I don’t often dabble in the black (and white) arts. I prefer my snaps to reflect Nature just as I find it. But while I was at Scaleber Foss above Settle in Ribblesdale this lunchtime I thought I’d take the above shot with black and white in mind – and it turned out okay although professional photographers might think differently. The water looks inviting in the shot below but I can tell you it was incredibly cold as it flowed off the limestone scars above. Scaleber Beck joins Long Preston Beck to meet the Ribble just below Long Preston village.
Remember Christmas Day 2010? Snow had been falling for a couple of days but the clouds opened up to reveal a glorious clear blue sky on the 25th. I headed up Ribblesdale where the Three Peaks wore wispy scarves of light low cloud mixed with loose blowing snow. The handful of customers in the Station Inn at Ribblehead gave a cheery welcome; further along the road down Chapel-le-Dale at the Hill Inn was this icy greeting. Sadly it doesn’t look like we’ll be treated to a snowy landscape this year – just as well seeing as my camera is still on the blink – but I hope you enjoy a fabulous Yorkshire Dales Christmas just the same.
On dreary, wet Sundays like today in the Dales I’ll happily browse through my photo diary to see what I was doing around the same date in the past. December 11, 2009, I was out and about in Nidderdale enjoying Nature’s creations at Brimham Rocks. Funny how easy it is to see human form here, silhouetted against a bright winter sky. I remember this day in particular because it was the first time I’d ever been to the famous rocks and there be not another (real) human there. The views were fantastic and I thought ‘what a lucky chap I am’.
I spotted this rare two-horned dinglewart tree serpent near Ingleborough during my break in the Dales this afternoon. Its tongue, horns, protruding fang, right eye and ear are clearly visible and you certainly wouldn’t want to come across one of these things in fading light. They feast on dinglewarts, an endangered species of small furry mammal which are now confined to this corner of Yorkshire and also a tiny section of Peruvian rain forest. Locals tell of an evil curse surrounding the slithering serpent:
If into the serpent’s eyes you stare,
Grey will become your head of hair.
And should the serpent not be fed,
Into cowclap you will tread.
I’ve already suffered that indignity this week and my hair couldn’t get much greyer so I scarpered quickly and took this photo of Ingleborough through autumn trees at St Leonard’s, Chapel-le-Dale.
The Yorkshire uplands were certainly no place to be baht ‘at today. I squeezed in an hour on the limestone above Giggleswick Scar after lunch. By gum it weren’t half nithering but the views over Settle and down Ribblesdale were splendid. Managed to slide on my backside through freshly deposited cow muck… and had to drive home baht trousers.
Do over-zealous planning rules restrict our individuality? Bit of an unusually deep question for me and my blog I know, but this was a discussion that cropped up following a glass or two of red recently. I’m all for preventing the building of a branch of Burger King at the top of Ingleborough but do we really need to gain permission from some bureaucrat to paint our front door red or our garden gate purple? Those of you from towns might wonder what all the fuss is about but if you live in the Yorkshire Dales you’ll know that planning rules can be a nightmare. I was in Shropshire recently – in a lovely area full of natural and man-made beauty – where several touches of individuality had created a quirky, interesting and vibrant place, and residents were rightly proud of their town. The woman who painted her house with spots did receive some negative comments from a few but the planners eventually agreed to allow the design. I imagine she would have been dragged through the streets by her hair and burnt at the stake in some dales villages. What do you think? Take the poll… I’ll not report you to the Thought Police.
Thorns Gill was picture perfect this morning. Even though the grey mist hadn’t burnt off to reveal blue skies, it was warm and the scene was tranquil. I’ve been here when Cam Beck has been swollen by rainfall from the fells around Ribblehead and it has been dramatic to say the least. But today the sound of water trickling down the limestone gill was soothing and apart from a brief noisy squabble amongst the birds caused by a grey heron I could enjoy the peace. I don’t know exactly the age of the old packhorse bridge across this ravine but it’s probably been there since drovers brought stock up from Settle to the former market at Gearstones three hundred years ago. It seems to sit precariously – just held aloft by the science of arches – but it blends in perfectly. My earliest memories of Thorns Gill, with its erratics, caves and deep pools is from school visits in the 1960s when a certain PE teacher insisted we tried to jump across a section of the stream. If you failed you got wet. Excuse my bragging but I was the only one of my group who remained dry. If I tried it now I wouldn’t even make halfway and the ensuing tidal wave could flood Settle.
By the time I’d taken this photo those two Jaffa cakes had melted. The cuppa was welcome though here at Ottiwell Lodge, Snaizeholme, near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. I’d come to see how the population of wild red squirrels were doing. I spotted a few of the cuties but the little beggars weren’t in the mood for posing for the camera and I certainly wasn’t quick enough to capture them in focus! The scenery of course was wonderful and the temperature in the wood very pleasant.
Ahh, Sunday evening AND sunshine. The trippers are on their way home and Settle is settling back into a more relaxed mood. I strolled up Castle Hill and through Tot Lord Wood which was peaceful and full of birdsong. Shafts of light picked out ramsons, daisies and bluebells all shouting ‘look at me, look at me’. On top of Castleberg rock the low sun warmed the limestone as I took in a very green, very wide Ribblesdale. Settle resembles a toy town from up here. It must be the same feeling for those living in a tall block of flats – but I bet this situation is a lot more rewarding. Here are the views from Castleberg and t’ other way round…
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…