For a hill whose summit is just under 1,200ft above sea level, Smearsett Scar offers the kind of 360 degree view of the Dales usually reserved for walkers venturing a thousand feet higher. All the Three Peaks, Fountains Fell, Pendle Hill, the Bowland Fells and much more are visible. On very clear days you can probably make out the west coast.
The intricate limestone pavement of Moughton Scar stands out, and the green valleys of Crummack, Wenning and Ribble look gentle and welcoming. This small Ribblesdale peak, part of a short limestone ridge including Pot Scar, provided me with my only real exercise this week. A friend tells me he once spent a wonderful, clear, summer’s night at the top – it certainly wasn’t during this year’s brief summer.
More Dales churches
As I trundle around the Dales I often stop off to photograph local churches. I’m not a religious person but enjoy church architecture and history. And during several decades of delving into my family’s past I’ve spent many an hour tramping through graveyards looking for clues.
This week I briefly crossed into Lancashire from the western Dales to visit St Peter’s at Leck, where there’s been a church since the early 1600s.
Today’s building (above) is a relatively modern affair, having been rebuilt in 1913 following a fire, but it is still a grand sight in this quiet backwater off the main road to and from the Lakes. Leck Fell and nearby Gragareth are two hills I’ve never ascended but I seem to recall potholing trips around the area as a more adventurous youth.
Just a couple of miles away, switching from the Diocese of Blackburn to that of Leeds – both sounding incongruous for this part of the country – is St Oswald’s at Thornton-in-Lonsdale. Like at Leck’s church (and dozens more around the North) it seems to have links with the Brontes. There’s been a church here since pre-Norman times, but also similarly to St Peter’s it was gutted by fire (in 1933). The church was rebuilt in a Gothic style and looks splendid set in a well-kept churchyard. Sitting here I imagined this (and the neighbouring pub of course) being welcome sanctuary for those who travelled the lonely high pass from Dent through Kingsdale.