A Walk in Wharfedale

Good Friday, 25th March 2005
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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Copyright, Ilkley Tennis Club
Wharfedale © Ilkley Tennis Club

curlewAs soon as we get to the River Wharfe in the park at Ilkley we see our first dipper (below right), flying upstream, low over the water. We see a pair of them further on, one of them wading waist-deep into the whisky-coloured waters of the Wharfe and picking off aquatic insects from the pebbles. They bob a few times as they stand, as if mimicking the rippling of the water, but not bobbing and flitting about as much as a wagtail does.

dipperWe leave the bend in the river, go through a kissing gate and, by the time we've walked a few hundred yards across those green meadows behind Ilkley Tennis Club (left: for a larger version of the aerial view see the ILT&SC website), we have two curlews calling, one of them making a broad circle around us.

golden saxifragevioletwood anemoneGolden Saxifrage (left) , which at first sight you might think is some kind of liverwort, grows on the banks of streams.

Wood anemone (right) is in fresh flower on woodland slopes. There are a few small violets in flower on a trackside at the entrance to a riverside meadow.


lapwingA single female goosander (left) swims downstream below the pebbly shoal where the dippers are bobbing about. Barbara spots a kingfisher, which darts upstream before I see it.

lambA lapwing climbs and dives, calling in crazy alarm, as it defends its territory above a pasture where two of the lambs are bouncing along, stiff-legged, in mock charges at each other.

heronWe hear a woodpecker (great spotted I presume) drumming on a couple of occasions as we're walking by the woods on the valley sides. As we get to the old stocks at Nesfield a heron flies over.

chiff-chaffLooking at my diary page First Chiff-Chaff in the 'this day in 2002' link below reminds me that we heard our first chiff-chaff today, on a scrubby woodland slope near Nesfield. Later we saw one, not singing (so it might have been a willow warbler) at Owler Wood, Ilkley.

a chimney of 'The Swan', AddinghamParsnip Soup and New Watercolours

'What was your favourite part of the day?' asks Barbara.

Hmm. Tricky one:

'The parsnip soup at the Good Food Café in Addingham; that was the perfect lunch for a day's walking . . . and trying my new watercolours for the first time. That came I close second.' (I drew one of the chimneys of The Swan as we sat in the café at lunchtime).

trees in Wharfedale

Trees from the Train

I also drew the trees of Airedale and Wharfedale on the journey to and from Ilkley.

We were travelling with Roger and Sue, our friends from Wrenthorpe, so we all met up at Outwood station, near Wakefield, and, changing in Leeds, we soon got to Ilkley. It's the best way to get there - avoids all the tedium of motorways and ring roads - but, as I've said before, I wish they'd reopen the station just 5 minutes walk from us at Horbury Bridge, so we didn't need to drive 5 miles to our nearest station.

trees in Airedale

Village WalksIf you'd like to try this walk, it's the first of my Village Walks in West Yorkshire (there are another 19 in the book), available from Countryside Books (see link below). Next Page

Related Link

Countryside Books

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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