Sunday, 31st May, Barnoldswick to Wycollar, 13.82 miles
Tommy and I are being escorted today by Jodie and her lovely Spanish mare, Ellie, all the way to our next village destination in the South Pennines through country where Yorkshire and Lancashire collide. This is going to be a real treat for me as I am leaving the navigation to Jodie who knows the way, and I won’t have to consult my map at all. She manages to take us across country virtually all the way only crossing a few main roads on the way. However, this meant there were many, many gates to get through as the bridle path weaved its way through field after field of livestock. I wish we had been counting but there must have been at least 30, if not more. (What do you think Jodie?)
This is obviously a day for numbers. It all began before we even got out of Kate’s yard. We have to wait for a continuous crocodile of tractors, ancient and a little less ancient, to wind their way up the track for a tractor fest up the hill. To hazard a guess, there must have been at least 30, if not more!
It was also an interesting experience to be accompanied after so many rides on our own. You would have thought it would have meant Tommy would be more relaxed in the company of another horse, but I found the opposite to be true. When Ellie spooked at a large boulder in our path or at least refused to go forward towards it, then Tommy immediately became suspicious too, of something we have passed on endless occasions without objection. I was also nearly knocked to the ground by Tommy. We had come to a gate which was a particularly awkward one with a narrow path on the other side with shredded black plastic snagged on the barbed wire flapping terrifyingly in the breeze. I had got off to open the gate to let us through into the narrow gap before getting past the flapping plastic. Tommy suddenly leapt forward lifting me clean off the ground and I landed with what felt like a few feet further forward than I should have been, luckily landing on my feet thus saving myself from being trampled under his feet. My guardian angels were watching over me for sure. In fact, when I am computering, the image of St Michael often pops up fleetingly……funny that!
Anyway, we arrived at our destination at the pretty village of Wycollar without too many mishaps, Tommy taking full advantage of my distraction chatting to Jodie to get his head down and grab mouthfuls of lush grass whenever he could. I usually only allow him to do this when we have stopped to consult the map (which is often) or have stopped for a proper break. Otherwise, it is all he can think about….and we have work to do. He’s a good boy though. He knows when I mean business. Mostly. I have started to teach him the difference between ‘walk on grass’ which means walking on the grass verge usually to avoid the stoney track and ‘grass stop’ which means it’s map review time and he can get his head down for a moment or two while I concentrate on where we are. In fact he is so used to this that he automatically stops at waymarkers expecting to get a feed!
There is no doubting, Tommy is a character. He jumped out of Kate’s sand school when we went to send him round to check he was sound after his rest, more interested in going to say hello to the girls in the neighbouring field. Who could blame him after being on his own after a few days? I love this boy.
Anyway, arriving in the pretty village of Wycollar, we meet Fiona from Kate’s yard who takes some of the above pictures and says this is the place where artists come to paint the ford and the bridge. After a welcome hot chocolate to warm us up, we bid farewell and all go our separate ways, Tommy always anxious to get going.
Making our way to our next stop, we climb the hill out of Wycollar, stepping into another world as we arrive at an isolated, run down farm straight out of Wuthering Heights.