A Day Of Firsts

Despite being early February and with snow still on high ground, I wanted to get out and about and get some much needed (outdoor) exercise. I go on the treadmill for an hour nearly every day but I was missing that feeling of the wind in my hair (shut up), dog crap on my shoes and getting famished 5 miles from the nearest food source !

So I checked on Google Maps and realised that I’d never been to Otley Chevin and I decided that today would be the day. I’d get exercise, fresh air (lots of it) and all with the bonus of great views over the Yorkshire town of Otley and beyond.

Otley Chevin is less than 10 miles from my home so it wasn’t exactly a road trip to get there. I mean it was a trip and it was on a road but you know what i mean…….no need to take drinks and sandwiches and plan some rest stops along the way !

I was there in 20 minutes.

There are numerous car parks allowing visitors to pick one of the many paths that criss-cross The Chevin.  At 282m (925ft), I picked the Surprise View car park as the name led me to believe I’d be in for a scenic treat.

Chevin Car Park 2

At that elevation, there was still snow on the ground (ok not on this Google Street View image) but that only added to the picturesque nature of the area.

But before I even got to the car park, I had a close encounter I could have done without.

As you can maybe see from the road on the left, called York Gate, there is barely room for two cars to pass each other……..but it’s easily done if both cars stay tight to their side of the road. I saw a white van approaching at speed and despite feeling there WAS room for us to pass each other, I moved over on my side as far as I could and stopped. The van driver never slowed and seemed to take my “parking” as an excuse to not go as far over as he should and as a result, there was a huge crack as his large wing mirror hit mine and sent the glass insert flying back down the road.

He never stopped and there had to have been similar damage to his mirror.  At least I hope so !

I got out and retrieved the glass insert and was able to clip it back into the plastic cover so it worked (the advantage of having a low spec car was that it was a manually adjusted mirror so there were no electric wires to have been damaged) but the glass was shattered.


Not a great start to my trip out but then again, it could have been much, much worse.  White Van Man had struck again.

I parked at the far end of the car park and within about 20 paces, was at the Surprise View point. Sadly I paid the price for leaving late in the day as despite being 1:30pm, the winter sun was low enough to cast a shadow halfway across the valley below which spoiled the view.

Surprise !!

Anyway I set off on the 3 mile walk but after about 1/4 mile I’d slipped several times on the icy hard packed ground and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of going any further.


I’d not bothered to take my dSLR so these are all just phone photos on this post.

Back at the car I took stock and decided to go down into Otley and have a bit of an explore.

On the way I saw a Waitrose store and feeling the need for a warming drink after the bracing cold up on The Chevin, I popped in for a free mocha, compliments of my store card.


I was still thinking about my shattered wing mirror and realised that I’d probably be driving home at dusk and so that mirror would be worse than useless when I’d be looking back at the cars behind me with their headlights on. Dangerous actually.

I Googled the nearest Renault dealership and found one just about 2 miles away on Bradford Road so after enjoying my coffee, I headed off in the hopes that the glass insert could be bought without having to pay for the whole unit. I was doubtful.

It only took me a few minutes to drive there and the dealership’s service guy did say they sold the inserts separately…..for £33.  Ouch.

“Is there a scrap yard nearby ?” I found myself asking, more to let the guy know I wasn’t happy with the cost of a piece of glass !

Yes, just a few hundred yards up the road on the left” he said and added helpfully “they always have lots of Renaults there.”

Now I’d never been to a scrap yard in my life and had images of finding a place run by characters like a cross between the cast of Only Fools & Horses and Steptoe & Son and that’s just what I found !

Apologies to all non UK readers but that’s what Google is for.

Anyway the place was a hive of activity with people all over the yard acting like ants pulling invading attackers to pieces. (hmmmm a bit of a mix of metaphors there ! )

I asked the most reliable looking chap if they had glass inserts for a Clio and he just told me to go round the back and help myself. Initially I saw little behind the huge shed apart from a few bikes and a mound of tyres but then I spotted some wrecked cars across a small stream and assumed that’s where I needed to be. I had to ford the stream via a narrow metal beam thrown across for the purpose so I’ve no idea how they got the cars there…….guess there was another entrance somewhere.

There were about 24 wrecked cars and most were indeed Renaults but there wasn’t a single Clio. I looked at the other models, Meganes and Scenics, and decided that although their wing mirror casings were different from the Clio, the glass inserts seemed the same. Most were shattered already but I found 2 with the glass intact so removed them both and went back to my car.

I carefully removed my Clio’s shattered insert (as it was doing its best to fall apart) and in a Cinderella moment, the glass slipper  insert clipped perfectly into place.  Hurrah. Ok it wasn’t the same exactly as it came from a higher spec’d car so it had been an electrically adjusted mirror so I had to remove all the wires and it also had a section of magnified glass as part of the design but I decided that was a bonus anyway.


And as a result I also have a spare if I should happen to meet White Van Man again !

So that was my day of firsts.

First time up on Otley Chevin.

First time another car had ever hit my car.

First time I’d been in a scrap yard.

I agree that as firsts go, none are exactly earth shattering but on a day when my emotions had as many highs and lows as the landscape, they’ll have to do.  

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