Dales days, a Yorkshire outpost, pulling power and nostalgia

dales how gills

I make regular trips through the Dales to visit the bookshops of the vibrant little town of Sedbergh, that last bastion of Yorkshire bordering Westmorland. I dare say that many residents and visitors consider Sedbergh as ‘Cumbrian’ nowadays, and indeed the buildings and walls are more in keeping with those of villages and towns of the Lake District than the Dales. But it will be forever Yorkshire in my eyes. Standing at the head of Wensleydale/Garsdale staring across at the Howgills on a cold, clear winter’s day is breathtaking. Small screens can’t do justice to this glorious vivid panorama.

dales scaleber

When the hilltops aren’t visible and the dales are shortened by mist I’m thankful that Ribblesdale has plenty of waterfalls to grab my attention. Scaleber Force I’ve visited many times but I don’t tire of it. Just above Settle, fed by Stockdale Beck, the small gorge takes on different personas depending on the season. On Tuesday I took the lazy photo from the Woodland Trust bench overlooking the main 40ft waterfall. I didn’t fancy the awkward little path down the steep sided valley for some better shots (I’d splashed out on some Quorn & Pesto fillets for tea and thought I’d prefer them to hospital food).

dales sledgingIt was refreshing to see youngsters (and a few old uns) out enjoying the snow last weekend. I hate to sound like a predictable old fart but I really do believe that many of the younger generation miss out on so much by relying on other people – and technology – to provide their entertainment, amusement and adventure. I was skimming through a 1965 copy of The Countryman the other day and saw this fabulous photo of two young lads captivated by Nature. The picture is captioned ‘Small fry by Alan Pearce’. My 2016 caption is ‘No app required’. It reminded me of when I was of a similar age to those lads when we used to hunt for sticklebacks and frogs in the local beck and mill pond.

dales oldpicboys

My own reliance on technology was put to the test the other day when the power in the village and beyond suddenly died. Living in an all-electric house I donned an extra sweater and cuddled up to the cat for warmth. The batteries in my ancient pocket transistor radio helped break the silence with some Radio 4 and a small torch illuminated the preparation of a cold snack. This dip into ‘pre-history’ lasted less than two hours. In case it happens again I’ve bought a stock of batteries, candles and a butane gas cylinder to power a small heater. Ahh, country living.

dales icetree

Before the outside temperature rose during the week, the local mill pond froze over. This collapsed tree became part of a large ice sculpture, as did the animal and bird tracks which criss-crossed the newly-formed white walkway. The ducks dared each other to take a dip in the unfrozen section. Local paths I’d walked up and down many times were attractive in their new white clothes.

dales ducks

dales track

Early in the week I drove to Chapel-le-Dale for a little wander around the foothills of Ingleborough. It was difficult to tell whether the snow was being shifted up the majestic hill by the wind or if it was just low cloud – whatever, it created an Alpine feel. Looking across towards Whernside I began to wonder when was the last time I’d seen the curve of the mountain top.

dales ingleborough

I hadn’t to wait much longer, however. On Wednesday, as I headed to Sedbergh, the whole of Whernside was vividly visible – seen here behind the Salt Lake Cottages which are looking particularly smart nowadays.

dales whernside

I hope you’ll excuse the cliched shot from Horton-in-Ribblesdale but I couldn’t resist on such a clear day. The 12th-century church of St Oswald’s begs to be photographed.

dales horton

dales steamDales pulling power

Flying Scotsman was due to travel up the Settle-Carlisle line yesterday after its £4.2m refurbishment. Sadly, it didn’t pass muster, leaving passengers and sightseers somewhat deflated. A couple of ‘Black Fives’ (don’t ask me what they are, I just noted what some enthusiasts were talking about) and the two engines made quite an impression as they rattled under the footbridge at Langcliffe. Steam engines certainly having pulling power – and I’m not just talking about the strength of these old beasts as they haul trains up the ‘Long Drag’. They also help pull hundreds of visitors into Ribblesdale to keep local businesses ticking over, and do much to promote the region. One of the Facebook groups I’m interested in – We Love the Yorkshire Dales – was flooded with photos of yesterday’s train, showing what a great interest there is not only from train enthusiasts but also from Dales lovers and residents. If Flying Scotsman does eventually arrives here during summer we may have to be on standby for a invasion.

And finally…

What do you understand by the term ‘temporary’? The dictionary definition is something like, ‘lasting for only a limited period of time; not permanent’. That’s a bit wishy-washy really, because how do you define ‘a limited period of time’…. a day, a week, a month or even a year? It couldn’t mean 20 years could it? Well, apparently, yes it can. This week I read two public notices issued by the National Park which is proposing to erect fencing on nearby Horsehead Moor and Yockenthwaite Moor. They want to enclose some common land to stop stock from destroying young trees and bushes as they try to reestablish the peatland. Obviously, I’ve got no problem with that, but the terminology surprised me … they describe it in the notice as ‘temporary fencing’ which will be ‘taken down within 10 and 20 years’! All my days I’ve been declaring various homes as being my ‘permanent’ residence yet I’ve never lived in one for much more than 10 years.

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