Grassington: Getting lost around Malham

In 1996 Dyce took his caravan up to Grassington, quite late in the year. Dave came down from Edinburgh. The site was closing the following week, but it was still full and a helluva way to the loo; Dyce reminded himself to get a van with a toilet. Saturday was hot and sunny and they watched the game at Upper Wharfedale RUFC, of John Spencer fame. Ex-England international and local solicitor. We’d spotted him earlier walking up the main square – we’d just had lunch in a small cafe that didn’t do chips, amazing – Dyce built his lunch round a plate of chips. It’s the second team in a local derby, Harrogate, and they lose. Still it’s a lovely day for drinking out of doors and filling that awkward bewitching hour or two. When Dyce returned from the loo Dave was, as usual, in conversation with one of their committee men. They find out how a team out in the sticks does so well in the national leagues. They are well organised and it all starts from the top. And the president – John Spencer.

Sunday they do the short walk from Arncliffe to Kettlewell. Everybody else is doing it too, it’s a leukaemia day. They join in with two couples who ask if there was anywhere to get a drink. Well there’s the Falcon in Arnecliffe, but you’ll have to run the gauntlet with the bold Robbo, the landlord with attitude. Dyce and Sheila had been the summer before. She sat out on the green and Dyce went in and ordered.

‘Two and a half pints of lager, and two packets of crisps please.’

He looked at Dyce as if he’d just been dropped in the middle of the road by a horse. Dyce received two glasses and three bottles containing insipid straw coloured fluid.

‘We don’t do crisps.’

You’d best be a Scottish and Newcastle fan, and like your beer flat out of a jug, if you want to buy a drink here.  Because that’s how he liked it. Dyce informed  the leukaemia fund raisers what to expect and they weren’t disappointed. Maybe Robbo hadn’t quite had his dose, or perhaps he was irritated by having to serve so many people. It interfered with his normal Sunday.

They did Buckden Pike on Monday, and got lost over Malham on Wednesday. The trouble was Dave, having been in the army, fancied himself as a map reader. Dyce didn’t, so he had a path and stile map. It shows the walls and the field shapes and what type of stile to expect, so you don’t need an ordnance survey map really. Well even Dyce was getting worried that they were far too much to the left, but all the fields looked right and the path conformed to the stile map, but Dave wasn’t happy. They got to the silent bit when neither of them was going to back down. And then, a recognisable landmark – Dyce’s silly map was right. More silence. Dyce wasn’t sure what to say. Thirty or so minutes later,

‘You were right, Dicey.’ He’s the only person who calls Dyce this. ‘I could have sworn we were too far over.’

‘The map was right, not me. I’m no good at map reading.’ said Dyce. The atmosphere thaws. Dave was a big man in lots of ways. From now on, Dyce decided to defer to his map reading, it’s easier. But it was a moment to savour.

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