The first of our three ‘Discovery Walks’ was held in Kettlewell on Sunday 7th August in beautiful summer sunshine. We began at the bridge over the Wharfe noting that it was originally much narrower. The downstream half of the bridge was built 1605 and the maker’s mark TW can still be seen on the keystone. Stalactites three to four inches long can be seen under the arch suggesting a growth rate of about an inch per century. The upstream part was built much later doubling the width of the roadway.

We then explored the riverside path, downstream from the bridge, stopping frequently to identify a wide variety of wildflowers and several interesting fungi. It was here that, during our earlier recce of the route, we discovered the skeletal remains of several crayfish and wondered if they had been caught by birds or even by otters. Examination of the drystone walls revealed several horsetail fossils set in a chunk of limestone.

Seeking more about the local history, we walked up behind the 17th century Bluebell Inn and found some of the oldest houses in the village. Cam Cottage bears a datestone over the door showing 1652 and the Vicarage has a datestone which appears to show 1647. There are various other 17th century buildings many of which have been altered, or added to, over the years.

Moving into the churchyard, the group found the modern stone labyrinth beyond the gravestones and admired the ancient church tower. The remainder of the church was rebuilt much later when the building was found to be unsafe. We spotted a clear OS benchmark at the base of the tower.

At mid-afternoon on a warm day, we did not expect to see much in the way of birdlife but we were delighted to be serenaded by a young robin who showed us the way through the churchyard.

We had a wonderful time and are looking forward to next event in Burnsall on Sunday 21st Aug. Meet at 1.45pm near the toilets in the village green car park, not over the bridge). Finish by 4pm at the latest.

Laurie Prowse