Thar’s gold in them thar Dales – tha knaws … there have been some glorious golden moments in the Dales over the last 12 months. By standing in the right place at twilight – with or without a camera – I’ve enjoyed many a memorable sunset scene here in the western Dales. I’ve dug out a few shots for this week’s blog:
One of my pet hates is fly-tipping. Whether found in the Dales or in towns and cities it’s disgusting and whenever I see such selfishness I will report it. Last week on my way to watch my football team in Huddersfield I saw a wagonload of discarded household goods dumped near the canal. I Tweeted about it and the story was followed up by the Huddersfield Examiner. I was there again yesterday and the rubbish had gone. So the understaffed local press still has some power and a part to play in the community. I wonder how long the trash would have stayed had it not been publicised – and how long before more is dumped there? https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-town-fan-brands-fly-14290468
In 2015/16, the estimated cost of clearing of fly-tipping to local authorities in England was nearly £50 million. When councils are struggling to pay for schools and social services, this is such a waste of revenue. Added to this, the cost of fly-tipping on private land is estimated at between £50 – £150 million a year. Fly-tipping can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court yet this doesn’t seem to stop the criminals.
I know people will say that councils should stop charging residents for taking larger loads to their tips – I wonder if those same folk would complain if the £50m cost was added to the general rates? In many cases fly-tipping is carried out by rogue traders who charge customers for disposal but instead of disposing it properly just dump the rubbish on someone else’s doorstep. As I say, scumbags.
That youthful lad inside my head really wanted to sledge down this sloping track above Langcliffe. Alas, I think it would only have ended in tears and broken bones.
15 Dales photos here – agricultural show or shopping mall? – glory of Ribblesdale – trainy days – Dales art – Malham magic and tasteless stupidity. Above is one of my favourite Ribblesdale views taken from Giggleswick Scar this week. On the horizon is Pendle Hill.
Biggest doesn’t always mean best. Take the Great Yorkshire Show, for example. Yes it’s the largest agricultural event in the country and a tremendous showcase for the county and its farmers. I went on Thursday but can’t say I really enjoyed the day. Too commercial for my liking – and too many people. More than 40,000 trying to force their way around what is in effect an enormous shopping mall, with some fairly unhappy looking animals being paraded or caged up around the edges. Give me the small Dales village shows any day. Thank goodness I decided to go by train to avoid being stuck in some horrendous traffic congestion.
Orchids and other wild flowers in ungrazed areas of the Dales were looking lovely after a drop of the wet stuff this week.
This ancient wall near Colt Park in Ribblesdale exhibits plenty of character. You can find art all over the Dales when you slow down and take in everything around you. Here are some other examples from Ribblesdale:
A couple of shots as I passed through Malham…
A short walk from home to Stainforth on a grey day …
And on a sunnier day, two shots of Ribblesdale showing Stainforth Scar and the village of Langcliffe.
One evening this week I went for a short walk and got bitten by midges. I was itching all night and dug out some cream to slap on. In the morning after a bad night I went to brush my teeth, but squeezed Savlon on my toothbrush instead of toothpaste … not recommended – breakfast did not taste good at all.
When I’m president of the People’s Undemocratic Republic of Yorkshire, and when Lancashire has been converted into my private golf course, I’ll be ordering southerners to build a wall from the Humber to the Mersey. The annexing of the Lake District will have been completed by then. The Geordie Camps, set up along the Tees for north easterners to be taught how to speak properly before being allowed across the border, will be producing a steady flow of workers for the Yorkshire Parkin mines. Yorkshire will not only be a buffer zone between the warring factions of Scotland and London but will also provide sanctuary for poor immigrants from Lincolnshire and East Anglia who have no hills. Should any cocky Cockney pilot try to enter Yorkshire airspace I will launch T’ Mam of all Bombs from the Alan Bennett International Airport, aiming to destroy the set of Eastenders. I aim to allocate more than half a dozen boats from Whitby to patrol the Thames Estuary, a show of force that will act as a deterrent and send a message that Yorkshire’s not to be messed abhat wi’.
As you can see, war has been on my mind. Around the world, scum has been rising to the top of the melting pot. Unhinged despots have been allowed to take charge of countries; selfish, trigger-happy tyrants flexing their muscles without a care for the consequences of their pathetic bravado.
I spent a day at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York this week where I was reminded in graphic detail what happened the last time a maniac tried to rule the world. We would all do well to remember that what our eldest generation witnessed here in our country 60+ years ago is actually happening now elsewhere in the world. Will we ever learn?
Yorkshire at its best: top picture and the two here show Giggleswick Scar and Settle on a bright and breezy Saturday evening.
Above, Stainforth Scar and lovely Langcliffe in Ribblesdale this week.
Ingleborough from near Buckhaw Brow as the light fades.
At the other end of the day: Smearsett Scar from Winskill in Ribblesdale just after sunrise.
BREAKING NEWS – Leeds United Airlines statement regarding the man being dragged kicking and screaming from the 8.30am flight from Birmingham Jasper Carrot Airport to the Alan Bennett International Airport: We would like to apologise to all passengers for any disruption caused by the removal by security staff of this man. Contrary to Press reports, the flight was not overbooked – we just didn’t like his accent.
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.
After last week’s regular Sunday stroll by the Ribble under Stainforth Scar I stayed out a bit later than normal to watch the sun go down. Golden light settled briefly on the Scar, while Penyghent looked cooler in the distance with snow still lying in the shade. The late sun shining through the trees above Langcliffe stopped me in my tracks. No filters or Photoshop shenanigans on these shots, just the ‘sunset’ setting on my camera.
Around 40 years ago I posed for this photo at Ribblehead (taken by my friend Graham Hobson). The signpost was replaced with a bland version many years ago – probably due to idiots climbing up the old one. The photo serves to remind me just how long I’ve been visiting this enigmatic area. I’m always finding something different or interesting here – long may it continue. I was there again on Wednesday, taking a boggy trek around the Limestone Walk on Ingleborough Nature Reserve in Chapel-le-Dale. There were still some icy patches along the path where the sun hadn’t reached, and flecks of snow were still visible on Whernside.
Along this route you can hear water rushing into and through the limestone caverns beneath your feet. There’s a great network of caves and pot holes around here, and the path, going clockwise, passes Great Douk Cave then later, joining the main path up to Ingleborough, goes by the amazing sinkhole of Braithwaite Wife Hole – partly pictured below. It’s around 80ft deep and knocking on 200ft wide. I’d be interested to know how it got the name – there are a few sink holes named after wives in the Dales. Legend has it that the ladies were chucked down the giant pits after some misdemeanour. But if that were the case you’d think there’d be even more of them named after men.
It’s sad to see old farm buildings in a dilapidated state – like this one at Southerscales in Chapel-le-Dale. But I suppose it is all part of the evolution of the Dales. Less than a mile away on one of the limestone ridges between Ingleborough and Ribblehead are the remains of an ancient settlement, dating back thousands of years. In this part of the Dales humans have come and gone since prehistoric times and evidence of ancient walls can be found all around…
Making a living on this boggy land has always been extremely difficult. Shaded by Ingleborough, Simon Fell and Park Fell, there is little direct sunlight during winter. Hardy farmers still try to eke out a living here…
I took some fine photos of Chapel-le-Dale along the route, which I’ve already posted on Facebook and Twitter this week, showing Twisleton Scar, Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct. Here’s a different one, looking down on the small settlement around the Chapel Inn.
As Black Friday turned into Grey Saturday there were few photographic bargains to be had in the dales for me, but one of my neighbours, Mark Corner, emailed me this photo taken on Giggleswick Scar. Myths and legends surround these ‘fairy circles’, and here Mark’s lovely dog Oscar looks like a worthy king of the elves.
I might not always see eye to eye with some decisions and policies made by the National Park Authorities, but all in all I think they do a fine and very necessary job of safeguarding our countryside. I’ve certainly never viewed them as being extravagant or a total waste of taxpayer’s money – unlike, say, the House of Lords. (In 2014 the net operating cost of the outdated House of Lords was around £100m while that of the Yorkshire Dales National Park was nearer £4.5m – and not all paid for by the taxpayer.) The National Parks have already suffered massive cuts and are are now faced with even more. Staffing has been slashed by 20 per cent meaning among other things that right-of-way management, visitor facilities, car parking, toilets etc have all been hit. I know there are many other pressing matters to be concerned over, but does this government see the British countryside as just another asset which they can sell off to the highest bidder? The parks have been told to raise more money themselves … we interrupt this Blog for a short advertisement …
———————— The McDonalds Yorkshire Dales National Park
Our walk-through diner on Penyghent now features the famous Barbequed Spare Ribble Platter. At our Dodd Fell branch you’ll find the McWensleydale Cheeseburger and our Snaizeholme McSquirrelnut burger for vegetarians. Our popular Sedburger Club Sandwich with our home-made Hawes Radish Sauce is popular at our Ingleborough branch. The Malham McMuffin with Maple Syrup will delight you at the new Cove Experience outlet. While our exciting Strawberry Strid Milkshake is free with every Wharfedale McWrap bought at our Bolton Abbey franchise located in the former priory. Admission fees apply. The Yorkshire Dales … I’m Loving it.
I’ve taken more than 250 pictures this week so it’s been a bit tricky narrowing down a selection for the blog. I’ve even ventured slightly outside my normal patch of Ribblesdale into Sleddale, Wensleydale and Clapdale. No wonder I’m feeling a bit jet-lagged today … or maybe that’s more to do with the beer consumed while drowning my sorrows watching the Rugby Union. Rather than base my choice of pictures on technical prowess or prettiness, I tend to go for those which tell a story or remind me of the occasion, so professional photographers please look away now.
Last Sunday I did a lovely circuit from Langcliffe – these trees on the route at Stackhouse (top picture) will look superb in a couple of weeks – towards Feizor then back via Giggleswick Scar (pic of my boots from there pointing to Settle) . There were some terrific views, including Penyghent, Ingleborough, Settle and Stainforth Scar (2nd pic), despite an ever-present distant mist.
Monday I followed the ancient track from Horton to High Birkwith, returning along the surfaced road via Newhouses Tarn and the smart hamlet of Newhouses. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between the clouds and vapour trails and today they mixed to form some interesting patterns in the sky.
I often wonder how many of those hundreds of Three Peakers who charge through this area in a bid to chalk off the mountains, actually stop and take in the extensive views from this side of the valley.
It had been many a year since my last visit to Aysgill Force in Sleddale so on Tuesday I returned to find it in a sedate mood. I recall it gushing like a mini Niagara last time, but today a steady flow, captured here without any clever time-lapse photography, seemed to perfectly match my mood. It was great too to see a red squirrel scurry along a fence – far too quickly for me to capture. Wensleydale looked gently rural, too, and I liked this farmer’s humour …
As if my hair wasn’t grey enough already… heading back down Ribblesdale, near Selside, one farmer was determined to make me look even older.
Scaleber Force also looked laid back in the evening. I’d gone out to capture a sunset from Stockdale but couldn’t resist a quick look at the falls above Settle. Then, looking west from Stockdale, the sun said a colourful farewell. Looking in the other direction, the limestone scars of Warrendale and Attermire took on a warm pink glow.
On Wednesday my intention was to head up to Ingleborough from Clapham. The walk started well as I took the route via Clapdale’s fortified farm (pictured below), part of which dates back to the 13th century. Some of the walls are said to be 5ft thick and built to ward off rampaging Scots. (Before any friends snigger, accusing me of avoiding paying the fee to walk through the estate grounds, I really was genuinely interested in seeing the building, honest.)
However, by the time I got to Gaping Gill having struggled up Trow Gill (below) my knees were giving me such pain that I decided it would be wiser to turn back than have to call out Mountain Rescue further up. The other picture is of an unnamed pot hole close to Gaping Gill looking towards Little Ingleborough.
Thursday morning I struggled to make it downstairs to brew my morning cup of Yorkshire Tea such was the stiffness in my knees. I decided there and then to curtail my walking for a few days, and I looked up the price of a teasmaid on t’ internet. Not on my pension. I did manage to pop out and capture this speckled wood butterfly sunbathing on the house wall and later enjoyed another fine sunset from Winskill.
I was back at Winskill yesterday to see if there was a temperature inversion shot to be taken over Ribblesdale. But it was the heavier stuff – fog drifted in very quickly – the two shots below were taken just five minutes apart. My own fog is beginning to lift now so I might go try out the old knees again today.
A major fault led to my best moments this week. I’m talking about the Craven Fault, caused by a prehistoric act of Nature which created some of the country’s most magnificent and intriguing landscapes. A walk following the fault-line from Clapham in the west to Grassington in the east would surely be one of the most spectacular trails in Yorkshire – over to you, trailblazers. I trod two sections this week – the first from near Feizor across to Giggleswick Scar where views down Ribblesdale and the floodplain early evening on Tuesday were exceptional.
On Friday I walked the Settle Loop – part of the Pennine Bridleway – which includes views of the fault-line over Malham and Malham Moor. For me though, the tiny valley of Stockdale provides one of the greatest panoramas. Heading from the Malham direction, the Settle Loop reaches the top of Stockdale and squeezes between the Rye Loaf Hill and the limestone scars of Attermire and Langcliffe. Here Warrendale Knots stand guard on the border between limestone and gritstone, and here the grand sweeping valleys of Ribblesdale and Airedale open up before you. Being there on a warm summer’s day certainly makes you feel glad to be alive.
(That’s not me in the picture – hope you don’t mind whoever you are.) Back to Sunday … after I’d written last week’s blog the day brightened up so I drove to Selside and a nice little photo spot near the start of the track to Alum Pot. Here Penyghent is perfectly framed by the trees which somehow grow from the limestone pavement. On Monday I strolled from the village up to Winskill to find that one of my favourite pointy-signpost-photo-foregrounds had been switched for a short stumpy little effort. I suppose it helps open up the view a bit but I like signs that have place-names on them. Perhaps the authorities have been instructed to remove all signs containing names because there’s an imminent invasion threat?
I got the rare urge to desert the Dales on Wednesday and use my senior railcard on a trip to York. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the holidaying population of the UK and beyond had decided on the same destination. As you’ll gather, I’m not one for crowds but the experience was bearable thanks to the many attractions of this magnificent little city, and I saw many sights and heard sounds I’d never normally come across back home …
With the sun still having its hat on yesterday I walked up to Castleberg Rock to take a panoramic view of Settle and Giggleswick. I made a very short video with my normal camera – something I’m not very good at, as you’ll see here …
This shot is looking back at yesterday’s location – Giggleswick Scar is middle right looking down on Settle – and was taken from Hunter Bark this morning just before heavy clouds moved in. Hunter Bark is the name of the highest point on the ancient track over the hills between Long Preston and Settle in Ribblesdale. If you start from Long Preston railway station you’ll climb a steady 1,000 feet to the trig point on Hunter Bark where you’ll be rewarded with a superb 360 degree view of the region. On the ascent from the village you’ll also see the mazy path the meandering River Ribble makes as it snakes down the dale, as well as the hazy mass of Pendle Hill dominating the distant horizon.
The Yorkshire uplands were certainly no place to be baht ‘at today. I squeezed in an hour on the limestone above Giggleswick Scar after lunch. By gum it weren’t half nithering but the views over Settle and down Ribblesdale were splendid. Managed to slide on my backside through freshly deposited cow muck… and had to drive home baht trousers.