DALES VIEW: A day out down in the valley

The Eagle's Claw.

We had a day out at Lightwater Valley over the Easter holidays. The theme park has changed in recent times with a new emphasis on children under 12 rather than thrilling rides for big kids and adults.

The once record-breaking Ultimate has gone, as has the dreaded Rat. There’s still the odd scary ride but things are generally more sedate these days.

We were never away from the park as kids. Any number of birthdays and school trips in the 80s and early 90s were spent there. If you added all together the time I’ve spent queuing to go on rides like that damn sick-inducing pirate ship, which is still there unfortunately, you’d probably have a six-week summer holiday. Mostly good times, although it was less fun being crammed into a car boot to reduce the admission charge when you had to pay at a booth in the driveway.

“Yes young sir we are just two adults coming for a day out and that noise you can hear that sounds like giggling is just my ingestion from last night’s spam fritters and beans.”

The wooden fort has sadly gone. God, I loved that fort.

I don’t think you can go boating on the lake either, which is a shame as there are few things in life as funny as a soggy classmate trying to stop their packed lunch from floating away after their swan boat upturned.

Thankfully though the go-karts are back. The track is still the most likely place in the theme park where you’re going to do yourself an injury. A day out back in the day usually consisted of a morning spent on rides then an afternoon scuffing your Golas on the kart track.

The day on our most recent visit came to a rather unpleasant end when me and the girl braved the Eagle’s Claw, which is the last remaining scary ride. It was one of the worst experiences of my life, up there with writing off a Ford Fiesta on the Tank Road on cold foggy morning a good few years ago.

Firstly, our start was delayed because of maintenance, then we had to sit in the seats for about ten minutes for various reasons including the harness not fitting over a big man’s belly. When we finally got going I became convinced the issue that the maintenance team had been fixing wasn’t fixed and we were all going to be spun into a nearby booth selling waffles. I could barely speak for about an hour afterwards and felt queasy for 24 hours. And unlike the car crash, I didn’t get a couple of days off work and a modicum of sympathy from my family.  The girl loved the ride of course.