Saturday, September 03, 2016

No need for speed

"0-320mph in under four seconds", said our taxi driver.

He was about six feet tall, with a walrus moustache and beard but the sides of his face were clean shaven and he had a strong Yorkshire accent. The minibus he had picked us up in didn't look that fast, but he wasn't talking about how quickly it would go. He was telling me about his interest in drag-racing.

"Uses four and a half gallons of fuel in that time", he said.

He had a glint in his eye, as if he was visualising himself strapped in to a dragster, which was not entirely comforting as we were driving along a sinuous road, winding its way through the gorgeous Yorkshire Dales. The designers of the bus had not really designed it for speed, but that didn't stop him from cutting through the esses of the bends sending fountains of spray flying up from the road as the rain came down. Now, while I felt a little nervous, I must admit he drove skilfully and we were never in any danger. But I could see his day job frustrated him.

"Going there next week", he said. "Just put a mattress in the back of the bus for the week."

 The beautiful green hills drifted by, as did the lovely rivers and streams, tumbling over grey rocks, the waters like a dark Yorkshire ale. Having woken in the wee early hours of the morning, I drifted off, leaving the burden of conversation to my fellow travellers in the rows behind. I had forgotten Fiona passed into the clutches of Morpheus almost as soon as the car had set off and her husband, John, is naturally quiet. Colleen elected not to shout from the back row.

I felt the car twist around a roundabout and opened my eyes. "Nearly there" said our would-be dragster. Indeed, within a few minutes we entered the postcard pretty town of Ilkley and soon were at our hotel, situated just a few yards from the start of the Dales Way.

Tomorrow we start six days of hiking through some of the prettiest countryside in the land.  We'll be going a lot slower than a dragster. And that will be just fine.

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