Sunday, February 18, 2007


It’s been a glorious, sunny day today and we all went to the River Wharfe near Bolton Abbey. The Communist can’t walk too far these days so stayed by the excellent Cavendish Pavilion café while Stephen, Emily, Gareth, my mother and I all set off to walk to the Strid.

I know I’ve mentioned the Strid before on this blog, but it never fails to thrill me. I love to watch fast-moving water both on the coast and in rivers, and there aren’t many places like the Strid. Today, after the recent rain, it was particularly spectacular.

Here’s the River Wharfe a little way upstream of the Strid. A big, wide river crossed by a big, solid Victorian bridge.

Here’s the view upstream from the bridge:

At the Strid, half a mile or so downstream of the bridge, all that volume of water turns itself sideways and squeezes through a tiny gap in the rocks which looks so narrow that you could stride across: “Strid” means “stride”.

Nobody, I should think, would have even been tempted to try it today, because the river was so high it was splashing over the surrounding rocks. But I’ve been there when the rocks have been dry: and it does look possible to jump across.

Actually, it’s a bit of an optical illusion because if you look at the Strid from the other side it looks much wider. But it’s true that a good athlete could jump it if the rocks on the other side were not slippery.

Some people, I’m sure, have jumped it and lived to tell the tale. But many more have not. Of course, if you consider all that width of water going through that gap it’s obvious that it must be really deep: it sucks you down into underground caverns.

Nobody has ever fallen in there and survived: and yet still some people insist on trying, in spite of all the warnings.

It’s a fascinating place: both beautiful and terrifying.


Anonymous David said...

I've known the Strid all my life, but never come across a better description of it. Your words (like "sideways") and pictures (of all that water just waiting to dive-bomb into the chasm) leave one in no doubt as to the hypnotic attraction of the place. It riveted me as a kid and still does. - Stand well back. (Brrrr.)

8:29 pm  

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