My brother had found an excellent deal to stay at The Black Swan at Fearby, near Masham on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, so we decided to join them both for a couple of days. Setting off from Grimsby at 9.00 am we arrived in Fearby at 11.00 in bright sunshine and just had time for a cup of tea before Peter and Linda arrived. Quickly gathering our packs we were soon off for our first walk: a six mile circuit to the Druids Temple, a folly built on a nearby hilltop in 1820. The weather had changed and the wind was coming from the north west bringing dramatic light and towering clouds with the odd hailstorm; exhilarating stuff. When the sun was out and, especially when sheltered from the wind, it was beautifully warm. When the sun went in, though, it quickly turned very chill and I was grateful for my down jacket. Increasing numbers of flowers were out and we saw blackthorn blossom, pussy willow, primroses and celendines. On the bird front we spotted a few buzzards, plenty of grey lag geese, noisy oystercatchers and, for me the best, large numbers of curlew displaying and holding territory. The hauntingly beautiful bubbling song of these birds makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. After arriving back at the pub we quickly dropped our bags in our rooms and then headed off to have a look round Masham. Our rooms were excellent and the evening meal and beer first class.
The following morning, after the best breakfast ever, we set off to walk to Masham and then along the River Ure, before turning back and returning to Fearby across the fields, a distance of 8.5 miles. Again buzzards, oystercatchers and curlews were plentiful and we found wood anemone, squill and violets in flower. Perhaps the best sighting, though, was the very close views we had of a very confident stoat; I sure it wouldn't have been so cooperative had I had my long lens. It was pleasing to be able to watch lapwings displaying, reminding Peter and myself of the fun we had trying to find their nests in our childhood.
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