Sunday, 29 January 2012

The source of the Aire, or Malhamdale.

A grey day in Airedale today, I was hoping for frozen paths and dry conditions which would have made the canalbank and riverside footpaths a little more appealing rather than the mudbaths of late. Our plans for a kingfisher expedition were shelved, another finer day will surely not be far away!

We had already planned a potato buying trip to a garden centre in Gargrave and with first early, second early and main crop safely purchased plus some more bird food, we headed up to Malham. Gordale and Malham becks flowing from the east and west respectively eventually combine to form the river Aire, somewhat incongruously to me at least its area of birth is celebrated by the name Malhamdale not Airedale until it is safely on its way out of the National Park.

Malham can be off-putting, swamped by visitors and in the midst of summer there can be barely room to breathe let alone park a car! A grey damp day like this deters many and the village was quiet as we passed through on our way to Gordale.
This easy walk up to Gordale Scar would normally be swamped by visitors, these harsh conditions show it well, despite the man made path this is tough country in winter and walkers can take it too lightly.
Chilly overnight temperatures mean icicles, now we have a thaw and the damned things are falling like spears as I venture close to the overhanging edges!

Plenty of water gushing down from the falls and no hardy scramblers making their way up today, not for me nowadays but always a joy to look at.

Next we visited the Cove, we were hoping to catch sight of the Peregrines which nest here but they seemed to be absent today, in fact there seemed to be little or no wildlife about which is a little disappointing for a wildlife blog author!

Scanning around with the binoc's I found myself playing spot the can play too!

We were then visited by a blackbird and a robin who just pleaded to be photographed, desperate as I was, I obliged...

Wandering the short distance back into the village we met the guardian and emblem of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the indomitable Swaledale-

And then just as we were thinking that was it for the day, a very colourful couple of birds appeared...bullfinches! Not oft seen, light was going and camera speed was not great but here are a few images.

A fine end to a lovely little wander, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove will always be amongst our favourite places and the Peregrines will be there another day.

I intend to show the journey of the Aire from its birth, down the valley to Silsden and beyond over the coming months. I may have to necessarily break the journey into manageable chunks but there is much beauty in this dale.

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