Mean, moody and magnificent – my description of the Dales this week (12 pics here). With many schools on half term, tourists have flooded into the area to boost the local economy and bring a bit more life into Dales villages where many houses are now second homes or holiday lets.
Camping and caravan sites have burst back into life … and visiting dogs have left their contribution, too. I’ve never seen so many little plastic bags full of you-know-what stuffed into walls and left beside paths.
Away from the crowds I strolled up lonely Kingsdale and explored the land around the Cheese Press Stone – I didn’t see a soul for almost two hours but I still came across several poo bags. Someone’s gone to the trouble of picking up their dog’s biodegradable droppings, placed them in an non-biodegradable plastic bag and cast them aside for wildlife to choke on. Unbelievable.
Glad I got that off my chest. But no doubt you’ll say – and I agree – there are one or two bigger issues for the world to think about at the moment.
Yes, I should be thankful for what I’ve got – the views from up above Kingsdale are superb; lots of different shapes and angles for photography even when the distant views haven’t got the clarity you’d hope for. Ingleborough, Whernside and Gragareth provide fantastic backdrops here; I couldn’t quite make out the Lakeland Fells today but the Bowland Fells stretched away into the murkiness.
I’ve seen moody mists, stunning sunsets and whopping whales (sorry, whopping was the only alliteration I could summon up for whales) around the Dales this week so here’s the rest of the photo diary:
Let me take you on a little drive around the western Dales. On the one clear day this week I drove along the back roads of Wenningdale from Settle to the Great Stone of Fourstones (pictured below), above Bentham, with the hope of taking some long-distance shots of the Three Peaks and perhaps even the southern fells of the Lake District. Although there was plenty of blue sky above, there wasn’t the clarity. I did manage these photos of the Dales and beyond:
From that amazing boulder I drove on to Thornton-in-Lonsdale and through lonely Kingsdale (top photo in blog). Apart from a gang of cavers trooping up to Yordas I didn’t see another soul for miles. Driving the steep single track road towards Dent always makes the heart beat a little faster. For most of the way you’re praying there’s nothing coming in the other direction; that the mist doesn’t come down; or in my case hoping that gawping too long at the view doesn’t mean I miss a tight bend in the road.
I double-check my handbrake every time I get out of the car to open and shut the gates along here. A little stroll up the old quarry road towards High Pike is always worthwhile. The views down Deepdale, Dentdale, towards the Howgills and north-western dales are rewarding.
There is a magical little waterfall as you descend into Deepdale – it’s unnamed on the OS map.
Instead of continuing to Dent I took the back-road to Cowgill – apparently I couldn’t have done this the previous day because of flooding. Every time I drive along this lane, passing Whernside Manor, I remember the creepy stories I’ve read of the mansion’s past. Tales of slavery and ghosts, and people being chained up in the cellars can be found on the internet if you’re interested. Believe what you want, but when one site describes Whernside hill as being part of the Howgills, you do start to question the depth of research.
After more stops for photos of the river Dee (below) and the old buildings at Stone House (above), where Dent marble was once produced, it was under the Settle-Carlisle railway at Dent Head Viaduct and on to Ribblehead, before turning down to Settle under the familiar gaze of Penyghent.
What a difference a Dales day makes
The trip was a contrast to the previous day when I’d driven on t’other side of Penyghent towards Halton Gill from Stainforth. Typical of this part of the dales, water was pouring off the sodden fells, filling the becks and waterfalls which feed Penyghent Beck before splashing down into Littondale. I was wet but the noise and the freshness were exhilarating:
The clouds opened up briefly to reveal a surprising vivid sunset last night. I didn’t have time to pop up to higher ground but these from around the village show the intensity of the colours – no filters used here.
A Dales photo for each month during 2017. Looking back on a year’s wandering – fairly aimless wandering it must be said – and photographing around the western Dales this year, I hadn’t realised how much the sky had dominated so many of my shots. Clouds move swiftly in this part of the country as the breeze sweeps in from the Irish Sea and strikes the hilly barrier in its way. A stormy sky can turn clear blue in minutes – and the opposite can happen quickly too, to catch out the unwary.
Photos can often hide the truth – the top picture, taken above Giggleswick Scar, shows a lovely clear day looking down on Settle bathing in sunshine. But don’t be deceived, it was taken in January and believe me it was freezing up there that day.
This February shot shows snow on Penyghent and a steam special heading through Ribblesdale.
In March I watched this dramatic cloud formation above Kingsdale as it made its way from the north-west. Whernside bore the brunt of the bad weather it brought.
About as far as you get in the western Dales is Barbondale. This April day was full of light and shade.
The Sun in May is still fairly weak and I was able to point the camera directly at it for this shot of a distant Ingleborough from Winskill.
The weather was right for a stroll up Attermire Scar in June. This was the view looking north-west, showing the track to Malham by Jubilee Cave and the foot-hills of Penyghent and Fountains Fell.
Just as the sun was going down on a July day at Winskill, Ribblesdale. Distant Penyghent soaking up the last rays.
A typical August sky and a typical walled green lane. I was on my way from Horton-in-Ribblesdale to photograph the impressive Hull Pot.
A September shot of Settle. I chose this one for my yearly round-up not because of the great view of the town from Castleberg Rock but for the shape of the clouds above, which take you to the distant fells.
October brought some storms to the region. I was right on the edge of this particularly nasty one above Ribblesdale before making a hasty retreat back home to Langcliffe.
As autumn turned to winter I was lucky to grab this November shot on the track between Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Brackenbottom before the gold and brown tints disappeared.
I had to include a December shot of a snowy Penyghent, even though Ribblesdale didn’t have a white Christmas Day. This was taken from Selside.
Thank you for continuing to follow this blog during 2017 and I hope you have a fabulous new year.
Of all Yorkshire’s Dales, Kingsdale probably makes me feel the most relaxed. It’s such a peaceful place; small but perfectly formed. Kingsdale doesn’t belong in the 21st century and is much the better place for it. With Gragareth rising steeply on the west and Whernside to the east, this most secluded of dales can seem very lonely on a darkening winter’s eve. But on bright autumnal days with sun shining on the limestone, and glistening on the beck as it cackles over water-worn pebbles, Kingsdale is heavenly.
I have a well-read phamplet that was printed by the Craven Herald in the 1930s, called Kingsdale the Valley of the Vikings. It was written and published by Frederic Riley of The Book Stores, Settle. In it are many photos of scenes which if I captured again today would not look any different whatsoever.
One day this week I parked in a lay-by on the narrow road from Thornton-in-Lonsdale to Dent where there is a classic view of Kingsdale. Should I head to the west of the dale and walk up the steep path through loose rocky limestone, or go east up the gentler slopes of Twisleton Scars? Thinking that my old knees would handle the latter much more comfortably I headed for the path up which I’d not been for more than 40 years, towards Whernside. Years ago, probably during a Duke of Edinburgh Awards hike, we’d camped in Ingleton and walked up Twisleton Scar and along the spine of Whernside (pictured above) before camping again somewhere near High Birkwith. No such trek today as I wandered around the fabulous limestone pavement where a few stunted trees leaned with the prevailing westerly wind towards Ingleborough. Here, odd weathered stones balance precariously which along with the trees present some classic (or should that be clichéd?) shots of the surrounding dales landscape. A lovely walk with extensive views over Wenningdale towards the Bowland Fells.
My granddad’s brother, Reuben Hepworth, survived the horrific battle fields of Flanders only to be killed in action exactly one month later on 11th December 1917 while on duty in Italy. He was just 24 and single. His mother Hannah, already a widow and with four children, received £105 10s 2d in April 1920 when the government finally sorted out his will. While we rightly remember those who died fighting for their countries we should also bear in mind the trauma felt by families back home.
I have Reuben’s Memorial Plaque – sometimes known as the Death Penny or Dead Man’s Penny. They were issued after the First World War to the next-of-kin of service personnel killed as a result of the war.
Like me, you were probably totally surprised to hear this week that some rich people get richer by avoiding tax. What shocking news. They’ll be telling us next that there are people on benefits who shouldn’t be – and folk driving round in cars that haven’t been taxed. Ah well, life just wouldn’t be the same in Little England if we couldn’t go ‘tut-tut’ about something, would it?
This week’s church is in the Mallerstang valley in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. St Mary’s chapel at Outhwaite has been around since the 14th century. The small low building contains a 13th century bell. Above the porch is a stone recording the restoration of the church by Lady Anne Clifford, who owned the nearby Pendragon Castle and lived in Skipton Castle, no doubt avoiding tax.
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.
It’s hard to picture the Yorkshire Dales without walls. Yes, there are a some wilder spots such as the grouse moors with fewer walls, where there’s no need to prevent stock from wandering where they’re not wanted. I was pondering over this while driving round the Three Peaks area during the week. Penyghent (pictured above), Ingleborough and Whernside all have prominent walls going over the top of them. I think in all three cases these walls are as much to do with indicating parish boundaries as keeping sheep in the right place. Whatever, you’ve got to admire the skill and tenacity of those wall builders of the Dales whose work has lasted many a wild winter. Just a thought … should we invite Mr Trumped-up for a state visit to the Dales to teach him about wall building?
The breeze was strong and the clouds shifted quickly overhead. While Ingleborough and Whernside wore thin white caps, Penyghent was briefly bathed in sunshine. At one time it thought the three were playing a party game, switching hats to the music of the wind. From Kingsdale I watched the scene changing rapidly before I chickened out of a trip along the high narrow road over to Dent as the weather worsened. The Dales can be beautiful and frightening at the same time.
When I get older losing my hair… etc
Yes I’m that age today so just a brief blog as I prepare for hordes of visitors heading to my Dales cottage bearing gifts and alcohol. I can’t believe I’d still be singing the Beatles’ When I’m 64, when I’m actually 64. The song was released when I was 14. Where have the last 50 years gone?
Seven days ago I believed the Dales summer was all over and done with. So what a bonus to have a few pleasant days this week. I’ve been able saunter around the hills and dales with the fleece still tucked away in the bottom of my bag. One day I drove up lonely Kingsdale and pulled in to walk along the old track which leads over to Barbondale. I love the views from up here. Sitting at the top of High Pike at around 1600ft you can see over several dales and north-west to the Howgills. I was pleased the top photo came out as well as it did. The folding hills merge well with the rolling clouds which bubbled up like waves on the sea.
This carved stone sits in a field at a place on the OS map known as Foul Moss, just off the track. It is only a couple of hundred yards away from the County Stone, the point where Yorkshire, Lancashire and Westmorland all meet. If anyone knows the significance of this little stone and carving I’d be interested to hear from them.
Later I drove into Dent where I picked up a couple of stock pictures after stopping off at this waterfall in Deepdale.
Earlier in the week I drove up to High Birkwith at the top end of Ribblesdale for a circular stroll around Ling Gill National Nature Reserve. By ‘around’ I really mean right round the edge of the reserve for I wouldn’t contemplate clambering my way through the gill. By all accounts it is an almost primeval landscape of boulders and waterfalls, with dark and dank enclaves populated by rare plants. The short, steep-sided valley has remained virtually untouched from grazing animals and humans. Probably the best website I’ve seen for further details is http://oldfieldslimestone.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/ling-gill-limestone-wild-and-untamed.html
The walk, stretches of which were still a tad boggy, takes in part of the Pennine Way and also the Three Peaks route between Penyghent and Whernside. I never tire of the views around this part of the dales.
Half of last week’s blog disappeared into an internet black hole. Probably my fault. Here’s one you missed of a duck trying to explain the hokey-cokey…
Rather than watch the Dales bus ride from Richmond to Ingleton on TV I travelled up Ribblesdale to see a sunset. It was well worth it for this week’s photo diary. The view of Moughton Scar and Wharfe hamlet when the late sun catches hillside there is always a fine sight. I sat in a lay-by on the back road from Helwith Bridge to Stainforth as the sun finally set. The colours and patterns were amazing behind the silhouettes of Norber and Robin Procter Scar. To my right, now in half-light, Ribblesdale and Penyghent looked like the red-grey dying embers of a bonfire. My thanks to the passing cyclist who helped make the top shot a much better picture.
I watched the bus ride programme in three chunks on iPlayer. (I’ve never been one for long bus rides – I was often the one throwing up on school trips). When I’m driving around the Dales I’m usually forever gawping at the scenery and almost crashing – but with the TV programme I found myself looking at the road and thinking ‘he’s going to crash into that wall’! I’d read somewhere that this was a ‘real time’ trip along the route … well it certainly wasn’t: it took just about five minutes to get from Hawes to Ribblehead in the iPlayer version I watched, so unless they switched from bus to jet fighter part-way it wasn’t ‘real time’. And the journey ended at Ribblehead, missing some of those great views and features along Chapel-le-Dale.
Later in the week I parked up on the Kingsdale road for a wander around this peaceful dale. I also popped down to Thornton Force where lots of Dales holidaymakers were enjoying the waterfalls walk – I say ‘enjoying’ but looking at some of the tortured faces of those not expecting to climb hundreds of steps to join the green lane above the waterfalls, I’m not sure enjoyment was what they were experiencing. Certainly many looked as though this was their first, and probably last, exercise of the year.
A lot of my spare time over the last few weeks has involved fitting a kitchen into my tiny cottage. The building was obviously constructed before right-angles and straight lines were invented. Seemingly it was built by eye – unfortunately, the eyes must have been owned by the village drunk. Anyway, I’ve run out of money now so hopefully more time for photography and wandering around the Dales in the coming weeks.
The long days this week have created some great lighting for photography in the Dales. The best times have been in the evenings – which has was good for me as I’ve had a busy time during the day at my computer. Locally I’ve driven the short distances to Kingsdale, Chapel-le-Dale, Crummackdale, Silverdale and Littondale – and of course Ribblesdale. The Three Peaks proved once again to be perfect subjects as they caught the late sunshine. They seem to be dozing like three sleepy cats after a hard day’s play, keeping their distance from each other but still having a wary eye on what’s going on. Fantastic, too, to see people enjoying the extra daylight – I’ve encountered road cyclists, walkers, runners and on Thursday evening around the massive bulk of Ingleborough, mountain bikers and paragliders. (A strange aircraft with propellors flew low over the top end of Ribblesdale as I drove home on Thursday evening. Even I don’t take pics while driving – so did anyone else capture it?). The top shot I’m calling ‘playing with light’. It shows patchy late evening sunshine over Ribblesdale. Other evening shots are spread throughout the blog.
One of my favourite pastimes is watching other folk work while I laze about doing nowt. I was leaning on a wall one day this week near Austwick, admiring the Dales view; nearby, two chaps were putting up a timber fence around a small thicket. I couldn’t tell what wood was being used but it reminded me of an old country proverb I once included in Countryman magazine www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk when I was editor. It went something like: ‘If you build a fence of elm you can forget it for 20 years. If you build it with oak, you can forget it’. A timely reminder that what we do today affects what we’ll need to do in the future.
It’s been a week for contemplating life hasn’t it? While sitting on a small hill during a short spell of sunshine in the Dales on Friday evening I watched several sheep wandering aimlessly around a field. Which one was leading the gang was hard to fathom; maybe they all believed the one with the dodgy hairdo, or the one with the loudest baa as they intimated that the grass was greener through the open gate. The ewes didn’t question the leaders and led their young into the unknown, never thinking the leaders could be telling lies or just having their own interests at heart. They didn’t seem to have a plan as to what to do once through the gate – I do hope there wasn’t a cunning fox waiting for them all on the other side. I didn’t hang around to see.
Doggy do in the Dales
Now that it seems we officially exist in an intolerant society I feel happier about having a moan about certain dog owners. I’m sick of finding these bags of dog crap all over the Dales, at the sides of paths or jammed into drystone walls. I’m sure I’ve seen a lot more crap about since we voted to come out of Europe (that’s a lie, by the way, but it seems lying is acceptable nowadays, too).
This sign near Penyghent Farm on the wonderful Stainforth to Halton Gill road, says: ‘The Countryside Stewardship Scheme – Part funded by the European Communities’. I wonder if there’ll be a sign here in future saying ‘Left to rot after England turned its back on the European Communities and went bankrupt’?
At the moment I, along with many experts (whom I listen to and believe, Mr Gove), don’t feel very optimistic about what will happen to our countryside or local wildlife and heritage projects once the exit from Europe kicks in. During the referendum campaign leave leaders either lied through their back teeth or genuinely just guessed when asked about what would happen to the countryside after leaving. Currently I can’t see where money will come from given the predictions of economic gloom, yet I’ll bet that pet vanity projects like HS2, which revolve around London and which will rip up the countryside for no good reason, will somehow survive.
I have a habit of saying stuff that shows my age. This week I said to a youngster (someone under 30), ‘What’s the recipe today, Jim?’ – a phrase which anyone over 60 will probably recognise from radio of the past, but to which the person listening to me responded quizzically by saying that she was not called Jim.
I was very pleased to see the initial plans for The Folly in Settle on Monday. It’s vital that this unique building is kept in good order, is utilised by the community and helps attracts visitors to the Dales town. The Folly’s development will help boost the local economy and provide another welcome focal point. All they’ll need to make the plans come true is some funding … oh, wait a minute though.
I’m pleased to see that from tomorrow (27 June) train services on the Settle-Carlisle line are to be extended to run as far north as Armathwaite instead of the current terminus of Appleby. The existing train times between Leeds and Appleby will continue with revised timings for journeys between Appleby and Armathwaite. There will be a number of changes to the bus connections so passengers should check the updated timetable before travel. www.settle–carlisle.co.uk/ Remember, the original purpose of building the line was to access Scotland – this could be handy in the future if there’s an exodus from England to Scotland – let’s hope that repair work on the track north of Armathwaite is completed before the Scots shut the border.
(Don’t worry, friends and family who voted to leave – my bitterness will eventually subside. And I understand clearly that besides the racists and far right who want to take over the country as a dictatorship, there were other factions adding support to the leave campaign – such as disenchanted people wanting to teach Cameron & Osborne a lesson; those who think they are being told what to do by Jonny Foreigner and don’t like it; and people who think the EU is a useless bureaucratic mess and want out. Unfortunately, when all that support was added together, the combined vote was claimed as a victory by a bunch of hapless liars and bigots who don’t want to understand the bigger picture.)