Dales trains, waterfalls, sunsets and kittens

dalesIt’s a pleasure to see a steam-hauled train dashing through the Dales. Here Galatea makes its way off Ribblehead Viaduct on the spectacular Settle-Carlisle line (yesterday evening).  There were just a few remnants of snow on Whernside but looking at the weather forecast it seems like there’s more to come.

DalesI thought it was about time I tried a longer walk this week to see if my injured (ancient) left hip and knee could stand it. Four miles around Ingleton was enough. I took in part of the waterfalls walk and although the lighting was poor I managed to add a few shots to my collection.

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The collection of Dales twilight and sunset shots also grew a little fatter this week. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc are not really geared up to show subtlety in photographs but I hope, even on phones, you can get some idea of what I was aiming for in these shots taken in Ribblesdale.

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Penyghent under a sunlit cloud.

As mentioned in previous blogs, if I want to clear my head I’ll often drive on the road from Clapham up to Bowland Knotts and have a little saunter around. I love the view over the western Dales but by heck it was cold earlier in the week.

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The other two of the Three Peaks, Whernside and Ingleborough, as seen from Bowland Knotts.
If you look closely all three can be seen in this photo.

If you’ve got a ‘Hi-Dad-hope-you-are-ok-can-you-do-me-a-favour’ offspring then you’ll know that most of what you’ve said to them over the years has probably gone in one ear and straight out of the other without saying the briefest hello to any active brain cells. A few weeks back my son said he’d love a kitten for his new home and I dutifully (and boringly) informed him about all the pitfalls about costs, smells, vets, food costs, leaving it alone while at work, keeping you up at night etc, etc. Last week he got one – of course. I must admit he’s the cutest thing (the cat, not my son) and his picture (the cat, not my son) is now my screensaver. I reckon the cat, who looks very smug, will take as much notice of my son as my son does of me. Photo by William Jackson.

More golden days in the Dales (12 pics)

dalesThar’s gold in them thar Dales – tha knaws … there have been some glorious golden moments in the Dales over the last 12 months. By standing in the right place at twilight – with or without a camera – I’ve enjoyed many a memorable sunset scene here in the western Dales. I’ve dug out a few shots for this week’s blog:

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First two shots taken this week from Winskill, above Langcliffe in Ribblesdale.
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The last rays of the night, looking over Bowland Fells. Below, the cloud gives the impression of a giant aircraft taking off.

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Above, a golden glow over Settle from Giggleswick Scar; below, Attermire catches the evening sunshine.

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A couple of weeks ago – Langcliffe in winter light. Below, sheep silhouettes at Winskill.

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Above, the sky reminds me of those shots of Saturn. Below, valley mist and more golden light.

Tipping scum


One of my pet hates is fly-tipping. Whether found in the Dales or in towns and cities it’s disgusting and whenever I see such selfishness I will report it. Last week on my way to watch my football team in Huddersfield I saw a wagonload of discarded household goods dumped near the canal. I Tweeted about it and the story was followed up by the Huddersfield Examiner. I was there again yesterday and the rubbish had gone. So the understaffed local press still has some power and a part to play in the community. I wonder how long the trash would have stayed had it not been publicised – and how long before more is dumped there?
https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-town-fan-brands-fly-14290468
In 2015/16, the estimated cost of clearing of fly-tipping to local authorities in England was nearly £50 million. When councils are struggling to pay for schools and social services, this is such a waste of revenue. Added to this, the cost of fly-tipping on private land is estimated at between £50 – £150 million a year. Fly-tipping can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court yet this doesn’t seem to stop the criminals.
I know people will say that councils should stop charging residents for taking larger loads to their tips – I wonder if those same folk would complain if the £50m cost was added to the general rates? In many cases fly-tipping is carried out by rogue traders who charge customers for disposal but instead of disposing it properly just dump the rubbish on someone else’s doorstep. As I say, scumbags.

Dales Olympics

That youthful lad inside my head really wanted to sledge down this sloping track above Langcliffe. Alas, I think it would only have ended in tears and broken bones.

Dales in the twilight hour (11 pics)

Once again the Three Peaks area of the Dales has captured my attention. The whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is well within an hour’s drive from home – and I love it all, but the Three Peaks are on my doorstep so I get the chance to see them in all their moods in changing weather and light.

Crepuscular. Yes, you heard me correctly. Crepuscular is my word of the week. It’s a word for the twilight and those rays of sunshine that poke through the clouds. If you’re standing on the right vantage point at the time they appear you can scan around the dales and pick out the places they highlight. I zoomed in from Winskill to catch one on Ingleborough (top photo). Above, the setting sun on Friday.

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Two more shots from the same evening.

Below – lovely to look at but not for the unwary or badly equipped, the Dales trio of Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside capped in snow this week:

I like this view of Ribblehead Viaduct (below). Probably not close enough for the train spotters but it helps prove what an achievement it was to build the structure in such an unforgiving landscape.

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Earlier in the week I posted on Twitter a shot taken further down this lane in Langcliffe but looking the other way. Below, frozen quarry pond at Helwith Bridge.

From Dales to Town

Sheep pretending to be rocks – or rocks masquerading as sheep? I’m writing the blog earlier than normal because football is now run by TV companies (bear with me – the dales, sheep, TV and football will all be linked, eventually).

In the past, wool from the ancestors of these Dales sheep would have been transported further down the Pennine chain to the West Riding towns and turned into some of the finest cloth and carpets in the world. Mill owners built their fortunes and mansions off the backs of these sheep and the hard-grafting working class.

However, trade deals struck up with far away countries with even cheaper slave-labour (ring any bells?) virtually brought an end to the industry, bringing about unemployment, the destruction of communities in its manufacturing heartland, as well as the demise of many a farmer’s livelihood in the Dales.

Some of my ancestors headed from the Pennine hill farms for employment in the mill towns, hence my connection with the industrial West Riding. Nowadays I follow the old wool route from the Dales to Huddersfield to watch my football team, who thanks to TV scheduling have been ordered to play at the ridiculous kick-off time of noon on a Sunday. Baa.

Why the Dales are top of the pops

I see that several of my favourite areas of the Dales are featured in the list of Britain’s top 100 walks. Many of the 8,000 people who contributed to the list have walked in my footsteps. It’s good to see the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, and when it benefits local traders, accommodation providers and publicans etc, then so much the better.

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Earlier in the week Ingleborough looked like it had been ‘lime-washed’. The walk from Clapham up to Ingleborough summit features in the top 100 walks list – you wouldn’t have got me up there on this day for all the tea in Yorkshire.

My small gripe about the list is that most of the walks are already popular and the publicity is likely to attract thousands more boots over those same paths. I wonder how many walkers (or TV programme makers for that matter) will be willing to pay for the upkeep of those over-used routes.

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Another of the favourite walks is the Ingleton Falls route. Picture shows Pecca Falls.

Before you have a go at me, I know that in a way my blog and other writing down the years has also contributed to attracting more tramping of the fells – I’m not being hypocritical, I have given (and still give) money towards path repairs and Mountain Rescue charities in the Dales.

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/itvs-britains-100-favourite-walks/

Since slipping on icy steps a few weeks ago and injuring my left hip and knee I’ve not done much strolling, so thank goodness I also have a car to get me around the dales. Top photo in the blog shows Penyghent from near Brackenbottom. To complete the Three Peaks trio here’s a wintry looking Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct.

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Looking from Horton-in-Ribblesdale across the quarry workings to Ingleborough.

I’m saddened to hear this week of the death of the inspirational Hannah Hauxwell (91). I only met her briefly at some ceremony or other. Being involved with Dalesman at the time I asked if she and her neighbours up in Baldersdale still considered themselves as Yorkshire folk (since the political boundary changes in 1974). Hannah replied firmly that they always thought of themselves as Yorkshire and felt no association with Durham. I hope everyone born on the south side of the Tees still thinks the same. Hannah was a lovely lady unspoilt by all the attention she received.

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I watched the sun go down from the old back road between Clapham and Ingleton on Wednesday. The golden glow belies the fact it was below freezing thanks to a strong westerly wind.

I must add my congratulations to everyone involved with Langcliffe Community Gardens on winning the Greener Craven Award category of Craven Community Champions. A great effort by those neighbours of mine who got involved. Plenty of snowdrops to admire in the local churchyard, too:

The Snowdrop

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid,
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!

Fans of steam trains make sure you buy a copy of this month’s Countryman magazine (now in the shops) in which I reminisce about the golden age of railways. The Settle-Carlisle and Keighley & Worth Valley lines are included. http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk
In February’s Down Your Way magazine I write about the surname Loftus/Lofthouse. http://www.downyourway.co.uk

 

Dales drive with a difference – 17 pics

Let me take you on a little drive around the western Dales. On the one clear day this week I drove along the back roads of Wenningdale from Settle to the Great Stone of Fourstones (pictured below), above Bentham, with the hope of taking some long-distance shots of the Three Peaks and perhaps even the southern fells of the Lake District. Although there was plenty of blue sky above, there wasn’t the clarity. I did manage these photos of the Dales and beyond:

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Unusual shot up the spine of Whernside with Ingleton in the foreground; below, Ingleborough seen from Great Stone.

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Not the clearest of shots but you can make out the snow-capped tops of the South Lakeland Fells.

From that amazing boulder I drove on to Thornton-in-Lonsdale and through lonely Kingsdale (top photo in blog). Apart from a gang of cavers trooping up to Yordas I didn’t see another soul for miles. Driving the steep single track road towards Dent always makes the heart beat a little faster. For most of the way you’re praying there’s nothing coming in the other direction; that the mist doesn’t come down; or in my case hoping that gawping too long at the view doesn’t mean I miss a tight bend in the road.

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View back down Kingsdale from a gate stop.

I double-check my handbrake every time I get out of the car to open and shut the gates along here. A little stroll up the old quarry road towards High Pike is always worthwhile. The views down Deepdale, Dentdale, towards the Howgills and north-western dales are rewarding.

There is a magical little waterfall as you descend into Deepdale – it’s unnamed on the OS map.


Instead of continuing to Dent I took the back-road to Cowgill – apparently I couldn’t have done this the previous day because of flooding. Every time I drive along this lane, passing Whernside Manor, I remember the creepy stories I’ve read of the mansion’s past. Tales of slavery and ghosts, and people being chained up in the cellars can be found on the internet if you’re interested. Believe what you want, but when one site describes Whernside hill as being part of the Howgills, you do start to question the depth of research.

After more stops for photos of the river Dee (below) and the old buildings at Stone House (above), where Dent marble was once produced, it was under the Settle-Carlisle railway at Dent Head Viaduct and on to Ribblehead, before turning down to Settle under the familiar gaze of Penyghent.

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I pulled off the Ingleton-Hawes road for this moody shot of Ingleborough.
What a difference a Dales day makes

The trip was a contrast to the previous day when I’d driven on t’other side of Penyghent towards Halton Gill from Stainforth. Typical of this part of the dales, water was pouring off the sodden fells, filling the becks and waterfalls which feed Penyghent Beck before splashing down into Littondale. I was wet but the noise and the freshness were exhilarating:

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Fountains Fell
Penyghent

The clouds opened up briefly to reveal a surprising vivid sunset last night. I didn’t have time to pop up to higher ground but these from around the village show the intensity of the colours – no filters used here.

Weather watching in the Dales

Somebody famous once wrote, ‘There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather’. I suppose that could well be a motto for landscape photographers and artists. As long as you are still able to get out and about, different and difficult conditions offer new opportunities – even on familiar territory. I hope my selection of photos this week of mainly local (to me) places, which I’ve pictured many times before, prove the point.

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Top photo: snowy lane in Langcliffe, Ribblesdale. Above: cold and moody Penyghent from Selside.
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Ingleborough often seems the most formidable of the Three Peaks, with its nose facing the weather from the west.

I’ve no idea how many photos I’ve taken of the Three Peaks – they seem to put on a fresh dress every time I travel up Ribblesdale.

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Whernside and the viaduct from Ribblehead.
Cold weather stations

Two stations on the Settle-Carlisle line: Ribblehead with Park Fell in the background, and Garsdale, where Ruswarp patiently awaits his owner.

Whenever I take this shot of Brokken Bridge in Clapham – this one snapped on Friday – I’m reminded of the late Bill Mitchell. Bill and his family would have been celebrating his 90th birthday this week. A few years ago he and I cheekily knocked on the door of Fellside (the top house of the row to the left). We announced that we both edited Dalesman and that Bill had worked from this house when it was the magazine’s headquarters. Thankfully the owners recognised Bill and let us in to enjoy some of his reminiscences.

This Ribblesdale view at Helwith Bridge always reminds my of a Welsh mining valley. The 19th-century quarry workers’ cottages at Foredale were the setting for a cracking film released in 2013 called Lad: A Yorkshire Story. Staring down at them from the other side of the valley is Penyghent – many a mini blizzard on the top there this week.

Thanks to one of my neighbours thinking about the birds during cold weather I’ve been able to take a few more wildlife photos from the comfort of home. Taking photos through double-glazing can prove difficult but this doesn’t spoil my enjoyment. I think this is a female blackbird but I’m sure an expert will let me know if I’m wrong.

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I liked all the shapes and angles of this snowy scene at St Oswald’s, Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

Misty Dales and foggy promises

More cloudy and foggy Dales weather doesn’t mean we retired folk just lie on our settees drinking hot chocolate and watching Homes under the Hammer every day. I managed a few pleasant strolls in the misty Dales this week. One was alongside the River Wenning from near its starting point where the becks of Clapham and Austwick join together. There’s an old saying about ‘when gorse blooms, it’s kissing season’ … the inference being that the lovely yellow flower blooms somewhere in the UK 365 days a year so you’ve no excuse not to be kissing. There was plenty of blooming gorse in this part of Wenningdale, even on a miserable, cloudy January day. Sadly, no blooming kissing.

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Top photo and these two I took on a trip to Malham Tarn

By Friday I was itching to get out again and drove along the single track road up to Bowland Knotts. I walked across the squelchy, peaty commons to the trig point, which stands at 1,114ft on Crutchenber Fell, in the full knowledge that visibility would be very poor. But it’s a dramatic landscape whatever the conditions. I could just about make out the Three Peaks in the distant mist; Stocks Reservoir was barely visible. The surrounding brown, brooding moors looked formidable. Unseen over the first brow is the River Hodder, the traditional ancient border with Lancashire.

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Above and below, part of the view from the trig point.

I’ve ‘collected’ quite a few trigs in my time but never recorded my visits. There are folks who do, and like some train spotters they are meticulous in their attention to detail. Out of interest I looked up this one on the interweb-thingy and found this anorakic description:
“Pillar completed 25th September 1949 costing £17.15s.10d. Computed as tertiary triangulation station SD96/T8 in 1951. Levelled for height in 1953. Last maintained by the OS in June 1976. Pillar in good condition. Spider centre plugged with tar. Flush bracket faces northwest, ~329°. Vented through three sight holes, SW face plugged, pillar bolt photographed. Full 360° panoramic view includes Whernside, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.”
Well there you go.

Dales sadness

Sad news about Gayle Mill (see link below). My late brother Peter, who lived in Gayle, helped with the restoration. I hope for his memory the necessary work can be carried out and that the important Dales project is not strangled by red tape.

Gayle Mill to close just ten years after £1.2m restoration work

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View of distant Penyghent on my walk in Wenningdale
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I stopped off briefly in Chapel-le-Dale for this sultry pic of Ingleborough
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Yes, that is blue sky you’re looking at – a brief interlude by the Ribble near Langcliffe Locks. Below a shot showing the nearby mill pond with Stainforth Scar in the background.

Interesting that the Tories are choosing now to make political promises about the environment – perhaps they fear the eloquent and intelligent Green Party leader Caroline Lucas more than any other opposition. You’ll notice that they have guaranteed nothing immediate and that they are reluctant to commit anything to the statute books. I don’t think they’ll want us to look too deeply into their ‘northern forest’ idea. The cost of this 25-year project they claim to be around half a billion pounds but what they haven’t shouted about is the fact that government will only be contributing £5.7m and expect the rest to be raised through charities. They don’t tell you either that their High Speed 2 rail folly project will destroy around 100 ancient, irreplaceable woodlands, or that permission to destroy other precious woodland for fracking exploitation has been granted despite much local and national opposition.

I also wonder if the proposed woodland across the M62 corridor will include reforesting the swathes of land denuded by the landowners who over decades have purposely prevented trees from growing so they can preserve their shooting estates? This action has helped cause devastating flooding in nearby villages and towns for many years and created a totally unnatural and unbalanced landscape. Good piece by Patrick Bamford here:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/08/promised-northern-forest-diversion-hs2-shale-sherwood-forest

I took a financial risk yesterday and invested £2 in a lottery ticket. I lost. Money I’ll never see again. Lots of better-off people took a risk buying shares in Carillion – who just so happen to win a contract to build HS2 – hoping to rake in loadsa profit for doing nothing but gambling. But it’ll be ok for them, the taxpayer will probably help them recoup some of their brass. Investors should not be bailed out but those who work for them should.

Sorry to go all political. Here are some odd-ball pics taken this week to lighten my mood:

When we had an outside loo, Mum told me not to be afraid of the spiders. Don’t think she had this one in mind (at Malham Tarn Field Centre).
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Unusual Dales wildlife by the Wenning.
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This sign in Langcliffe was probably defaced some time ago but I’ve only just noticed it. The school it refers to closed ten years ago.

January surprises in the Dales

A January day in the Dales can be surprisingly subtle. Yes, there are white-outs, blankets of grey rain as well as striking cold blue skies, but in among there are also plenty of conditions to satisfy those of a more arty nature.

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You could be forgiven for thinking the top photo of Ingleborough and this one of Penyghent were taken on a summer’s evening but if you could feel the freezing hands of the photographer you’d realise both were January shots.
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This one of Dentdale and the following two taken on the old track from Dent Station to Garsdale are deceptive, too. All are January photos taken as the cold morning air was rising.

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And a January sunset in the Dales can be stunning, too. Who says the camera doesn’t lie?
Dales pasture news

You may remember a blog of mine from before Christmas in which I mentioned an appeal launched by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to buy Ashes Pasture at the top end of Ribblesdale. Well the trust have just heard from the Heritage Lottery Fund that their grant application was successful. So together with a contribution from the Garfield Weston Foundation and support received from trust members and the public, the fundraising target has been reached. They will now be able to safeguard and restore this fragile, important and rare habitat. Donations are still needed for the future – visit http://www.ywt.org.uk/node/24836


I’ve been reading a lot recently about research which proves that the closer you are to Nature or green spaces, the healthier you’ll be. Many of us have known that most of our lives without having some highly qualified research team tell us, but it is always worth a reminder. After too many days shackled to the house (voluntarily, of course – none of that kinky stuff here), and despite poor weather, I cheered myself up with a walk around Malham Tarn this week. I had the Tarn Moss boardwalk to myself. The bogland felt quite eerie with trees seemingly being gobbled up by the mire. All kinds of fungi and lichen look to be thriving, although I saw little of the wildlife or birds. I then walked to the Tarn where brief glimpses of sunlight reflected on the cold water. Just a 90-minute stroll in this part of the Dales, thinking about nothing but the Nature around me, left me feeling reinvigorated.

A couple of snow shots from the previous week which I didn’t have chance to post. Salt Lake Cottages stand out against the white background of Whernside, and Langcliffe village with the slightest hint of colour.

A video shot of this duck trying to walk on iced-up Langcliffe Millpond would have been better. Its cartoon walk, together with comic quacking and incredulous looks from the other duck amused me anyway.

Another year in the Dales goes west

A Dales photo for each month during 2017. Looking back on a year’s wandering – fairly aimless wandering it must be said – and photographing around the western Dales this year, I hadn’t realised how much the sky had dominated so many of my shots. Clouds move swiftly in this part of the country as the breeze sweeps in from the Irish Sea and strikes the hilly barrier in its way. A stormy sky can turn clear blue in minutes – and the opposite can happen quickly too, to catch out the unwary.

Photos can often hide the truth – the top picture, taken above Giggleswick Scar, shows a lovely clear day looking down on Settle bathing in sunshine. But don’t be deceived, it was taken in January and believe me it was freezing up there that day.

This February shot shows snow on Penyghent and a steam special heading through Ribblesdale.

In March I watched this dramatic cloud formation above Kingsdale as it made its way from the north-west. Whernside bore the brunt of the bad weather it brought.

About as far as you get in the western Dales is Barbondale. This April day was full of light and shade.

The Sun in May is still fairly weak and I was able to point the camera directly at it for this shot of a distant Ingleborough from Winskill.

The weather was right for a stroll up Attermire Scar in June. This was the view looking north-west, showing the track to Malham by Jubilee Cave and the foot-hills of Penyghent and Fountains Fell.

Just as the sun was going down on a July day at Winskill, Ribblesdale. Distant Penyghent soaking up the last rays.

A typical August sky and a typical walled green lane. I was on my way from Horton-in-Ribblesdale to photograph the impressive Hull Pot.

A September shot of Settle. I chose this one for my yearly round-up not because of the great view of the town from Castleberg Rock but for the shape of the clouds above, which take you to the distant fells.

October brought some storms to the region. I was right on the edge of this particularly nasty one above Ribblesdale before making a hasty retreat back home to Langcliffe.

As autumn turned to winter I was lucky to grab this November shot on the track between Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Brackenbottom before the gold and brown tints disappeared.

I had to include a December shot of a snowy Penyghent, even though Ribblesdale didn’t have a white Christmas Day. This was taken from Selside.

Thank you for continuing to follow this blog during 2017 and I hope you have a fabulous new year.

Why we love a Dales winter (15 pics)

dalesHappy Christmas from the Yorkshire Dales. It’s not been a good week for photography with there being so much fog around here in Ribblesdale. Add that to my annual catch-ups with old friends, visiting family and having a stinking cold means my photographic output has been practically zilch. It has, however, given me chance to search through this year’s archives and pick out a few Christmas and wintry scenes featuring the Three Peaks area and further afield in the Dales. The top picture and this one of frosty trees were both taken in Wharefdale, near Appletreewick.

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These shots of Ingleborough are not in black and white. A chilly dales day with swiftly moving clouds.

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Another freezing day at Ribblehead Viaduct
A day of contrasts: blue sky above a snowy Whernside.
Two shots showing the third of the Three Peaks: Penyghent looking majestic.

Park Fell and Ingleborough, not to be taken lightly on days like this.
In and around Langcliffe, Ribblesdale.

One of my favourite views, Ingleborough and Ribblesdale seen from Winskill Stones.
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A couple of hand-held night shots from Settle (above) and Langcliffe.

Have a great Christmas x