than the sun came out. In fact it wasn't long before there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Things were starting to look up. All that was needed now was some hospitality and in Reeth that's never far away. During the weekend the walking group enjoyed a range of different food at no-less than 4 different eateries. There was even a coach trip laid on to get to one. There was also time for a quiz.
The walking was equally good. The first outing on Saturday morning started down the valley in the nearby village of Muker. Here the group split into 2 smaller parties. One headed over Kidson Fell - part of the Pennine Way - whilst the other trekked around the side on the valley floor. The destination was lunch at the Keld Lodge some 3 miles distant. The conditions couldn't have been better and both parties enjoyed stunning views all the way (see photos below). Such was their enthusiasm, however, that the party which travelled over the fell arrived at the pub a long time before the others - with somewhat predictable results.
The walk back to Muker (which included a stop at a tea shop) will be remembered as one of the prettiest the walking group has experienced. The scenery was stunning, the weather was gorgeous. It was the kind of walk you just didn't want to end. There were lots of stops along the way, mostly to take in the scenery and, on one occasion, to paddle in the river.
Sunday's walk began in Reeth. The group headed off down the valley following the bank of the river Swale. The river is said to be the fastest flowing in England and its levels have been known to rise 3 metres in less than half an hour. With all the recent rainfall this presented something of a concern as at some the group would be required to cross the river - via stepping stones! Thankfully, when they reached the crossing, the water was much lower than had been feared. The group navigated the stones with ease and provided some of the best photos of the trip into the bargain.
From this point it was just a short 2 mile stroll to the Bridge Inn at Grinton for lunch. Several walkers had already indicated their intention to drive straight home from here - so this effectively marked the end of the weekend. However upon arrival at the pub, which stands next to the river, everyone miraculously managed to summon up the strength for a short refreshment stop. Many others stayed for lunch.
There is something rather magical about Swaledale. It certainly cast its spell on a few Titchmarshians. The walking group seems to make friends wherever they travel so I'd like to think that a bit of Titchmarsh rubbed off on Reeth, too.
If you're ever in the area make sure you pay a visit. A list of places to eat and stay follows below. For more info go to: http://www.reeth.org/.
Don't forget the Titchmarsh Walking Group meets on the village green every first Saturday of the month. For more details contact Maggy Chapman.
Places to eat and stay in Reeth: