Seeing this new build on the edge of Settle while on a walk to Cleatop Park on Friday reminded me of an article I’d read about the housebuilding industry in this country. The government continually tells us that the country needs more housing yet Britain’s biggest developers are currently sitting on enough land to create more than 600k new homes. The top four companies – Berkeley, Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – own 450k of these plots, and are hoarding £947m cash set aside to build the houses. Last year those four dished out £1.5bn to their shareholders (Berkley’s chairman netted a cool £23m himself). Yet according to CPRE developers are still looking to gobble up more of our precious green belt land. We need to put a time limit on these vultures – build on the land within six months or hand it back for less than the price paid, oh, and keep your grubby hands off our countryside.
Sadly, Otley-born cycling champ Lizzie Armitstead won’t be in day one of the Tour de Yorkshire race letour.yorkshire.com which ends in Settle on Friday (her race is elsewhere on Saturday). It is very likely that Lizzie’s distant ancestors came from the settlement called Armitstead in the parish of Giggleswick. The surname (as well as the alternative spelling of Armistead) is still common in these parts. This old photo shows the former Armistead shop by which the cyclists will pass on Duke Street, Settle. Today we find it strange to see the sale of tobacco and sporting equipment in the same shop. (See also my surnames column link above.)
Settle is certainly gearing up for the visit of hundreds of cyclists and spectators. Huge Hollywood-style lettering on Castleberg Rock reminds everyone where they are, and local shops, organisations and individuals have made a real effort to make everyone feel welcome. I’m not sure whether there was enough money or material to spell out GIGGLESWICK across the scar. The sprint race passes through that fine parish and I’m looking forward to seeing the cyclists tackling Buckhaw Brow.
I watched some very pleasant sunsets this week. Instead of focusing on the sun itself I thought I’d try to capture its late light on west-facing hillsides. Penyghent, Stainforth Scar, Moughton Scar and Crummackdale all took on a friendly fiery glow. Someone asked me the other day how the name Crummack originated. In 1190 it was recorded as Crumbok which stems from an ancient British word ‘crumbaco’ meaning crooked hill – so Crummackdale means ‘the valley of the crooked hill’.
When in Rome…
On Wednesday I went to Rome and saw Wham. Before you put me down as some kind of jet-setter with a dodgy taste in 80s music, I should clarify that Rome, Farther Rome and Upper and Lower Wham are tiny settlements on left of those zooming up Settle bypass towards the Lakes.
The lanes and paths in the area between Giggleswick and Gisburn Forest are a great place to explore. Good map reading skills are needed in some places as old signposts stating ‘Footpath’ (but no destination) often point across vast fields bearing no obvious sign of a path.
There were hazy views of Penyghent and Ingleborough to remind me that I was in the western Dales, but you can easily imagine being in the undulating Yorkshire Wolds. Unfortunately, the walk was spoiled for me when the line ‘wake me up before you go-go’ got into my head around Wham and stuck with me for the rest of the journey.
Just a gentle stroll in Thursday’s sun around Thorns Gill. The water was low and inviting; the pools the colour of Wainwright’s Gold beer.
Whernside, Ingleborough and Park Fell stood out against the blue sky, not yet in their green summer coats – the nights are still very cold here. There are signs, however, that some bushes and trees are starting to bud.
OK, just one more cute lamb shot and that’s yer lot this spring.
I started the blog telling you about Cleatop Park didn’t I? Well that was Friday. I love the views on this walk – the Ribblesdale panorama includes all three peaks (it’s the 62nd Annual 3 Peaks Race is next Saturday, by the way) – but my aim was really to try capture bluebells in the wood at Cleatop. Alas, too early; just a few brave souls peaking through here. I’ll be back to see them and the wild garlic.
I also had a delightful drive around Dentdale this week but I’ve already prattled on too much so I’ll save that for another blog.
A tourist went into a Yorkshire department store and asked where he could find towels. They gave him directions to the bird sanctuary.