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 www.ashley-jackson.co.uk (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.)
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.