A Spring Saunter with the Brigantes Walking Group

April 18, 2023

You know when spring has really arrived: daffodils, lambs, bursting hedgerows, even an optimistic smudge of suntan cream. Our April walk had them all.

The magnificent seven, including new signing David Hoskins and led by Graham and Jet, having squeezed onto the Leathley car park, set off up towards Riffa Wood and a few early bluebells. Here, along an ancient paved way, we encountered a carved stone. Was it an eye? Or a sheep? Or prehistoric? After all we were close to ‘cup and ring’ territory. Hereabouts we flirted with the idea of an early coffee but Graham drove us on further, across the stepping stones of Thrispin Beck and on to a grassy bank where we took our elevenses with a magnificent view across the Wharfe valley to Otley Chevin and Ilkley Moor.

Lunch was taken amid the graves of St Mary’s, Stainburn. This delightful building, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust, was open. It’s a gem. Much of it – font, chancel arch, roof beams, several windows – is Norman and there even a suggestion in the stonework of an earlier Saxon church. It is built with rough stone and whitewashed inside, which gives it a unique atmosphere. It was a memorable lunch stop.

Then it was on to the village of Braythorn from which, via various paths and holloways, we dropped down into the delectable Washburn valley, close to the original Emmerdale Farm location, and the trout farm at Lindley. The path, running alongside the river, produced the only crisis of the day, a face-off between a confused Jet and a curious cow. This was resolved in Jet’s favour and, via a late detour which involved an unanticipated and not entirely appreciated bit of uphill, we returned to Leathley to find the village green getting its spring mow.

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