I think I developed an RSI problem with my camera clicking finger while photographing the Dales this week. Trying to capture what I believed would be the last of the best autumn colours I’ve driven many a mile through many a dale and taken many a picture. I won’t bore you with the full collection but here are some highlights plus a quick rant. The top photo is my favourite of the week. On Monday, reaching the highest point of Buttertubs Pass coming from the Swaledale end, this view opened up. It’s a bit of an unsteady hand-held zoom shot showing a distant Ingleborough, Widdale and hills in between. The light autumn mist in the dales and a mild pink sky created a beautiful sight. Better seen first hand than on a screen.
Dales town disgrace
At first I thought they were a Trick or Treat prank. But no, they were still in place the following day – I’m talking about those ghastly luminous yellow double-lines that now disgrace Settle’s lovely town centre. I’m in favour of preventing stupid parking but this vandalism is well out of proportion. They are garish, ugly, unwelcoming and urban. They can be seen from the surrounding hills and the Dales National Park, and probably from the Moon. I’ve been to other popular country places where a subtle thin line with appropriate notices about parking restrictions have satisfied the law, suited the town’s character and appeased the residents. Had some yobs daubed such graffiti in the town there would have been an almighty Halloween witch hunt. Which bureaucrat sanctioned this unsightly mess and why? Sorry about that Daily Mail reader rant but I really do find this particular excessive painting offensive and unnecessary.
It’s another soggy Sunday in Ribblesdale. On this day last week I was heading out up the dale in sunshine under a bright blue sky. Viewed from the western flanks, the pastures in the valley bottom looked almost summery. My stroll took me through Little Stainforth – or Knight Stainforth (I’m never sure which title the locals prefer) – where the white-painted old hall always catches my eye. Approached via the minor road from Giggleswick, the building looks impressive lit up by the winter sun.
I often blog about the old barns, churches and farmhouses here in Ribblesdale but there are also many fine larger buildings belonging to ancient families and landowners. In his epic series of books, The Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner picks out my favourite Settle building, The Folly. He describes it in his rather pompous manner as being ‘a large, remarkably ambitious town-house … its details are in many ways capricious and wilful’. Of Langcliffe Hall he states, ‘The outer surround no doubt by the same workmen as the Folly. Very curious, somewhat viscous forms’.
He’s quite rude and dismissive of Stainforth Hall which he says is ‘A somewhat bleak, three-storeyed house of the late c17’. If he’d bothered to investigate a little further he would have found lots more interesting facts which extend the building’s history way back to Norman times. If you want a proper description of the place log in to www.knightstainforth.co.uk (and also visit the splendid new eating place opposite the hall – www.theknightstable.co.uk).
Another favourite old building of mine lies further up the dale above Selside – Lodge Hall, or Ingman’s Lodge, a large farmhouse dated 1687. Unfortunately, this grand old structure is deteriorating, and it is on Historic England’s ‘at risk’ list. As you drive up and down the dale you can see many other beautiful roadside buildings, typical of the Yorkshire dales. But when you step out on foot along the old packhorse tracks even more gems can be seen. I hope to feature further fine Ribblesdale buildings when/if the weather improves.
High value in Ribblesdale
Nowadays I’m not very good with heights. I’m ok on the tops of Yorkshire’s hills, but ask me to go up a long ladder or a swaying tower and I’d soon feel the old legs all-a-wobble. I probably couldn’t skip across Striding Edge like I did in my twenties, that’s for sure. These thoughts came to me this week as I read of the new tower being built in Brighton – well, it’s not fair that southerners have to sully themselves by having to head north to Blackpool is it? The new i360 structure will take people up 450ft for a view along the south coast. It is predicted that ‘passengers’ will pay around £15 a ride and the cost of the construction is already topping £46m. I’ll stick to the local views, thanks. Castleberg Rock in Settle stands around 700ft above sea level, its construction cost nowt and it is free to use – and the panoramas are better than those around Brighton… in my humble opinion, of course.
I tried but failed to grab a twilight picture of a track near Langcliffe this week. I didn’t get the foreground lighting right but it might appeal to some.
No problem with the lighting on my little jaunt over Buttertubs on Monday, but by-hecky-thump it wasn’t half cold. I posted the normal view looking up Swaledale on t’interweb during the week, so here’s one looking t’other way.
Peaks & Scones
This week I received a polite reminder that my subscription to the Friends of the Three Peaks is due. Run in association with the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Friends project undertakes a lot of work in and around Ribblesdale. Three Peaks Ranger, Josh Hull, tells of work carried out over the last few months: ‘This year on the Three Peaks at lot has been done. In major projects we have laid 100m of flags on Whernside, 160m on Ingleborough and re-laid another 250m of sinking flags on Whernside (which have been in for around 20 years!). In other general work, 3 wooden ladder stiles have been replaced with stone steps stiles, installed approximately 15 new cross drains, 100m of subsoiling on Whernside summit and over 1.5km of ditching.’ More details here http://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/looking-after/howyoucanhelp/friends-of-the-three-peaks
I had some good sightings of two of the peaks on Thursday when I followed the Pennine Bridleway from Helwith Bridge to Feizor. A lovely walk in sunshine with great views all round – including Ribblesdale to Penyghent, and over Wharfe village to Norber and Ingleborough. From the brow were far-reaching views over Feizor, Wenningdale and beyond.
Tea & scone at Elaine’s Tearooms was, as always, gorgeous. Call me old fashioned if you must, but how refreshing it is to see smiling, cheerful, helpful staff like those at Elaine’s. Maybe it’s born or bred into country folk to be welcoming. Not long ago I ordered my tea and scone in a well-known outlet on the outskirts of Manchester. I tried to connect with the person serving me but she was obviously carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders and couldn’t be bothered with me, the customer paying her wage (and the scone was stale as well).
Setting the tone
Are you are scone as in tone, or a scone as in long, person? The ‘tone’ version was always considered posh where I grew up but then I am a pleb and my working-class background often surfaces. This little ditty was part of my upbringing and you’ll probably only understand it if you had a similar childhood:
We’re down in t’ coyle ‘oyle
Weer t’ muck slarts on t’ winders
We’ve used all us coyle up
And we’re rait down t’ cinders,
But if bum bailiff comes
Ee’ll nivver findus
Cos we’ll be in t’ coyle ‘oyle
Weer t’ muck slarts on t’ winders.
Heading out of Ribblesdale over Newby Head into Widdale you’ll find this old Yorkshire barn, now in a sorry state. I’ve noticed its gradual deterioration over many years travelling along this route and I guess there’s not much hope for it now.
Stuck at home during one of the many wet days this week I trolled through my photo archive to see if I could find an earlier picture of the barn but instead dug out several other shots of sad-looking farm buildings, all located in Ribblesdale. I hadn’t realised I’d taken so many – they do make interesting foregrounds, and subjects in themselves – nevertheless it’s a shame such fine structures have been allowed to fall into unusable condition. The reasons behind their decay are many and varied, and here in my little photo-blog is probably not the place for an in-depth report on the condition of buildings within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
I believe that my little cottage in Ribblesdale was once part of an 18th-century barn. It was converted into three small houses for mill or lime workers some time during the early 1800s … a good example of reusing old buildings to suit conditions at the time. Today, planning rules would be restrictive – especially within the National Park – and 21st-century needs would probably prove too disruptive for reusing the more isolated buildings. And many of our rural villages no longer provide work, schooling, shops, pubs etc to make it viable for the redevelopment of the more accessible deteriorating buildings. In urban areas these old structures would just be considered a hazard or an eyesore, bulldozed and the land bought by developers who will erect some boring ‘boxes’ thus lining their pockets with a fat profit.
I read an interesting blog on the subject of rural house building here https://cpreviewpoint.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/the-housing-bill-bad-for-villages/
I had to twice read this section to make sure I’d understood it correctly … “One senior Tory told me that no one has a right to live in a village any more than someone brought up in Mayfair has a right to live there. Someone may have grown up in a village and work in it, but if they cannot afford to buy a house in it, they should move to the nearest affordable town.”
In other words, if you’ve got money you can live where you want; it doesn’t matter whether your ancestors have lived there for generations or your family and friends still live there; it doesn’t matter if you can’t afford to travel to work or that there isn’t any transport… etc etc. So basically, he’s saying if you’re poor, you’re not allowed to enjoy a life in the countryside and must go live in a town.
Weather or not
I was due to show some friends the delights of the Dales during the week but the atrocious weather put a stop to that, and after their caravan almost blew over in a gale they abandoned ship and headed home. Hope this doesn’t leave a lasting bad impression on them, but we should realise it is winter, and that this is the Pennines not the Med. For their benefit here’s a few things they missed which are worth returning to see: above, Ashley Jackson’s frame at Brimham Rocks www.framingthelandscape.co.uk/ ; below Pecca Falls, Ingleton, the view from Buttertubs and from Winskill
We got into a discussion about dialect and agreed that when we are with close friends and family we often speak in a kind of lazy ‘shorthand’ which we all understand but probably wouldn’t use in general speech. So I set my friends this teaser to see if they could translate. I call it Yorkshire Teatime – a working class Yorkshire family discussion over the tea table. See how much you can read (it’ll blow the mind of any auto-correct software)…