- - a walk so everyone can get out into the fresh air but not so far that those with little legs start to moan;
- - somewhere with "ooh look at that" fine views;
- - a chance to learn something along the way;
- - a good cafe at the end.
On these bright sunny winter days you can find all these ingredients in one place: Coldstones Cut.
There's no point in my trying to describe it to you (but I will!).
How ever many words I use, will fail to convey its stark beauty, the 360 degree views, the surprise of its setting and construction, the amazing fact that someone had an audacious idea and didn't rest until it became a reality. So the only answer is to go and see it for yourself. I did try to drag a friend there on a windy day when the sleet was horizontal - that trip wasn't a success and she still talks about my folly. But on every other occasion I've taken friends and family, they've been awestruck. It's worth waiting for a clear day, and if you have a hangover so much the better - you'll discover a cure. The combination of Coldstones Cut + coffee and cake afterwards at nearby Toft Gate Barn Cafe is a cracking discovery.
So after all this hype you may well be wondering where? It's on the B6265 a couple of miles out of Pateley Bridge on the way to Grassington. You can see it from the road but probably wouldn't know it was really there but for the sign and small car park. Once parked, you'll be able to read more about the history of the area and see Toft Gate Lime Kiln on the left (worth a wander) and then you can head up to the sculpture on the hill which looks like some kind of flat fortress from the bottom. It's not a particularly long walk but it is a steep climb. The first thing you'll notice are the enormous stones used for this gargantuan artwork, and then there's something a bit peculiar - tarmac, traffic bollards, a mini roundabout and no parking yellow paint. On a high hill almost 1400 feet above sea level in the Nidderdale countryside, in a spot no car could ever reach. Yes, as I said it's a bit odd, and definitely thought provoking! Continue down this "lane" and you'll have three options: following a narrow turning passage to the top for incredible panoramic views from the right or the left or continue for a very different view. There are panels at the top helping you understand the vistas, fascinating in themselves.
If I tell you that in the other direction, Coldstones Cut overlooks a limestone quarrying operation you'll probably think it sounds unpleasantly industrial but go and see for yourself. It's spectacular and could easily be the setting for an exciting episode of Scooby Doo.
I can't help thinking that some of the reactions of first time visitors once they've made the climb must be quite similar to those to Stonehenge. But Coldstones Cut is far less busy and with much better views. And then there's the cafe... Walk a little down the hill (there's a path cutting across the field so you don't have to use the road - make sure dogs are on leads) to Toft Gate Barn Cafe. This is a stunningly good barn conversion, beautifully done so it keeps some of its original character and showcases old farm implements. Food and drink at the cafe is excellent, with friendly staff who're eager to please. You may well spot Farmer Chris as he grabs a coffee before returning to his 40 pedigree Limousin cattle and 100 Beulah sheep. Owner Caroline Prince is more likely to be found overseeing the fantastic and imaginative cakes and food in the cafe.
When it opened several years ago, the Yorkshire Post described Coldstones Cut as the answer to the Angel of the North, but actually it's better. For one thing, it's not on a busy motorway, there's more to see, and it's an even more interesting construction. The original idea came from Biddy Noakes who the Yorkshire Post described as "one of those irrepressible women who Gets The Job Done". They got that bit right! Biddy heard that the quarry was going to create a viewing platform so she approached owners Hanson to suggest they do something really special and ambitious. After securing funding from a variety of sources, sculptor Andrew Sabin was suggested as the artist who might be able to create this enormous work of art. He'd already had experience of creating major works but this one will surely be standing in a few hundred years.
Coldstones Cut is hard to sum up in words so maybe I'll make do with just one word: go!