Shades of grey in the Dales


Someone chucked a huge grey blanket over north Ribblesdale today. The forecasters promised so much – surely they can’t be that wrong? I got into my grey car, caught the reflection of my grey hair in the window, and headed off into the gloom searching for inspiration…. “T’blog weean’t write itssen,” I thought, in my best West Riding twang. I was momentarily transported back some forty years to my earliest days in weekly newspapers when on a Monday morning the grumpy editor would poke his head around the reporters’ room door and bark something about there being “God knows how many column-inches to fill” and that they wouldn’t be filled by reporters sitting on their backsides in the office. Those were days before lifting stuff from  t’internet and readers with mobile phones helped filled the space – reporters were paid to go out into the streets, courts and – all in the line of duty – pubs to seek out the local tittle-tattle. Back to today. Someone stealing the Three Peaks would have made a good tale for the newspaper… they were definitely missing on my journey to Ribblehead Viaduct where even the tea wagon hadn’t bothered to turn up. Limestone grey walls and limestone grey buildings against a grey backdrop. Even the sheep looked grey. The National Park won’t allow anyone to use their imagination and paint something bright red by way of a change; I’m surprised they allow cyclists to ride on the roads wearing those luminous tops. I love seeing bright red post boxes and telephone kiosks dotted around the Dales, but try making your garden gate the same colour and some jobsworth or a haughty neighbour will be on your case before the paint’s dry. Anyway, back once more to today. Anyone who’s lived in the area will tell you that there are times when it seems every dale has its own weather system and so it proved on this little adventure. Dropping into Wensleydale was like waking from a coma… there was blue sky, fluffy clouds, tourists in T-shirts and alfresco drinkers on the setts by the Black Bull. I walked along to Cotter Force where bright red rowan berries (are they allowed in the National Park?) added some extra pizzazz to a beautiful rural scene. High on Buttertubs Pass, peering down on upper Swaledale (pictured), everything became crisper and clearer; the contrast with dowdy Ribblesdale could not have been greater. Perhaps it will be Ribblesdale’s day tomorrow.

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