Saturday, 14 July 2018

One Swallow Doesn't Make a Summer

One swallow doesn't make a summer but a whole nestful does!  
When the parents of this brood built their nest on the top of an old door propped up in a building in our yard I thought there was little hope of them hatching.  They had chosen a place that we use every day; where we store the dog food and where Chris keeps his tools.  Every time we went in the parent bird abandoned the nest and her eggs. There was only one solution - a mammoth tidy up and a re-housing of anything we used regularly.

The plan worked.  They have all successfully fledged and each evening join the dozens of other young swallows learning to swoop and dive and catch food on the wing.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Muker to Calvert Houses - An Every Cowus Tells A Story Walk

There are six walk booklets as part of the Every Barn Cowus Tells a Story project
This is Muker to Calvert Houses and is an easy walk, almost all on the level with only two short inclines.  It starts in Muker and passes through the meadows to the river then instead of turning left to Keld turn right and head down dale.

This walk is infact probably less challenging than the children's cowus trail from Muker to Thwaite via Kisdon Houses.  Then again children love a challenge!

Shortly after leaving Muker is the hamlet of Rampsholme and in the field you pass through is Great Rampsholme cow house.  This is one of the cowus's that was restored using money left in a legacy which in turn sparked the idea of the Every Barn Cowus Tells a Story project.

The impressively restored internal features of a tradional cow house

This is a walk for all the family with plenty of space and places to paddle and picnic.

Looking back to Muker and the patchwork of meadows each with its own cowus.
From mid May the sheep are taken off the fields to let the grass grow so that in summer it can be made into hay which is fed to the stock during winter.  Please be mindful of this precious crop and perhaps walk around the edges rather than taking the direct path straight across. 

After passing through the farmyard at Calvert Houses turn left onto the higher level track that runs along the edge of the moor.  The moors have their own species of flora; dozens of tiny, pretty, low growing alpines which are delightful after the bleak winter months when very little grows here.

Follow the track back to the river and cross the bridge.  If it is a very hot day, as it was when I walked this route,  then take a break, dip your toes in the water and count the cow houses!

The maps in the centre of each booklet has the route marked clearly in red. However any other public footpaths are also shown (in grey) so you can shorten the walk if necessary or make your own route.   The Every Barn Cowus Tells A Story booklets are available to buy at the National Park Visitor Centres in Reeth, Aysgarth and Bainbridge or online at  At £4.99 for a pack of 6 different walking guides they are terrific value for money.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Hay time in a Heat Wave

The heat wave continues.  
We have had blazing hot days and no rain and although it has cooled down slightly there is no rain on the horizon.  We continue to make fodder whilst the sun shines but into silage rather than hay.

Silage making is highly mechanised but the John Deeres soon have it rowed up, baled up 
lifted and led away to get wrapped and stacked.
But there's still nothing like a trailer load of little bales - 
light and sweet smelling, its worth its weight in gold.


Monday, 2 July 2018

Hay time with Paul Rose for the BBC

It has been a very special day.  
We have had presenter Paul Rose and a team from the BBC here today filming the meadows and hay fields for a programme that will be aired next year on our local BBC1 channel and on BBC2. 

Paul Rose chats to Chris in one of our hay meadows.

Paul has a go with a hand rake, raking the hay into a row.

The producer / director gives hand signals to the other camera man.

Then it was my turn to be interviewed about the cowus's.

Once the field was baled up Paul helped to load the bales onto the trailer and then put them through the forking hole into the hay mew by the house.

Producer and cameraman at work.

The drone like a giant insect in the meadow field!

Friday, 8 June 2018

Muker Meadows - the Jewel in the Crown

Muker meadows have to be the Yorkshire Dales jewel in the crown.
At this very moment they are simply spectacular, a paintbox of colour.

It is not surprising that they were awarded coronation status by Prince Charles 
to mark 60 years of the Queen's coronation.  

There is an abundance of wildflowers including yellow rattle, ladies mantle, rough hawkbit and more but it is the swathes of purple wood cranes-bill against lacy white pignut that creates the artist's palate.

 My favourite time of day to visit the meadows is early evening.  It is quiet and still and last of the day's sun shows the meadows in their best light.  There may be one of two people leaving but only me going in - just how I like it!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Big Birthday, Big Toys, Big Fund Raiser

We have had a week of tractor fun!
Last week Chris turned 60 and he chose to go on a three pub tractor run with his farming friends, cousins, brother and nephew.

The Farmer Arms in Muker was one 
of the pub stops
Then on Sunday 27th May was our bi-annual Keld Charity Tractor Run. 
This year we chose to support 
the Motor Neurone Associaton and raised over £1000.

Forty three tractor of all shapes and sizes, colours and vintage set off from Keld.

Rising up out of Gunnerside, out onto the open moor ....

... and to the top of the world!
The day couldn't have been better.  Thanks to everyone for their support. 

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Wild flowers on parade.

The sun has been shining for days and the temperatures are rising which has triggered 
an explosion of wild flowers of every description up and down the dale.

Everywhere pale froths of Forget-me-nots mix with cool white wild garlic...

whilst whole orchestras of Bluebells stand patiently awaiting the conductors baton.

And Hawthorn blossom, as delicate as a bride's veil, adds serenity to the scene.
At last it seems we have turned the corner, spring is here to stay and the harshness of the long cold winter is a fading memory as we all enjoy & appreciate the warm sunshine. 

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Lambing Round Up 2018

Lambing is almost at an end but not quite. 
It is the same every year, a few sheep keep us hanging on!
But while we are still in lambing mode here are a few photos to round off the lambing season.

I love my Mum!

Grazing together and enjoying the sun on their backs.
Twins have that special bond.
A couple of single lambs born indoors and waiting for a warm day to go outside.

One of the first warm spring days of the year and both sheep and lambs love to relax in the sunshine.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Springtime in Upper Swaledale

Its been a long time coming but finally it feels like spring has arrived in the dale.

Despite the weather the birds still nest and hatch their chicks.  
Today I stumbled upon two lapwing chicks.  They are tiny and when crouched close to the ground look just like sheep poo!  A strange but effective camouflage.

The flowers are more weather dependant and remain dormant until the sunshine warms the ground. 

All the ground nesting birds are experts at camouflage and concealment.  I was very lucky to spot these snipe eggs, deep in a hidden hollow.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Keld Charity Tractor Run 2018

Every other year Chris organises a charity tractor run that takes in some of the the most spectacular scenery in Upper Swaledale.  Chris' chosen charity this year is the Motor Nurone Disease Association

The tractor run takes place on Sunday 27th May.  The tractors assemble in the car park in Keld village.  Grateful thanks go to the Rukin family for the use of their car park and to Barbara for opening the cafe. Bacon sandwiches and cups of tea are 'a must' before any tractor run!  

We are expecting over 40 tractors of all shapes & sizes, both vintage and modern.  The entry fee is £20 per tractor; half goes to the charity and the other half pays for lunch.  This year the lunch stop is at the Black Bull in Reeth.

Raffle tickets are now on sale.  Prizes include a B&B voucher, a stay in a Shepherd's Hut, meat & meal vouchers, baking, bottles etc etc.  The raffle will be drawn at lunchtime.

If you are in the dale on Sunday 27th May and see the tractors driving by please give them a wave or come into Keld in the morning and watch them set off - its quite a sight.  If you would like raffle tickets please get in touch.  Tel: 01748 886845 or email:
Thank you