Where time stands still in the Dales

dalesOf 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.

dalesI 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.

dalesOne 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.

A couple of shots from around Langcliffe in Ribblesdale taken on another bright day this week.

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?

I captured a couple of shafts of light while on the Silverdale Road from Stainforth – one beneath Penyghent and the other on trees near Stainforth.

Dales churches

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.

More reasons to love the Yorkshire Dales

18 new Dales photos. There are many reasons why I love the Yorkshire Dales – not just the scenery or way of life, or the architecture of the landscape, its people or history. Nature, too … the Dales weather, the animals, flora and fauna. It’s too easy to rush through life with just a passing acknowledgment to what’s around us. Since retiring I’ve seen the world through fresh eyes, slowing down to a gentler pace so I can properly cherish what Nature has to offer. Early one morning this week I set off in bright sunshine for a walk up to Wharfe and Oxenber Woods, above Austwick. I set off from the Helwith Bridge side so I could capture Penyghent and Ingleborough, Moughton Scar and Norber’s boulder fields. I’d envisaged a glorious carpet of bluebells in the woods but they could only be found in small patches. Instead, I was greeted by primroses, cowslips, early purple orchids and a host of other pretty wild flowers whose names I can never remember. How I wish I had a macro lens to capture their delicate detail. Caught up in the beauty at my feet and birdsong from the trees and bushes, I hadn’t realised the Dales sky had turned from blue to very grey and I had to beat a hasty retreat.

Top photo shows Higher Bark House looking towards Ingleborough. Above is my early morning view of Penyghent; below, another shot towards Moughton Scar and Norber.

Near the entrance to Wharfe and Oxenber Woods; below a selection of Dales flowers seen in the woods.

All hail the Dales


I avoided rain that day, unlike during a visit earlier in the week to see the limestone pavement and ancient settlements beneath Ingleborough in Chapel-le-Dale. After taking some shots of the pavement, Ribblehead viaduct and a moody-looking Whernside it dawned on me that the big hill was looking a bit grim because it was about to suffer a heavy hailstorm – and the wretched weather was heading my way… quickly. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not a good idea to sprint (not that I can sprint nowadays anyway) over tufty moorland with camera equipment, so my pace wasn’t sharp enough to avoid the hail stones which pinged my face and other exposed skin all the way back to the car.

Above and below from a trip to Selside.

Above and below, a couple of big Dales sky shots showing Ingleborough.


Does anyone know how long a Christmas cactus lives? The photo shows a plant I took from my mum’s house when she died 24 years ago – I’m not sure how long she’d looked after it, but it was certainly hanging round her home for a very long time. This one tends to flower around Easter rather than Christmas and seems to thrive on neglect.

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.


The outlook is great…

One of the best things about Yorkshire is that you don’t have to climb great big mountains to enjoy fabulous views. Even a distant mist couldn’t spoil the outlook yesterday as I walked around Moughton Scar above Austwick. The views down Crummackdale and over the clints and grykes of the limestone pavement to both Penyghent and Ingleborough were stunning. I’m going to be writing up the walk shortly – here are a couple of pics to whet your appetite…



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