When I bought the van I always thought I’d have trips all year round. I wasn’t sure what the reality of this would be, frozen water pipes, frozen toes and basically just frozen everything, oh and maybe getting snowed in and trapped!
I’ve had trips as late as November but never December and into the New Year, when the weather is usually at it’s coldest.
The New Year came and went ( I had a face time party with my best mate, rock and roll) and then out came the map to have a look at possible places to go. I’d seen a lovely looking site in the Yorkshire Dales and there’s so many swim spots in the area, so I booked a couple of nights away a week into January.
There’s always a few things that ramp up the anxiety before going away, how long it is since I towed, going to a new place and of course the weather. I don’t think I could have a picked a more unsettled, cold and unpredictable time to travel and all week I was umming and ahing whether I should go. The other thing I wasn’t sure about was whether my plug in radiator would keep Baxter and I warm, it did with the odd top of heat from lighting all 3 rings on the hob.
But go I did and as I was travelling down the A1 the sun was shining, the music was blasting and Baxter was happily sleeping on the seat next to me. If you’re old enough, it was a bit of a Michael Fish moment, the storm really wasn’t going to be that bad! Off I went over the hills and far away! The sat nav said I was approximately 5 minutes away from the site, I’d made it and all was well in the world. Then something very bizarre happened, it was like someone tipped a lorry load of snow on the roads in said 5 minutes and then 1 minute from the site I find myself at the bottom of a very very steep hill, now covered in snow.
This was the moment any person towing anything without a 4x4 dreads. If the car could have spoken to me it would have been along the lines of “you’re kidding right!?!” maybe with an expletive or 3 thrown in. Quickly put the groaning car into 1st gear and hoped the clutch would get us to the top. I could have walked faster up the hill, but the sense of relief when I saw the sign for the site was unbelievable, we’d made it!
I’d planned to walk a circular route that went through Malham Cove and then round to a swim spot called Janet’s Foss. And what a stunning, wild, wet and breath-taking walk it was and then near the end I hoped to swim at Janet’s Foss.
I always have to say that wild swimming on your own is not ideal or really recommended, but I always way up the conditions, the temperature, my access in and out of the water and how I’m feeling on the day. There had been a lot of rain so the Foss was running pretty wild. I think I stood on the bank for about 5 mins thinking I would give it a miss when 4, what looked like wild swimmers, came down to the bank. You may wonder how I knew they were wild swimmers from first glance. Think dry robes, dry bags and a longing look at the water, when you know you know. We had a quick discussion about the conditions and went in and I’m so glad I did. Meeting this lovely group of swimmers made my day and the swim was exhilarating, a completely different experience to the sea.
I finished the walk with a huge smile on my face and headed back to the caravan to find Baxter all warm and toasty and snuggled up. He would be going on a shorter walk the next day (much to his dismay) to a river spot called Eel Pool, which was equally beautiful.
So my first real winter trip had been a success, yes I was a scared witless going up that bank, but I did it and I’d do it again. I know it isn’t for everyone, but I need to do these things and push myself to see if it is possible and do you know what, it usually is!