10 Dales photos here. Earlier in the week I was staring down Chapel-le-Dale. It was hazy in the distance – and hazy in my head. I was overlooking the Old Hill Inn (see pic below) and thinking, I’m sure it was just called the Hill Inn when I went there in the 1970s, but I suppose even pubs get old.
I’ve not been inside for donkey’s years; if I do it’ll probably ruin the nostalgia. Back in the seventies it was full of walkers, climbers and cavers – and we drank lots of beer; there was nothing else on tap. If we were lucky there might have been a packet of crisps to share. I remember dozens of wet hiking socks and boots drying by the open fire.
Daft cavers and climbers would test their skills by traversing the exposed internal stone walls like gigantic spiders, making their way to the outside loos. I don’t remember there being a closing time but somehow we (usually) ended up in our tents in the neighbouring field.
Occasionally a guitar would appear and a bout of folk singing would break out; but the music genre depended very much on the clientele – my group of rowdy outdoor activities types, for example, preferred bawdy rugby songs.
The pleasant weather had me out on a few local strolls to capture the colour, flora and wildlife …
In other news: I’ve reluctantly switched from Yorkshire Tea to PG Tips and will remain that way until Yorkshire Tea remove plastic from their tea bags. So there.
My contributions to May’s Countryman and Down Your Way magazines include memories of the old kitchen ranges, a round-up of conservation news, and a look at the surname Holmes. Please support local magazine publishers: dalesman.co.uk Latest magazines available in most newsagents and supermarkets.
Just a couple of short Dales trips squeezed into this busy week. One fine morning I had a walk up to Norber Erratics, a place I first visited on a school field trip some 50 years ago. There’s always a different rock shape to photograph on these boulder-strewn slopes, but this time I concentrated on the views. (11 pics)
And once again I called in on that lovely off-shoot of Ribblesdale, Chapel le Dale. Here you can wander along (and off) the old Roman road without needing a great deal of energy as it follows the flat valley bottom. I branched off to God’s Bridge where the beck, when low, reappears after a stretch underground. With Ingleborough towering on one side and vast limestone scars accompanying you on the other (first two pics below), this is a fabulous part of the Dales.
Ancient Dales tradition
I didn’t know until recently that each year at one minute past midnight on March 31, an age-old tradition is carried out in my village of Langcliffe in Ribblesdale. The fountain in the village centre was once a well, around which a Pagan ceremony is thought to have been carried out. Although exact details have been lost in the mists of time, the ritual has something to do with the alignment of the moon and an mysterious boulder which once covered the site of the well.
Legend has it that if the shadow cast on the boulder by the first moon in April does not align properly with an ancient ley-line heading in the direction of Ingleborough, then bad luck would befall the villagers.
During the thirteenth century the boulder was moved by invading Scots as an act of defiance against the English. After the stone’s removal, the village – apart from the home of Langcliffe’s eldest resident – was inexplicably burnt to the ground. Some claim that Samson’s Toe at nearby Winskill is the actual rock.
As time went on and the village was rebuilt, the rock was replaced by a cross, and more recently by the stone memorial we see today. It now falls upon the oldest surviving member of the family with the longest lineage in the village to check the line of the moon’s shadow using a sacred yew branch, or ‘Prolifola’ (from the Old Norse word meaning ‘preserving life’), and to warn residents of any misalignment and thus of their impending doom.
Thankfully, there is still reading material around that isn’t politically biased or in the hands of corrupt owners. Magazines you can read, save, re-read years later and flick through without having to stare at a screen, remember a password or recharge a battery. While the aim of writing this blog is to give my brain cells a little work-out and to share Dales views, I still look forward to writing occasional magazine columns. So here’s a blatant plug for two pieces I have in the April issues of Countryman and Down Your Way. In the former I look back at what happened in 1958 when apparently we ‘never had it so good’. And this month’s Surname File in Down Your Way looks at the Yorkshire name Ledgard.
Ahh, spring in Upper Ribblesdale. As I write, snow flakes are doing a drunken dance, not knowing which direction to take next. The village looks like a Christmas card, and I have to conjure up a vision of the surrounding hills because they’re shrouded in cloud, or should that be clouded in shroud. Let my photo diary record that this is all the fault of the Russians. They seem to be getting the blame for everything at this moment in history, so why not the weather? I’d best not go all political here. I was around when Russia got it the neck during the Cold War, today I have a war against cold around my neck. Top photo shows Penyghent just before the latest snow Ribblesdale.
I watched some new-born lambs looking distinctly miserable in temperatures that with added wind-chill dipped as low as -12 in Ribblesdale this week.
The bathroom needs a lick of paint. Unenthusiastically, I dug out a half-full tin of emulsion and a brush from the cupboard under the stairs. Of course, everything had to be removed from the abyss before I found said items at the back. I took them to the bathroom, wondering if I formally introduced them to the walls, would they strike up an instant rapport and just get on with the job themselves. As I turned to fetch a dust-sheet, sunshine burst through the bathroom window. Within minutes I was driving up Ribblesdale, camera by my side. The tin of paint and brush are still on the bathroom floor, walls remain unpainted. I’m presuming they didn’t form any kind of relationship. Perhaps they just need a little more time to get to know each other better.
More cloudy and foggy Dales weather doesn’t mean we retired folk just lie on our settees drinking hot chocolate and watching Homes under the Hammer every day. I managed a few pleasant strolls in the misty Dales this week. One was alongside the River Wenning from near its starting point where the becks of Clapham and Austwick join together. There’s an old saying about ‘when gorse blooms, it’s kissing season’ … the inference being that the lovely yellow flower blooms somewhere in the UK 365 days a year so you’ve no excuse not to be kissing. There was plenty of blooming gorse in this part of Wenningdale, even on a miserable, cloudy January day. Sadly, no blooming kissing.
By Friday I was itching to get out again and drove along the single track road up to Bowland Knotts. I walked across the squelchy, peaty commons to the trig point, which stands at 1,114ft on Crutchenber Fell, in the full knowledge that visibility would be very poor. But it’s a dramatic landscape whatever the conditions. I could just about make out the Three Peaks in the distant mist; Stocks Reservoir was barely visible. The surrounding brown, brooding moors looked formidable. Unseen over the first brow is the River Hodder, the traditional ancient border with Lancashire.
I’ve ‘collected’ quite a few trigs in my time but never recorded my visits. There are folks who do, and like some train spotters they are meticulous in their attention to detail. Out of interest I looked up this one on the interweb-thingy and found this anorakic description: “Pillar completed 25th September 1949 costing £17.15s.10d. Computed as tertiary triangulation station SD96/T8 in 1951. Levelled for height in 1953. Last maintained by the OS in June 1976. Pillar in good condition. Spider centre plugged with tar. Flush bracket faces northwest, ~329°. Vented through three sight holes, SW face plugged, pillar bolt photographed. Full 360° panoramic view includes Whernside, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.”
Well there you go.
Sad news about Gayle Mill (see link below). My late brother Peter, who lived in Gayle, helped with the restoration. I hope for his memory the necessary work can be carried out and that the important Dales project is not strangled by red tape.
Interesting that the Tories are choosing now to make political promises about the environment – perhaps they fear the eloquent and intelligent Green Party leader Caroline Lucas more than any other opposition. You’ll notice that they have guaranteed nothing immediate and that they are reluctant to commit anything to the statute books. I don’t think they’ll want us to look too deeply into their ‘northern forest’ idea. The cost of this 25-year project they claim to be around half a billion pounds but what they haven’t shouted about is the fact that government will only be contributing £5.7m and expect the rest to be raised through charities. They don’t tell you either that their High Speed 2 rail folly project will destroy around 100 ancient, irreplaceable woodlands, or that permission to destroy other precious woodland for fracking exploitation has been granted despite much local and national opposition.
I took a financial risk yesterday and invested £2 in a lottery ticket. I lost. Money I’ll never see again. Lots of better-off people took a risk buying shares in Carillion – who just so happen to win a contract to build HS2 – hoping to rake in loadsa profit for doing nothing but gambling. But it’ll be ok for them, the taxpayer will probably help them recoup some of their brass. Investors should not be bailed out but those who work for them should.
Sorry to go all political. Here are some odd-ball pics taken this week to lighten my mood:
If I was ever banished from Yorkshire for some heinous crime – such as criticising Geoff Boycott, cooking Lancashire hotpot, or opening my wallet in public – then I’d like to be transported to Kirkby Lonsdale. In fact, many places in Westmorland would suit me as a Yorkshire convict. Even when I travelled through on a dull, unphotogenic day recently there was plenty to admire in this borderland which changes landscape character from gentler dales to rugged Lakeland fells.
Anyway, I’m happy to remain in the White Rose county, and I have no intention of breaking in Yorkshire laws at present. We in the western Dales missed the worst of the county’s snowfall this week but by gum it were parky. With plenty of blue sky around I got some nice shots on my local travels (top shot shows Penyghent from the churchyard of St Oswald’s, Horton-in-Ribblesdale), and I enjoyed a couple of splendid sunsets.
Yorkshire Dales churches
This week’s church is St Oswald’s at Arncliffe. There has been a church here, beside the River Skirfare in Littondale, since the early 1100s. The earliest building was demolished in the 1400s and a new one built. There have been many alterations since, but the tower remains from that 15th-century rebuild.
The next four shots were taken around Langcliffe on a cold and frosty morning…
Finally, I can officially mention Christmas now that Settle lights have been switched on. Please shop close to home and support your local businesses. http://www.settle.org.uk
My Yorkshire Dales photo diary. Sadly, many of the swallows living around the house have disappeared – a bit early for departure but perhaps they know something we humans don’t. There is still one pair lodging in a former outside loo – perhaps they had second chicks and are awaiting their development. I hope it doesn’t mean summer’s over before it’s really begun.
Thankfully there have been a couple of rain-breaks this week when I’ve been able to get in a little exercise and some photography. There was some mellow evening light around the local dales on Friday, as in the top photo of sheep grazing beneath Penyghent at Horton-in-Ribblesdale. The next two show Kingsdale and Ingleborough from Chapel-le-Dale.
Settle is certainly looking colourful with all the flowerpot creations dotted around town for the annual festival. I took a few photos one night this week before rain interrupted my tour. You can see a selection by clicking here – by no means a complete set. Great work by everyone involved.
Living in such a lovely part of the country means every day is cause for celebration here in the Dales but Monday was a bit more special as it was Yorkshire Day. I pinched a white rose from a neighbour’s tree and popped it into a glass of water – it’s still blooming nicely as I write this six days later.
Clapham is always worth a visit – I was there for an evening stroll earlier in the week…
Steam train excursions up and down the Settle-Carlisle line are still attracting a great deal of attention, especially when Flying Scotsman is hauling (first pic shows Flying Scotsman passing through Settle). Other two show other engines pulling trains earlier in the week at Ribblehead and another in Settle (Saturday).
The blog (+12 pics) title refers to a Dales walk I did on Monday. Many locals will know the 5-mile circuit from Langcliffe in Ribblesdale. Starting from the village head down to the mill and around the mill pond to cross the Ribble at Langcliffe Locks. Follow the river up to Stainforth Foss, over the packhorse bridge and up into Stainforth. Take the road by the church up to the stepping stones over the beck, then up the steep track to Catrigg Force (the submission part is where you wrestle with the path and have to stop several times for a large breather and take a photo). From the falls head up to Winskill then take the path down the Langcliffe side of Stainforth Scar back to the village, enjoying the fabulous views down Ribblesdale. Sadly, Langcliffe no longer has a pub to round off the walk properly but if you do the route on a summer Sunday there’s usually yummie tea and cakes available at the Village Institute (2-4pm). Above and below are a few pics along the journey.
Friends of the Dales is the new brand name of the Yorkshire Dales Society the only registered membership charity campaigning for, protecting and enjoying the Dales. I renewed my membership this week – why not help keep the Dales special and vibrant for years to come? Visit https://www.friendsofthedales.org.uk
On a brief respite from rain I took a short walk around the tiny settlement of Keasden, near Clapham. Quiet roads and barely visible paths across fields and through woods make it ideal for exploration. Centuries ago this would have been a busier place but now there are just a few farms and a church – St Matthew’s. Keasden’s name stems from old words for ‘cheese valley’ – I wonder if there is an old recipe for original Keasden cheese lurking around somewhere. There’s a thought for some local cheesemonger and marketing whizz to latch on to…
On Friday, not for the first time this year, the electric was off in the village, and it was chucking it down so I didn’t fancy another walk. I looked around the house for something to read – nothing new so off I set for Sedbergh and a mooch around the bookshops. Now I’m proud owner of a first edition (1956) copy of The Yorkshire Dales by Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby. I already have some of their books and I just turned the first few pages when the power came back on. I like the pair’s fussiness and little personal asides which offer a glimpse of their upbringing and lives in the post-war Dales. Their observations of Dales life are always backed up with detailed research; they have an authoritative writing style which seems to proclaim ‘we are always right in what we say’! I also love Hartley’s sketches and woodcuts.
I travel by train as often as I can but it’s not always easy. Settle is my nearest station, so invariably I have to travel via Leeds (even if my destination is in the other direction, such as Manchester). Leeds is an hour away, trains are infrequent and the last one back to Settle leaves Leeds at 19.19 (17.41 on Sundays). I’ve been on Settle-Leeds trains when passengers have had to stand the whole journey, and often at Leeds station there is a rugby scrum of people trying to board the service. So it is with increasing dismay I see the predicted costs for the new HS2 spiralling out of control. The first phase alone (London to Brum) started at £32bn, then it went to £56bn while latest figures from DfT suggest the cost will double. There’s absolutely no justification in spending so much money when there are far greater priorities in this country. This folly will wreck so much countryside and ruin so many people’s home lives. Spending £100bn+ to knock half an hour off the journeys of those who will be able to afford a ticket is scandalous. HS2 symbolises a country run against the interests of the many and in the interests of the few. Far less could be spent on creating better local services, restoring old lines and adding to the current ‘low speed’ (apparently 125mph isn’t fast enough) rail network over the next decade. Maybe we should have a referendum on it … oh wait a minute, they don’t work do they. Or how about just letting politicians do whatever they want and have their rich friends pick up all the lucrative contracts, and sod the consequences?
Harking back to a bygone era – steam engines heading along Ribblesdale this week
I see that a video of the beck rising in Kingsdale has ‘gone viral’ this week (I also saw on tinternet that the Daily Bile (Mail) described the water’s steady progress as a ‘torrent’- apparently people actually buy this disgraceful excuse for a newspaper). The sudden rise of Dales streams isn’t uncommon. I remember seeing similar happening in neighbouring Chapel-le-Dale. You can witness the Skirfare suddenly appear in Littondale when rain soaks the surrounding hills. Also, near Cowgill at the top of Dentdale the dry bare rocks on the bed of the River Dee can instantly turn into cascades. Still a cracking video though – gotta love the Dales.
After only two days in London what a relief it is to be back in the Dales. Here in Ribblesdale the air is fresh, the views are mainly natural, and the people smile and say hello. I know all that sounds clichéd, but it really is true. However, it was an absolute delight to see first-hand at Wembley my beloved Huddersfield Town reach the Premier League, nerve-racking as the occasion was. Now my club will dine at the top table and enjoy what rich pickings they can – for at least a season. My allegiance to the Terriers came about because my dad – and his dad – supported them during the club’s heyday. My brother and I had no option but to follow suit, even though we both moved away from our Heavy Woollen birthplace when were were young.
Back on the moors
To watch Town’s home games I have a round trip of just under 100 miles, and often I’ll use the journey to visit one of my favourite parts of Yorkshire – the Pennine Moors above Holmfirth, Saddleworth Moor and parts of the Dark Peak. Here is some of the bleakest moorland in the country. I love the drama but I could never live in such isolation. Last week I walked a short section of the Pennine Way at Wessenden and shuddered at the thought of being stranded in one of the lonely farms or water board houses by the reservoirs during a dark night.
On another day I was again on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, this time by the River Lune boundary at Kirkby Lonsdale. The contrast from Wessenden couldn’t have been greater. Lush farmed landscape, beautiful cottages, winding river … and lots of tourists. I took the usual shots of Ruskin’s View and river but also some of the buildings, especially around the church, also took my fancy …
Back in the dales
Looking for a flattish walk, I strolled down Chapel-le-Dale along the old Roman Road from St Leonard’s Church (pictured below) towards Ingleton. Along here you find angles of Ingleborough unseen from the main road (also shown in top pic in blog).
18 new Dales photos. There are many reasons why I love the Yorkshire Dales – not just the scenery or way of life, or the architecture of the landscape, its people or history. Nature, too … the Dales weather, the animals, flora and fauna. It’s too easy to rush through life with just a passing acknowledgment to what’s around us. Since retiring I’ve seen the world through fresh eyes, slowing down to a gentler pace so I can properly cherish what Nature has to offer. Early one morning this week I set off in bright sunshine for a walk up to Wharfe and Oxenber Woods, above Austwick. I set off from the Helwith Bridge side so I could capture Penyghent and Ingleborough, Moughton Scar and Norber’s boulder fields. I’d envisaged a glorious carpet of bluebells in the woods but they could only be found in small patches. Instead, I was greeted by primroses, cowslips, early purple orchids and a host of other pretty wild flowers whose names I can never remember. How I wish I had a macro lens to capture their delicate detail. Caught up in the beauty at my feet and birdsong from the trees and bushes, I hadn’t realised the Dales sky had turned from blue to very grey and I had to beat a hasty retreat.
All hail the Dales
I avoided rain that day, unlike during a visit earlier in the week to see the limestone pavement and ancient settlements beneath Ingleborough in Chapel-le-Dale. After taking some shots of the pavement, Ribblehead viaduct and a moody-looking Whernside it dawned on me that the big hill was looking a bit grim because it was about to suffer a heavy hailstorm – and the wretched weather was heading my way… quickly. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not a good idea to sprint (not that I can sprint nowadays anyway) over tufty moorland with camera equipment, so my pace wasn’t sharp enough to avoid the hail stones which pinged my face and other exposed skin all the way back to the car.
Does anyone know how long a Christmas cactus lives? The photo shows a plant I took from my mum’s house when she died 24 years ago – I’m not sure how long she’d looked after it, but it was certainly hanging round her home for a very long time. This one tends to flower around Easter rather than Christmas and seems to thrive on neglect.
We all love looking at the Dales. But this week I raised my eyes a little higher to take in the natural wonders up above. Incredibly, the first two photos in this week’s blog were taken just 8 minutes apart. The stormy ones below of a shower passing over Ingleborough were taken in Chapel-le-Dale. Then I captured the rainbow on another side of Ingleborough when I stopped along the old Ingleton to Clapham road.
Earlier in the week I was loitering around Winskill Stones, as you do, just waiting for the sunset when the sky turned pink – and yellow – and blue – and all sorts of colours in between. It was cold and spectacular, both looking west towards sunset and north to Penyghent where the clouds took on the general hue. Beautiful.
Conditions were such a contrast to this week last year when we witnessed some of the worst flooding in the Dales for many years. I dug out these photos I took looking down Ribblesdale from Giggleswick Scar to remind me of how widespread the floods were – and how Nature had created flood plains for such events.
Lights of a different kind caught my attention in Settle. The town is looking very festive at present and one shop window almost had me feeling quite Christmassy. Snow on the ground and a child wrapped up in winter gear with nose pressed up against the glass might just have swung it, but fortunately I was able to continue on my way in my usual grumpy humbug manner.
MP or NMP (Not My Problem)
Never would I want to be an MP. But if I was, I would always aim to give an honest opinion on any subject that affected or concerned my constituents. Unfortunately, my own MP, Julian Smith, doesn’t seem to be of the same mind. This year I have written to him on a few matters including fracking and more recently concerning the proposed closure of Horton-in-Ribblesdale school. Each time I have received predictable replies stating his party’s policies or completely washing his hands of the issues I raise. I wanted to know HIS opinions. I wanted to know whether I could trust HIM to act on behalf of constituents, no matter what their political persuasion might be or whether his party had a view on the subject or not. He is a party whip and scared stiff of rocking the Tory boat. In my eyes that is not properly serving the people who pay his wages. Regarding the school closure he writes ‘this is a matter for North Yorkshire County Council’. I knew that, Mr Smith … but are YOU in favour of or against the closure? Are YOU concerned about the future of Dales villages and what are YOU doing about it? What are YOU doing to ensure Dales children and families are being best served by the education authority? Will YOU back your constituents who are rallying against the closure and put pressure on the council? Always toeing the party line might enhance an MP’s career prospects within the party but will it gain any respect amongst constituents?
Dales in print
On Thursday it was good to see David and Janet Mitchell at my favourite Settle venue, The Folly. They were promoting the new Dalesman book Bill Mitchell’s Yorkshire, which I can highly recommend – see reviews. I also had two articles published this week – one in Down Your Way concerning the Forget-me-Not Fund’s war time Christmas parcels. The other appears in The Countryman and concerns countryside connections uncovered while researching family history. The Countryman article features my photo of the lovely Dales church of St Mary’s, Long Preston.