It’s the end of April, a third of the way through the year – where has time gone? Seems like only yesterday I was thinking about snowdrops not making it through a layer of snow. Now already the daffodils are on their way out and the lambs are growing up. Soon the flower meadows will be bursting with colour here in the Dales. I seem to be getting old very quickly nowadays so my vow is to get out and enjoy the landscape; smell the flowers and listen to the birds as much as possible as spring turns into summer.
I hadn’t much chance to get out with the camera this week but here’s a medley of April photos showing how different the month can be. The first two pictures were taken during ‘this week’ a year apart. (Top near Moughton Scar, the other showing Ingleborough.)
“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
– Robert Frost, 1926
Do I ever travel ‘abroad’ to take photos, you ask. Well yes, of course – I took these at one of my favourite places outside the Yorkshire Dales: the NE coast around Bamburgh and Lindisfarne. I love the Yorkshire coast too, but the vast skyscapes and the unspoilt Northumberland beaches with their dramatic castles and history take some beating.
So we go to the polls again next week, once more trying to convince ourselves that we live in a democracy; that the ‘will of the people’ will triumph; that our cross on a bit of paper will bring us nearer to the Utopia we crave. Will you vote for a political party, no matter who the candidate might be? Or vote for someone who is actually looking to care for your corner of the country? I’d like to see local council elections stripped of all political labelling and backing; and for council chambers to cease trying to be mini-Houses of Parliament where party policies and in-fighting become more important than actual local issues.
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
For a hill whose summit is just under 1,200ft above sea level, Smearsett Scar offers the kind of 360 degree view of the Dales usually reserved for walkers venturing a thousand feet higher. All the Three Peaks, Fountains Fell, Pendle Hill, the Bowland Fells and much more are visible. On very clear days you can probably make out the west coast.
The intricate limestone pavement of Moughton Scar stands out, and the green valleys of Crummack, Wenning and Ribble look gentle and welcoming. This small Ribblesdale peak, part of a short limestone ridge including Pot Scar, provided me with my only real exercise this week. A friend tells me he once spent a wonderful, clear, summer’s night at the top – it certainly wasn’t during this year’s brief summer.
More Dales churches
As I trundle around the Dales I often stop off to photograph local churches. I’m not a religious person but enjoy church architecture and history. And during several decades of delving into my family’s past I’ve spent many an hour tramping through graveyards looking for clues.
This week I briefly crossed into Lancashire from the western Dales to visit St Peter’s at Leck, where there’s been a church since the early 1600s.
Today’s building (above) is a relatively modern affair, having been rebuilt in 1913 following a fire, but it is still a grand sight in this quiet backwater off the main road to and from the Lakes. Leck Fell and nearby Gragareth are two hills I’ve never ascended but I seem to recall potholing trips around the area as a more adventurous youth.
Just a couple of miles away, switching from the Diocese of Blackburn to that of Leeds – both sounding incongruous for this part of the country – is St Oswald’s at Thornton-in-Lonsdale. Like at Leck’s church (and dozens more around the North) it seems to have links with the Brontes. There’s been a church here since pre-Norman times, but also similarly to St Peter’s it was gutted by fire (in 1933). The church was rebuilt in a Gothic style and looks splendid set in a well-kept churchyard. Sitting here I imagined this (and the neighbouring pub of course) being welcome sanctuary for those who travelled the lonely high pass from Dent through Kingsdale.
I didn’t manage to snatch a shot of the Harvest Moon – we’ve had some cloudy nights in our part of the Dales this week – but I did capture some lovely evening sunlight around Ribblesdale.
This week I had a day in ‘The Dale that Died’ (allegedly) – Grisedale, just off Garsdale on the Yorkshire-Westmorland border. A TV film made in the 1970s and a book by Barry Cockroft labelled it The Dale that Died, but notice of its death was greatly exaggerated. Grisedale – or Grisdale as it used to be called but for some reason it gained an extra e during the 20th century – has not yet had its life support machine switched off.
I get the impression that the few people who live or have holiday cottages there would rather we all stayed away from this lonely dale. I don’t blame them – the Dales should have more places where cars and buses and kiss-me-quick-hatted-type tourists can’t venture.
The footpaths across Gris[e]dale’s boggy surrounding hills can be difficult to follow. On several occasions I was ankle deep in gunge while heading over from Garsdale Head to Blake Mire – an ancient farmstead bought a while back but to which only recently were the new owners allowed to build an access track (previously the only way to it was on foot). Wish I could have afforded it.
Not quite as isolated is Crummackdale where I ventured on another day, making my way up from the hamlet of Wharfe. I’d wanted to walk along the edge of Moughton Scar to capture the views across the limestone, but the cloudy weather put me off so I just did a circular walk using some of the old drovers’ paths.
I sat and watched a bird of prey for a while – I’m not going commit myself to saying what it was – probably a sparrowhawk – it didn’t get close enough for me to identify or photograph successfully – but its aerobatic display was impressive.
I had similar weather up in the Lakes on Monday. I’d fancied a drive through Great Langdale to snap the spectacular scenery but cloud came down and it turned out very grey – as it often does up there. I did have an enjoyable touristy-type walk from Elterwater to Skelwith Force though.
It was back home in Ribblesdale, where of course the sun really came out. The views lifted my spirits …
I also post a selection of photos during the week on Twitter which are not included here – look up @paulinribb
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…