I’m lucky enough to remember lapping up weeks of sun in the Yorkshire Dales during the sweltering summer of 1976. Those days of my early 20s, when I was still enjoying life to the full, came to mind last Sunday.
Conditions during those long, dry summer days of 40 years ago couldn’t have been more different. In the greyness of the morning I photographed the flooded Ribble at Langcliffe. It cascaded over the weir where surrounding fields were soaking up unusually heavy August rain from further up Ribblesdale.
Thankfully, a brighter day followed and I was able to take my only walk of the week in the Dales. I parked at St Leonard’s in Chapel-le-Dale, pottering about around Hurtle Pot before heading up the rough track to Ellerbeck Farm and circling back.
The sun struggles to find a way through the tree canopy along this way, and Nature has created a strange little world here. The limestone outcrops are covered in a carpet of mosses and lichens; ferns and other shade-preferring plants thrive in the crevices.
A surprising statue jumps out of the shrubs – the plaque says:
‘For years a statue stood on this spot. It was vandalised on Saturday August 27th 1983 and subsequently found in 30 feet of water at the bottom of Hurtle Pot. An enthusiastic team of divers made the recovery and it has been erected again as found. It was the creation of the late Charles I’Anson the well known sculptor and artist. Time will tell if the spirit of the Boggard of Hurtle Pot is now enshrined in the statue.’
Not wishing to hang around to find out, I moved quickly on. The track opens out beneath the mass of Whernside into a landscape of wild boggy fell which had acted like a sponge during the previous day’s downpour. The limestone outcrops which break up the bogland provide some excellent foregrounds for photos (first pic in post).
Great views up and down the Dales appear as you gain height. Beyond Ribblehead Viaduct I could clearly see the old Roman Road heading up Cam. It’s creamy surface, laid to take wagons for wood clearance, creates an open scar on the hillside. Hopefully it will soon blend into the surroundings.
I could also pick out the path restoration work being carried out up Ingleborough. There were plenty of folk attempting the Three Peaks and I hope they all contribute to the route’s upkeep – http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk