Councillor Paul Andrews with his yacht Apollo

Back To Nature : 21 March 2002

The more Science advances, the further we seem to regress from Nature. We live in cities, drive cars, and work in highly mechanised factories or automated offices. Mankind was never meant to work and live in this kind of environment. So, it's a relief to get away from it all at weekends, take the dog for a walk across the moors, or spend some time in the garden watching things grow naturally.

North Yorkshire has Britasin's biggest cave systems in the Dales. The Easegill system has thirty miles of passage, which all converge into a great three mile long Ice Age master cave. York Minster would fit comfortably into the main chamber below Gaping Gill. So why do so many young people brave the Winter cold, enter a dark, damp and hostile world, and sometimes twist their bodies into strange shapes to get through tight places? Are they just masochists? Do they do it so they can see beautiful formations that no-one else can see unless they visit this strange underworld? Or does the thrill of adventure and the physical challenge of nature have an eternal appeal?

A small car can outstrip the fastest racehorse. So, why does horseracing have such an enduring fascination? Why do so many people ride animals which have a mind of their own, and aredangerous when startled? Why do so many people risk their lives galloping over open country jumping hedges, gates and fences just to chase a fox, when the vermin fox could so easily be exterminated by poison or shooting? Is it pure sadism? Is it just the tradition with the fancy clothes? Is it the social occasion? Or is it the excitement and the experience of belonging to a natural partnership between man and beast in a challenging and natural situation?

You can travel faster by car or by motorboat than you can in a yacht or sailing dinghy. So why do so many people sail? Why sail for three hours from Whitby to Scarborough, when you can cover the same distance in less than half an hour by car? In a sailing boat you are at one with nature. You and your crew are alone with the elements. When under sail, you can only hear natural sounds: the wind, the waves and the calls of the seabirds. You have time to look around and spot the seals, the porpoises and dolphins - it's surprising how many there are in the North Sea. You can't sail a sailing boat without exercising yourself. It is a wonderful way of switching off from the franctic pressures and unnatural pace of modern life!

Country pursuits add a new dimension to our lives, and we are very lucky that North Yorkshire has so much to offer.

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