I heard a TV reporter, on probably her first visit to the area, describe Settle as ‘a sleepy little town in the Dales’. She was covering the Tour de Yorkshire on the day the media and cycling circuses (is that the plural?) descended on my part of Ribblesdale. ‘Sleepy’ Settle had woken up extremely early to the prospect of a media mosh pit in the market place and a lycra-clad army of warriors on wheels whooshing through the tiny main street, clearly breaking the 20mph speed limit while dozens of police just stood and watched. Over many weeks, various organisations, businesses, schools and individuals had been trimming the town for its 15 minutes of fame (and hopefully a much longer legacy) – and what a fantastic job they did. The Hollywood lettering on Castleberg Rock, the shop decorations and Giggleswick school’s brilliant landscape art being just a few of the worthy efforts. If you haven’t seen the Gigg art visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QOjxiXcFzg&sns=fb
I trudged up Buckhaw Brow to watch the cyclists flash by. I initially thought it was cruel to start the sprint at the top of a 12 per cent climb, but hey, these guys are masochists anyway so they probably got some kind of perverted pleasure from the pain. Frenchman Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) – pictured – was first to the sprint start near the top of Buckhaw Brow but he ended the race in Settle in 29th position – serves him right for showing off up t’ hill.
Of all the colourful action and crowd photos I managed to capture, my favourite photo of the day was this shot of former Tour de France stage winner Brian Robinson. The 84-year-old from Mirfield stopped (in a car entourage, not on a bike) at the start of the sprint to sign autographs and say hello to the hardy souls enduring the cold at this exposed spot. His delight and that of an admiring young fan is clear to see.
Walking back to Langcliffe from Buckhaw Brow via Giggleswick Scar I could see clearly how much snow remained on the high hills and I wondered how that would affect those taking part in the annual Three Peaks race the following day (yeah, really sleepy this area intit?). As it happened, around 700 athletes completed the course with Marc Lauenstein finishing at Horton in Ribblesdale in 2hr 48min 58sec – just three minutes outside the course record despite the freezing conditions. Mad as a box of frogs, the lot of them.
The already eroded course will have suffered greatly from yesterday’s pounding. I know the race organisers and others help a lot with path maintenance around Ribblesdale and the Three Peaks, and we all need to play our part. Some people could find irony in the fact that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) is organising a walk to raise money for vital work needed to care for paths being eroded by hikers. I’m sure the walk will do more good than harm! The YDNP is teaming up with the Heart Foundation charity for ‘A Day in the Dales’ centred on the Three Peaks. A selection of sponsored walks are being arranged for June 18 with all money raised being split between the charity and the Three Peaks Project. For more information about the events and entry forms visit http://heartresearch.org.uk/3peaks
Weatherwise we’ve had all four seasons during the week in the Dales – although we could perhaps have done with some thunder and lightning to complete a full set. On Tuesday I was driving down Ribblesdale and got a shot of Drybeck Farm and Penyghent (first pic in blog). Then around 7.45pm I just had to stop and capture fabulous late sunlight on St Peter’s, Stainforth. This Gothic revival church, consecrated in 1842, might not have the ancient history of neighbouring churches but certainly has a presence.
Mention of Dent reminds me that last week I had to leave out pictures of a steady stroll I had around Cowgill at the top end of Dentdale. The stream sometimes disappears out of sight here and you can walk up the river bed; at other times water rushes down from the surrounding hills to create a spectacular sight. The steep hillsides along with white-painted cottages give the area a Lake District feel. (Stupid auto correct keeps changing Dentdale to Dental and Cowgill to Cowgirl so apologies if I’ve missed any.)