A sea of buttercups forming lazy waves caught my attention. Young trees were showing off new clothes, and birds flitted busily and noisily along the hedges and walls. Standing there in this mini paradise I wondered whether the young man who callously murdered and maimed in Manchester had ever witnessed the delights laid out in front of me. Would he have nurtured the same hatred inside him if he’d been given the chance to see and feel first hand the beauty of Nature here in this countryside? Had he grown up with a vision of this different world in his head would he have taken on such evil advice? None of us knows the answer. What I do know is we continue to fill young people’s heads with violence and depravity via TV and internet; we play out futile and barbaric scenarios and conflicts on gadgets. Many of the younger generation are now learning about ‘life’ through manufactured media – and a distorted, corrupt and perverted media at that – or on soulless city streets. Government continues to drive children away from the countryside by closing village schools and local amenities; cutting funds for outdoor activities. Youngsters are corralled into urban ghettoes. I’m not claiming that places like the Dales hold all the answers to our problems, of course not. The peaceful world I’m so fond of won’t stop human bigotry or greed, or the acts of lunatics, but it can help to teach fresh perspectives and open the mind. I held my own silent moment for those unfortunate, innocent victims who have now been deprived of the kind of days in the Dales I’ve enjoyed this week.
Knowing I was heading off for a couple of days in London – yes, you heard correctly; me, deserting Yorkshire for more than a few hours (but don’t worry, I’ll be there with 40k other Tykes supporting Huddersfield Town at Wembley) – I’ve been gorging myself on the Dales all this week. So much so in fact I’ve too much to show in this blog so I’ll save some for next week.
I had a crackpot idea on Thursday, the hottest day in the Dales since records began (fake news that). I decided to walk beside the Swale – still very low at the time but no doubt swollen since Saturday’s storms – then up the hill to Crackpot. I probably walked less than 4 miles but was still exhausted because of the heat. The views up and down this part of Swaledale were superb and I took far more photos than would be considered normal.