December 2010 was memorable for the snow and extreme cold conditions that gripped the UK, causing chaos far and wide. December 2011 will be remembered for different reasons, at least by those who walk the hills. A succession of Atlantic low-pressure systems combined with associated weather fronts has at times made walking the hills an unpleasant experience.
There have been calm days, sure enough, but I seem to have been doing other things on the settled days – we did manage an outing to Malham on Boxing Day, where the lower paths were crowded. The small waterfall of Janet’s Foss was in full spate, and as we reached higher ground we were blown and buffeted by winds that made walking a trial. There was some cheer on the horizon though – New Years Eve at the Station Inn at Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales.
I wrote about last year’s celebration in #7. I’d only just started the blog then, and many of you will not have read it, so I decided to re-visit the story. The pics, however, are all from this year –
” Wakening the ghosts”
“From the earliest days of outdoor sports in the UK, walkers, climbers and cavers have frequented the local pubs, harking back to a time when social networking was done over a pint, not a computer keyboard. The pubs were places for tall tales, stories of epics, narrow escapes or triumphs, and places to plot and plan the next trip….
“All the mountain and hill areas had their own popular venues. The Clachaig Inn and Kings House Hotel in Glencoe, the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and the Wasdale Head Inn in the Lakes, the Vaynol Arms and the Pen y Gwryd Hotel in Snowdonia, the Station Inn and the Old Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales, the list goes on and on….
“Now I’m not a fussy man, but I do like a bit of music with my pub. And I don’t mean the music that comes out of a box screwed to the wall. I mean the music that comes out of a box with bellows, reeds and buttons or a box with strings that you strum, pick or bow – I’m talking about live, acoustic music….
“When I started walking, climbing and caving the pubs in the mountains and hills frequently had that sort of music as part of the normal scene, and the music became as important to me as the outdoors. In fact, I’ve probably spent more money on musical instruments over the years than I have on outdoor gear….
“Which is why I found myself in the Station Inn at Ribblehead on New Years Eve, along with others who love the music, the outdoors or both. They travelled from all points of the compass, from Cumbria, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and that was just the locals! We had a few pints, played some tunes, sang some songs, and saw in the New Year in right good style….
” The instruments are now back in their cases, and the ghosts of long-gone walkers, climbers and cavers have retreated back into the shadows, perhaps for some peace and quiet. Until the next time we come to waken the ghosts with our wild, beautiful music.”
Text and images © Paul Shorrock