Summer seems to pass through the Dales a little quicker each year. Since last month’s blog the landscape has changed colour, fields have been cropped, lambs have disappeared and the bulk of tourists have headed home. The Settle area where I live is a vibrant place during summer with local shows, the flowerpot festival, folk music and dancing, steam trains on the Settle-Carlisle line and much more. After all that activity it could feel like we’re already starting to batten down the hatches for a long winter – yet autumn can also be an exhilarating season, full of colour, drama and beauty and I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the Dales with the camera.
Here is a selection of photos that I’ve taken since my last blog, a reminder of summer 2018:
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.
There are 12 Dales photos in this week’s blog. Yep, not just the one shown above. I had a message from someone who has been seeing notifications about my blog for over a year, saying that she’d only just realised there were actually many more photos to view if she clicked on the appropriate link. Clicking on the website link also shows other goodies. Enough of this self-promotion… it’s been a mixed weather week in the Dales but sometimes the light at this time of the year makes you appreciate oft-visited local scenes even more.
I’ve taken countless pics from Winskill, like the top photo showing Penyghent, and the one above of the farm, Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough. But I can’t stop myself from going back to see the scene in different light and conditions. The view is only a few minutes from home – and I can be quite lazy at times. Here are three more taken from the road between Langcliffe and Malham during the same late afternoon light:
Dales planning dilemma
There’s an interesting planning application being put forward in my village of Langcliffe. The owners of Bowerley, a large Victorian mansion which now houses privately owned and rented accommodation, want to build a subterranean eco-friendly house on – or should that be under – part of the 3.2 acre garden to live in during their retirement. It’s an interesting concept for this part of the Dales and throws up something of a dilemma for planners. Although just outside the main village which is inside the National Park, Bowerley is still in a conservation area. Subterranean eco-friendly housing usually means plenty of aluminium and glass so I wonder how this fits into the definition of ‘conservation’. The applicants say the house won’t be visible other than from a distance at the other side of the valley – and from passengers on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. There are no protected trees under threat and as far as I am aware no great-crested newts live there. I have no problem with seeing something from the 21st century in the mix of buildings and I’m all for eco-living, as long as there isn’t a negative impact on surroundings or neighbours. I do wonder if being underground so close to the Settle-Carlisle the earth will move for them when the Flying Scotsman hurtles past? https://publicaccess.cravendc.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OVYH5ZFKG8R00
I needed to pop over to Hawes this week but it wasn’t the most photogenic of days. But I did capture the beck, church (see further below) and Gayle Mill.
Nearer home I took these showing ancient field systems, a view up Ribblesdale and a fine tree silhouette:
Two more Dales churches this week: St Wilfrid’s in Burnsall has a lovely setting beside the river Wharfe. There’s been a church here since at least 700AD. The present Grade I Listed building shows additions and alterations from the 13th through to the 19th century.
St Margaret’s church in Hawes is Grade II Listed and was built in 1851. It replaced an older chapel of ease. Most photos you’ll see of it feature the slab path to and from Gayle. So, here’s another:
Does anyone know of a decent etiquette guide for Dales walkers? I’ve tramped the county’s hills and valleys, villages and tracks for umpteen years and still I’m never sure when and how to greet fellow walkers. My guess is that you’re allowed to acknowledge people as long as there aren’t too many folk around. For example, if I’m walking from my village of Langcliffe to Settle along the back road known as the High Way, it seems acceptable to say ‘Morning’ – provided it’s the morning of course – but by the time you get to Constitution Hill at the top of Settle you must not pass the time of day with anyone (unless you know them).
Last week on a lonely green lane, after not seeing a single person for almost an hour, I crossed paths with a jogger who completely blanked me. Perhaps runners and cyclists have their own code of conduct? What do you do when you’re out in the countryside, where paths can be quite busy – like at Gordale Scar or Malham Cove – and where you can spend too much time saying hello when you ought to be admiring the scenery or avoiding animal droppings? Or when you pass a waggle (that’s my collective noun for a group of walkers) who have stopped mid route for refreshments, or you meet at a gate or stile – ‘morning all’ has to suffice in such cases, surely? When a waggle is a straggly waggle, it just becomes tiresome to say hello to everyone.
Then there’s what to say. I’ve tried all sorts … hello, how do, hiya, the aforesaid morning (but at what time should this change to aft’noon?). Just to amuse myself I have been known to drift into Yorkshire with ey up and na’then. Often I’ll come out with something that’s a mixture of many greetings and I’ll wander on, somewhat embarrassed, thinking ‘why on earth did I say that?’.
Sometimes I get the feeling that strangers from distant lands, like Bradford and Leeds, are humouring my quaint rural ways. Other times I receive a wary, suspicious response as strangers mentally question my sanity. And just who am I allowed to involve in this briefest of communication? You can get those strange teenage-type gawpy expressions from some younger folk; others avoid eye contact. Couples can be deep in conversation or mid argument and I don’t like to intrude – do I march on and ignore them? Occasionally there are those who deliberately bring you to halt and want to know your life story – or at least demand to know where you have been/going. There are walkers who insist on mentioning the weather – nice day; bit colder today; that wind’s a bit naughty intit? Not being one for eloquent or snappy responses, I normally respond with ‘Aye’ and quickly move on. And when is just a brief nervous smile, a raising of the eyebrows or a Yorkshire nod of the head deemed acceptable as a greeting? Walking can be stressful. Is it any wonder I try to find the loneliest places in the Dales?
Anyway, on with this week’s photos. The top pic and this one were taken on a morning walk by the Ribble from Horton.
As mentioned on my Yorkshire Surnames page, I write a short piece each month about names for Down Your Way magazine. I’m pleased to see that the publication won Best Community Publication at this week’s O2 Media Awards. Visit http://downyourway.co.uk
I see there’s festive food for sale in supermarkets. First person to ask me if I’ve made any plans for Christmas gets a withering look.
Well what a rotten week in the Dales for photography – or anything else for that matter. Ribblesdale’s been so shrouded in cloud for most days that I’ve had to dig out a few older shots from this year’s ‘summer’ to fill the blog. Pity the poor souls who thought they’d have a final break in the Dales before heading back to school or work. Anyway, it’s churlish to be moaning about our summer when you see what’s happening in the rest of the world at the moment, so here’s a few shots to brighten the day …
I see that plans by North Ribblesdale Rugby Union Club to chop down an ancient beech tree in Settle seem to have stalled – perhaps just temporarily. I hope they can come up with a better solution for levelling their pitch.
The steam train season will be ending soon which is a shame. Even though I’m no train buff I do enjoy seeing and hearing them working their way up and down the Settle-Carlisle line in Ribblesdale.
A cleaner dales
Tired of being paid minimum wage (and less), sick of zero hours or short-term contracts, my son has decided to start his own cleaning services business. Over the last seven years he’s carried out all kinds of cleaning and maintenance duties from rinsing out toilets to renovating massive industrial refrigeration units for some of the biggest names in retailing. Unfortunately, in this country cleaners are often treated disrespectfully by public and employers alike – even the highly trained, diligent, hard-working ones who take enormous pride in their work. Yet without them many businesses and accommodation providers would fail miserably.
I do wonder what will happen to those who rely on cheap labour when the short-sighted, narrow-minded Euro leavers get their way and borders are closed to the people deemed to be unworthy to enter our ‘superior’ shores. Some large hotels and accommodation providers in the cities can have over 90% Eastern European or immigrant workers on (or off) their pay rolls.
Here in the dales, where around a quarter of housing is classified as second homes or holiday lets, many of the owners live far away. Knowing that trustworthy cleaners and housekeepers can be called upon is vital for their investments. If you are such a person or know someone who needs a dedicated cleaner please contact Will – more details on his website http://www.cravencleaningservices.co.uk or drop me an email/message.
I’m proud of the lad (still a lad to me despite him being 25 next birthday) and he has started his business well with some promising contracts such as the refurbished Maypole Inn at Long Preston, and the impressive Langcliffe Park site near Settle, plus a few holiday-let cottages in the Dales.
Towards the end of this week in the Dales I started think that those few glorious sunny days were to be the ‘last of the summer wine’ (in my bobble hat I do look a bit like Compo). In Ribblesdale, sunny fields of buttercups at the start of the week were followed by dull grey outlines and mist-covered Three Peaks. I dived for cover in the car at Ribblehead then watched the heavy storm pass overhead near Clapham on Wednesday. I’ll let the pictures tell the story …
Mike’s sweet music to my ears
I had a snigger the other day at a Facebook post by Mike Harding who was complaining, partly tongue in cheek, about noisy lawnmowers disturbing his relaxation in the sun. Yes, it’s the traditional sound of summer in England but like Mike I think that too much grass cutting goes on. It’s not so much the noise that frustrates me (although the electric and motorised ones can be ridiculously loud – over to you Mr Dyson for your inventive juices to get to work) as the fact that some people want their lawn to look like a snooker table. It’s completely unnatural. I was walking by the church in Settle this week and watched a guy driving his mower around the graves chopping the heads pretty daisies, buttercups, clover and a host of other plants. What a waste of Nature, depriving bees, butterflies and insects of nectar, and our own senses of the smell and sights of summer, just to satisfy some man-made vision of neatness. By the way, if you like folk music do look up Mike’s great free podcast at www.mikehardingfolkshow.com
Waste of money
Unfortunately I don’t have a garden, only a tiny patch used mainly for herbs. I tidied up a section of the path around the house this week and put the odd bits of soil, small stones – general garden rubbish into a box which I dutifully took to the council tip. “You’ll have to pay £3 (something-or-other) for that, mate, and we only accept credit or debt card.” WHAT!? After a couple of expletives I requested details of whom I could complain to, then took my rubbish back home. I’ve emailed North Yorkshire County Council’s waste management services to register my disgust (I’m really getting the hang of this grumpy-old-man routine). I also told them I’d put the rubbish into bins bags and deposited them in dustbins for their employees to pick up. Perhaps they’ll sue me for putting garden waste in with household waste. It’s no excuse, I know, but I’m not surprised more people are tipping waste around the Dales.
This week I dropped a couple of groups from my Facebook account. I’ve been sharing my photos with thousands of the groups’ members for a long time, quite happy to let people see the Dales for free. However, a minority of viewers have started to hijack my posts to spread their own opinions – mainly comments about race and immigration. Yes, I can block the bigots but many members won’t, which means I am unwittingly providing a vehicle for those twisted views. If they want to express their opinions they can get themselves a website like this one, or they can go post on more appropriate Facebook groups. The situation has been worse recently because immigration has become, quite wrongly in my view, the main issue in the Euro debate (which you’ll be pleased to learn I’m not going to go into here). Perhaps I’ll return to those Dales groups when the referendum circus has left town. Here’s a photo of several animals living in perfect harmony, just to remind people that land can actually be quite easy to share.