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:
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.
In the Yorkshire Dales there are lots of places where you can ‘have five minutes’. I used to get so frustrated as a youngster when my parents wanted to ‘have five minutes’. This usually meant stopping something interesting or exciting and doing nothing other than having a cuppa and sitting still. Boring. Nowadays in my ancient state I love ‘having five minutes’, sitting on some rocky outcrop and staring at the Dales landscape, watching the clouds pass by and listening to the birds. As in the past, the five minutes often become ten and more. Just a short walk from home, above Winskill Nature Reserve, is a favourite place of mine for ‘having five minutes’. From here you can see the Three Peaks and Fountains Fell, look up, down and across Ribblesdale. To the south west is Warrendale Knotts, Attermire Scar and the Bowland Fells. By your feet the limestone pavement shelters beautiful tiny plants and insects typical of the Yorkshire Dales … a big, wide world and another miniature one side by side. Top photo: a good spot for ‘having five minutes’ – at the head of Barbondale where the Howgills and Dentdale add to a spectacular view.
17 photos of Ribblesdale: snowdrops are fading from memory, daffodils are drooping, but blossom is bursting out all over the place. The swallows have returned, their energy lifting my spirits and livening the neighbourhood. Last year they nested under the eaves directly above my door, which meant daily removal of splatterings from the doorstep. The postman needed to be quick. I’m told there’s a possibility of snow next week, but it’s not unusual – snow fell briefly last April too.
The eastern slopes of Ribblesdale, where my village of Langcliffe sits, averages a gradient of about 1 in 7 (my own calculations so don’t quote me – it could be false news) from the River Ribble to the limestone outcrops some 750ft above. This means there aren’t too many flat strolls from home. My heart and lungs were working overtime one day this week as I struggled straight up the hill to the crags above the village. So, plenty of opportunities to stop and look back to admire the views. All Three Peaks can be seen from the crags, as are many of the small settlements scattered along the dale. Up here are several hidden little valleys, small plantations, limestone pavements and signs of ancient farming activity.
Lower down, in a field where lambs were playing in the sunshine, some lazy dog-walker had deposited a plastic bag of dog-poo. I’d only just read about horses being killed by choking on these bags and I wasn’t having any lambs suffering the same fate. The offending article is in my dustbin should anyone wish to claim it. Further up Ribblesdale at Helwith Bridge I watched a coot hen and its chicks venturing in and out of the reeds in the old quarry, while a pair of noisy tewits cavorted overhead. I love Nature at this time of year.
One cold, grey day I headed for the top end of Ribblesdale for a quick stroll around part of the Ingleborough Nature Reserve. All Three Peaks didn’t look particularly welcoming, but with politics dominating the TV back home, I’d still rather be struggling up those hills.
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 …
I managed to capture one of those magical Dales skies this evening. There seemed to be so much happening – shadow and light dancing along the ground and layer upon layer of clouds and muted colours above. A razor-edged shaft of light came in from the left just for a few seconds to give the scene even more interest. The distant cloud is just brushing the top of Ingleborough. Many a time I’ve watched the sun go down from here at Winskill, up above Langcliffe in Ribblesdale.