Why Horton stirs dales memories

dales horton12 new Dales photos here. I found myself mooching around Horton-in-Ribblesdale on the week’s only fine day. Passing Penyghent Cafe I remembered the days 40-odd years ago when I used to clock out and in there for the Three Peaks challenge. My knees would probably crumble to dust if I took on the 24-mile Dales hike today so this time I opted for a few gentle miles by the river. Apart from the odd rumble from the quarries, the walk was peaceful. Heavily pregnant ewes were scattered around the meadows while much more active birds sped up, down and across the Ribble.

dales horton

dales horton

There’s a pleasant spot in a small wood where the river widens. It’s shallow here and the water cackles across well-worn stones; a perfect place for contemplation. The morning mist slowly vanished and Penyghent came into view along with patches of blue sky.

dales horton

dales horton
In the village I remembered bits of a piece written by Victorian Dales wanderer Edmund Bogg. Back home I dug out the extract from his oddly title book, Wanderings on the Old Border, Lakeland and Ribblesdale:
“It was a dark, boisterous October night that found us tramping towards the village of Horton; the wind howled, and the clouds swished rapidly past overhead; rain descended in torrents; the wild mountain country became enshrouded in mystery and silence; a light here and there gleamed from a grey stone dwelling; further up the village one solitary lamp, over the entrance of the Golden Lion, tried in vain to pierce the gloom. A ray of light, however, fell on the venerable lych gate, just across the roadway, and dimly, like a shadow thrown from bygone ages, the grand old tower of Horton Church loomed out of the darkness, typical of a religious light burning through the dark ages of a far past. There was a motley gathering at the Golden Lion on that night, quarrymen from the limestone quarries, and the dalesmen of the district, thirsty souls, we should imagine, by the amount of beer we saw consumed. Three farmers, who had been to Clapham Fair on that day, were benighted here on our visit; their homes lay some eight or ten miles over the moors, and it would have been sheer foolhardiness to have attempted the journey in the dense darkness of that night. One, an elderly man, who had spent upwards of half-a-century in crossing and re-crossing the moors, attempted the journey; he missed his way, and his horse floundered in a bog, and he was glad to grope his way back to the inn. We joined them in company later on, and jolly fellows we found them, yet withal shrewd, stark, and strikingly original.”

My recollections of the Horton pubs in the 1970s also involve the drinking of copious amounts of beer but the clientele were students rather than hardy Dales farmers.

dales horton
On a blustery wet day this week I drove up to Chapel-le-Dale and captured swiftly moving clouds hiding Ingleborough and Whernside

dales horton
Two views from a footbridge over the Ribble near Horton. Must remember this spot for when the Flying Scotsman passes through the Dales along the Settle-Carlisle railway on 31 March to celebrate the line’s reopening at Eden Brow.

dales horton
Ribblehead Station

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