The Dale that Didn’t Die – 15 pics here

daleThis week I had a day in ‘The Dale that Died’ (allegedly) – Grisedale, just off Garsdale on the Yorkshire-Westmorland border. A TV film made in the 1970s and a book by Barry Cockroft labelled it The Dale that Died, but notice of its death was greatly exaggerated. Grisedale – or Grisdale as it used to be called but for some reason it gained an extra e during the 20th century – has not yet had its life support machine switched off.

daleI get the impression that the few people who live or have holiday cottages there would rather we all stayed away from this lonely dale. I don’t blame them – the Dales should have more places where cars and buses and kiss-me-quick-hatted-type tourists can’t venture.

Blake Mire in the middle distance.

The footpaths across Gris[e]dale’s boggy surrounding hills can be difficult to follow. On several occasions I was ankle deep in gunge while heading over from Garsdale Head to Blake Mire – an ancient farmstead bought a while back but to which only recently were the new owners allowed to build an access track (previously the only way to it was on foot). Wish I could have afforded it.

Not the most inspiring picture or landscape you’ll ever see – but I include as few people will ever get to view this place as it is so hidden away. Grisedale Beck.

Not quite as isolated is Crummackdale where I ventured on another day, making my way up from the hamlet of Wharfe. I’d wanted to walk along the edge of Moughton Scar to capture the views across the limestone, but the cloudy weather put me off so I just did a circular walk using some of the old drovers’ paths.

My grey day in Crummackdale. Below is the slab footbridge near the Dub Wash field.

I sat and watched a bird of prey for a while – I’m not going commit myself to saying what it was – probably a sparrowhawk – it didn’t get close enough for me to identify or photograph successfully – but its aerobatic display was impressive.

I had similar weather up in the Lakes on Monday. I’d fancied a drive through Great Langdale to snap the spectacular scenery but cloud came down and it turned out very grey – as it often does up there. I did have an enjoyable touristy-type walk from Elterwater to Skelwith Force though.

It was back home in Ribblesdale, where of course the sun really came out. The views lifted my spirits …

There was a slight delay in publishing the blog as I waited to include a photo of Flying Scotsman on the Settle-Carlisle line through Ribblesdale. Here it is on Sunday lunchtime near Salt Lake Cottages. Below, Monday’s steam special crosses Ribblehead Viaduct.

I also post a selection of photos during the week on Twitter which are not included here – look up @paulinribb

Serpent of the Dales


I spotted this rare two-horned dinglewart tree serpent near Ingleborough during my break in the Dales this afternoon. Its tongue, horns, protruding fang, right eye and ear are clearly visible and you certainly wouldn’t want to come across one of these things in fading light. They feast on dinglewarts, an endangered species of small furry mammal which are now confined to this corner of Yorkshire and also a tiny section of Peruvian rain forest. Locals tell of an evil curse surrounding the slithering serpent:
If into the serpent’s eyes you stare,
Grey will become your head of hair.
And should the serpent not be fed,
Into cowclap you will tread.

I’ve already suffered that indignity this week and my hair couldn’t get much greyer so I scarpered quickly and took this photo of Ingleborough through autumn trees at St Leonard’s, Chapel-le-Dale.


Ancients of the Dales


There was so much greyness around the Dales this morning that there wasn’t much adjusting needed to turn this photo into black and white. The limestone pavement is at the foot of Ingleborough; in the background is the long mass of Whernside. A few hundred yards behind this view is Douk Cave (below) which today felt more primeval than usual. The sound of trickling water echoed around the chasm in which it sits. Ancient ferns, mosses and shade-loving plants looked lush against the limestone, and the summer growth on the trees which cling to the steep sides virtually roofed the whole scene.


Light fantastic

There was some lovely late sunlight t’ other night which called for a little drive. From Settle I took the Malham road over the moor, stopping off for five minutes at Scaleber Force – not as spectacular as I’ve seen it, but a magical place and always worth a visit. Malhamdale, wearing its green and grey uniform, opens up in front of you as you head along this quiet back road. But this night the tops of the western facing slopes were a warm yellow as the sun began to slip behind Malham Moor. I just managed to get this shot of the cove, now empty of the usual hordes of visitors. Then it was up and over the moor back into Ribblesdale to watch the sun finally go down over Ingleborough from Winskill – pictured below. This is why I love living in the Dales.

Sky's the limit in Ribblesdale


I managed to capture one of those magical Dales skies this evening. There seemed to be so much happening – shadow and light dancing along the ground and layer upon layer of clouds and muted colours above. A razor-edged shaft of light came in from the left just for a few seconds to give the scene even more interest. The distant cloud is just brushing the top of Ingleborough. Many a time I’ve watched the sun go down from here at Winskill, up above Langcliffe in Ribblesdale.

Flirting with Ashley's mistress


At the weekend I took this photo of a run-down farm high on the hills between Slaidburn and Bentham because the scene reminded me a little of an Ashley Jackson painting. It’s missing a dramatic glowering sky but contains several other elements of his enigmatic work… even down to the poles and power/telephone lines. The moors here are rough and windswept; the buildings show the scars from endless battles against the elements. This area above Stocks Reservoir has more of a feel of Ashley’s South Pennines than the limestone Dales further north, a bridge between the two distinct areas. If you swivel left of this view you can usually see Ingleborough peeking between the hills which guard the infant river Hodder in its steep sided valley. A minor road snakes through this dale like some mini Alpine pass. On clear days, to the west you can pick out the beginnings of the industrial areas of Lancashire… so the less said about that the better. Ashley describes Yorkshire’s moors as his mistress… hope he doesn’t mind me flirting with her a little here.
PS I  can recommend a visit to Ashley Jackson’s Gallery in Holmfirth – see (and no, we’re not related. Although, come to think of it,  we’re both short with grey hair… and my dad did have a bike…)

(I played around with the picture in Photoshop to create more of a watercolour effect.)

Alien day in the Dales


Thought I’d stretch the little old legs with a walk out of Chapel le Dale despite the grey, misty weather. I took a look around the tiny church where the navvies who died while building Ribblehead Viaduct are buried. Plenty of snowdrops in the churchyard but the daffs haven’t made an appearance yet. Took a slight diversion to gawp down Hurtle Pot . It felt a little eerie, dark and dank standing in this great gully with the only sound being the echo of a screeching raven high above. There was very little water and the River Doe was running completely underground. I mooched around the dry river bed a while in a pointless search for Weathercote Cave before heading up the hill towards the limestone scars. The landscape beside the track is weird here. Limestone rocks are scattered everywhere and are coated in thick moss and fungi about which I know nothing. Large trees grow from the crevices despite there seemingly being little to sustain them. Half way up the track is a rusting old statue created by a famous (so it says on t’ internet) sculptor called Charles I’Anson – hard to tell whether the creation is supposed to be an archer or an alien. There’s a plaque which says that the statue was vandalised in 1983 and subsequently found by cave divers in 30ft of water down Hurtle Pot. ‘Time will tell if the spirit of the boggard of Hurtle Pot is now enshrined in the statue’ states the plaque. Strange coincidence maybe, but  I’anson died in 1983. A bit further up the track a sheep’s skull lay in the path looking towards Whernside. I took this as a hint that I shouldn’t venture that way. The opposite way didn’t bring me any photographic joy though, as a still snow-laden Ingleborough only reluctantly and briefly appeared in the distant mist. Perhaps the omens were against me today but in some perverse way I enjoyed the walk.


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