FOR my recent week’s holiday, I set myself the target of walking 100 miles, it was going to be 150,but then I looked at the weather forecast which pretty much predicted rain each and every day. As it turned out, two days were so wet, I stayed inside, and so only managed 70. Rubbish.

However, on the first day I was on my way into Skipton and as I joined the canal at Bank Newton heading towards Gargrave, I passed two fire engines and one of the vehicles they only send out when it’s something unusual.

A little way along the canal and it all became clear. A cow was half in and half out of the water. I learned it had gone into the canal, swum or cow paddled about 50 yards, tried to get out, but failed. The poor thing was pregnant and the bank slippery and steep.

There were about 10 or so firefighters, including a team from the Ripon animal rescue unit, and a sizeable number of passers by, who had stopped to watch.

I’ve done dozens of animals rescued by firefighters stories over the years, but this was the first time I’d actually stumbled upon one by accident. The man in charge was friendly, but firm, he could not stop me taking photos, but he wasn’t very keen.

Which got me thinking. Not so many years ago, but in fact a world apart, if I’d turned up, a reporter from the local paper, at such a rescue with a camera and wanting to do a story, the ‘man’ in charge would have called over one of his team, put me in a boat and got me as close to the rescue as possible. Afterwards, they’d have cheerfully posed for a photograph.

I turned up to a house fire once that was the home of a very well known BBC news presenter. The station commander had no issue with me being there taking photos, although he did ring me up later and ask me not to use any of the pictures where some weren’t wearing helmets. He didn’t want to get into trouble.

Going back to the cow rescue attempt, I learned from someone on a narrowboat that some years back a cow had managed to swim the entire length of the Foulridge Tunnel - further along the canal towards Colne. The cow, so I was told, swum the ‘Mile Tunnel’ while being followed by its farmer owner in a boat, who kept it going with brandy - and got out safely at the other end. Not sure how it felt the next day of course.

I’M fascinated with fungi and mushrooms; not sure if this year has been a good or a bad year for mushrooms; but I did come across a splendid crop of field mushrooms (pictured) next to a footpath near Coniston Cold. A couple were as big as the palm of my hand; weirdly, someone had stamped on some of them, perhaps not realising what they were. I picked what was left, stuck them in my rucksack and took them home; where I cooked them in butter, delicious.

A FABULOUS pony trekking weekend for two on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, is just one of the items up for grabs via an online auction set to raise funds for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice.

The auction, to be held in October, which will also include a personalised family tree swing, beauty vouchers and hampers, has been organised as a tribute to Amy Firth, who lived in Oxenhope and who died last year aged just 42 from pancreatic cancer.

Amy started planning an online auction in aid of the hospice when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March last year, just two days before the country went into the coronavirus lockdown. When she sadly died six months later, her friends and family pledged to continue what she had started and are now holding the auction in her honour.

Amy’s friend and former colleague Jane Rockliffe has helped her family, including Amy’s husband Dave and their children Isla, Finn and Erin, make ‘Under the Hammer for Manorlands’ a reality.

Amy’s sister, Rosie Sharp, said: “There’s a lot of love behind this auction. Amy was a very passionate person and when she set her sights on something she made it happen. She started planning the auction because she knew she wanted to raise money for Manorlands. She really tried to make it happen but sadly she died before it could take place.

“The Manorlands team were there for her when she needed them the most and Amy said the nurses were just off the scale. She couldn’t speak highly enough of them. To have Manorlands in our community is like gold dust.”

To place a bid before the auction closes on Friday, October 15, or to donate an item to be auctioned, visit the Under the Hammer for Manorlands Facebook page:

All the money raised will go to Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, which provides expert palliative care, advice and support for people across Wharfedale, Airedale, Bradford and Craven who are living with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families. For more information, visit:

IT was about this time last year that some orphan hedgehogs turned up in our garden; sadly, their mother had been killed and so they were out and about, looking for food. I fed them pet food, blocked off their route to the A59 and hoped for the best. There were no more bodies on the road, so it fingers-crossed, it worked.

With autumn, I know, I know, what’s happened to summer? - just around the corner, the experts at are encouraging people to build hedgehog houses in their gardens.

By providing safe and comfortable places for hedgehogs to live in your garden, you are far more likely to have sightings of the creatures, so they say.

Unfortunately, the number of hedgehogs in the UK has plummeted over recent years. Because of this, the animals are becoming increasingly dependent on homeowners to make safe spaces for them in their gardens.

Factors affecting hedgehog population include loss of foraging and nesting habitat through urban development, rural hedgerow removal which depletes the carrying capacity of the landscape and badger numbers are increasing meaning there is more competition for food. Huge numbers are also killed on roads. suggests cutting air vents and an entrance into either a sturdy cardboard or plastic box and placing it in a quiet part of your garden. It should be against a fence or wall and with the entrance facing in any direction but not north - to avoid cold winter winds.

I DON’T know if this still takes place or not, but back in 1929, the Craven Herald reported on the annual Kettlewell Hill Climb.

Motorcyclists travelled to the Dales every year under the supervision of the Auto Cycle Union in an attempt to make a ‘clean climb’ of the notoriously tricky Moor End.

The annual climb was part of an open event arranged by the Skipton and District Motor Club, with the permission of landowners, and which attracted a large crowd. In August, 1929, here were almost 60 motorcyclists but not one managed the climb cleanly. In order to make a clean climb, the competitors were not allowed to put a foot down from the rests, foot slogging, or running alongside. On only rare occasions had the hill been climbed clean.

Winner, who lost only one mark, was C Williamson of Darlington. Four riders tied for second place, having lost four marks each.