IT just goes to show how careful you have to be when setting out for a walk - as this picture of the trig point at Pendle Hill shows. A colleague, who does a lot of the guided walks for the paper, set off to the summit of the hill when the weather was quit respectful, but the fog came in on her way up, and once at the top, vision was very restricted - and freezing cold to boot. She tells me despite being fairly familiar with the paths on the hill, it was far from easy navigating her way back down, and she has pledged to take a compass at all times, from now on. After all, one cannot rely on mobile phones - even with a compass app.

A QUICK survey of the office came up with more than a couple of cooking disasters over the Christmas and New Year holiday. There were the Brussels sprouts that were left so long boiling away in a pan of water that the water eventually evaporated, leaving the sprouts stuck to the bottom of the pan. They were chipped off, put in another pan of water, to take away the burnt taste - but apparently, it didn't work. Another told of relatives who booked a Christmas getaway in the Lakes and pre-arranged for their enormously expensive, top of the range turkey to be delivered on Christmas Eve, to find it was too large not only for every cooking pan in the kitchen, but also for the oven. Another set off late on Christmas Eve to her elderly parents, with the promise of bringing all the food with her, to promptly leave it all at home, 200 miles away. Now, on a cooking disaster theme, tastecard, a dining membership club, is inviting people to send in pictures of their own particular cooking catastrophes. tastecard says it carried out a survey which revealed almost 30 per cent of people asked admitted serving up food, after dropping it on the floor, with the same amount admitting to use food after the sell by date. To be in with a chance of winning a £200 Prezzo voucher and a year's tastecard membership, you need to send a photo before January 31 via the link at

FIDO, Butch and Whiskers are way down in the hot list for pet names, so it seems, current favourites for dogs and cats are Poppy and Charlie. Last year's most commonly used names, according to a list compiled by Vets4Pets saw Poppy and Charlie head off competition from Alfie, Bella and Molly. Interestingly, Poppy was first choice for cats and dogs, while Charlie was second overall. Meanwhile, if you want to follow the trend, early indications for the year ahead are that cat owners are going for TJ, Rey and Kylo, while puppies are being given the names Duggee, Beaux and Kingsley. Dr Huw Stacey, of Vets4Pets, said it was often children who chose the name of the family pet. “Many families tend to let their children decide the name of their pet, so it’s perhaps not surprising that youngsters choose what can seem to be the easiest name to remember and one that they recognise from school." More unusual names from the list include Captain Edmund Blackadder and Calvin Harris for cats, with dog names including De'Niro and Abraham Lincoln. Dr Stacey added some words of caution - it is however best to give your pet a name you will remember, and also one you're happy to use while out and about, or to tell friends. Wise words indeed.

I AM indebted to former Ermysted's Grammar School boy and now BBC political correspondent Chris Mason for pointing out an article on the River Wharfe in no less than The New York Times. Described as 'England's Killer Creek' the article describes the Strid at Bolton Abbey and how despite having all the charms of a 'picturesque country creek' -it is in actual fact extremely perilous. Anyone tempted to jump in, warns the reporter, could find themselves sucked into an underwater crevice or pummelled against rock walls by the strong current. He goes on to say how some call it the 'deadliest stream in the world' and quotes American author Gertrude Atherton who in her short story The Striding Place says "There was no lonelier spot in England, nor one which had the right to claim so many ghosts, if ghosts there were." Finally, the reporter quotes an 'Old English saying' -

Wharfe is clear, and Aire is lithe;

Where Aire kills one, Wharfe kills five. We fully expect Bolton Abbey and the Strid to be hunted out by many American tourists in the next few weeks and months.

CRAVEN schools are being invited to take part in the country's biggest schools wildlife survey. The RSPB's Big Schools Birdwatch runs from now until February 17 and is the school's version of the Bog Garden Birdwatch, which runs over three days at the end of January. The school's version sets out to help children discover the wonderful wildlife sharing their playgrounds, while also providing the RSPB with a helpful insight into which species are thriving - or declining.

Last year, almost 100,000 children and teachers took part across the country as a whole, and it is hoped even more will join in this year. The blackbird was the most common visitor last year, with starlings second, and wood pigeons in third spot. In some parts of the country, red kite and green woodpeckers were spotted - and bearing in mind the very rural location of some of our schools, why not buzzards, kestrels and swallow hawks? Schools wanting to register for the Big Schools Birdwatch need to visit the website

SEARCH dogs are just one of the ways cave rescue volunteers, both at the Clapham based Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO), and the Grassington based Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA), have at their disposal when searching for people. This Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) dog, and puppy, had their picture taken by Sara Spillett, of UWFRA. The dogs are trained to 'air scent', which means as a general rule, they do not track a missing person, but react to scent being blown towards them by the wind, or air currents.