We then headed to the Upper Falls, which were much busier. Since there was more calm water upstream, Dan decided to skip some rocks. I would say "we," but I am awful at skipping rocks, so for all intents and purposes it was just him. We did attract the attention of a dog who would chase and "retrieve" the rocks after Dan threw them, but more often than not he would try and pick up a rock much bigger than the one Dan had thrown (much to our and his owners' amusement).
After exploring the Upper Falls, we went back to the visitors center for a cup of tea and a snack. I had one of the best flapjacks I have ever had, with as much fruit as there were oats, and I was barely able to finish it. Carolyn and Billy each had a scone the size of a barn, with so much cream Billy thought he was going to be sick!
After parking and getting our bearings, we decided to head to the "Lower" and "Middle" falls first. These falls were a little farther away from the visitor's center (and in a completely different direction) than the "Upper" falls, so there were very few people moving that way. There was a great random element thrown into this trip as we were accompanied by Gertrude, their 9-month-old black Labrador.
The falls were beautiful and gave me a chance to have some photography fun, particularly when achieving the much sought-after blurred water effect. I succeeded to an extent, but there was a lot of ambient light (since I didn't have a filter and it was sunny) so I wasn't too happy with the results. We did take a group picture (see left), thanks to my Nikon Wireless Mobile Utility.
After driving around for a bit, we stumbled upon one of the coolest places I've been, for several reasons. Firstly, it was on a "main" road (so it wasn't particularly secluded and it was easy to get to) but unless you pulled over and stopped, it didn't really look like much. Secondly, there was no one else there (it was probably private property to be honest) and almost no cars driving by, so it was very quiet and peaceful.
Dan and I again skipped rocks (well at least one of us did) and I think "our" record was 8 skips with one rock. Carolyn and Billy set about exploring, and almost got stranded on a spit of rocks. Being the nice guys that we are, we threw rocks at the water next to them and got them wet.
We left the pond and continued on, stopping at a small stream in which Gertrude learned that she doesn't like water she can't stand in. She's still learning how to swim and would make progressively farther trips away from the banks.
After we left Aysgarth Falls, we drove around the moors a little. These were half what I saw the other day (massive open spaces dedicated to hunting) and half brilliantly green grazing fields segmented by stone walls. There were also some massive hills, and Billy took us on part of the course for the Tour de France, which would be riding through in a few months. Let me tell you: I do NOT envy those poor riders who will have to somehow make it up those mountains! Just take a look at some of the panoramas below and you'll see what I mean (click each image to view it larger).
Eventually we went past a massive hill, around which Billy had ridden his bike, so we stopped and walked to the top. While it didn't look so big from where we parked the car, the summit was probably a mile or so away. I don't think I've ever been in a place quite as windy as the sides and top of that mountain. It was so windy, you could lean into the wind, relax your legs, and remain upright! There was a pile of rocks marking the top and we found that if you sat up against the leeward side of the pile there was no wind whatsoever. Oh yeah, and the view was awesome! The panorama I took was bad because I lost my footing on the pile and people kept moving in the way, but click here to see the 360.
After climbing the massive hill, we stopped off at a town and had lunch, then headed back home after what was a long day!
The most surprising about this whole adventure was that the moors were all so different from each other. We had spent the morning in Wenslydale, but had seen so many different scenes throughout the day it was tough to imagine all of these things were in one place! It has definitely cemented Yorkshire as #1 on my "Favourite Places in the World" list.