A Dales photo for each month during 2017. Looking back on a year’s wandering – fairly aimless wandering it must be said – and photographing around the western Dales this year, I hadn’t realised how much the sky had dominated so many of my shots. Clouds move swiftly in this part of the country as the breeze sweeps in from the Irish Sea and strikes the hilly barrier in its way. A stormy sky can turn clear blue in minutes – and the opposite can happen quickly too, to catch out the unwary.
Photos can often hide the truth – the top picture, taken above Giggleswick Scar, shows a lovely clear day looking down on Settle bathing in sunshine. But don’t be deceived, it was taken in January and believe me it was freezing up there that day.
This February shot shows snow on Penyghent and a steam special heading through Ribblesdale.
In March I watched this dramatic cloud formation above Kingsdale as it made its way from the north-west. Whernside bore the brunt of the bad weather it brought.
About as far as you get in the western Dales is Barbondale. This April day was full of light and shade.
The Sun in May is still fairly weak and I was able to point the camera directly at it for this shot of a distant Ingleborough from Winskill.
The weather was right for a stroll up Attermire Scar in June. This was the view looking north-west, showing the track to Malham by Jubilee Cave and the foot-hills of Penyghent and Fountains Fell.
Just as the sun was going down on a July day at Winskill, Ribblesdale. Distant Penyghent soaking up the last rays.
A typical August sky and a typical walled green lane. I was on my way from Horton-in-Ribblesdale to photograph the impressive Hull Pot.
A September shot of Settle. I chose this one for my yearly round-up not because of the great view of the town from Castleberg Rock but for the shape of the clouds above, which take you to the distant fells.
October brought some storms to the region. I was right on the edge of this particularly nasty one above Ribblesdale before making a hasty retreat back home to Langcliffe.
As autumn turned to winter I was lucky to grab this November shot on the track between Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Brackenbottom before the gold and brown tints disappeared.
I had to include a December shot of a snowy Penyghent, even though Ribblesdale didn’t have a white Christmas Day. This was taken from Selside.
Thank you for continuing to follow this blog during 2017 and I hope you have a fabulous new year.
In the Yorkshire Dales there are lots of places where you can ‘have five minutes’. I used to get so frustrated as a youngster when my parents wanted to ‘have five minutes’. This usually meant stopping something interesting or exciting and doing nothing other than having a cuppa and sitting still. Boring. Nowadays in my ancient state I love ‘having five minutes’, sitting on some rocky outcrop and staring at the Dales landscape, watching the clouds pass by and listening to the birds. As in the past, the five minutes often become ten and more. Just a short walk from home, above Winskill Nature Reserve, is a favourite place of mine for ‘having five minutes’. From here you can see the Three Peaks and Fountains Fell, look up, down and across Ribblesdale. To the south west is Warrendale Knotts, Attermire Scar and the Bowland Fells. By your feet the limestone pavement shelters beautiful tiny plants and insects typical of the Yorkshire Dales … a big, wide world and another miniature one side by side. Top photo: a good spot for ‘having five minutes’ – at the head of Barbondale where the Howgills and Dentdale add to a spectacular view.
Seven days ago I believed the Dales summer was all over and done with. So what a bonus to have a few pleasant days this week. I’ve been able saunter around the hills and dales with the fleece still tucked away in the bottom of my bag. One day I drove up lonely Kingsdale and pulled in to walk along the old track which leads over to Barbondale. I love the views from up here. Sitting at the top of High Pike at around 1600ft you can see over several dales and north-west to the Howgills. I was pleased the top photo came out as well as it did. The folding hills merge well with the rolling clouds which bubbled up like waves on the sea.
This carved stone sits in a field at a place on the OS map known as Foul Moss, just off the track. It is only a couple of hundred yards away from the County Stone, the point where Yorkshire, Lancashire and Westmorland all meet. If anyone knows the significance of this little stone and carving I’d be interested to hear from them.
Later I drove into Dent where I picked up a couple of stock pictures after stopping off at this waterfall in Deepdale.
Earlier in the week I drove up to High Birkwith at the top end of Ribblesdale for a circular stroll around Ling Gill National Nature Reserve. By ‘around’ I really mean right round the edge of the reserve for I wouldn’t contemplate clambering my way through the gill. By all accounts it is an almost primeval landscape of boulders and waterfalls, with dark and dank enclaves populated by rare plants. The short, steep-sided valley has remained virtually untouched from grazing animals and humans. Probably the best website I’ve seen for further details is http://oldfieldslimestone.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/ling-gill-limestone-wild-and-untamed.html
The walk, stretches of which were still a tad boggy, takes in part of the Pennine Way and also the Three Peaks route between Penyghent and Whernside. I never tire of the views around this part of the dales.
Half of last week’s blog disappeared into an internet black hole. Probably my fault. Here’s one you missed of a duck trying to explain the hokey-cokey…
There’s a fabulous 360-degree Dales view from Stone Rigg at the head of Barbondale. If ever you want to know why more parts of this area have been roped into the revised Yorkshire Dales National Park then this is the place to go. Standing on the small rocky outcrops at the top of Stone Rigg – just a short walk from the steep, narrow road from Dent – you see the Howgills to the north. The lower end of the Howgill range is already in the park but further north towards Ravenstonedale is rightly being included later this year. Swinging right you stare across at Aye Gill Pike and down Dentdale to Great Knoutberry, then on to the western slopes of Great Coum and Crag Fell.
At 180 degrees you’re looking down Barbondale itself with the steep side of Middleton Fell glaring down on your right. I’ve been here several times before and never tire of the all-round beauty. Further down the narrow dale heading towards Barbon is a little boundary stone which signals the end of the current park. The lower slopes of the dale become thickly wooded before it opens out to reveal some glorious views along Lunesdale.
Later in the week I also revisited another part of the new park, heading up Mallerstang and stopping off at the enigmatic 12th-century Pendragon Castle. The view down towards Wild Boar Fell was, as always, a pleasure to see.
From the castle it was on towards Nateby. Gypsies were camped ready for the final part of their annual journey to Appleby – it seemed an appropriate spot for their camp and surely much more of a pleasure for the horses than beside the busy A65 (where they’ve been causing enormous traffic jams). I love the journey between Nateby and Keld through Birkdale. Here is a very different Dales character to my normal Ribblesdale habitat: bleak and rough; fewer walls and tougher sheep. But you’re soon into a greener Upper Swaledale; enclosed by steep sides but gentler, with the young Swale dancing over exposed browned bedrock. A grand drive over Buttertubs Pass to Wensleydale, up Widdale and home via Three Peaks country of Ribblesdale. I might not be exercising my legs much at the moment but my eyes are certainly active.
I wonder, had Kirby Misperton fallen within their land, if the Dales National Park would have allowed last week’s fracking fiasco to happen? Seven councillors who are supposed to represent Yorkshire on matters of planning, ignored the 92 per cent of locals and instead pandered to what the government wanted them to do – a government which is currently keeping secret a report on whether fracking causes climate concern. Hell, even Lancastrian councillors had the sense to boot out the get-rich-quick fracking cowboys. Hang your heads, seven shameless Yorkshiremen.
Which brings me on to another whinge I have, stirred up by this week’s ‘news’. There’s a decline, says a study, in the humber of people using regional accents. It seems we are all starting to sound like we come from the south east. That certainly won’t do. And some teachers have been told to change the way they speak to children by cutting down on local accents. Sometimes I listen to people in their late teens/early 20s, using that very boring generic university accent, in which almost every sentence seems to end with a question mark, and I thank mi Mam n Dad for teaching me to speyk Yorksher.
Talking of moaning – an acquaintance was moaning about pot-holes in Ribblesdale’s roads the other week. This week he is moaning that ‘they’ are closing the roads throughout the region to mend those potholes. Now I’m moaning about him moaning.
Bridge of Sighs
I was very saddened to see that someone had a go at demolishing the pretty packhorse bridge over the Ribble at Knight Stainforth this week. Obviously, the person didn’t go out to deliberately wreck the ancient structure – whether it was caused by someone using a sat nav instead of a brain cell, or by careless driving, I don’t know. But it’s going to be costly to repair the National Trust-owned bridge. The original stonework is going to have to be recovered from the river before it is washed away, and the bridge will probably not look the same when rebuilt. It wasn’t meant to take motorised traffic. I realise this will inconvenience a few local users but I think the current diversion via Stackhouse Lane or Helwith Bridge should be made permanent and the bridge left for cyclists and pedestrians only. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that during the Bank Holiday weekend, which brings all kinds of folk to Stainforth Foss, we don’t see more damage or accidents.
It’s been a pleasure hobbling around Ribblesdale this week while spring really blossomed. By the Ribble in Langcliffe were thousands of rampant ramsons like riotious football fans charging down the packed terrace, hopping over the fencing and spilling on to the pitch.
Sitting here listening to the birds and a gently trickling river was simply beautiful. However, one youngster licking its lips as it approached me was a little disconcerting…