Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wetherby.
This post has double the usual amount of pictures for reasons that will become apparent for those with the time and energy to slog through them. If you make an excuse and leave now, I will quite understand.
Our spell of good weather continues and it is a bit irksome that it is somewhat wasted on a grumpy old man with dodgy joints and a sincere wish that it would rain so that he can stop watering the garden. It is the best summer for 40 years. And it is not even too hot any more. After the excessive heat a couple of weeks ago, the temperature is nearly perfect and there are enough passing clouds to give an occasional break from the sun. I should be running across the hills and swimming in the rivers. Ah well.
There just isn’t any rain. It has rained twenty miles away to the south and twenty miles to the north but not on us. Still, not so long ago there were severe floods twenty miles to the south and twenty miles to the north of us but not here so we should take the rough with the smooth.
I started the day with a little watering and flower watching.
There have been quite a few white butterflies about in the garden but no coloured butterflies at all.
I have been watering the verbascum and it is thriving.
The privet is thriving without any help from me. It is usually loud with bees.
Knapweed has appeared in one of the beds.
And I think that this is a zinnia just coming out.
It is pretty warm in the direct sunshine and this blackbird was having a puff and pant in the vegetable garden.
I stopped watering and did a load of washing and hung it out to dry (a speedy process these days) and then went off to collect my new improved asthma puffer from the chemist. I am expecting a miracle cure.
I watched the birds when I got back and enjoyed a complete set of greenfinches on the feeder.
Somehow the morning seemed to slip away without much more input from me but after lunch, I leapt into action and walked up Meikleholm Hill.
There were still no orchids about but there things to be seen.
But I hadn’t come to look at wild flowers or birds, though I enjoyed this meadow pipit piping away on top of a little tree…
…and couldn’t resist one of my favourite views.
What I was interested in was the first ride-out of the Common Riding fortnight. It goes from the town…
…across the hills to the village of Bentpath and back and is thus universally known as “The Benty Ride out”.
Looking over the edge of the hill, I thought that I could see movement on the town bridge…
…but I needed the big zoom on the little Lumix to see the cavalcade setting off from the Kilngreen….
…and crossing the town bridge.
The results are a bit fuzzy to say the least but as there was a brisk wind blowing and the horses were about a mile away, it is a tribute to the Lumix that it could pick them out at all.
I didn’t have to wait too long until the cornet, who carries the flag round the town on Common Riding day and leads the rides-out, came round the corner of the hill….
…waved graciously at the cheering crowd (me)…
…and cantered on to the top of the hill with his right and left hand men behind him.
(The right and left hand men are the cornets from the previous two years who offer experience and support to the current cornet in his many duties.)
Soon the other riders followed on…
…some at a good canter over the rough ground…
…until the whole group stopped for a breather at the gate onto Timpen (at just over 1000ft, Timpen would be the highest point of the day).
An advanced marshall on a quad bike checked that the route was ok…
…and after some deliberation…
The cornet led the way…
…through the gate…
…followed by the other riders…
…and set off towards the summit of Timpen.
This was an opportunity for another canter…
…and one or two minor upsets.
…which led to a pause while loose horses were collected and reunited with their riders…
…and then while those at the back caught up…
.. the leaders sailed over the top of Timpen and disappeared along the ridge towards the Black Knowe.
The delay to catch the loose horses gave me the opportunity to walk up to the top of Timpen too and watch the riders for a little bit longer.
This is not country for the faint hearted rider.
…but on a day like today, it offers superb views of the Esk valley.
I liked the view of the cavalcade stretched out along the hillside with the Craig windfarm in the background, a pleasing blend of the traditional and the modern.
The recent dry weather hadn’t made the ground too hard for comfort but it had done a good job in drying out many of the boggy bits that might dislodge an unwary rider. It was wonderful underfoot for an elderly walker and I even ventured to run for a few yards to make sure I was in position to get that last shot.
The cornet waited for his followers to catch up
..and then as the procession disappeared into the distance…
…I was left to enjoy a last look up the Esk valley…
…and a stroll back down the hill in the company of two keen walking ladies who had also taken to the hills to watch the riders go by.
This was the first time that the Benty ride-out has taken this particular route on the way to Bentpath and I was surprised that I was one of only four adults and two children who had come out to see this historic occasion, considering the good weather and fine views of the riders. I suppose though that if you wanted to catch up with the riders again at Bentpath itself, it would mean a long walk back to the town to pick up your car to drive up to the village.
I had considered a cycle ride after the ride-out but the brisk wind and stiff legs after coming down the steep hill to the town allowed me to imagine that watching some sport on the telly might be almost as good as taking exercise on my own account. There was plenty to watch, with a sprint finish in the Tour de France, a deserved victory for Belgium in the third place play off in the World Cup and some entertaining tennis too.
I was quite exhausted by the time cooking my tea came along. I added spinach, peas and potatoes (sautéed) from the garden to some very reasonably priced fish cakes for a nutritious and economical feast.
It was a beautiful evening as I finished my watering tasks.