When I’m out and about with my Box Brownie (for those not old enough to know, this is a term for a basic camera, and not a nickname for a friend or in this case something to eat) I’m generally pointing it at the landscape. But sometimes the minor detail, which when all added together creates our fabulous Dales scenery, is worthy of attention. Zoom in on a small section of drystone walling for example and you can see art far superior to some of the pretentious guff on show in posh galleries. For the top photo I focused on a tiny section of an ancient footbridge over the beck at Cowgill, between Dent and Ribblehead. You quickly lose count of the number of species crowded together here but they successfully exist together in their little primeval ecosystem. Shame us humans seem incapable of doing the same.
Someone chucked a huge grey blanket over north Ribblesdale today. The forecasters promised so much – surely they can’t be that wrong? I got into my grey car, caught the reflection of my grey hair in the window, and headed off into the gloom searching for inspiration…. “T’blog weean’t write itssen,” I thought, in my best West Riding twang. I was momentarily transported back some forty years to my earliest days in weekly newspapers when on a Monday morning the grumpy editor would poke his head around the reporters’ room door and bark something about there being “God knows how many column-inches to fill” and that they wouldn’t be filled by reporters sitting on their backsides in the office. Those were days before lifting stuff from t’internet and readers with mobile phones helped filled the space – reporters were paid to go out into the streets, courts and – all in the line of duty – pubs to seek out the local tittle-tattle. Back to today. Someone stealing the Three Peaks would have made a good tale for the newspaper… they were definitely missing on my journey to Ribblehead Viaduct where even the tea wagon hadn’t bothered to turn up. Limestone grey walls and limestone grey buildings against a grey backdrop. Even the sheep looked grey. The National Park won’t allow anyone to use their imagination and paint something bright red by way of a change; I’m surprised they allow cyclists to ride on the roads wearing those luminous tops. I love seeing bright red post boxes and telephone kiosks dotted around the Dales, but try making your garden gate the same colour and some jobsworth or a haughty neighbour will be on your case before the paint’s dry. Anyway, back once more to today. Anyone who’s lived in the area will tell you that there are times when it seems every dale has its own weather system and so it proved on this little adventure. Dropping into Wensleydale was like waking from a coma… there was blue sky, fluffy clouds, tourists in T-shirts and alfresco drinkers on the setts by the Black Bull. I walked along to Cotter Force where bright red rowan berries (are they allowed in the National Park?) added some extra pizzazz to a beautiful rural scene. High on Buttertubs Pass, peering down on upper Swaledale (pictured), everything became crisper and clearer; the contrast with dowdy Ribblesdale could not have been greater. Perhaps it will be Ribblesdale’s day tomorrow.
I know it’s not that unusual but I watched the sun rise this morning and set again tonight. With more than a tinge of envy I took two friends to Manchester airport for one of those ridiculous ungodly boarding times and waved them off to Cuba. Never mind, I thought, I’ve still got my bit of Yorkshire. In the evening I watched a couple of hang gliders (or should that be gliderers, or maybe glidists?) floating effortlessly above Victoria Cave near Langcliffe, then I witnessed a glorious sunset. By messing about with the camera settings (I MUST read the instruction book one day or go on a course) I captured this shot over Ribblesdale which I rather like for some reason. Who needs foreign lands anyway?
A great idea by Ashley Jackson @AJacksonArtist see
#puttingyorkshireintheframe Where do you begin? Yorkshire has so many gob-smacking viewpoints and each dale has its own distinctive feel. How about some recognition for the minor dales like the three here… views down Silverdale, above Garsdale and from Kingsdale over Dentdale.
- Video: Artist puts Yorkshire in the frame (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
Watching the clouds over Ribblesdale last night – yes, I know… Saturday night… get a life Jackson – was like seeing a drama unfold. To the east (above) a cloud was forming into some kind of enormous alien spaceship. It was moving quickly and gobbling up all the light blue sky before it. To the west (below) were layers of different, overlapping clouds. The sun was setting and rays of light kept coming and going, creating patterns in the sky and on the landscape. Hard to believe these two photos were taken less than ten minutes apart. A great display and far more entertaining than all that guff on Saturday night TV.
My blog will have to wait. So here’s a pretty picture of Ribblesdale instead. You see, I was trying to work at the computer but was being distracted by a particularly annoying bluebottle that was purposely dive-bombing me. It did several fly-pasts before landing on the keyboard just millimetres from my hand. I swished at it but only knocked my cup which splashed tea over some abandoned paperwork. The bluebottle saw my feeble swatting attempt as a challenge and it fizzed around my desk with renewed enthusiasm. By now I’d totally lost the thread of what I was writing. I looked at the cat who in his youth would have been at my side fighting such battles but today he half-heartedly tried to scratch his chin with one of his back paws before sighing and curling up in a contented ball. The stupid bluebottle continued its frenzied attack which I was starting to take very personally. I stomped off for the fly spray and like some crazed 1930s gangster in a bar with a machine gun I splattered the room. In my frenzy, screen, windows, lamps – you name it – got coated in the vile-smelling chemical, so much so that I feared my attack would prompt an American airstrike. The startled cat sneezed and ran out of the room. The bluebottle eventually spiralled to the floor like a broken world war two bomber, offered a few defiant shakes of the legs then expired. For a split second I felt a tinge of guilt – what if it had family? I could hardly breath because of the killer spray so I opened the window… and within a minute a wasp flew in.
Thorns Gill was picture perfect this morning. Even though the grey mist hadn’t burnt off to reveal blue skies, it was warm and the scene was tranquil. I’ve been here when Cam Beck has been swollen by rainfall from the fells around Ribblehead and it has been dramatic to say the least. But today the sound of water trickling down the limestone gill was soothing and apart from a brief noisy squabble amongst the birds caused by a grey heron I could enjoy the peace. I don’t know exactly the age of the old packhorse bridge across this ravine but it’s probably been there since drovers brought stock up from Settle to the former market at Gearstones three hundred years ago. It seems to sit precariously – just held aloft by the science of arches – but it blends in perfectly. My earliest memories of Thorns Gill, with its erratics, caves and deep pools is from school visits in the 1960s when a certain PE teacher insisted we tried to jump across a section of the stream. If you failed you got wet. Excuse my bragging but I was the only one of my group who remained dry. If I tried it now I wouldn’t even make halfway and the ensuing tidal wave could flood Settle.