When I left college a few years ago (...ahem, actually 35 years ago) it was a defining moment in terms of where I would spend the rest of my life.
My qualifications made me lean towards the world of finance and banking, and that meant, if I was going to really progress, probably working in London.
We had friends down there and already some of my contemporaries were starting to earn good money in the South-East. But try as I might I really could not see myself being a part of the hustle and bustle of the London commute (one friend in Gravesend spent four hours daily travelling to or from work ... but apparently it was a good job).
London is an impressive place and a marvellous capital city and without a doubt it was the place to forge a lucrative career but I just could not do it. I (or rather “we” as our wedding was nigh) decided the M62 was as far south as we wanted to live, and so by a strange twist of fate we found work in Stockton-on-Tees.
We actually loved it up there, and the previously unexplored North York Moors became our weekend stomping ground and remain high in our affections. While there we also used to head west along the A66 to Scotch Corner giving us easy access to the northern Dales of Swaledale, Teesdale, Weardale and Tynedale. They were five happy years.
But my fate was in the hands of others and I was under great pressure to take up a position in the West Midlands and refusal would have set me back several years. Our solution, pack in our jobs and return to East Lancashire to renew our acquaintance with the western Dales and Lake District and make a living in horticulture.
And, as things have turned out, we have had a happy time striking our own idea of the work-life balance, raising a family, and there is little I would change, never having to commute more than 18 minutes to work. The beer is good round here, too,
Strangely, however, despite exploring all parts of the north country, somehow, upper Nidderdale has rarely cropped up as an option as a day out. Fountains Abbey, Brimham Rocks, Pateley Bridge and How Stean have all been ticked but never the hillside village of Middlesmoor and the Scar House and Angram reservoirs. Perhaps it is because they fall (wrongly) just outside the Dales National Park and the road to the valley head is a dead end. Who knows?
At long last this glaring gap was filled on a rare dry day a week or so ago. Despite fairly soft ground in places the circuit from a Scar House reservoir across the moorland track to Middlesmoor for a pint in The Crown, down to Lofthouse before returning via the Nidd valley to the magnificent dam at Scar House Reservoir is well worth a visit. There is ample parking nearby and the routes easy. Above all, the views down dale to Gouthwaite reservoir are lovely.
So dear Niddedale, sorry for ignoring you for so long, but you can be assured I will return soon to get to know you that little bit better.