Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two Spectacular Things to See

Stephen and I had a lovely day off yesterday and firstly went up to Bolton Abbey Estate near Ilkley, where we had a long walk interrupted by a large lunch at the excellent cafe by the river.

Here's the River Wharfe at Bolton Abbey:

It's a beautiful, wide river, though yesterday was far deeper and flowing far faster than ever I've seen it before, because of the recent melted snow, of course.

My favourite thing at Bolton Abbey throughout my childhood was the Strid, and I'm still fascinated by it.

At one point on the Bolton Abbey Estate, the whole wide river has to pass through a gap in the rocks which is probably less than a couple of yards wide. It's called the Strid because it looks as though you could stride across it - - and if you were a good jumper, very confident, and if it was a hot, dry day in summer so the rocks weren't wet and slippery, and the river was very low - - well, then you probably could.

And some people have jumped it, and lived to tell the tale. They were all total idiots, though, I have to say.

If you think about it, you realise that in order to get through the narrow gap the whole river must, in effect, turn sideways. So if the depth in the photo above now becomes the width - - well, of course, the width must become the depth and the Strid is incredibly deep with a whole mass of underground water-filled caverns.

So if you jump, and you don't land safely, you die. Always. It swirls you down and down and that's it - nobody has ever survived.

I remember going along the path to the Strid as a very young child, riding on my mum's cousin Frank's shoulders, and that scarily enjoyable sense of anticipation at seeing this very scary place.

Yesterday, with all the extra water, it was at its most wild and whooshy.

The water was splashing all over the rocks. I know it's hard to tell the scale from this photo - the narrowest gap's still just a couple of yards - - but I just wasn't going to go any nearer to put something there to give it scale. You can take incredibly brave investigative reporting too far.

After our Bolton Abbey walk we went back to Leeds and saw James Cameron's film Avatar. I'm not going to link to it, because it's probably best not to know too much about it before you see it. It's not the kind of film where you need to have any previous knowledge and it doesn't have a complicated plot. We saw it in 3D: I wasn't sure if it would be possible to enjoy a whole film in 3D. But take it from me, it is.

What you should do is go to a cinema - - because it just won't be the same on a small screen - and see it in 3D, because that is how it should be seen. I strongly recommend that you do this. Soon.

As for me, I had a great walk, two lovely meals out and two really spectacular sights: one real and one man-made. Fantastic!


Anonymous Ruth said...

How fantastic! Lots to celebrate - a day off, a walk and a cinema visit. Very impressive, congratulations. (And you're right about Avatar in 3D, it's an excellent use of technology.)

10:05 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

My son, Ian, has urged me to see "Avatar" but I tend to ignore his recommendations because he has always been in to the kind of film that turns me off - James Bond, Sci-Fi, action and shoot-em-ups. However, with the addition of your recommendaton I may just go.

12:26 pm  
Anonymous gingerfield said...

The story goes that Bolton Abbey was founded to mark the Boy of Egremont who drowned in the strid, pulled from his horse by his dog as the horse pulled up on reaching the water, the dog, leash in it's master's hand, jumped.

On the subject of striding over the striding place there is a particular spot where the bank is higher on one side than than the other, giving you that extra second in the air. The rocks are even worn from the feet of all the leapers over the years. You need to get across the other side of the river from the side on which most people arrive at the strid and jump back. Of course, as you say, if you don't make it you may never be seen again but if you never raise your heart beat above lying-down-in-a-darkened room level then you are were never really alive anyway

8:07 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Ruth - yes, it was a lovely day.
YP - Avatar is NOT in any way "deep" so please don't expect it to be - - but it is visually stunning and really held my attention.
Gingerfield - I like your adventurous attitude - but leaping the Strid is a leap too far to me - the odds are not good even for athletic people!

11:46 pm  

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