The Middleham to Kettlewell road is narrow, steep and winding, with lovely lazy lanes wandering off in unpredictable directions. It's astonishing to think this road was once a main route between London and Richmond! It would have been a perfect spot for highwaymen as it's so remote in places. I'm not sure why but at one point my husband suggested it would be a perfect place to bury a body... And I wasn't even being annoying at that point!
Much of the road snakes over the moor so some might suggest there's nothing to see, particularly in the dark. That's what's so wonderful about such a journey - superficially there's very little to see but actually it's just a different way to see a familiar route. The odd house is lit up with curtains undrawn, revealing inhabitants within, everyone wrapped up in their own small world. Occasional lights on the hillside show more remote settlements and isolated farms that might go unnoticed in daylight.
The road's contours are somehow more prevalent when lit by the car's headlamps. It's not so much that the headlamps show a different view, rather they illuminate the details: every bump, every rise and fall, twist and turn. At practically every bend, rabbits scattered out of our way, a full range of sizes and generations. Two owls flew alongside the car. The lights picked out the moss and lichen on the dry stone walls.
Approaching Kettlewell felt even more welcoming than usual, seeing the warm glow of houses and pubs. We decided to continue though - my husband wanted to go somewhere that felt more remote. We headed for the George Inn at Hubberholme, whose thick stone walls and flagged floors dating back to the 1600s felt reassuringly sold and welcoming - a 'proper pub'. Landlords Jackie and Ed were equally warm and happy to serve one of my favourite combinations: gin and pudding. The ordering took some time - Ed offered multiple choices of pudding with cream, ice-cream or custard. Then came the gin order. This pub is literally in the middle of nowhere - almost bang in the centre of the Dales, and yet the gin - and tonic - options could equal some London bars.
As we cast about for somewhere to sit in the busy bar, my eye was caught by Chris and Fiona from Nethergill Farm, who invited us to join them. Within seconds we were deep in conversation - and conservation. Chris and Fiona are passionate about their environment, about sustainable and profitable farming. I love such discussions - it's great to see the world through someone else's eyes and find out more about their life and views, digging deeper to learn more. Chris and my husband Elias sat on opposite sides of the table, and as they introduced themselves and their backgrounds to each other I was struck by how different their worlds are. Chris farms and advises other farmers whereas Elias works for a software company. Talking about his job, Elias mentioned 'AI' and I saw fleeting looks of surprise on Chris and Fiona's faces. In Elias' world, AI is Artificial Intelligence, computers performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence. In Chris' world, AI is Artificial Insemination!
As I said, I love seeing the world and the Dales from different perspectives!