By Graham Chalmers
Almscliffe Crag not far from Weeton and Pannal is one of those places you feel like you’ve known all your life - even if you’ve never been there before.
I visited it briefly when I first moved to the area, then got to know it better thanks to becoming a member of Harrogate’s friendliest running club, Nidd Valley Runners. The facts are simple enough - the imposing, ancient rocks overlook the road between Otley and Harrogate, a giant millstone grit outcrop affording great views across the valleys of Wharfedale and the Vale of York near-by.
It’s popular with rock climbers but to me there’s something more about it, something unsaid, something bigger than words.
It came to me four years ago during Almias, an outdoor psychogeographic event organised by poet and musician Philip Legard for Harrogate International Festival Fringe the first year I was its artistic director. The point of the event on a sunny but windswept day was to walk and learn.
Each step took in its topography and geology, it’s lengthy history and role in the past of the Harrogate area and its people.
Never mind the beautiful scenery or the spectacular views once you’ve reached the peak of Almscliffe Crag, the walk brought to the surface the spirit of the place in a way I hadn’t expected.