Being the Summer Solstice and not having the usual surfeit of red wine last night, I rose at 5 am ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’ and set off for an old haunt of mine – the beautiful hamlet of Yockenthwaite in gorgeous Langstrothdale.
I spent quite a lot of my caving life there many years ago – the Dale is situated in carboniferous limestone and numerous caves abound – I have been in most of them at one time or another – but the one thing I wanted to see was the Neolithic Stone Circle which lies near the bank of the river. I had only seen it in photographs but it looked like a beautiful spot. And the very best time to see it would be at early light, just as the mist is clearing.
I was out of the house at 10 past 5 and was on my way – driving over the moors a mist was starting to burn off with the weak sun and I drove through this mist for a few miles. Eventually the road started to rise and I headed through the little Dales villages with enchanting names – Kettlewell, Buckden, Starbotton and Hubberholme and drove along the fledgling river Wharfe towards Yockenthwaite. This is a remote part of North Yorkshire and is jaw-droppingly beautiful. And peaceful – no-one about, just the sheep and pheasants – and a red kite hunting for breakfast.
I parked the car in a lay-by and saw the circle before me – over a wall and across the river. Stepping gingerly on the slippery stones, and holding tightly onto the camera I managed to cross the river without getting too wet (or dropping the camera) and walked to the circle. It really is an amazing thing to see – and touch. Stone Circles really only exist in the UK (almost nowhere else in the world has them) and just to touch them and feel them is really special.
No one is sure whether this one is a proper stone circle or a ‘ring cairn‘ (I think a circle), but it is a superb and very relaxing place to stop awhile and have your breakfast amongst the wild flowers and a 4500 year old circle. I wondered if the people who built this circle appreciated the beauty of the Dale and the tranquility of this spot and I am sure they must have. Perfect!