Dales in mad March and democracy (14 pics)

A Dales March can roar in like a lion and leave like a lamb, as the old saying (roughly) goes. This year March didn’t really know what it was supposed to be doing: pretty much like the government really. Sadly, the shutter broke on my overworked old camera so I’ve not been able to capture so much of this changeable weather’s effect on the Dales.

One day there’s snow on the Three Peaks, another day gale-force winds charge down Ribblesdale. The river almost burst its banks at one point and there were also some T-shirt days to boot. Top photo: not the best shot I’ve ever taken but I just liked the stark contrast in the dale around Horton-in-Ribblesdale on the day.

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The other 2 of the Three Peaks with their snowy caps on.

Whenever it snows during spring I think of the Dales hill farmers. Their job is tough enough at lambing time without having to cope with freezing conditions and difficulty getting around the fells.

In her book, Yorkshire Heritage, Marie Hartley writes about one of the isolated farms at Ravenseat. The place is better known nowadays thanks to the well-documented lives of that lovely couple Clive and Amanda Owen and their large flock of children. (See my post http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/2017/01/). Marie Hartley talks about the place during the 1930s when one stormy night a family living there had to take a poorly child by sledge to the main road and then on to Kirkby Stephen. Sadly the young girl died shortly afterwards.

We take so much for granted today: phones, 4x4s, helicopters, Mountain Rescue, etc. The Dales can be a treacherous place to get stranded. One evening this week I was driving back from the top end of Ribblesdale in a snow/sleet storm. Windscreen wipers were in manic mode. Suddenly the road was completely white. I could see no tyre tracks in front of me and nothing in the gloom behind. It reminded me of how quickly conditions can change and how vulnerable you can feel here – even in ‘spring’.

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On a sunnier day I popped over to Malham and walked to Janet’s Foss and Gordale. The white-painted shop is what many people remember from their childhood visits to the village.
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I had another fine-day stroll around Wharfe near Austwick. The blossom was out and it felt like proper spring … until the snow came.
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Again, not a brilliant photo but I liked seeing the pony with the sun on its back at Wharfe (below).

Take care, son

Before retiring I worked with Tony Husband – a brilliant cartoonist who is also involved with dementia care. This poem, which always makes me shed a tear on reading, is from his lovely and thoughtful little book Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and His Dementia. You can get it on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Take-Care-Son-Story-Dementia/dp/1472115562 or from book shops for under a fiver – and it is worth double that amount.

Democracy? What democracy?

There are a lot of people banging on about democracy at the moment. Many believe that because they shout the loudest they have some kind of democratic right to have things their own way. They then cry foul when those supposedly democratically elected don’t ‘represent’ them.

Because of our voting system, we don’t live in a ‘dictionary-defined’ democracy. That’s why MPs will never truly represent the majority of people. For example, in the last election the Greens got 512k votes but just 1 MP, whereas DUP received only 292k votes but 10 MPs. The Lib-Dems got nine times that number of votes but only 12 MPs.

In the ill-conceived EU referendum, leave got 17.4m votes, remain received 16.2m while 13m didn’t vote at all. So when people say ‘the majority of Brits wanted to leave’, that’s not strictly true is it?

The voting and political system in this country needs bringing into the 21st century; Westminster needs turning into a museum and some of its dusty inhabitants should be mothballed. Rant over.

Evening light on rushes at Helwith Bridge.

‘And he had trudged through Yorkshire dales,
Among the rocks and winding scars;
Where deep and low the hamlets lie
Beneath their little patch of sky
And little lot of stars:’
Wordsworth

It looks like the end of a warm day up on Winskill – but actually it was freezing.

A Dales spring in the step (14 photos)

dalesThere aren’t many flatish, longish, riverside-ish walks in the upper Dales. Here the becks and rivers are generally young and rash, heading energetically down the hillsides. They provide us with some picturesque waterfalls and quick scrambles, but not many easy, level strolls. One exception is beside the River Dee, near Dent, where I visited this week. (Not the top pic – see later.)

A pleasant figure-of-eight route uses part of the Dales Way long-distance walk. There are good views of Dent (above) and the surrounding hills, and thankfully for my creaking knees, no gradients to speak of along the way. The sound of water cackling over stone, frantic calling between ewes and lambs, and birds being busy doing what birds do in spring made this a very pleasant couple of hours.

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Just thought I’d throw this pic in to show that the Dales isn’t all about drystone walls – here near Dent the art of hedge laying can be seen.

I read this week that one Yorkshire pensioner shoots wild birds in his back garden because he “dislikes being disturbed” by their singing. He wouldn’t be very happy round my way at the moment as the swallows are returning after their winter hols abroad. I can’t imagine a world without birdlife. If it is irritating noise he dislikes I suggest he takes the gun down to … probably best not to continue on this line of thought.

From Dent I drove through the Dales calling at Sedbergh, Hawes and Askrigg – stopping off to photograph ponies in front of the Howgills, Cotter Force (above) and St Oswald’s in Askrigg (below). The church is Grade I Listed, dating from the fifteenth century with evidence of earlier building. Afterwards I just had to stop to capture a very different but just as architecturally important Dales barn beside the Ure in Wensleydale (top picture in blog).

I also had a quick trip one evening to Malham where some macho outdoor types were climbing bare-chested above Watlowes. I can think of more relaxing ways of getting a tan.

Photographic highlight of my week though was a trip on Friday evening to Morecambe. Despite living in the Dales, the bay is less than 30 miles away. Seen from the shoreline, the Lakeland Fells were just a grey-blue silhouette across the water. I headed home via the Trough of Bowland, stopping off at Jubilee Tower on Quernmore to witness a superb sunset.

Ribblesdale, of course, provided more spring joy. A short evening wander up the narrow road to Little Stainforth opened up this lovely pastoral scene (below). I’ve taken dozens of photos this week but I don’t want to be that bloke who bores you with his tedious, endless holiday snaps (oops, too late!) so I’ll save some for another day.

Back in Langcliffe, the annual imprisonment of naughty daffodils is taking place …

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I was driving back from Malham to Settle at dusk when this strange flying machine buzzed overhead – so low, I expected to hear an almighty crash from over the horizon. Does anyone have any ideas about what it is and why it almost took the aerial off my car roof?

Misty Dales and foggy promises

More cloudy and foggy Dales weather doesn’t mean we retired folk just lie on our settees drinking hot chocolate and watching Homes under the Hammer every day. I managed a few pleasant strolls in the misty Dales this week. One was alongside the River Wenning from near its starting point where the becks of Clapham and Austwick join together. There’s an old saying about ‘when gorse blooms, it’s kissing season’ … the inference being that the lovely yellow flower blooms somewhere in the UK 365 days a year so you’ve no excuse not to be kissing. There was plenty of blooming gorse in this part of Wenningdale, even on a miserable, cloudy January day. Sadly, no blooming kissing.

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Top photo and these two I took on a trip to Malham Tarn

By Friday I was itching to get out again and drove along the single track road up to Bowland Knotts. I walked across the squelchy, peaty commons to the trig point, which stands at 1,114ft on Crutchenber Fell, in the full knowledge that visibility would be very poor. But it’s a dramatic landscape whatever the conditions. I could just about make out the Three Peaks in the distant mist; Stocks Reservoir was barely visible. The surrounding brown, brooding moors looked formidable. Unseen over the first brow is the River Hodder, the traditional ancient border with Lancashire.

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Above and below, part of the view from the trig point.

I’ve ‘collected’ quite a few trigs in my time but never recorded my visits. There are folks who do, and like some train spotters they are meticulous in their attention to detail. Out of interest I looked up this one on the interweb-thingy and found this anorakic description:
“Pillar completed 25th September 1949 costing £17.15s.10d. Computed as tertiary triangulation station SD96/T8 in 1951. Levelled for height in 1953. Last maintained by the OS in June 1976. Pillar in good condition. Spider centre plugged with tar. Flush bracket faces northwest, ~329°. Vented through three sight holes, SW face plugged, pillar bolt photographed. Full 360° panoramic view includes Whernside, Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle Hill and Longridge Fell.”
Well there you go.

Dales sadness

Sad news about Gayle Mill (see link below). My late brother Peter, who lived in Gayle, helped with the restoration. I hope for his memory the necessary work can be carried out and that the important Dales project is not strangled by red tape.

Gayle Mill to close just ten years after £1.2m restoration work

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View of distant Penyghent on my walk in Wenningdale

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I stopped off briefly in Chapel-le-Dale for this sultry pic of Ingleborough

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Yes, that is blue sky you’re looking at – a brief interlude by the Ribble near Langcliffe Locks. Below a shot showing the nearby mill pond with Stainforth Scar in the background.

Interesting that the Tories are choosing now to make political promises about the environment – perhaps they fear the eloquent and intelligent Green Party leader Caroline Lucas more than any other opposition. You’ll notice that they have guaranteed nothing immediate and that they are reluctant to commit anything to the statute books. I don’t think they’ll want us to look too deeply into their ‘northern forest’ idea. The cost of this 25-year project they claim to be around half a billion pounds but what they haven’t shouted about is the fact that government will only be contributing £5.7m and expect the rest to be raised through charities. They don’t tell you either that their High Speed 2 rail folly project will destroy around 100 ancient, irreplaceable woodlands, or that permission to destroy other precious woodland for fracking exploitation has been granted despite much local and national opposition.

I also wonder if the proposed woodland across the M62 corridor will include reforesting the swathes of land denuded by the landowners who over decades have purposely prevented trees from growing so they can preserve their shooting estates? This action has helped cause devastating flooding in nearby villages and towns for many years and created a totally unnatural and unbalanced landscape. Good piece by Patrick Bamford here:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/08/promised-northern-forest-diversion-hs2-shale-sherwood-forest

I took a financial risk yesterday and invested £2 in a lottery ticket. I lost. Money I’ll never see again. Lots of better-off people took a risk buying shares in Carillion – who just so happen to win a contract to build HS2 – hoping to rake in loadsa profit for doing nothing but gambling. But it’ll be ok for them, the taxpayer will probably help them recoup some of their brass. Investors should not be bailed out but those who work for them should.

Sorry to go all political. Here are some odd-ball pics taken this week to lighten my mood:

When we had an outside loo, Mum told me not to be afraid of the spiders. Don’t think she had this one in mind (at Malham Tarn Field Centre).

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Unusual Dales wildlife by the Wenning.

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This sign in Langcliffe was probably defaced some time ago but I’ve only just noticed it. The school it refers to closed ten years ago.

Malls, Malham and Dales magic

Dales15 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.

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A different angle: Giggleswick quarry – still for sale as far as I know.

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.

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Orchids and other wild flowers in ungrazed areas of the Dales were looking lovely after a drop of the wet stuff this week.

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This orchid was close to Salt Lake Cottages, Ribblesdale, from where I took this photo of Flying Scotsman.

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.

Clouds, trains, signs and poems in the Dales

Dales Clouds RibblesdaleA 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.

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Not the Dales but a view of Pendle from the Settle-Kirkby Malham road.

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A distant shot of Malham Cove from the same road.

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 …

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A fine welcome!

Dales legends

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.

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Selside looking pretty in the sun this week. Never before noticed how much that telephone box leans.

All aboard the Dales train

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And a non-steamer for those who like that kind of thing.

And finally… mushroom omelette anyone?

 

Take a buzz around Malham

malham shopMalham 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.

malham tree

malham cove

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

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One of the books in the bee library

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.

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Janet’s Foss

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You won’t see the detail if you’re viewing on a phone or small tablet but this was the stunning scene on my journey back from Malham

A pain in the Dales

Dales - malhamA while back I took the camera for a drive in the Dales from Settle over to Malham, looking for some long-distance shots. It’s surprising – or maybe it isn’t surprising for those in the know – how different the scenery is along either side of the Craven Fault. These two photos were taken from locations quite close to each other, one looking over the once densely wooded expanse towards Pendle Hill; the other in the opposite direction across the limestone of Malham. The contrast is clear to see.

Dales - pendle

Last week’s successful hosting of the finish to Day 1 of the Tour de Yorkshire in Settle is still being talked about in glowing terms. To use the sporting vernacular, the town done good. A suggestion has been put forward that the Hollywood-style lettering should be kept clinging on to Castleberg Rock. Not so sure myself; I think storing the letters and dusting them down for special occasions is preferable. How long before a T or an E start to dangle at some ungainly angle or worse still drop off and give someone a nasty headache?

Dales - settle sign

There’s still lots going on in and around Settle – visit http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=25c7087d7c4eab1177ab47d3b&id=3a53ca6a66&e=138a860936#Local%20History%20Month

Dales memories

Back problems and sciatica ended any thoughts of me getting out and about in the much improved weather around the dales this week. Even just sitting at the computer is proving excruciating. Lack of sleep and being dosed up on painkillers have not helped the old creative juices flow either. So my apologies for this week’s abbreviated and uninspiring blog – fingers crossed my situation will improve over the next week. My thanks to friends, family and neighbours who have all offered help.

Sitting in the car is also painful, and I’m missing the drive up Ribblesdale to see the Three Peaks. Here’s how they look in my memory…

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Dales - whernside

Dales Ingleborough

Dales sunrise or sunset? You choose

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This isn’t the crispest shot I’ve ever taken – a hand-held zoom in poor light – but a beautiful reminder of exactly what I saw as I drove along the Settle to Malham road in the Dales before people began to fill up the day. The photo was taken at 5.45am on Friday near the brow of the pass between Ribblesdale and Malhamdale. The temperature gauge in the car read -1 deg. Facing me, a glorious blood-orange horizon with a tiny strip of the tarn sparkling out of the gloom. I motored on and stopped at the tarn to watch the sunrise.

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Gradually the colour of the surrounding hills began to redden. Although the tarn remained shaded from the rising sun for a while, the water weakly reflected the hue of the transforming hillsides; the lake was still and cold. The peaty ground crunched gently as I walked around the tarn’s edge. The previous day’s puddles wore a thin veil of ice.
A curlew called and a pair of peewits were up, whirring about above my head. Four geese in an unruly line barked like dogs, their conversation echoing round the natural bowl as if in an empty swimming pool. There was a faint rustling then a flash of colour as a grouse scuttled off just two yards from my feet. A nervous lone rabbit scanned the scene before hopping it. In the adjoining field a group of sheep remained seated on their warm patches of moor, chewing and wondering whether it was time to get up. Black silhouettes of cattle stood on a dark distant hill like a hastily arranged background for a school play.

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Suddenly, the bright new sun popped up from behind a thicket on the horizon. I couldn’t look at it without damaging my eyes but I pointed the camera in the general direction and hoped for the best. Once again the Sun  had successfully made its way up Mastiles Lane from Wharfedale and was about to head over the hill to Ribblesdale.

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I left the dreamy scene and drove slowly back towards Langcliffe, watching the dales country waking up as the sun followed me home, first lighting up the eastern side of Penyghent and Plover Hill.

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The higher slopes of the distant Ingleborough were next to be illuminated, then the western slopes of Ribblesdale: Little Stainforth, Smearsett Scar. Giggleswick Scar swapped a miserable grey coat for a nice creamy number.

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I’ve taken many shots of the setting sun from Winskill Stones but this young light is very different – harsher. Now, in spring, each day the sun shines here the scene becomes greener and fresher.
Is the sunrise better than the sunset in the dales? From a photographic point of view I have no preference – they’re just different. Philosophically, is the birth of a new day with its promises and hopes preferable to the death of the day which may have brought us joy and good memories, or perhaps stress and sadness? Sunrise every time for me this time. What do you think?  Below is a sunset photo of Ribblesdale taken last week.

dales ribble sunset
Since semi-retirement I’ve changed my sleeping habits by going to bed and also rising later than I used to. On work days I would regularly roll out of my pit at 6am – I think it stems back to early teenage years …Dad got up at 5am to go to t’ mill, and he would wake me so I could do my morning paper round before school. Perhaps we should all wake up at dawn, shake hands with the Sun and say ‘thanks for providing another day’.

Folly exhibitions

I visited one of my favourite buildings, The Folly in Settle this week to see the two latest exhibitions. Many locals were there talking to each other about how the town used to be. The ‘Back in Settle’ exhibition is a collection of old photos from the area inspired by a Facebook group set up by Mick Harrison https://www.facebook.com/groups/backinsettle/

dales Medal
‘1916: Chronicles of Courage’ is the third in The Folly’s series of World War One exhibitions and highlights the part local dales people played in the war. Not long ago I researched the part my own family played in the war. This large bronze medallion – a Dead Man’s Penny, as they were known – was given in honour of one of my granddad’s brothers (he didn’t have a wife or any children) and it is now in my possession. There were more than 1,355,000 plaques issued – a sobering thought.
For more details of the exhibitions visit http://www.ncbpt.org.uk/folly/

Dales weather

Yesterday morning I was admiring the pink blossom sprouting on a neighbour’s tree under a warm blue sky; in the evening I witnessed some very sad daffodils, their heads hanging low under the weight of heavy snow. That’s dales weather for you.

dales daffs

Water way to go, cats, dogs and a dodgy chopper

ribweir

The value of natural flood plains in the Dales was highlighted this week as they calmed the flow of rivers swollen by the excessive rain. New lakes were created here in Ribblesdale and throughout the region, saving communities further down the valleys from severe flooding (apart from where housing and industrial development has been erroneously allowed). As well as poor planning decisions there are other problems along riverbanks which have been created by humans. One is the way some landowners have banked up river edges to preserve or increase grazing land. In times of flood these act as barriers, and instead of letting rivers spread naturally, they speed up flow causing problems elsewhere. Weirs, built in many cases to help power old mills and create mill ponds, can also have an adverse effect. I watched the weirs and Langcliffe and Settle this week and saw first hand what they do when the rivers are high and fast-flowing. These artificial barriers raise water levels behind then cause a huge hydraulic jump afterwards. This causes great turbulence and danger in the worst conditions as witnessed in my picture. I’m all for capturing a river’s power to create electricity through well-placed turbines but I wonder if weirs are really necessary today? Also, in low water weirs are a barrier to fish migration and promote the growth of algae.
dogturd

There’s a popular walk from Settle along Watery Lane, but it proved a bit too watery last Sunday. I did manage this photo, however, where it seems the local allotment holders or perhaps fellow walkers are fed up with coming across doggie-do. I’m not sure whether the luminous paint looks worse than the dog mess but it certainly gets the message across.
inglequarry

There was still plenty of water at the top of the dale on Monday as I took a stroll in the Ribblehead region and around Ingleborough Nature Reserve. Signs of industry don’t have to be depressing and can create some interesting views.

kilningle

whernquarry

While I was below  Ingleborough I came across the Coastguard Sikorsky S-92 helicopter which had got into difficulties the previous day. The Cave Rescue Organisation, based in Clapham, requested help from the Coastguard when they were called out to a walker suffering chest pains on Ingleborough. However, the chopper developed a fault and the rescue team had to help stop the multi-million pound contraption from toppling over. The human casualty was stretchered off the hill and taken by Landrover then ambulance to hospital. It took a further three days to rescue the rescue machine.
rescue

My cat knows that when I get the map out its food supplier is planning to leave the house and also turn off the heating, so he does his best at sabotage.
catmap

I was only away an couple of hours though, dropping over the Newby Head into Widdale and Wensleydale to visit the bonnie Cotter Falls. Great Knoutberry also looked grand from this angle.
cotterf

gtknout

The temperature dropped dramatically on Friday, especially on the moors above Malham. I’d planned to walk through the dry valley of Watlowes (pictured below) over to Malham Tarn but the wind was fierce and the conditions, well, nithering.
watlowetop

The drive back from Kirkby Malham to Settle was strange – on one side, looking towards Pendle, the change from cloud to sun was amazing; inspirational skies for the artists among us.

inspire

On the other side, as seen here with Ingleborough in the background and Warrendale Knotts in the foreground, was clear in bright blue sky.

ingwarren

Then the snow came yesterday so I headed back up Ribblesdale to do the Three Peaks (through photography from the car – I’m not that daft). The road up to Whernside was still pretty dodgy in the morning, especially where the sun hadn’t hit the road. The car told me the temperature was -1, goodness knows what it was like on top of those hills with the wind-chill.

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Falls, falling, fells and the fallen

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There’s a splendid website which I regularly visit called grough.co.uk which offers all sorts of news and views for walkers, visitors and residents of the Dales, Lakes and beyond. I read a report on there on Tuesday of a walker being rescued from Watlowes dry valley above Malham (pictured). The Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation came to the walker’s aid. It was the team’s 72nd rescue of the year. What a great job done by them and the other volunteer rescue teams, such as uwfra.org.uk.
catfallsuprightIt is so easy at this time of year to slip and slide on the fells. I nearly came a cropper myself, slipping on damp limestone while heading down the steep bank to Catrigg Force on Monday. All I was bothered about was my camera. We both emerged unscathed. I got a few photos of the water falls but I’ve not yet captured my ideal shot of this place. There’s usually a lot of ‘clutter’ in the way, but with leaves now dropping rapidly more can be seen of the main falls. Also, there’s such a contrast between the bottom half and the top half of the scene that getting the exposure right is difficult. Perhaps some experts can advise.

The bright blue sky seen through the canopy at Catrigg was almost the last I saw of it this week.

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The track up from Stainforth to Catrigg and on to Winskill seems to get steeper every time I tackle it but the view back down between the walls, looking over to Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough, provides a perfect excuse to stop.
stainlane

Tuesday’s stroll from Langcliffe to Settle via Victoria Cave and Warrendale Knotts was a strange affair. I moved from bright sunshine into thick fog several times. It’s a good job I know the route well – it would have been so easy to have strayed off course. Here’s one of the bright moments:

warrenmist

The landscape’s outline along this part of Stockdale sometimes reminds me of the wild west as seen in old cowboy films. So I couldn’t believe it when I saw heading towards me a herd of cattle being driven down from the hills by some farmhands. Ye-ah.

cattledrive

I chap momentarily mistook me for Mike Harding in Settle the other day; on top of this, someone else mentioned our similarities on Twitter. I wouldn’t mind but he’s even shorter than me and is also about 10 years older.  Either I’m looking older than my age or he appears youthful… let’s go with the latter. Perhaps I can get away with a few free pints around Settle? As long as they don’t ask me to sing Rochdale Cowboy or play the banjo. If you’re a fan of folk and traditional music I highly recommend Mike’s podcast which can be downloaded (for nowt) from mikehardingfolkshow.com every Sunday. Perhaps you can listen to it while reading this blog and imagine we’re the same person.
pondleaves
Even though I am ancient I still enjoy kicking my way through the fallen leaves as I’m walking down country lanes. The leaves offer an opportunity for some creative work with the camera – not that it’s my normal style, but I liked the colours and patterns of this shot across Langcliffe Mill Pond taken last Sunday.

Unfortunately, another engagement means I miss the Remembrance service at the village memorial today when the names of Langcliffe’s fallen are read out.

poppybw