Posted: 8/31/2010


       Kilnsey Crag is a fantastic beauty spot in Upper Wharfedale. There is a busy pub The Cragside Tennants Arms, a trout farm, fly fishing, , ducks, geese, guinea fowls,  Tiggy and Wiggy, a couple of kine kine pigs, mountain goats and lots of sheep and dry stone walls alongside the narrow road. the buildings are from 1658 AD. The limestone crag is 170 feet high with a 40 foot overhang to challenge climbers.

      It is the site for the annual Kilnsey Show, the World Cup of local agricultural shows and local sport and fun. Recent years have had lousy weather, but this Tuesday after the bank holiday was perfect, dry, sunny and warm.  20,000 plus flocked up the valley past such picturesque towns and villages as Otley, Ilkley, Bolton Abbey, Grassington, Kettlewell. The road is the B6160, formerly an old Roman marching road, Mastilles Lane.

     The highlight for me were the fell races. Fells are high steep hills or mountains and  I jumped over a small stream along with hundreds more and walked almost vertically for about 500 metres to get a view a third the way up, high above the show field as the fell racers were to pass by. We had a race for the Under 12's, teenagers and open.

     All the competitors in singlets, shorts and lightweight walking shoes were skinny and wirey with not an ounce of fat on the serious ones. They have to go around a red flag at the summit and then come down, across the brook, hop on a wall on to the road and into the showgrounds and half way along the grass inner circle.  I used to do some cross country racing in my youth, but never up mountains. it's exhausting just to watch. It's a hard slog uphill and coming down the runners take long strides and bounce like mountain goats.

     Earlier in the day they had sheep dog trials, dry stone wall making, cake baking, jam making, flower and vegetable arranging, and all manner and classes of sheep, pigs and cattle and horse presentations. Ten breeds of sheep were on show from upland farmers and prize beef cattle including supreme champion Limousin, Tomhouse Earl. The sheep don't have names but answer to baaa !

     I took the Dales Bus, which depart from Skipton and Ilkley and only seats 24. On the way back there were 40 standing on the last bus. There should be more public transport. Cars were charged 15 a vehicle and the chance to keep so many vehicles off the narrow country roads could have been halved with more foresight.  Three miles further is one of my favourite villages, Arncliff, and the annual gala, now called Littondale Gala after the whole area. Besides the fell races I used to enjoy the tug of war and wellie boot throwing.

    Returning to civilisation I saw lots of pheasants in the fields and the birds flocking for worms and seeds as farmers churned up furrows in their wheat fields. This England !!