The weather gods granted me a day out on Wednesday – as my mum used to say, there was ‘enough blue sky to knit a pair of sailor’s trousers’ — so I enjoyed a drive and short walk along and beside the Stainforth to Halton road in the morning, then a trip to Malham from Langcliffe in the afternoon. Penyghent looked resplendent – seen above from Dale Head – while at the Giant’s Grave there was still plenty of water around to create a splash or two. Here the water can take several different directions, filling huge potholes before eventually finding a way down Penyghent Gill and into Littondale.
In the upright photo showing the moors above Halton Gill in the distance, is evidence of a recent rockfall probably caused by the storms. The tree hangs on precariously.
Farms along Henside Road from Cowside to Arncliffe via Malham Tarn are often cut off during winter. I recall Bill Mitchell writing a piece for Dalesman about a family stranded at Capon Hall Farm for several weeks during the bad weather of (I think) 1962. Here’s one of the farms, with Malham Tarn visible in the background. There was a light sprinkling of snow/slush around the higher moors on Christmas Eve but nothing to bother these hardy farmers too much … yet.
I like seeing the fields above Malham, and the limestone of the cove, in the early evening sun when most of the tourists are making their way home. The animals graze peacefully and the whole scene takes on a more pastoral feel.
The heavy rain has reintroduced many waterfalls which are usually only observed when the underground channels are full. The historic view of water tumbling over Malham Cove last week is a prime example, but there have been many other reappearances too throughout the Yorkshire Dales. This one on the Horton side of Selside doesn’t often teem over the top. It’s a fine little fall which according to the Ordnance Survey doesn’t have a name. Ended-on-my-arse-here Falls would be appropriate, for me at least. Muddied and briefly embarrassed, hoping that no one witnessed my mishap, I walked towards High Birkwith and back along the Pennine Bridleway.
On returning home this little chap was waiting for me. He posed for one picture on a neighbour’s bench, then flew off. I haven’t seen him since – perhaps his mission is to say hello to everyone in the dale over the Christmas period.
Even more rain towards the end of the week meant extended time on the computer or watching some mind-numbingly tedious Christmas TV programmes, usually involving ‘celebrities’ – most of whom I’ve never heard of. Can we look forward to a series titled ‘Celebrities on Benefits’. Only a joke, before people write in. It’s no laughing matter being unemployed and anyway, whingeing about TV seems churlish considering what happened yesterday. The floods in the north have caused devastation and severely disrupted the lives of many thousands of people. I had to curtail my journey down the Aire Valley yesterday – I had never seen it so badly flooded – and I was lucky to get back up to Ribblesdale before the roads were closed or impassable. My heartfelt sympathy to everyone affected. Sorry, Mr Cameron, you’re going to have make yet another journey oop t’north for a photo-shoot to show the nation what a caring PM you are.
A few miles from Ribblesdale is the once-deserted hamlet of Wycoller which contains a partly ruined hall, thought to be the setting for Ferndean Manor – the home of Rochester in the Charlotte Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. The place underwent a bit of a revival a while back but is now under threat again, along with the Wycoller Country Park (pictured above at the Panopticon) and the Bronte Way footpath. All are under the care of Lancashire County Council, but it is now planning to completely close down the management, maintenance and ranger service. If this happens visitors may no longer be able to see the great aisled barn or use the countryside activity centre. The visitor toilets will close and the privately run cafe and shop are unlikely to survive. Wycoller hamlet is one of the area’s prettiest destinations, attracting thousands of Bronte fans, and is served by dozens of volunteers. It is managed by a countryside ranger with a modest budget, so any cost savings from closing it down will be negligible. I first became interested in the area’s literary connections and fascinating countryside some forty or so years ago, and believe it would be a shame if this key part of the Bronte heritage was lost forever. If you agree sign this petition or contact the council https://t.co/dbEffg09af
The second instalment of my ‘Year in Ribblesdale’ picture gallery shows snaps taken between May and August inclusive. The choice was difficult as there were some lovely days during spring and summer. September to December photos follow next week.