Remember Summer? and that hot blast of weather that lasted all the way from the top of the year to the end of July? when it felt like we might have lasting high temperatures and drought conditions previously unseen in our lifetimes? which made our working environments hellish but still provided days inspiring enough to head out to walk distant trails despite the risks of moorland fire and induced dehydration? Those days seem hopelessly far away now as we roll on to The End of Summer, which I had once considered my second favourite time of the year after the glorious days of May, which has lately come to be regarded as the time of the year when my inspiration levels fall off and I have to start revising my plans for the late season as I begin to run out of available weekends to use as the legs and brain feel the appeal of walking waning badly. My naïve and much younger walking self of six years ago was ready to use this weekend to start on five legs of the Calderdale Way, which seems a bizarre choice when regarded at this remove, while my contemporary, and supposedly more organised, self is looking at how to fill the remaining weeks of the year before my will to walk falls away or the weather gets too poor for me to want to be outside at all. It's all been a bit of a rough turn since August rolled around, as it feel like I've had a whole bunch of rum walking days as the weather turned to a more familiar atmosphere of constant inconsistency, though the continually unacknowledged truth of the matter is that across the period I've had four good days out against three mediocre-to-poor ones. I guess that the inconsistent weather has left me with the feeling of it being cold and dull over the last seven weeks, when the reality has been that it has been wholly average, and my mood has been hampered more by my failures to get organised, by changing my walking plans for August which caused the delay and then cancellation of plans for six trips of traipsing around in Malhamdale. Still, you find me in particularly glum mood as the last weekend of Summer comes around, feeling ground down by the external pressures that have descnded during the last season, and not finding much in my personal, family or working lives that have brought me much joy, or will do in the immediate futrure, and when wedded to the aspects of the wider world, it gets me feeling anxious, that if I feel this bad now, how on Earth am I going to feel when I've got to face a three month traverse through The Dark Season?
So, why aren't I walking this weekend? Well, there's a funny story attached to that, and a prime example of why I should manage my expectations better as the season shift from Summer to Autumn, as I look to a total of only three walks in vaguely remote territories before the days get too cold and short to countenance the idea of venturing further afield. Choices also have to be dictated by the fact that the Northern Rail - RMT beef is continuing and will cover all weekends until mid-October and trips will have to be bus based for the next few weeks, which is why I set the aim for walks in the more distant corners of the Wharfedale bracket, and target the stretch from Bolton Abbey to Burnsall via Troller's Gill and Grimwith Reservoir for today as that looks the most challenging of the three, and we're projected a decent looking day to walk it in as well. Plans start to come unstuck when we haven't even left Leeds Bus station, as the driver of the #874 Dalesbus tells us that the service is going to have to divert due to extensive emergency roadworks in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey and that the new route via Embsay is going to add a significant chunk of minutes to the travelling time. This is frustrating as the section from Bolton Abbey to Barden Tower is one stretch that I would have liked to have done, but starting an hour further along the route is entirely plausible and despite the extra time added to the outbound leg, the driver still offers the assurance that the return trip from Burnsall will still be running to schedule at the end of the day. So I board and commit to the route, not least because I only have my OL2 map with me, with the alternatives being on E297, but as we bounce our way into Wharfedale, I see that the weather looks like it isn't going to be kind to us and the skies beyond the Beamsley Beacon - Round Hill moor suggest a dense sky to ground mass of damp white clouds that I have no real interest in spending 5+ hours being tested by. I've already had two days of this season tussling with Upper Wharfedale's weird microclimates and decide that this is not something that I'm ready to face, and I disembark at Ilkley, feeling that this is a better place to have my resolve and morale give way than midway through the day in a remote location and under less than favourable walking conditions. So board a ride back to Leeds feeling that I need a mental refresher before we get the Late Season going properly, and look forward to being ready to get myself going again, but still that day's not all wasted as I can pass through Leeds to do some light shopping and learn the imposrtant lesson of when the M&S Summer sale starts so that I know when to shop for a few seasonal bargains to make best use of in the next year.
5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3530.3 miles
2018 Total: 436.9 miles
Up Country Total: 3152.3 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles
Next Up: A Traverse, or a Transit, of The Washburn Valley.