Cowboy On National Parks Trail.

I planned to describe the attraction of the Yorkshire Dales,
Why over 1.75 million Brits would visit there this coming year?
What bringing the Tour de France through this region?
Memories of what it was like to farm there.
The scenic beauty,
Land that reflects Yorkshire attitude.
The setting of Herriot and his veterinary tales.
Inspiration for Charles Kingsley to write ‘The Water Babies’,
That was the plan…

I’m not the first to advise the importance of “having a plan” for anything to do with travel; I may be the first to add the caveat;
“Make sure you have a cunning backup plan too!”

21 July 2013

It was Sunday and the good weather continued. We got away early as planned and had left the urban sprawl behind before most people had risen from a Sunday lie in. From Ilkley we took the “back roads.” Narrow but at that time of the morning quiet; passing behind Bolton Abbey before dropping into Burnsall from the Appletreewick direction. Today I wanted some pictures for my planned article from deeper into Dales Country. Wensleydale was on my mind. A few good shots before the sunlight got too strong and a picnic by a beck while I “took in the vibes” and perhaps jotted down a few thoughts and notes for later use. From Kettlewell the road up dale changes its mood completely as the valley narrows in. Twisting and turning like an unbacked filley; I was soon hearing suggestions of a required stop from my two companions as the coffee before leaving made its presence felt. But I had a plan, I had it covered. Starbotton; quaint and picturesque is at the midpoint between Kettlewell and Buckden where I remembered a small car park with facilities that sits at the back of the small village shop. With luck the shop would be open and we could purchase a few of the excellent small cakes or scones to add to our picnic. The shop was open and I negotiated through the group of walkers that were gathered around the narrow and tree-lined entrance way that climbs into the car park at the rear. The bottom of the car park was already quite busy with “serious” walkers (the ones that carry ski poles) completing their pre-expeditionary routines.  Mindful of the two dogs that we had, also in need of an airing, I made my way up and parked in the quiet and empty corner at the top. Five minutes later, the dogs duly “aired” the three of us trudged back down to visit the shop for our goodies.

The “What Happened Next…”

We entered the tiny village store. Pressed our eager noises against the display of limited though tempting assortment of goodies. Made our selection of highlights to add value to our picnic meal and, after the exchange of a few pleasantries with the amiable shop keeper, happily paid over our monies to help support the local economy. Within perhaps 10 minutes we were contentedly re-entering the car park entrance chatting about the planned day ahead. We were no more than a third of the way back up the slope to where the car was parked when one of my companions stopped abruptly:

“What’s that pink notice on the windshield of the car?”

“Dunno. Probably a flier for a local event or something.” It was the first thing that came to mind. But no, It was a ticket; we were in a Pay & Display Car Park… Apparently!


Parking Ticket

In disbelief we looked around. Nowhere within sight of the car could we find any notice or signage of any kind. We looked at a greater distance. There would be a yellow bibbed official who had issued the ticket somewhere: None. Right at the bottom of the car park, where the other early visitors had parked up we spied the notice board and between the bodies, Ah… Yes there was the stainless steel box of a Ticket machine. Our pink notice demand an all day fee now and production at the National Parks Office in Grassington or risk prosecution under by-laws. Disbelief was replaced with a sense of typical Yorkshire outrage. It was decided a two hour ticket was ransom enough and we would investigate further. Where were the “Have You Paid & Displayed Notices” that we understood were a requirement at such locations.

Car Park Board and Ticket Machine

wooden signage

The first is the main board which you don’t see when entering the site and the second is at the entrance. The subject rumbled on all day between us. Discrete and easily missable signage followed by ransom demand seem inappropriate and by the end of the day my attitude was very much “They think I can read a wooden notice whilst driving through pedestrians? I’ll be delighted to see them in court!” A few days later I shoved the offending pink ticket, our Pay and Display Ticket and a short note containing the details and the fact I would be emailing the appropriate person at complaints.

I had calmed down slightly by the time I sent in my email of complaint. I included the exact details of the event, the pin-point GEO location of where my car was parked and attached the images shown here. I also conveyed my intention of writing this post, invited a response from the National Park Authority and sat back to wait. I received a very courteous and prompt reply; my email was being forwarded to the Head of Rangers; who followed up the very next day.

My opinion of National Parks Officers as tending to be officious and intransigent was about to be challenged to change. I had received prompt acknowledgement and then personal attention to what I had submitted. Time had been taken over this email and it was “conversational” and promise was made to look into the visitor management and signage at the location that I was talking about. I felt that I had some kind of small human relationship with the people trusted with the guardianship of this precious place. I started to appreciate the problem of balancing conservation with access and the often conflicting interests within the National Park. I wanted to know more.  A cunning plan was forming. Are Parks Rangers a “special” sort of person? What walks of life do they come from and what pressures do they work under?

I replied to the email with thanks for the attention and a request. I’d like to spend time with a Ranger and see “first hand” what their work involves for a future article I’m planning about A Day In the Life of a National Parks Ranger. Once again my communication has been rapidly forwarded and acknowledged: this time by the Media Officer at YDNP. I hope we can get something arranged in the near future.

I have promised to notify the Head of Rangers where and when this is published which I will do. Perhaps they will comment which would be nice. Meanwhile I have a cunning plan…

The “What Happens Next…”

I plan to visit the Yorkshire Dales to describe the attraction,
Why over 1.75 million Brits would visit there this coming year?
What’s bringing the Tour de France through this region?
Memories of what it was like to farm there.
The scenic beauty,
Land that reflects Yorkshire attitude.
The setting of Herriot and his veterinary tales.
Inspiration for Charles Kingsley to write ‘The Water Babies’,
That’s the plan but we’ll see how it turns out.


Like Baldrick from Black Adder
It always pays to have a cunning plan…
And then have a cunning back up plan too!



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1 Comment on “The Essentials Of Planning”


    That could have had destroyed the whole day… I’m glad that they addressed the problem like that, gives hope!

    It’s truly fascinating how plans can change like that, but that’s part of life’s beauty actually :-)

    I’m really looking forward to both, hopefully, read about “A Day In the Life of a National Parks Ranger” and more about the Yorkshire scenic beauty AND attitude and that at the very setting of Herriot and his veterinary tales, which I’m a HUGE fan of. So loved it (especially their humour!) when they did show it here in Sweden!

    Right now they show “Heartbeat” called Back to Adiensfield in Swedish TV, which I also love. My absolute favourite there is Claude Greengrass, always trying to earn some money but always lost it in the end….

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