ON THIS DATE in 1996, I went on a hiking trip to the Yorkshire Dales. The Dales, in Northern England, is a huge area of sprawling green valleys dotted with cliffs, caves, rivers and waterfalls; its typical landscape is distinctly limestone hills.
It was a beautiful summer day to be out, specifically in the town of Malham; enjoying the day away from the confines of my room and books.
Malham became one of the filming locations for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2009-2010, specifically the camping scene that was shot at Malham Cove.
The trip was my third and sadly, my last fling at hiking too.
Shortly after I arrived in Leeds in September 1995, I signed up for the varsity’s Hiking Society (that organised Sunday walks in the countryside) with my Japanese coursemate Eriko. By June we were already on Semester break and that was probably why we were able to go for that trip on a Thursday.
Recently I found some old letters which I had written home (which I’d asked dad to keep) that divulged details of my first two hiking trips.
“8th October… on my second Sunday in Leeds, I went for my first hiking trip to a town called Ingleton, in the famous Yorkshire Dales, which was 1.5 hours bus journey from Leeds.
It seemed the longest walk I’ve ever done – 9 miles (14.5km) in five hours; and that’s the second SHORTEST route, the shortest being 7.5 miles (12km) and the rest above 10 miles (16km)!
We started our journey at 8:30am in two buses. Upon arrival, we broke into different groups depending on which routes we’d chosen. I went with a group of 10 led by a fellow student, experienced hiker nevertheless. We walked and walked and walked, it seemed NEVER-ending. Apart from walking on the plains, we had to climb rocks and rather steep slopes. Just when you think you’ve reached the top, you see another peak above you. We stopped at one of the peaks called Scarface, I think. During the second half of the journey, we passed a semi-forest which had a waterfall.
Completing the whole journey was an achievement, and it was a nice feeling having the strong winds blow against my face. The day was fine throughout the last day of the British summertime today. I knocked out the moment I reached home just before 8pm.”
“15th October… another Sunday hiking to a town called Hawes, also in the Yorkshire Dales. This time we were not so lucky as the weather was horrible! We were supposed to walk 17km but had to turn back barely half the journey. When we re-grouped with the others, everyone was cold and soaking wet due to the rain and wind.
However, the fun part was that I met my brother’s friend who was in Leeds in an exchange programme. A small world indeed!!!
The conversation went like this. She asked me where I was from, I told her and she said she had a few flatmates from my country. She offered the information that she was from Canada. I said I have a brother studying in McMaster University. She shrieked and exclaimed THAT was where she was studying. And before I recovered from her sudden shriek, she asked if his name was H….. Then BOTH of us shrieked attracting curious glances from the rest of the group. We continued our chat while waiting for the rest to make it back to the meeting point. This time we only got home at 9pm.”
A huge part of the Dales has been designated as a national park. Besides hiking, popular activities here are cycling, rock climbing, caving and paragliding.