By Judy Leaver, Guest Blogger
Hiking the Yorkshire Dales has meant one gorgeous day after the next, walking alongside the gleefully rushing River Wharfe or River Dee on one side, or on the other, verdant farm land speckled with sheep and cattle. Some pastures have precise rows of fresh cut hay crossing the field in military formation. While the sun was plentiful, farmers had revved up their red and blue mighty machines and were madly bailing, wrapping and storing hay before the predicted rain.
Besides the feast for our eyes, we have been treated to a cornucopia of scents—fresh mown hay, clear river water, fragrant Queen Anne’s lace and deep purple butterfly bushes—and the combined freshness of countless trees, bracken, wild rhubarb, daisies, clover, and sundry other living things in the countryside.
A new element to our walk in the Dales emerged on the stiles just outside the village of Dent. Square plaques of bronze about 6” x 6” began to appear on the upright poles of the stiles, on either side to greet hikers both coming and going. They were clearly children’s drawings developed into bas relief on these plaques.
The subject of each one was different, and seems to have been whatever outdoor subject or theme struck the artist’s fancy. The first one we saw showed a child up on Barth Bridge, with what appeared to be trolls beneath it—cute and clever, as we were right beside that bridge. After that, we were treated to a tractor, snail, butterfly, woodpecker, rain cloud with big juicy raindrops, and another kind of bird. Maybe 20 plaques in all.
I wondered what school, camp or church group hosted such a lovely project. We were already seduced by the stunning scenery of the Dales, but to have these young artists provide their own interpretation of the scenery as we lumbered across these stiles was a sweet surprise.