Summer sauntered into Ribblesdale and the rest of the Dales this week, bringing colour and wildlife to enrich our already beautiful area. The number of natural wild flower meadows has decreased in the Dales over the previous 50 years or so with the changing of farming methods. Subsequently, the fields, although green and pleasant, have become less vibrant. But over the last decade efforts have been made to change this, and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust have contributed greatly with their Hay Meadows Project. Visit http://www.ydmt.org/programme-details-hay-time-14609 where you’ll find a selection of lovely walks.
In Ribblesdale I’ve been captivated by the fields of buttercups which have added an extra dimension to my landscape photographs. But if you look closer you’ll find some stunning wild flowers so typical of the limestone Dales. I’ve put a few together here, along with some flowers blooming around the village right now.
At Ribblehead on Tuesday I watched as a young family paddled in Cam Beck, and I recalled the time in my early teens when I would try to leap over the stream here. This is one of the Ribble’s main tributaries. The beck rises on Cam Fell – Cam meaning ‘a ridge of hill’ – which is crossed by the old Roman road from Ingleton to Bainbridge, once the main route over to Wensleydale before the road from Gearstones to Hawes via Newby Pass was built. On Bowen’s map of 1785 the Roman road was described as The Devil’s Causeway, the reason for this probably lost in history. The road passes Cam Houses, now considered a farmstead but which was once a hamlet housing several families. On one side of the settlement Cam Beck rises while on the other is the beginnings of the River Wharfe. One old story goes that a man from Ling Gill, near Ribblehead, who had lived into middle age with his mother, was looking for someone to look after his house after the old lady died. A friend at Gearstones suggested that he visited Cam Houses because he’d heard that a married man there was willing to sell his wife.
“What’ll ta pay for ’er?” the Cam man asked.
“Ah’s gitten five gold sovereigns,” said the Ling Gill man.
His offer was refused, so he promised to throw in a horse and cart with harness. Again his offer was refused, so he said he’d fill the cart with peat, and with that the deal was completed. It is said that the wife was quite happy with the outcome as ‘her purchaser was a good-looking man’.
On the dark side
I hope you are sitting down while reading this as I have to announce that I travelled through Lancashire this week. Wanting somewhere flat to exercise, I thought I’d try a couple of miles along the edge of Morecambe Bay at Hesk Bank. And it proved a treat in the sunshine, with grand views across the bay to Grange and the South Lakeland fells. The countryside and villages along the Lune Valley, the traditional border between the counties, look a treat at this time of year.
I also called in at Stocks Reservoir, Gisburn Forest (above). The water was very low and many of the walls of the drowned fields were once again visible. A peaceful place to listen to the lapping water and see and hear a great variety of birds.