A Day in the Dales
The day dawned, one of those sparkling, late summer mornings with a hint of autumn in it, a day that promised much, especially to those lucky people with a Morgan in the garage. It was time for another very special drive and a picnic in the glorious countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.
It is extremely handy to have a house that is next door to a delicatessen, providing all the culinary delights to enhance a picnic and this was quickly achieved, filling our square shaped insulated bag that fits perfectly behind the passenger seat. The expensive wicker hamper, bought soon after buying the Morgan, has never been used, due to the fact that it has enough equipment in it to meet the needs of a large family. Although it has to be said that it does look good on the luggage rack and perhaps one of these days its use will be justified.
There is always a feeling of excitement in the pit of my stomach when I just think about a drive in the car, never mind actually driving it, and that morning was no different. With the 4/4 nicely warmed up, we set off from home along the well worn road east to the A6, bordering the western edge of the Forest of Bowland (great chunks of which are owned by the Duke of Westminster) and the thinly populated fells to the east where we were heading.
It is amazing and gratifying, that in a country so heavily populated, there are vast areas where you can travel for miles without seeing a soul and there can be no better way of experiencing this than sitting in an open-topped Morgan...as long as it’s not raining! That day was one of those perfect ones though and we savoured every moment as we pootled through the lovely little villages of Bowland and the Ribble valley, Chipping, Dunsop Bridge (one of two main contenders said to be the geographical centre of Great Britain) ,Slaidburn and on to Long Preston and Hellifield, at the western border of the Dales.
The drive through Malham and past Malham Tarn was splendid, although the area adjacent to the village and the tarn is a tourist hot-spot and in our view best avoided except perhaps in the early morning or later in the day when the masses have gone home!
An unclassified single track road to Arncliffe was more to our liking and we selected a little spot for our picnic by a stream, having parked the Morgan off the road a little farther on. An idyllic setting, just us and nature in the wild, savouring the delights of the food, washed down with the occasional slurp from those little bottles of red that you can pick up at Supermarkets and which we always have in stock for occasions such as this.
Then the cry came from Helen just as I had raised the glass to my lips resulting in half the contents being deposited on the chair as I rapidly raised myself. A flock of sheep had suddenly appeared up the road and were admiring their reflected glory in the impeccable bodywork of the Morgan! It was only recently that one of our five friends, we’re no different from most of you, had told me how a ram had seen its reflection in his car’s bodywork and had butted it, thinking the reflection was another ram. You know how quietly and gently a shepherd approaches his flock, well I didn’t! Within a few seconds I had run the 100 yards faster than ever I did at Sports Day, shouting, with arms flailing, and pleased to see them disappearing into the distance in response to the frightening sight of the old git heading towards them. Peace returned.
The long horned cattle that suddenly appeared ten minutes later and surrounded the car, (what is it about Morgans?) demanded a totally different approach! We swiftly struck camp, grabbed our chairs and with Helen behind me gripping my jumper we moved surreptitiously towards the herd. One false move and one of those horns would either penetrate the car or some unmentionable part of my anatomy, so stealth was the order of the day and they thankfully moved off, as indeed we did to the warm hospitality of the ‘The Falcon’ in Littondale http://www.yorkshirenet.co.uk/stayat/falcon/, an amazing hostelry in the same family for four generations and where the excellent Timothy Taylors Bitter is poured from the barrel into a porcelain jug and then into the glass. On the edge of the village green, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and although we didn’t partake of the home made food on offer it was obvious that the many customers there were enjoying it immensely. Definitely a must visit if you are in the area.
Driving alongside the River Skirfare through the tiny village of Litton we then skirted Pen-y-Ghent ( 694 metres or 2277feet) and headed west, with the sun in our faces, retracing our outward route, arriving home for a well earned gin and tonic! I hope that we are not alone in saying that open top driving makes you incredibly sleepy or perhaps nobody else agrees and it’s just galloping senility?.......... Bloody good day though!