Sunday, July 12, 1981

Thigh strainer

I was woken up early to go hiking but I really didn’t feel like going at all. We reached the near-deserted Oaklass car park after nine. The weather fine but quite cloudy. We were soon striding off up up the thigh strainer alongside the waterfall and onto the clints and grykes up top by ten. It was a superb view. Amid the grass and tumbled limestone at the top of the waterfall we disturbed a mole, which is the first one I’ve ever seen wild. It was small and a silvery black and squirmed desperately for cover as we stood over it.

We reached the reservoir and it got warm and still and we could have been anywhere else except Oaklass fells. As we walked along the road I began to enjoy myself. We stopped to eat and then turned up a path between two hills opposite Isingthorp Hall, the land turning wild and bleak and marshy. The path ahead across the moor was silver in the sun and dotted with stiles, and dozens of trial riders passed us as we walked. Soon we were walking along a walled lane amid superb limestone landscapes near Downs Cave and Low House Edge, brilliant views across to the other side of the valley which was bathed in sunshine.

But as we climbed up past Broadthorn farm and black Hernmoor Heights we were surrounded by dark brooding clouds and wind and had several bull-inhabited fields to manouevre; I’m an incredible coward when it comes to bulls. When we reached the highest point, about 1700 feet, we had an oblique view northwards to the Reservoir which was laid flat like a piece of blue paper.

We dropped rapidly towards Oaklass which lay directly ahead of us in the sun, and walked into the village along a virtually disused green lane and a medieval ginnel. We walked eleven miles. Tea and fish and chips on our return home at eight.

My evening passed in a melancholy mood, afflicted with the history of Oaklass and our walk.

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