The latest Discovery Walk took place on Sunday 21st August and 11 of us, aged between 4 and 84, set out from Burnsall in perfect weather. The first half mile or so involved crossing a series of small fields separated by gritstone step stiles in the limestone walls. We entertained the youngsters by trying to identify the various breeds of sheep from their face markings and looking for interesting feathers and leaves, finding crystals in the walls, naming the wildflowers and generally getting to know each other.

A short, sharp climb up the only real hill on our route separated the hares from the tortoises and we dropped back down to a gravel track. It was here that one of the group managed to catch a grasshopper and an empty hummus pot provided us with an opportunity to examine it closely. A little further on we came to a ‘sheep creep’ (marked on the OS map) which is a tunnel under the Grassington/Burnsall road allowing the sheep safe passage to the other side.

Leaving the road, we followed a narrow, double-walled path with a couple of places where the wall had collapsed. It is always worth looking closely here as the limestones inside a wall are free of lichens and moss, making it much easier to see any fossils. We found one stone with two clear ammonites, a small shell and some horsetails. This path also afforded us the opportunity to study a greater variety of wildflowers.

Heading down a long flight of steps to the river, we kept our eyes open for river birds but, on this occasion, only the ubiquitous mallards put in an appearance. The youngsters looked (in vain) for fungi as we passed through the trees and mossy banks but they did identify some of the trees and talked about the fish and crayfish in the river. We heard the distinctive call of a green woodpecker but it kept out of sight.

Eventually, turning away from the river towards Burnsall’s ancient church, we passed the Stockdale’s house, originally of 16th century construction but added to and changed over the years. Oddly, the coat of arms on the front is depicted upside down and this led to a lively debate as to why this might be so.

Unfortunately, we had no time left to go into the church but it is very well worth a visit and just over the wall is Burnsall Primary School, built by Sir William Craven in 1601 and in constant use as a school ever since.

A great time was had by all and it seems likely that we will gain a few new members as a result.

Laurie Prowse