Thursday, 11 April 2019

Eleven go to Wharfedale - Sun, Leeks, Cake and even more Cake

Starring: from MNTV Ally, Jenny, John W, Mick S, Neil, Pip and from MNTEV Jacky, John H, Jonty, Mick and Morag
Guest Starring: Newly Qualified Ranger Shelly 
Act 1
Manchester and Merseyside NTV joined forces for our Wonderful Wharfedale weekend.  It was, as in previous years, our annual spring weekend and with a change in weekend venues we headed to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and so on Friday 5 April eleven volunteers arrived at Townhead Barn in Buckden.  Jenny, Neil and Ally headed to the newly opened Buck Inn with Jonty and Morag for a pre-dinner drink and John W joined shortly afterwards.  Drinks finished, Jonty and Morag headed back to the barn and the other four tucked in to dinner at the pub.  Having nearly finished their dinners they were approached by a gentleman asking if we were from MNTV.  We confirmed that yes we were and so John H from MNTEV sat down with us and had his meal.  Meals completed we returned to the basecamp to find that Mick and Pip had arrived, as had Mick and Jacky who along with Jonty and Morag were tucking into Haggis Wellington.  Wellington eaten we all swapped stories and went off to bed.

Act 2
Saturday dawned bright and sunny.  Breakfast was eaten and the smoke alarm went off due to the toaster being on a too high setting for hot cross buns!  Windows opened we finished breakfast and made our packed lunches.  At 9:15 we were to be met by Ranger Shelly at base and were to follow her up the valley to Yockenthwaite.  It was at this point we discovered that Mick S had slept very poorly that night so he would not be joining us.  Our task for the next 1.5 days was to remove tree guards from trees planted about 12 years ago.  They were located on a steep slope so we spread out across the side of the hill - some went right to the top and others stayed down near the bottom.  We had to tear the tree guards - easier said than done as the perforation didn’t start at the very top so we had to use secateurs to cut the top section then we were able to rip the plastic off.  Some trees had already burst through the guards and some were easier to get off as they weren’t quite so tightly attached.  It was commented on that it was strange how some trees had grown well and others had not.  Upon taking the guards off we found the trees underneath were quite often wet due to rain getting in.  Some weren’t just wet, they had woodlice and one even had slime underneath the guard!

Three different cakes were available at lunch - Jenny’s Chocolate Chilli Brownies and Lemon Drizzle Cake, and Ally’s Marble Cake.  All were delicious.  After lunch, Jonty left us to travel to Hartlepool to teach a Safety in Water training course and we carried on with our work.  The tree guards were made of green plastic and we had to bundle them up and put them in heavy duty farmers' sheep feed bags.  Bundling them together made them look like leeks so they became known as the leeks.

The leeks!
After lunch, Pip, Ally and Shelly collected up the sacks of “leeks” and took them down to Shelly’s truck.  The others carried on with taking the tree guards off and bundling them into the sacks.  We worked so hard that we got the whole task done in one day!  At 4pm Ally called a close to the day.  We were all a little bit red from the sun and in need of a shower.  Shelly thanked us for all our help and making her first job without the supervision of another Ranger so easy – any time Shelly.  We walked back to the cars via the bridge; some did look at going across the river but decided sensibly not to, even though Morag and John W had managed earlier.  We travelled back to the barn where we relaxed and had showers.  Mick S appeared back from his walk.

This is where the weekend changed from normal.  No evening meal had to be prepared because we were eating at the Buck Inn.  At about 6:30 we walked 300 yards to the pub, got ourselves drinks and sat down for our pre-ordered dinner.  John H wasn’t sure he had ordered anything but Ally said he had and as there was Wi-Fi she was able to prove he had by producing his email on her phone.  The Steak and Ale pie was a popular choice with four people having that including John H.  Other choices were Scampi, Fish and Chips, Hunter's Chicken, Burger, Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry, and Leek, Potato and Cheese Pie.  Although service was slow due to another big group overall everyone enjoyed their meal.  Afterwards John H left to head back to Liverpool because he was flying to Vienna on the Sunday for a conference and the others headed back to the barn to partake in some of the carrot cake that Jacky had picked up in Costco.  It was enormous and had too many nuts in for Ally’s liking.

Act 3
Sunday dawned bright but not quite as sunny as Saturday and as we had finished our task for the weekend yesterday we had a lie in.  Breakfast was a casual affair with a choice of bacon, beans and eggs as well as cereal, toast and of course the aforementioned hot cross buns.  We also made our packed lunches as we weren’t sure what we were doing.  John W suggested a walk along the valley and then back over the shoulder of the hill to Buckden.  Five people took this route whilst three of the Merseysiders went for a shorter walk in the direction of Redmire Wood, last year's weekend worksite.  Neil decided to stay behind and read the newspaper - he said his poor knees wouldn't cope with the planned route.

The five that went for a walk down the valley went along the river to Starbotton and sat at the side of the road eating leftover cake, even offering it to a passing cyclist – he almost stopped!  The route was then steeply uphill and we took a break part way up the hill and of course ate more cake and offered it to passing walkers.  This time, apart from one man, they stopped and ate it!  Returning at about 2pm, the three that had gone in the direction of Redmire Wood were back and Neil had finished reading the paper.  We packed up our food and our luggage and divided up the food that wouldn’t last until our next weekend in July, Summer in Snowdonia, and headed for home.

I’m not sure if we will be returning to Wharfedale in 2020 as I’ve promised High Wray, as we are not travelling there this year, we would be returning in 2020.  What I will say is that the sun shone all weekend and the company wasn’t bad either.  I would like to thank Jenny and Neil for their help with the weekend, Merseyside for joining us and to those of you who came from MNTV you are the best.  To everyone else, where were you?
Wonderful Wharfedale 2019 – Done!

Here's to next time MNTV!

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