At least I had a little taste of spring last Friday, even if it was a tad ‘artificial’, with a visit to Harrogate Flower Festival. I believe it rained every day during the festival but it was nevertheless spectacular and well worth the trip. My journey home to Ribblesdale was a treat too as I took the long way round to travel on some of my favourite Yorkshire roads.

I returned through Nidderdale via Pateley Bridge and Greenhow where the views whatever the weather are fabulous and an example of how nature can take over after Man has left his mark on the landscape through industry. The road down to Grassington is always a delight and from there I cut through Grassington Wood to Conistone and Kilnsey in Wharfedale and on to the delightful village of Arncliffe where even on a grey day the bright red post box contrasting against the greystone cottages and the village green reminds you just where you are.

Joining Littondale with Ribblesdale is the dramatic Alpine-style pass which takes in Darnbrook House where drivers are greeted by anxious and excited dogs as you open and close the road gate. It’s then on to Home Farm to catch enticing glimpses of Malham Tarn before leaving lonely Capon Hall and heading down to Cowside Farm with its mix of working and dilapidated buildings. North Ribblesdale came into view in early evening light as I passed Winskill and low-geared it down the hairpin to Langcliffe and Settle. In a few short hours I’ve met some enthusiastic Yorkshire plantsmen and women, seen and smelled stunning spring flowers, travelled through four wonderful Dales and witnessed rural Yorkshire life in all its glory and contrasts… and they pay me for doing this?

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