Why the Dales are top of the pops

I see that several of my favourite areas of the Dales are featured in the list of Britain’s top 100 walks. Many of the 8,000 people who contributed to the list have walked in my footsteps. It’s good to see the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, and when it benefits local traders, accommodation providers and publicans etc, then so much the better.

Earlier in the week Ingleborough looked like it had been ‘lime-washed’. The walk from Clapham up to Ingleborough summit features in the top 100 walks list – you wouldn’t have got me up there on this day for all the tea in Yorkshire.

My small gripe about the list is that most of the walks are already popular and the publicity is likely to attract thousands more boots over those same paths. I wonder how many walkers (or TV programme makers for that matter) will be willing to pay for the upkeep of those over-used routes.

Another of the favourite walks is the Ingleton Falls route. Picture shows Pecca Falls.

Before you have a go at me, I know that in a way my blog and other writing down the years has also contributed to attracting more tramping of the fells – I’m not being hypocritical, I have given (and still give) money towards path repairs and Mountain Rescue charities in the Dales.


Since slipping on icy steps a few weeks ago and injuring my left hip and knee I’ve not done much strolling, so thank goodness I also have a car to get me around the dales. Top photo in the blog shows Penyghent from near Brackenbottom. To complete the Three Peaks trio here’s a wintry looking Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct.

Looking from Horton-in-Ribblesdale across the quarry workings to Ingleborough.

I’m saddened to hear this week of the death of the inspirational Hannah Hauxwell (91). I only met her briefly at some ceremony or other. Being involved with Dalesman at the time I asked if she and her neighbours up in Baldersdale still considered themselves as Yorkshire folk (since the political boundary changes in 1974). Hannah replied firmly that they always thought of themselves as Yorkshire and felt no association with Durham. I hope everyone born on the south side of the Tees still thinks the same. Hannah was a lovely lady unspoilt by all the attention she received.

I watched the sun go down from the old back road between Clapham and Ingleton on Wednesday. The golden glow belies the fact it was below freezing thanks to a strong westerly wind.

I must add my congratulations to everyone involved with Langcliffe Community Gardens on winning the Greener Craven Award category of Craven Community Champions. A great effort by those neighbours of mine who got involved. Plenty of snowdrops to admire in the local churchyard, too:

The Snowdrop

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid,
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!

Fans of steam trains make sure you buy a copy of this month’s Countryman magazine (now in the shops) in which I reminisce about the golden age of railways. The Settle-Carlisle and Keighley & Worth Valley lines are included. http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk
In February’s Down Your Way magazine I write about the surname Loftus/Lofthouse. http://www.downyourway.co.uk


Golden dales, treasured memories

dalesSunset at the end of a bright autumnal Dales day … is there anything to match it (other than a Dales sunset during spring, summer and winter, that is)? The skies were clear and blue over Ribblesdale on Friday but I waited until the sun started to dip behind the western slopes before heading out for a walk. Golden light created glowing red and mellow yellow as it shone on recently discarded leaves and those still clinging to ancient trees along this track out of Horton-in-Ribblesdale.

Barns and walls take on a softer glow on the road to Brackenbottom (below).

Long shadows on the meadows near Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
Deep shadows. Looking across Ribblesdale to a cloud-topped Ingleborough.
Almost the last of the bright light illuminates Penyghent.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week flicking through the pages of a brilliant new website set up by the Yorkshire Dales Society, or Friends of the Dales as they are now known. It records the history and heritage of North Craven area and is a portal to an array of catalogues, collections and archives. From its home page: “The website has been developed through the Capturing the Past project, which is part of Stories in Stone, a scheme of conservation and community projects concentrated on the Ingleborough area. The scheme was developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.” Well worth a visit … but be warned, you’ll be on there for hours: http://www.dalescommunityarchives.org.uk

Some more shots from around home in Ribblesdale: cottages on Langcliffe Green, High Way between Langcliffe and Settle, Penyghent wearing a new hat …

Many of you will have already seen the following old photo of Settle but I thought it was worth a reminder – if just to see all the washing hung across the Shambles. At the risk of breaking copyright laws, it is a photo I took of a Francis Frith picture which appears in the book, Rural Britain, Then & Now by Roger Hunt (published by Cassell in 2004). I’m hoping that as I don’t make any money from my site and the fact I’m publicising the book for free this might save me from being charged for its use. Not all sites or publications show such courtesy (comment aimed at those who without permission have recently raided the blog and used my stuff!).

In my nostalgia column in November’s Countryman magazine (now on sale) I write about memories of Mischief Night – for any youngsters who have accidentally stumbled across this blog, Mischief Night was in the days before Trick or Treat was washed up on our shores from across the Atlantic. Ask your granddad what he got up to.

More Dales churches

This week’s Dales churches are both in Giggleswick, the ancient St Alkelda and the Gothic style Victorian chapel of Giggleswick School.

Now please excuse me as I go try to tell my central heating system that twice a year in Britain we try to convince the rest of a bewildered world we are in charge of time and we’ll do what we want with it.

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