17 Yorkshire Dales images this week. So, I made it to 65 – I can’t say unscathed, but here I am, now an Official Ancient Person, Silver Surfer or Grumpy Old Git – whatever you want to call us.
There was no big fanfare on my birthday no “whooping an’ a ‘ollering” as I escaped the shackles of work. I retired from full time employment five years ago to gently ease myself into a more sedate way of life in the Dales.
I read about this thing called ‘well-being’; that this was the secret of a long and satisfying retirement. The countryside, Nature, fresh air and peaceful surroundings help make up this ‘well-being’ thing, so I’m in just the right place here in the Dales. Perhaps I’ll still be posting a photographic blog (or whatever will replace the internet, computers and cameras) in 2053 when I hit 100.
To celebrate and enforce my ‘well-being’, I’ve put together a collection of photos showing just a few of my favourite Dales places. Top photo shows fields near Appletreewick. Above, sunset over Ribblesdale.
One favoured spot in Ribblesdale is Catrigg Force where I spent some time this week. The steep track out of Stainforth always leaves me breathless, but standing alone in this cathedral of falls is worth the toil. Now is a good time to visit – there’s usually plenty of water heading off the fells and the trees have yet to form that leafy canopy that can hide the main fall. Short video here pic.twitter.com/c9f845J4H8
Yes, I’m lucky to live in the Dales, but people in urban towns also deserve green spaces for their own well-being. Parks are for playing, relaxing and escaping – but right now they’re in crisis.
Cash strapped councils have been forced to slash the funding used to keep these public spaces alive. And now, one of the last pots of money our parks could rely on has also been axed. The Heritage Lottery funded parks programme has been scrapped, putting the future of our parks further at risk. In response, the Parks Alliance have started a campaign to make sure parks get this vital funding back.
You can help by signing this petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-heritage-lottery-funding-for-parks
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.
A mixed bag of Dales weather created photographic allsorts this week. I spent one morning admiring the changing cloud formations as they passed over Ribblesdale. I had a few goes at capturing the steam specials up and down the Settle-Carlisle line (pics at foot of post) – a bit disappointing really. Besides been very late on a couple of occasions, the engine wasn’t giving off much ‘oomph’ coming up the Long Drag from Settle. I tried to get a shot of it passing by the old limeworks at Langcliffe on the return journey from Carlisle but got so carried away taking photos of the Hoffmann kiln (pic below), the train whizzed by before I got to the track – early for a change.
One evening I had a drive over the minor road from Settle to Kirkby Malham, then on to Malham for a walk up to the Cove.
The evening light was strong and the area was sparsely populated apart from some climbers and a few more cheery walkers who prefer Malham after the bulk of tourists have departed this pretty part of the dales. Have you ever noticed just how many notices there are at the entrance to the National Trust fields? I’ve done a montage of just a few of them …
Several years ago I was chatting with Bill Mitchell in Settle town centre when we were interrupted by two elderly ladies – as often happened whenever and wherever you were with Bill. He introduced me to one of them, Edith Carr – well known in these parts. I’d previously read about Edith’s life in the Dales at Capon Hall on Malham Moor, and remembered a lovely story Bill had written in Dalesman about her life at the isolated farm, and the time it was cut off for weeks during a bad winter (1947 I think). Two coincidences this week got me thinking about our meeting in Settle (I wish I’d had a tape recorder that day as it was a cracking conversation between two great characters). I drove past Capon Hall on my way back from taking pictures of Malham Cove. The pleasant evening light was shining on the old building – modernised greatly since Edith’s day but you could still feel the isolation. The previous day I’d been to Langcliffe Church to have a browse through the second-hand books on sale there (always worth a look if you’re passing) and picked up a copy of Edith’s verse, called Cobblestones. She moved to Langcliffe later in her life, where in her words she could ‘still see limestone hills so dear to me’. That line is from one of her poems, The Riverfields. I have strong empathy with the second verse, reproduced here:
A sylvan stream our Ribble here, gliding and bubbling on his way, O’er moss grown rocks, through banks so steep, where golden catkins Dangle on the bough of hazel tree and willows tall. The setting sun glows red o’er all. A tawny owl begins to call, his sharp talons hold On twisted branches, gnarled and old. As watchful bird its vigil keep, ’Tis time for man to take his sleep. Eventide, the busy day is o’er, shadows deep pass over all. Peace at last.
I’ll treasure the little book both as a reminder of my brief meeting with her, and the fact it came at a good Yorkshire price of just 50p.
13 photos. The cackle of a stream over water-worn pebbles; hidden birds striking out perfect notes. The sight and smell of wild garlic; bluebells gently swaying in dappled sunlight. A Dales wood is a delight on such a day. The few people I meet are cheerful; happy to be out and about in this peaceful haven, forgetting the world’s troubles and its greedy fools.
At the start of the week I was contemplating changing the name of my blog to Scribble by the Pebbles, such was the lack of water in the Ribble and elsewhere in the Dales. Many stretches of the riverbed near my home could easily be walked across which is very unusual as this is an area where water has traditionally been collected for meadows and powering mills.
One day I popped over to Wensleydale to see how low Semerwater was looking. The two large boulders by the car park (top pic) were totally exposed. I took photos of the naked rocks for posterity. In fact, I got a bit carried away with camera clicking this week and had a job whittling down the choice for the blog so I’ll let the pics do most of the talking.
Malham is nobbut five miles from home but sometimes you’d think they were a thousand miles apart. One morning last week I looked out of my window at a lovely blue sky and thought it’ll be a grand day for photography and a stroll around the limestone features of Malhamdale. Wrong. Less than two miles up the road out of Ribblesdale I could see a great grey mass of cloud shrouding the scene to the east. Ah well, I managed one or two decent shots, and some lent themselves to black-and-whites. Forget the cove, isn’t the top photo one of the most recognisable and memorable shots of Malham? I remember going in that shop over 50 years ago.
Regular Malham visitors will have strolled to Gordale Scar via the field paths by the beck and through Janet’s Foss Wood. I once again visited the wood, which later in the year contains a fantastic display of wild garlic but sadly no snowdrops here yet. I was pleased to see that the Bee Library survives. In 2013 twelve book-nests were created for solitary bees. The books all have a bee theme and have been transformed into nests in ash trees (in recognition of ash die-back disease). The library at Janet’s Foss was the fifth to be created and the first in a National Park. It is dedicated to Ken Pickles, author of Beekeeping in Wharfedale, who became allergic to his own heather honey following the Chernobyl disaster. Read more of the Malham story here http://www.the-bee-bole.com
It was sad to hear of the death of Ken Morrison this week. I don’t want to give the impression that I regularly rub shoulders with the country’s self-made millionaires but I met Ken a couple of times at awards functions when I edited Dalesman – and instantly liked him. A gentleman, unpretentious and generous. Obviously I never worked for him and can only guess at what kind of a boss he was. I imagine he led by setting a good example. I doubt that Ken would ever have believed he could take his business methods onto the political stage and become a country’s leader like one trumped up egocentric bigot I could think of.
Let’s rejoice on Yorkshire Day
For all that Nature’s sent
From Flamborough Head and Caton Bay
to Malham Cove and Pen-y-ghent.
On Ilkley Moor and Pennine hills
North York Moors and Dales
the scenery forever thrills
and inspiration never fails.
So if depressed or all forlorn
get your thoughts in order
and thank the Lord that you weren’t born
on t’ other side o’ t’ border.
There was some lovely late sunlight t’ other night which called for a little drive. From Settle I took the Malham road over the moor, stopping off for five minutes at Scaleber Force – not as spectacular as I’ve seen it, but a magical place and always worth a visit. Malhamdale, wearing its green and grey uniform, opens up in front of you as you head along this quiet back road. But this night the tops of the western facing slopes were a warm yellow as the sun began to slip behind Malham Moor. I just managed to get this shot of the cove, now empty of the usual hordes of visitors. Then it was up and over the moor back into Ribblesdale to watch the sun finally go down over Ingleborough from Winskill – pictured below. This is why I love living in the Dales.