Just as I find satisfaction in kicking my way through autumn leaves, I get the same childish thrill crunching along on a frosty Dales track. Cracking the small iced up puddles (after admiring their wondrous patterns) and feeling the crispness of the frozen grass under my boots, while being well togged up of course, is still a delight. I know, I know, I should really leave those lovely ice patterns for others to enjoy, but I’m just a big kid. Such conditions were plentiful in the Dales this week …
As you drive out of Settle over the top of Buckhaw Brow, just after the old road veers off towards Feizor, there’s a pull-in on the right. I remember many years ago tramping through the small wood here with friends who said there was good climbing to be found. I’m not the climbing sort and didn’t partake other than a bit of line holding. I can’t remember if climbing was allowed there at the time – perhaps I was also the lookout for approaching landowners. Anyway, despite passing this place hundreds of times over the years, this week I took a little saunter through that wood for the first time since those carefree days. It’s a tricky place to walk but there are surprises along the way. The caves are well documented (do a search for ‘caves Buckhaw Brow’) for those who like that kind of thing. I also saw many signs that climbing still takes place here. If you look closely on this photo you can make out hooks on the overhang.
Banks are closing down at a rapid rate throughout the Dales- yet another blow for rural communities around the country. Still, it’s not a new thing … this one in Dent, which I photographed on Monday, closed in 1972!
There’s a gravestone by the church porch which is said to be the final resting place George Hodgson who died in 1715, aged 94. Local legend has that if you saw George’s ghost around the churchyard in the moonlight then you would quickly die. Dent’s God-fearing folk decided he was probably a vampire and that his body should be exhumed from its original grave and placed by the church door. It is said that on exhuming his body, George’s hair and nails had grown and his skin was a glowing pink. Just to make sure he was dead a stake was thrust through his heart. His ‘new’ gravestone appears to have a hole in it, in case an extra stake is ever needed. Those misery guts who like to pour cold water over such fanciful tales say the gravestone is a gatepost that has been reused, and the hole is simply part of the mechanism. I say let’s dig up the old beggar and ask him.