Fairy Forests and Neverending Walks
Last Friday it was the chap’s day off work, so I decided to book a day off too and we arranged to go for a long, long walk somewhere. As I sorted out my hiking boots and walking poles on Thursday night, it dawned on me that when I first moved to Yorkshire almost 9 years ago, one of the things I had hoped to do was lots of hikes and walks on the moors, and yet, this was the first time these boots and poles had seen the light of day in all that time. To be fair, we have tried to do walks before, but the unpredictable Yorkshire weather has often stopped us in our tracks. Thankfully, whilst it was overcast on Friday, it was still totally suitable for walking.
Friday morning we met up nice and early in Thornton-le-Dale, and headed for Balderson’s cafe for a hearty veggie breakfast (and a hearty full English for the chap), to set us up for the walk ahead. After breakfast, we had a little wander to Williamsons to see what was on offer at the day’s classic car auction, before making the short drive up to Dalby Forest.
I have been to the forest once before, but it was about 7 years ago for a Paloma Faith concert, I’ve not actually walked around it before. We set off from the visitors centre, and were adamant that we would get to Jerry Noddle’s viewpoint to look out over the moors. We’d bought a map from the visitor centre, but the routes are well signposted too. The first bit of walk is along a road with fields and then forest on each side. There’s so many different species of trees, and if you just stop and be still (as I did quite frequently) you can hear nothing but the birds singing and the breeze rustling the leaves. It’s idyllic and pure escapism.
After a good hour and a half walking, we came to a clearing near a forest stream with picnic tables, and decided that would be a good stop off point to enjoy a coffee from the flask I had brought, and an Alpen bar. So much nature all around, it was beautiful, and an inquisitive crow even kept coming to watch what we were up to, albeit whenever either of us got a camera out he flew off.
Pushing onwards, we came to a beautiful lake of clear water with ducks frolicking happily. It was beyond this lake that the walk really opened up. We lost the road and got more onto track as we made our ascent, and I was very grateful of the support of the poles to get me up the incline.
Throughout the walk, the lack of people was remarkable and, even though Dalby forest is a tourist attraction, the further you get from the visitor centre the more wild and free it feels.
Finally, we made it to the viewpoint, took up our space at the picnic table and enjoyed the lunch I had packed that morning. We were tired, but in a good way, having been walking for 3 hours already. Savouring our well earned sandwiches, drinking in the view and even taking some time to make a little sketch of one of the trees, when we felt a slight sprinkle of rain in the air we decided it was time to start our descent back through the forest.
We looped down, continuing the circular route when we were guided by the signs and the map through a most magical woodland path. It was amazing and my imagination ran wild with what fairies and magical creatures might be lurking amongst the moss and fallen branches. Under the cover of the woodland we could hear the rain beating on the trees above. It was so relaxing.
Once through the woodland, and back down by the lake we’d circled earlier, the route back was mostly retracing our steps, stopping to say hello to sheep and cows in the fields and to convince our legs that they could make it the rest of the way. After over 5 hours walking, we were back at the visitor’s centre for a much deserved cold drink, and after a peruse of the gift shop it was back to our cars to head into Pickering for a little while. By the time we’d got back to our cars the chap’s Fitbit was reading over 25,000 steps. Insane.
After a short sojourn to Pickering, it was time to get back home we devoured a well earned feast of fish and chips and settled for a movie night. It really was a day well spent and I can’t wait to do an adventure like this one again.