So, a month of strolling and taking pictures in the Dales has gone by without a blog from me. It’s not been easy – I’ve been dying to show off about living in such a beautiful place and the Nature I’ve seen as the Sun threw wide its arms, saying ‘come on lad, fill thi booits’.
Even the milk-bottle legs got an airing (allowing all manner of flying objects to help themselves to a Jackson blood-fest).
Within a 25-mile radius of home the Dales have provided relaxing walks and waterfalls, stunning sunsets and glorious sweet meadows to melt the senses. The camera has worked overtime and illustrates the wonderful Yorkshire Dales through pictures much better than I can with words.
Trains in the Dales
Nature in the Dales
More Dales scenes
I also visited Appleby Horse Fair earlier in the month. Some locals complain about the annual fair while others are happy to make a bit from increased visitor spending, renting camping space and charging for parking. As a visitor I only see a snapshot of the event, of course, but it seemed well policed and had plenty of RSPCA officials on hand. I wasn’t around to clear up any mess though. For a short slideshow visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSu-Ypcw0zM
I could have filled the blog with many more June shots but you’d have probably fallen asleep … here are three shots taken at sunset from Winskill, Ribblesdale, looking towards Ingleborough, to help you snooze.
Travelling through the Yorkshire Dales in 1724 Daniel Defoe got to Settle Bridge. In his diary he wrote: “Looking to the north-west of us we saw nothing but high mountains, which had a terrible aspect and more frightful than any in Monmouthshire or Derbyshire, especially Penigent Hill. So that having no manner of inclination to encounter them, merely for the sake of seeing a few villages and a parcel of wild people, we turned short north-east.”
You’d think that the chap who created such strong characters as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders would have had a bit more about him than to worry about the good folk and the landscape of upper Ribblesdale. Anyway, he missed a treat.
During my own travels up this ‘frightful’ part of the Dales this week, I sat in the shade beneath a beautiful tree showing off its new spring clothes. I listened contentedly to the cackle of water over the pebbles of a low Ribble, and to the chirping of excited birds. Sheep and lambs, cows and calves mingled in a field across the river – there was no human-style dispute over who had the right to graze here.
The smell of wild garlic filled the air, and a small fish popped up briefly to cause a ripple on the shallow water – and surprise a duck and her tiny offsprings who were showing cowardly Defoe-type tendencies. The scene reminded me once again of how lucky I am not to be shackled to some hectic city street or suffering in a war-torn country.
Clouds and steam
As I waited for this week’s Dalesman steam-hauled train to pass over Ribblehead Viaduct I watched wispy clouds floating aimlessly over the Dales. The mass of Whernside, seen in the panorama below, looked glorious in the midday sunshine.
Farewell for now
I’ve been blogging here every week for more than four years now. That’s well over 3,000 photos of the Dales and goodness knows how many meaningless words. It’s time to give it (and you) a rest. I’ll continue to post photos on social media and, occasionally, on here – and I’ll also update the Yorkshire surnames section of the site once a month. Thanks for taking an interest in the blog – have a great summer. My Twitter feed is @paulinribb
While at my son’s house I asked if I could borrow a newspaper. He said, “We don’t have newspapers any more Dad, get with the times – use my Ipad.” I’ll tell you what, that annoying fly never knew what hit it!
We have some fabulous old buildings around this part of the Dales. Friars Head Hall (above) at Winterburn is a prime example. The manor of Winterburn was granted to Furness Abbey during the 12th century. The original building at Friar’s Head was said to be a hunting lodge for the abbots. The present structure was built by Stephen Proctor around 1590. It’s Grade II* Listed Building – and there are a couple more houses plus a bridge and chapel that are Grade II listed in Winterburn. It’s a grand area for walking; near Malham but away from the crowds.
Another pleasant stroll is around Brae Pasture Nature Reserve, owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and situated between Horton and Selside in Ribblesdale. Those favourite late spring flowers such as wood anemone, primrose and early purple orchids are showing right now here and all around the Dales.
While perched on the small limestone plateau I also enjoyed watching clouds pass quickly over Penyghent, Newhouses Tarn, and to the north up towards Cam Fell.
I also had a full-length view of a 26-wagon freight train on the Settle-Carlisle line as it approached Selside (below). That’s 26 wagons off the Dales roads and onto rails. Surely that’s a good thing – unless of course you happen to be a lorry driver or owner of a road-haulage business.
I know, the pic below is a bit of a cliched shot, but I couldn’t resist it as I peered out of Jubilee Cave up above Langcliffe. Iron Age and Roman material along with artefacts of Mesolithic and Late Palaeolithic type have all been found in the cave. There are some great views over the Dales from up here, although a little hazy the day I took the photos.
Besides taking lots of photos of the blossom around Langcliffe this week (which I posted on Twitter and Facebook) these local scenes grabbed my attention:
10 Dales photos here. Earlier in the week I was staring down Chapel-le-Dale. It was hazy in the distance – and hazy in my head. I was overlooking the Old Hill Inn (see pic below) and thinking, I’m sure it was just called the Hill Inn when I went there in the 1970s, but I suppose even pubs get old.
I’ve not been inside for donkey’s years; if I do it’ll probably ruin the nostalgia. Back in the seventies it was full of walkers, climbers and cavers – and we drank lots of beer; there was nothing else on tap. If we were lucky there might have been a packet of crisps to share. I remember dozens of wet hiking socks and boots drying by the open fire.
Daft cavers and climbers would test their skills by traversing the exposed internal stone walls like gigantic spiders, making their way to the outside loos. I don’t remember there being a closing time but somehow we (usually) ended up in our tents in the neighbouring field.
Occasionally a guitar would appear and a bout of folk singing would break out; but the music genre depended very much on the clientele – my group of rowdy outdoor activities types, for example, preferred bawdy rugby songs.
The pleasant weather had me out on a few local strolls to capture the colour, flora and wildlife …
In other news: I’ve reluctantly switched from Yorkshire Tea to PG Tips and will remain that way until Yorkshire Tea remove plastic from their tea bags. So there.
My contributions to May’s Countryman and Down Your Way magazines include memories of the old kitchen ranges, a round-up of conservation news, and a look at the surname Holmes. Please support local magazine publishers: dalesman.co.uk Latest magazines available in most newsagents and supermarkets.
It’s the end of April, a third of the way through the year – where has time gone? Seems like only yesterday I was thinking about snowdrops not making it through a layer of snow. Now already the daffodils are on their way out and the lambs are growing up. Soon the flower meadows will be bursting with colour here in the Dales. I seem to be getting old very quickly nowadays so my vow is to get out and enjoy the landscape; smell the flowers and listen to the birds as much as possible as spring turns into summer.
I hadn’t much chance to get out with the camera this week but here’s a medley of April photos showing how different the month can be. The first two pictures were taken during ‘this week’ a year apart. (Top near Moughton Scar, the other showing Ingleborough.)
“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
– Robert Frost, 1926
Do I ever travel ‘abroad’ to take photos, you ask. Well yes, of course – I took these at one of my favourite places outside the Yorkshire Dales: the NE coast around Bamburgh and Lindisfarne. I love the Yorkshire coast too, but the vast skyscapes and the unspoilt Northumberland beaches with their dramatic castles and history take some beating.
So we go to the polls again next week, once more trying to convince ourselves that we live in a democracy; that the ‘will of the people’ will triumph; that our cross on a bit of paper will bring us nearer to the Utopia we crave. Will you vote for a political party, no matter who the candidate might be? Or vote for someone who is actually looking to care for your corner of the country? I’d like to see local council elections stripped of all political labelling and backing; and for council chambers to cease trying to be mini-Houses of Parliament where party policies and in-fighting become more important than actual local issues.
There aren’t many flatish, longish, riverside-ish walks in the upper Dales. Here the becks and rivers are generally young and rash, heading energetically down the hillsides. They provide us with some picturesque waterfalls and quick scrambles, but not many easy, level strolls. One exception is beside the River Dee, near Dent, where I visited this week. (Not the top pic – see later.)
A pleasant figure-of-eight route uses part of the Dales Way long-distance walk. There are good views of Dent (above) and the surrounding hills, and thankfully for my creaking knees, no gradients to speak of along the way. The sound of water cackling over stone, frantic calling between ewes and lambs, and birds being busy doing what birds do in spring made this a very pleasant couple of hours.
I read this week that one Yorkshire pensioner shoots wild birds in his back garden because he “dislikes being disturbed” by their singing. He wouldn’t be very happy round my way at the moment as the swallows are returning after their winter hols abroad. I can’t imagine a world without birdlife. If it is irritating noise he dislikes I suggest he takes the gun down to … probably best not to continue on this line of thought.
From Dent I drove through the Dales calling at Sedbergh, Hawes and Askrigg – stopping off to photograph ponies in front of the Howgills, Cotter Force (above) and St Oswald’s in Askrigg (below). The church is Grade I Listed, dating from the fifteenth century with evidence of earlier building. Afterwards I just had to stop to capture a very different but just as architecturally important Dales barn beside the Ure in Wensleydale (top picture in blog).
I also had a quick trip one evening to Malham where some macho outdoor types were climbing bare-chested above Watlowes. I can think of more relaxing ways of getting a tan.
Photographic highlight of my week though was a trip on Friday evening to Morecambe. Despite living in the Dales, the bay is less than 30 miles away. Seen from the shoreline, the Lakeland Fells were just a grey-blue silhouette across the water. I headed home via the Trough of Bowland, stopping off at Jubilee Tower on Quernmore to witness a superb sunset.
Ribblesdale, of course, provided more spring joy. A short evening wander up the narrow road to Little Stainforth opened up this lovely pastoral scene (below). I’ve taken dozens of photos this week but I don’t want to be that bloke who bores you with his tedious, endless holiday snaps (oops, too late!) so I’ll save some for another day.
Back in Langcliffe, the annual imprisonment of naughty daffodils is taking place …
Mean, moody and magnificent – my description of the Dales this week (12 pics here). With many schools on half term, tourists have flooded into the area to boost the local economy and bring a bit more life into Dales villages where many houses are now second homes or holiday lets.
Camping and caravan sites have burst back into life … and visiting dogs have left their contribution, too. I’ve never seen so many little plastic bags full of you-know-what stuffed into walls and left beside paths.
Away from the crowds I strolled up lonely Kingsdale and explored the land around the Cheese Press Stone – I didn’t see a soul for almost two hours but I still came across several poo bags. Someone’s gone to the trouble of picking up their dog’s biodegradable droppings, placed them in an non-biodegradable plastic bag and cast them aside for wildlife to choke on. Unbelievable.
Glad I got that off my chest. But no doubt you’ll say – and I agree – there are one or two bigger issues for the world to think about at the moment.
Yes, I should be thankful for what I’ve got – the views from up above Kingsdale are superb; lots of different shapes and angles for photography even when the distant views haven’t got the clarity you’d hope for. Ingleborough, Whernside and Gragareth provide fantastic backdrops here; I couldn’t quite make out the Lakeland Fells today but the Bowland Fells stretched away into the murkiness.
I’ve seen moody mists, stunning sunsets and whopping whales (sorry, whopping was the only alliteration I could summon up for whales) around the Dales this week so here’s the rest of the photo diary:
Looking over the western Dales from my perch at the trig point near Bowland Knotts I thought about the people I’ve known who are now sadly unable to enjoy such pleasures. It’s good for the soul to remind yourself every now and then just how lucky you are.
The moors up here can be bleak – and they were certainly cold the day I visited this week. But today the Sun is out, and at last there are signs of spring. I can hear peewits (lapwings) calling, back on the higher ground from the valley looking for nesting sites and mates. A less-travelled red grouse shrieks after being disturbed in the heather.
In the distance I can make out the snow-topped Lakeland fells, while directly across Wenningdale the guardians of the Dales line up in defiance: Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough, Penyghent and Fountains Fell. While supping tea from a flask I really appreciate what Nature has dished up for me this morning. Top photo: the view of Ingleborough and Whernside from near the trig point.
I watched this coot for a while at Helwith Bridge quarry. It swam into thicker reeds where a moorhen was minding its own business. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, much squawking and splashing of water before the coot took off and made an undignified landing at the other end of the pool.
I took this photo of Penyghent on my way to view the previously mentioned waterfall. I upped the contrast a bit and it now it looks more like a painting. I wish I had the patience (and talent) to sit there and sketch the scene.
Just a couple of short Dales trips squeezed into this busy week. One fine morning I had a walk up to Norber Erratics, a place I first visited on a school field trip some 50 years ago. There’s always a different rock shape to photograph on these boulder-strewn slopes, but this time I concentrated on the views. (11 pics)
And once again I called in on that lovely off-shoot of Ribblesdale, Chapel le Dale. Here you can wander along (and off) the old Roman road without needing a great deal of energy as it follows the flat valley bottom. I branched off to God’s Bridge where the beck, when low, reappears after a stretch underground. With Ingleborough towering on one side and vast limestone scars accompanying you on the other (first two pics below), this is a fabulous part of the Dales.
Ancient Dales tradition
I didn’t know until recently that each year at one minute past midnight on March 31, an age-old tradition is carried out in my village of Langcliffe in Ribblesdale. The fountain in the village centre was once a well, around which a Pagan ceremony is thought to have been carried out. Although exact details have been lost in the mists of time, the ritual has something to do with the alignment of the moon and an mysterious boulder which once covered the site of the well.
Legend has it that if the shadow cast on the boulder by the first moon in April does not align properly with an ancient ley-line heading in the direction of Ingleborough, then bad luck would befall the villagers.
During the thirteenth century the boulder was moved by invading Scots as an act of defiance against the English. After the stone’s removal, the village – apart from the home of Langcliffe’s eldest resident – was inexplicably burnt to the ground. Some claim that Samson’s Toe at nearby Winskill is the actual rock.
As time went on and the village was rebuilt, the rock was replaced by a cross, and more recently by the stone memorial we see today. It now falls upon the oldest surviving member of the family with the longest lineage in the village to check the line of the moon’s shadow using a sacred yew branch, or ‘Prolifola’ (from the Old Norse word meaning ‘preserving life’), and to warn residents of any misalignment and thus of their impending doom.
Thankfully, there is still reading material around that isn’t politically biased or in the hands of corrupt owners. Magazines you can read, save, re-read years later and flick through without having to stare at a screen, remember a password or recharge a battery. While the aim of writing this blog is to give my brain cells a little work-out and to share Dales views, I still look forward to writing occasional magazine columns. So here’s a blatant plug for two pieces I have in the April issues of Countryman and Down Your Way. In the former I look back at what happened in 1958 when apparently we ‘never had it so good’. And this month’s Surname File in Down Your Way looks at the Yorkshire name Ledgard.
The Dales shower didn’t bother me; I wasn’t cold. There was no fierce easterly wind biting as it did last week. I stood on Winskill Stones and watched a perfect semi-circle rainbow form above Ribblesdale. There was a dusty mist in the valley, dark streaks of rain drifted into the distance as the shower passed through. A grey veil hid Ingleborough’s flat summit.
The underside of heavy cloud to the west was tinged purple by the glow of a magnificent setting Sun. Just for a few minutes I forgot about problems caused by humans and marvelled at the wonder of a far superior Nature. Too briefly, shades of gold and red filled a stage in the sky. A beautiful Saturday night performance played for the benefit of many but attended by few. And people say they’ll miss Ant & Dec.
A friend asked me to settle an argument about where the River Ribble starts. I’ve been through this before via the blog, with me spouting some high and mighty claptrap about it never starting or finishing, as it is just rain water which heads to the sea, evaporates and falls again.
Not satisfied with my theory I was told to point to a place on a map. Annoying my pal further I insisted that there isn’t one particular source. There are so many tributaries, some just starting out as trickles of water off the highest fells or from springs dotted around the dale.
I’ve read a dozen books in which the authors have put forward arguments for different ‘sources’. There’s a spot on Cam Fell where water can either go east through Wharfedale or west through Ribblesdale; water from Batty Moss can head off to Morecambe Bay via Chapel-le-Dale or join the Ribble for a longer journey west. From up around Newby Head and surrounding fells, water can head down into Wensleydale to the Ure or find its way via various gills to help form the Ribble. Even the mass of Park Fell and Ingleborough on t’ other side of the dale can lay claim to providing a ‘source’ for the Ribble. The people at the Ordnance Survey aren’t much help, either. On a Dales map from the mid-1800s (reproduced here) is marked a spring, and beside it is printed ‘Ribble Head’. Later editions of the map don’t include this. In fact, the terms River Ribble and Ribblesdale do not appear on the later versions of the OS map until various water courses have joined forces near Selside.
We ended up agreeing there are bigger things to worry about in life, like whose round it was.
I have a treasured signed copy of Bill Mitchell’s book, Summat & Nowt, which is looking a bit tatty now having been read half a dozen times and referred to on numerous more occasions. I’d already known and worked with Bill for about five years when in 1998 he dropped off copies of that newly published book at the Dalesman office. He liked to pop in to talk of journalistic matters and be reminded what life was like ‘at the coal face’, as he would say.
The book has a chapter called The Long Drag, which is culled from a book he wrote of the same name. It’s a lovely piece on the Settle-Carlisle Railway – not about the intricate technical details the train buffs prefer, or a dry account of its construction and history – but of the characters who brought the line to life. The drivers, signalmen, station masters, tea lady – and a host of other volunteers who dragged the line through its darkest days.
So this week it was a great pleasure to be invited to the unveiling of a plaque at Settle station to commemorate Bill’s contribution to the railway. His son David and daughter Janet gave moving accounts of their dad’s affliction: Settle-Carlilitis. Photo shows David and Janet beside the plaque (yes, it was cold, Janet).
Talking about the Ice age … here’s a good example of how those vertical cracks form and destabilise rock faces (near Ribblehead):
Some more shots taken on a freezing trip around the former quarry at the top of Ribblesdale:
Further into the Dales: I had a quick trip down Widdale into Wensleydale early in the week – stopped to capture snow blowing up Burtersett High Pasture: