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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ribblehead Viaduct in the Yorkshire Dales

Ribblehead Viaduct

A viaduct is a bridge formed of several smaller strands.  My wife had seen something in a guidebook about Ribblehead Viaduct, and had caught a glimpse of it on our first drive through the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  But on our return visit to Askrigg, she saw the long bridge, and some sheep gathered around a small parking area along the road, and so she stopped the car for a few moments.

It had been warm the day before, short pants weather, out where we were staying near Lancaster, along the West coast of England.  But returning to the Dales, on this foggy morning, we were glad we had returned with our long pants, warm shirts, and jackets.  The sheep might have had their woolly coats, but we needed extra clothing to keep us warm, and block out the chill breeze. 

"Uh, could I borrow your woolly coat?"

I once knew a lady who claimed she didn’t need to travel.  If she drove anywhere, to visit anything or anyone, she returned home by that evening.  Home was where she felt comfortable: it was where she felt she belonged.  And she was right about the complexities and complications associated with travel: I’ll give her that.  She argued that she could see anything she wanted on the internet, or by reading a book or magazine, and to a certain extent, I’ll grant her that as well.  I certainly could have read up, done endless study on the places we visited, and emerged with a knowledge of Holmfirth, Thirsk, and Askrigg that would have rivaled many of the locals.


But there’s one aspect of travel that you can never substitute with research, and it’s those special places you discover along the way, that you’d never learn about or really appreciate unless you were there to notice them.  For me, Ribblehead Viaduct is one such place.  I still remember the amazement I felt standing there in the tall grass, gazing at that long stretch of stonework.  I can still feel the chill wind blowing so hard I had to remove my hat or I would lose it.  I remember how I smiled at those sheep wandering around in the grasses.  They might have looked unconcerned, but they kept their distance from me.  After we took our photographs, we headed back to the car, and approached a food truck in the hopes of warming up with a cup of tea.  But the people inside hadn’t opened up yet, so we got back in our car and continued onward.

Someday I’d like to return there, and take the walk featured in the “Walk of the Week” video below.  For Ribblehead Viaduct is an awesome example of human achievement, set amid some of the most pastoral landscape imaginable.  It has an interesting history, and reading about how it was built can give you a sense of its importance and history.  But such knowledge is empty and incomplete without traveling there and actually seeing it.  Nor can photographs convey what I experienced standing there on that cold, cloudy morning, gazing across the windswept field at Ribblehead Viaduct.  

"We've unfinished business, Ribblehead."

I’m glad we discovered it

Dragon Dave

Related Internet Links
Walk of the Week (10 minute video)

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