On the woodland floor scores of Hartstongue Ferns, glossy after the rain, grow luxuriantly amongst the mossy boulders giving the place a tropical feel on this warm, humid October day.
The limestone, the wet leaves and the mud make it slippy underfoot, but I'm using a walking pole today, which gives me some confidence. As we walk along the river's edge path, one of my walking companions, a 75 year old woman, makes some remark about the slippy ground.
'Don't fall in! . . . ', I say and as I turn there's a splash as she disappears beneath the swollen waters and surfaces again floating on her back, trying to pull herself in to the bank while still clutching her bag.
I momentarily visualise her floating off downstream and think that I'm going to have to jump in, even though I'm not a regular swimmer. I offer her the end of the stick, she pulls herself in to the side and, after a few moments to allow her to recover, we pull her up the steep bank.
She accepts a dry shirt but not a drink of brandy, and she walks the final short leg of the circuit of the dale in water-filled wellingtons, but in good spirits.
She swims every day at Wakefield baths, so the water itself wasn't a problem for her; just getting out.