Clare Balding walking The Dales Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Cavendish Pavilion to Burnsall re-visited: with Clare Balding (OBE)

August 17, 2014 · 49 comments

 Date walked: 11th August 2014

Distance: about 7 miles

One of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging is that people who you have never met get in touch and (usually) say nice things. This communication I received recently was one of the best:

Hi, I love this blog. I’m the producer of BBC Radio 4’s walking
series, Ramblings, presented by Clare Balding. We’re about to make an
entire series along The Dales Way and would be most grateful to have
the chance to talk to you about this.
All good wishes, Lucy

Producers are the people who make things happen. Their job is to make sure that the “talent” (that’s me in this instance) can deliver what the programme wants. So they are usually good at getting people to talk (and do anything else that they want). So when Lucy rang me she practically wanted my life story.

The upshot was that a couple of weeks later Anne and I headed up to Burnsall where I had booked us into a holiday cottage for a couple of nights owned by  The Red Lion. Anne came to help me with the driving and to have a little time out. If you look back at my Dales Way Day 1 post you’ll see that Bob and I had stayed in the Manor House which they also own, when we did this walk in June last year.

One of Lucy’s last emails was to declare that “there will be no rain”. Anyone working for the BBC should know by now that God does not like being  taken for granted and as a consequence he sent the remnants of hurricane Bertha to contend with.   This meant a six and a half hour drive up to Yorkshire rather than the predicted  four and a half.

The cast of this drama assembled at 8.30 am on Monday morning in the car park of the Cavendish Pavilion next to the River Wharf. We were: Clare Balding, her partner Alice Arnold, Area Ranger for the Dales National Park, Phil Richards, his apprentice, Arkardy, the producer cum general factotum Lucy Lunt, wielding a big fluffy microphone on a stick, and Moi.

Lucy Lunt, producer of BBC Radio 4 Ramblings programme at Cavendish Pavilion, recording Clare Balding walking The Dales Way

Lucy and her fluffy friend – and a duck

It was pissing down as my mother would say, so introductions were brief as we rushed to get our wet weather gear on before we got soaked. Lucy had one instruction: she walks on Clare’s right or immediately behind her. That didn’t seem too difficult to follow.

Clare Balding recording a walk on the Dales Way for BBC Radio 4 Rambklings programme, photographed by Charles Hawes

Clare setting the scene

Clare did an introduction to the fluffy stick about where we were starting from and walking to and who she was with and we were off. Clare set a brisk pace.

The path from the tea rooms at Cavendish Pavilion to The Strid was wide and fairly flat , giving Clare a chance to talk to Phil and me.  Walking and talking at the same time was clearly going to be the norm, which hopefully made for a natural sounding conversation; I chipped in about the glories of the carpets of wood garlic that we would have been filling the air with their scent earlier in the year and received an appreciative touch on the arm from Lucy.

The Strid in full spate, River Wharf, photographed by Charles Hawes

Have a look at my Day 1 post when I walked the Dales Way with Bob and you’ll see the difference

The Wharf was in an absolute rage at the Strid , its muddy water nearly filling the narrow gap between the feature’s  gritstone sides. The rest of the party heeded the warning signs of its dangers whilst I went to its edge for a pic. I imagined that if Clare had even wanted to get a closer look she would have been tackled by Lucy and Alice who would not have countenanced risking losing her to the angry torrent.  Back with the group I whipped out the photo that I had taken of Anne and I sitting by the Strid on our honeymoon in 1990 which met with general approval; Lucy thought that we looked like a pair of old hippies.

Anne wareahm and Charles Hawes photographed at The Strid in Yorkshire in 1990

Does a selfie have to be hand held?

Clare was angling for a coffee stop at The Strid cafe but the general opinion  was that it wouldn’t be open yet. She took it well.

“Sunshine and showers” would not do justice to the downpours we were receiving as we walked but the sunshine did illuminate the rain rather well.

Clare Balding walking the Dales Way near Barden Bridge for BBC Radio 4 Ramblings programme, Photographed by Charles Hawes

One of the many soakings we received that morning

At one point the storm had brought down a tree across the path. I joked that Phil should have had a chain saw in his backpack and gallantly went through first.

Clare Balding walking the Dales Way in Yorkshire for BBC Radio 4, photographed by Charles Hawes

OK so I wanted to get a pic of Clare jumping the fence, so to speak.

A mile upstream the crenellated Barden aqueduct which crosses the river was duly admired.

Barden Viaduct over the river Wharf, photographed from The Dales Way by Charles Hawes

Not quite as pretty as Barden Bridge but clearly trying hard

Richard impressed us with his knowledge of  how it contains a pipe running from the Upper Nidderdale reservoir to Bradford.

Dales National Park ranger Phil talking to Clare Balding on the Barden Viaduct photographed by Charles Hawes

I wonder if Rangers are obliged to wear shorts?

The C17th Barden Bridge was only a little further on; I held the group back for a few seconds to wait for a break in the cloud to get better light on honey coloured stone. It didn’t come.

Barden Bridge over the River Wahrf, photographed from The Dales Way by Charles Hawes

Very pretty even in dull light

Just above the bridge is Barden Tower, which I had inexplicably failed to notice when we had walked the path last June. Phil impressed once again with a brief history of the C16th  ruin (a Hunting Lodge for The Clifford family). Colin Speakman’s companion book to the Dales Way has a good history of the place, too.

Barden Tower, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not really a tower at all

It was clearly worth a little detour for a look and besides Clare was determined to see if we could get a coffee at the The Priests House which is next to it and which we knew to operate as a restaurant cum wedding venue.

Entrance to The Priests House next to Barden Tower, photographed by Charles Hawes

Not very welcoming today

I marched ahead but had the sad duty to inform the slightly crestfallen Clare that it was shut. She muttered something under her breath as we saw the sign  leaning against the wall that claimed that it did morning coffee.   Lucy asked Clare for a “half way” piece where she did a quick summary of where we were and who she was with which was delivered fluently and in one take.

Clare Balding recording for BBC Ramblings programme photographed by Charles Hawes

Clare doing her thing near Barden Tower

From Barden Bridge the narrow path stays close to the river and we were reduced to single file. We were receiving periodic downpours on strong winds alternating with bright sunshine and all the time the turbulent river provided a congruent soundscape for this most exciting of weathers.

The River Wharf, photographed from The Dales Way by Charles Hawes

The River Wharf in full spate

I found myself chatting to Alice who told me that she used to announce for the BBC and had been an actress but now worked as a writer for Good Housekeeping and did a blog for The Telegraph in their Wonder Woman section. Which all sounded very interesting but I was reluctant to engage more about for fear of being a bit intrusive.

As we approached Appletreewick Lucy gave Clare a bit of a prompt to ask me more about myself and I did my best to tell her about emergency social work and garden photography, forgetting to bring our garden and my blog into the picture and kicking myself afterwards for my omissions. I hope that I end up making sense.

She was easy to talk to.  She had no “side” as Anne would say. It was only shortly after being invited to join her on the walk that I  became aware of her fairly major celebrity status (she has over 500.000 followers on Twitter). I don’t watch sport, follow racing and am not into animals. Clare is all over these on TV. And I have to confess that I don’t even listen to Ramblings, the programme we were recording for and which she has been the anchor person for 15 years.

This meant that I was not especially in awe of her which was probably a good thing as far as our brief  chats were concerned. But I was aware enough of her celebrity status to make me inhibited about wanting to appear as if I wanted to “quiz” her or become her new best friend.  And from my little experience of other celebs (for instance when Alan Titchmarsh came to film in our garden) it seems to me that they inevitably live with a bubble around them which is difficult to burst. A way, perhaps of protecting themselves from our puerile interest.

Clare Balding recording for BBC Radio 4 Ramblings programme from The Dales Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

I didn’t ask for someone to take a pic of me talking to Clare so here’s a nice one of her to Arkardy instead.

I did harbour a desire to ask about what she thought of being referred to in the very satirical BBC comedy WIA that I had recently watched but I would have felt that I was exploiting my invitation. We did connect on one snippet of conversation where she talked about the value she had found in walking as a therapeutic activity for people who suffer from mental ill-health and bereavement. She said that she hoped that this would come though in the book she has coming out in September. This seemed heartfelt and good and admirable.

As we passed Appletreewick I had a further chat with Clare about Anne and I having stayed there when we were on our honeymoon (Anne and I went back to The New Inn the next day for lunch and a selfie).

anne and me at the new inn

During a brief respite from the rain we paused by the river where Phil talked about the way in which the Wharf eroded its banks and about the sand martins that nest in its soft sides. I was impressed by Phil (who also had no “side” and also appeared reasonably unfazed by this media exposure).

Clare Balding talking to Ranger Phil Richards on The Dales Way photographed by Charles Hawes

Hoods off for once

From Appletreewick is was just another wet mile or so to Burnsall.

Clare Balding walking the Dales Way near Burnsall, photographed by Charles Hawes

By this time Clare had abandoned any hope of keeping dry

Lucy told us that they were leaving us there as they had to meet up with a group who were walking on the path from Grassington, a few miles up river. Alice was going to take them on and then return for us to get us back to our cars at Cavendish Pavilion. 

As we approached Burnsall across the playing field, the rain upped its game;  I imagined that the group coming towards us were some kind of Clare Balding welcoming party.

Approaching Burnsall on the Dales Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

It seemed that they were just out for a soaking, same as us.

With Lucy still faithfully recording, “thank yous” and “nice to meet yous” were said in the midst of another downpour.

Clare Balding recording her BBC Radio 4 Ramblings programme on The Dales Way, photographed by Charles Hawes

Clare: “so does it always rain like this in the Dales?” Phil: “You should have come last week”

Then we all piled into the Wharf View Tearooms where Clare finally got her coffee, and received a verbal tsunami of excitement about her being there in the process from the woman serving. 


Clare took this entirely in her stride.


The next series of Ramblings starts on Thursday Septmber 18th on Radio 4  at 3pm repeated on Saturdays at 6.30am. The episode for this walk should be broadcast on September 25th and then the 27th.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil August 17, 2014 at 7:03 am

Well, what a fun blog !! Great you were invited to take part. I have to admit to never having listened to ramblings either. I only know of Claire from telly. 15 years however is a clear committment to walking. A lovely bit of recognition of your splendid blog, and completely out of the blue. Shame about the weather, but you got some good pics, nonetheless. So which celebrity is lined up next to accompany you on your walks? Nice one 🙂


Charles August 17, 2014 at 8:34 am

Thanks! Fun is my middle name. Well one of my middle names, anyway. Actaully the weather made the whole thing more fun and gave me more to write about! The nice thing was that we had sun with the rain so it actually shows up on the pics. Am open to offers on my next celebrity. Perhaps that ought to be a new theme for me. I invite a celebrity to join me on a walk.


Marice August 17, 2014 at 7:56 am

Great validation for your blog so out of the blue. The walk no doubt will be memorable as so much packed in, honeymoon venue, extreme weather, Radio 4, and walking with Clare Balding!! Just great. I suspect most people who have read her books and love animals would want to be her best friend (yes me!) Have never been to the Dales but it looks beautiful and no caravans, got to be good.
By the way very few ‘old hippies’ wore Kaffe Fassett handmade knits. They still look good Anne. Look forward to listening to the programme


Charles August 17, 2014 at 8:30 am

Thanks sweetie! Yes, memorable indeed. And if I forget I can re-read it here . The Dales are fab. Bob and I are going back to do The High Dales way next month. Yes, I agree about the knitwear – well spotted. Its still one of my favourite jumpers, if a little tight. Hope I don’t sound a complete prat when it comes out.


Anne Wareham August 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

Not Kaffe Fasset. Both inspired by him but actually designed and knitted by me. Well spotted! Xxxxx


John August 17, 2014 at 8:35 am

What a great post (and a bonus to your announced 2-weekly cycle). Maybe the programme intro will mention something about your blog and Veddw; after all, you have become a sort of celebrity yourself by being invited to join the group. Which probably explains your sudden penchant for rabbit hunting whilst virtually naked – celebrity eccentricity!

But that beard!!!!!! Have you ever played a sea captain in the old Tintin cartoons?


Charles August 17, 2014 at 8:43 am

Thanks John. What a nice endorsement. Especially carefully written this one – my Mum said that I had to be careful about the spelling, like I was going to see the Queen. Bet you can find the odd typo. Yes, a clear link between this and naked rabbit hunting. And yes, that beard was with me for a good few years. But it wouldn’t take the color when I decided to dye my hair white, so it had to go.


Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 8:35 am

I agree with Neil – a fun blog – which communicates your experience of the day so well. There is profound note too which has hit home ‘no side’ .


Charles August 17, 2014 at 8:39 am

Thanks Paul. I hope Clare and Lucy find it fun, too. I’d like them to come to The Wales Coast Path sometime. Not too heavy on the profound, I hope.


Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 11:08 am

No not heavy at all, and perhaps you didn’t notice it – its just old melancholy me ! You can feel your excitement coming through this, and I’m glad you have your mum to check your spelling.


Charles August 17, 2014 at 11:13 am

Pent up I was. Yes, I have three human spell checkers Mum, Anne and JK.


John August 17, 2014 at 11:26 am

Tho you don’t always pay attention to us! (Cf Porthcawl and your diversion to view a caravan park in the Scillies!)

Anne Wareham August 17, 2014 at 11:58 am

His MUM!!!!!???????


Charles August 17, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Well, she doesn’t actually correct my spelling but told me this time to “check my spelling”. *got to be right for BBC/CB

Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Ooops !

Anne Wareham August 17, 2014 at 9:11 am

They won’t come to Wales. Everyone believes Wales is an island in the middle of the Atlantic where they talk foreign and burn houses and is generally far-too-far-away-from-everywhere-else..

Great post and not a bad trip after the getting there (Yorkshire really is far away when the motorways are all roadworks and there’s a remnant hurricane…).

Though you can’t really see from your pic of the Strid why people think it’s an easy jump. (see here We were lucky honeymooners. Or sensible. One honeymoon couple drowned. There’s a mystery: did they both jump it together? Or?



Charles August 17, 2014 at 9:24 am

You think that they think are mistaking Wales with the Azores? Could be. Well I shall try and entice Lucy down. Thinking of my celebrity walks, I wonder if Derek The Weather would come with me? Thanks for the link. And the kisses. Happy days.


John August 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

Don’t forget Jamie Owen. He likes walking too.


Charles August 17, 2014 at 11:33 am

Who he?


John August 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Whaaat! You never watch BBC Wales News (sorry, forgot that you’re probably tuned to England!). This is Jamie Owen: He’s also (among other things) written a very enjoyable book “Around Wales” (Ebury Press) which chronicles his travels. He regularly goes on adventures with Mr Brockway (who is a very nice person to meet in the flesh, away from the cameras, by the way).

Incidentally, I notice you also received an invite to appear in TV. FWIW so did I but I doubt that resident cat could cook much 🙂

Chris Grogan August 17, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Great read Charles. I’ll look forward to the programme. I think you’re 2nd of 6 with the 1st going out on Sept 18th. Enjoy A Dales High Way.


Charles August 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Yes, that’s my understanding of the schedule. I’ll listen to this series!


Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 2:15 pm

The oops was in response to Anne – I think I may have upset her with the mum spell checker comment !


Anne Wareham August 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Ooops indeed.


Neil August 17, 2014 at 3:11 pm

My vote is for Nigella. I’m free to join you that day.


Charles August 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm

This is not a democracy, though your interest is noted.


Neil August 17, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Well, due respect to you and Ms. Balding for generating such additional interest. It does seem to me though that in your attempt to not overdo the adulation of fame, you have missed a chance to have yourself photographed together. I’m sure Claire would have enjoyed sharing a cuddled piccie with you so she could star even more on your blog. Be sure I won’t let that respect get in my way with Nigella….


Charles August 17, 2014 at 7:22 pm

Yes, I was just too bashful. Next time. Ok, I promise I’ll do a selfie with Nigella.


Jason Towers August 17, 2014 at 10:52 pm

Thanks for this lovely post, which gave me a better understanding of what to expect on the Way — although hopefully the weather you received wasn’t typical.

Who do I complain to about the pun in the final sentence?


Charles August 18, 2014 at 8:46 am

Hi Jason. Nice to have a visit from the other side of the world. Getting soaked on a walk is part of British culture. Enjoy. You are clearly a discerning reader. No one else has noticed my witty pun. Hope you find the site useful.


Paul Kirkwood October 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Just heard the podcast of the prog. Interesting to see the pics and hear about how it all came together. I knew the walk was wet from what Claire said but didn’t realise quite how wet!


Charles August 17, 2014 at 11:33 am

Editors perogative!


Charles August 17, 2014 at 2:11 pm

What now? Honestly you lot, don’t you think i need a rest?


Charles August 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Anyone that went to college with Grayson Perry counts as “A”list *how the great have fallen


Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Ouch – that hurt ! Is that what you’d call a ‘side’ ?


Anne Wareham August 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Side is being stuck up. That was just a swift knee in the whatsits.


Charles August 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Sorry Paul. Only meant in jest.


Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Sorry my eyes are still watering …


Charles August 17, 2014 at 6:16 pm

You are chatty today! I’ll take it down if you like. I think we may have broken the record for comments on a post.


Paul Steer August 17, 2014 at 6:20 pm

I’ll shut up then – have a great walk on the hills with Bob, and say hello from me x


Charles August 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Thanks. Will do (I’ll be posting another blog or two! before then.)


Charles August 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I do, yes. It usually seems to be that dark haired woman but I think I know who you mean. Is he “A” list in Wales? Can’t have anyone walking with me.


John August 17, 2014 at 2:17 pm

I detect a note of querulous sarcasm here! Well at least he’s authored five books which is two and a half (I hope no) more than you and Anne combined! – see, he’s a star!


Charles August 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm

No saracsm. Its just that I have to be careful about who I walk with. OK I can see that he’s a star. (does he write his own books?) I’ll put him on my list.


Neil August 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Ah…. I see the need for 3 spell checkers.


Charles August 17, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I just spotted that one myself. Done on my phone. Now corrected.


John August 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Neil, are you trying to muscle in on our income stream here? Hang on a bit, he doesn’t pay us! Feel free to muscle 🙂


Charles August 17, 2014 at 6:09 pm

I pay Neil. Lots.


Neil August 17, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Only because you insist on the best gear….


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