I’d identified the area around Hubberholme as an essential must-come-back-here stopover, especially the secluded valley with the River Wharfe running all the way along it, for a few miles west of Buckden.
Onto the second week of being a motorhome owner and it was finally time to get it out and play. And so it came to pass, a veritable baptism of ice, a trip to snowbound Yorkshire with my friend Bruce. I was eased in gently after a three hour drive from the Midlands and a stopover at his parent’s warm, comfortable house on the outskirts of Harrogate. After a decent breakfast we headed north west and out to Skipton, then a right turn and up towards Grassington (a stop to buy new boots) and northwards to the Kettlewell area. Many years ago, when I first discovered this part of the Dales, I’d identified the area around Hubberholme as an essential must-come-back-here stopover, especially the secluded valley with the River Wharfe running all the way along it, for a few miles west of Buckden. So it was more than a happy co-incidence to find out that the place Bruce had in mind, where he had already done previous stopovers was a passing place in that exact same spot. I even have a photo of myself and my ex-wife parked there in the early 90s.
I took to driving it naturally enough and Bruce tempted fate after an hour or so, in saying that he thought I’d quickly mastered the size and width of the vehicle and appeared to be driving it reasonably competently. The snow covered Dales were a picture as we glided northwards with hardly a car to be seen. We pulled up mid-afternoon, before going for a walk across the fields, during which a snowstorm moved in and curtailed our adventure. It was certainly nice to get back to base camp and get the heating fired up. It was very soon toasty warm and nightfall came in quickly. After a couple of hours enjoying the home comforts for the first time, and nervously confronting the more technical aspects of getting the van operative in its resting place (gas, heating, fridge etc) we decided to undertake the walk to the George Inn, approximately three miles away. We wrapped up, as it was -3 degrees, but the upside was the incredibly clear wraparound starry sky and crisp snow and ice under foot. The walk took under an hour but gave us ample opportunity to build up a ravenous appetite. By the time we arrived at the pub, I was in the mood for an ale or two and then possibly the best pub fish and chips I can remember tasting, coupled with the warm welcome from husband and wife team Jackie and Ed, who had moved in eighteen months beforehand and made the place a much more welcoming proposition than under the previous grumpy landlord, who Bruce had warned me about on the walk. Anyway, all that was unfounded and by the end of the night we’d even had an invite to come back and talk to them about doing a Chilled Cider-style weekend at their venue. The walk home didn’t seem as long and the bed above the boot was actually quite comfortable, with built in ceiling speakers and reading lights. I slept like a baby, except for the occasional noise from the pump waking me, not to mention my snoring which kept Bruce awake.
We awoke to thick snowfall and therefore the promised ‘full English’ was a more hurried affair than we’d reckoned upon, but still glorious to be using the three ringed gas cooker and hotplate, knowing that it had been the first meal cooked on the hob. By mid morning, we were off and running again, setting the controls for Harrogate once more and the end of a very enjoyable first night stop.