The return of the swallows heralds Maytime, a favourite time in the Dales.
The ‘Beast from the East’ is a fading memory as the valleys fill with lambs. It is worth comparing a local field of ewes in the snows of March (shown in our previous News item) with their new born lambs in the lush grasslands of the present pasture.
Swallows and lambs are not the only signs of Spring; natures’ alarm clock – the dawn chorus – is at full volume, while the hooting of owls after dark all combines to announce the renaissance of new life. The opening of tree buds and new leaves produce a million shades of green, while the woodland floor simply explodes with form and colour – primroses, bluebells, purple orchids, cowslips, wood sorrel, violets, wild strawberries, to name but a few.
Two of our favourite walks are the Oxenber/Wharfe Woods – where the walk through ancient woods, carpeted in wild flowers, and glimpses of distant Dales hills and valleys, culminates with delicious cakes at Elaine’s tearoom in Feizor, near Settle.
The second walk is through the magical woodland at Bolton Abbey; for those who prefer to drive, the road from Barden Tower to Storriths runs parallel to the River Wharfe, through parts of the woods. A stop at the Tithe Barn in Bolton Abbey or at the Cavendish Pavilion in Strid Wood makes the day complete.
The local farming community are still extremely busy after the rigours of lambing time, for now the new lambs have to be ‘marked out’, in preparation for them being sent to the high Fells, in order to allow the fields to regenerate and produce the much-admired wild flower meadows that, in turn, enrich hay time in the summer months.
In short, the Yorkshire Dales in springtime are magical; this is the time of year when they truly shine!