A stunning journey up the Dales on the Settle-Carlisle line took me for the first time to the Appleby Horse Fair. Friday had the best weather forecast, and the views down Ribblesdale, Dentdale, Mallerstang and the Eden Valley along the railway route were brilliant. Appleby was full of colour and character; travellers and gypsies greeted each other in a great range of accents, and at times I felt like I was intruding on a private party – not that it wasn’t a welcoming atmosphere. I’m sure that when all us tourists departed the real party began. I’ll go again next year and be more adventurous with my photography.
To help with loading today’s post, I’ve put the Appleby photos on a separate page here remember to come back for the rest of this week’s blog!
On Monday The Dalesman train chugged through the Dales in heavy rain. At a soggy Selside where Penyghent and much of the dale was hidden behind cloud, I managed one shot which looks better in black and white.
The following day I thought the rain would have strengthened Stainforth Force and I wasn’t disappointed. I timed the visit so that another steam excursion (above) was passing by.
I couldn’t get to Stainforth on Saturday evening when the river was even higher. I did manage to see the Ribble in Settle however …
I had a little bumble around Rathmell too this week (top pic in blog is one of the views). There are many underused paths here, small woods, streams … and llamas.
Has anyone else noticed that Settle is being overrun by rabbits? While walking by the river near Bridge End the other evening I was amazed at the number of rabbits in the school grounds, around the swimming pool and football pitch. In great numbers they can do a lot of damage here in the Dales to farmland and stock, and they also spread diseases; before I’m inundated by comments from animal rights activists, I’m not advocating their total elimination but don’t they need to be humanely controlled so that a proper balance is maintained?
Bright red telephone boxes in the Dales, like this one at Arncliffe, need to be preserved. Too many of the old pay-phones all around the countryside are being disconnected and removed. In the Dales some have been developed into tiny book-swap-shops, art galleries etc, and in the Lake District I’ve even seen one turned into a fish tank. I’m not just some old fart wanting to wallow in nostalgia. I can see the logic behind getting rid of some urban boxes but in the countryside where mobile reception is poor, or where walkers and campers have no way of recharging their mobiles’ batteries, the old red boxes can help save lives. I read this week that Keswick Mountain Rescue Team are asking people to help keep a kiosk at Seathwaite on a popular route to Scafell Pike. Surely the saving of just one person during the whole life of a phonebox is more important than the minutest of dents made in the profit margins of a communications giant like BT? Comments can be made at: http://planning.allerdale.gov.uk/portal/servlets/ApplicationSearchServlet?PKID=148110
I popped into Arncliffe this week during a superb Dales drive from Langcliffe in Ribblesdale, over the Silverdale road to Halton Gill and down Littondale. From there I doubled back along the dodgy road via Darnbrook to Malham Tarn. Then it was back to Langcliffe via Cowside and Winskill. Here’s a selection of pics on the journey…
Whenever I drive through Rathmell in Ribblesdale, as I did one day this week, I wonder about the origins of the term ‘Reading Room’. I realise it is the equivalent of a village hall but why was it so called? Is it a Dales thing?
Ribblesdale is not going to be the usual magnet for trainspotters this year. Westcoast Railways’ Dalesman steam train was due to start running its regular trips on the line on 19th May. The company’s website contains this badly-worded statement: ‘Due to the continued closure of the Settle to Carlisle Line and that our efforts to find a suitable replacement route have been unsuccessful, we have to announce that the Dalesman trip for 2016 will unfortunately be cancelled.’ The Settle-Carlisle line is, of course, NOT closed – just a small section north of Appleby is being made safe after December’s floods – so it’s important that people continue to use the normal service.
In a bid to encourage passengers, from today a Day Ranger ticket will be available. This will reduce the cost of travel for many journeys on the world-famous railway. For details visit www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/
The photo was taken at Dent Station, this time last year.
Relaxing in Ribblesdale
With sciatica still plaguing me this week, the only walking I’ve managed is a couple of hobbles around my village of Langcliffe in Ribblesdale. The consolation is that there are a helluva lot worse places to be. It was whites v yellows on the mini football pitch on the ‘Green’. The churchyard was a mass of colours and wildlife, including this mistle thrush. When the blossom fully emerged the village looked pretty in pink. On the mill pond tiny ducklings were playful, then appeared scared witless as they lost sight of mum, giving off pathetic squeaks of panic. Stainforth Scar provided a fine backdrop.
Further up Ribblesdale
I took a short drive up to Selside one day where I managed a few shots of Penyghent and then on to Ribblehead for a cup of tea. However, by then the old ‘clutch leg’ was telling me it had had enough. I just pray that good weather hangs around until all my moving parts are fully operational again.
Politics and plans
Elections, voting systems and politics in general are not what my blog is about but I can’t help but add my two-penn’orth now and then, especially where Ribblesdale is concerned. Last week’s local council results for my ward, Settle & Ribblebanks, showed that 463 people voted for the Tory candidate; 641 didn’t vote for the Tory, so obviously the Tory was elected. A good 70 per cent turnout, too. The result reflects that of the last general election when the nation received a government which a minority voted for. Great system, uh?
While I’m on one, I’ve been trying to work my way through the ludicrously unwieldy Craven Local Plan which covers the contrasting areas of South Craven, through Skipton up the A65 to the rural western Dales. In some cases blindly following government dictats regarding local plans, councils have to report to their headmasters about how they are going to make developers and businesses stacks of money …, sorry, I’ll rephrase that: councils have to explain how they are going to make life better for us all over the next decades.
Most people who study this flawed and complicated master plan will be looking to see how it affects them close to home (as I did). One immediate reaction was that I couldn’t believe anyone who witnessed the last December’s major flooding of the area surrounding the river Ribble could contemplate building on land which for millennia has held back water, naturally slowing flooding further down the dale. Yet that is what is proposed for an area in Giggleswick and the edge of Settle. Flooding is just one part of the argument against proposals for that particular area (some of which have already been refused but seemed to have miraculously risen from the dead). I won’t expand here but urge you to spare a few minutes to visit www.rageo.co.uk Informal consultation into the Craven Local Plan draft was due to end on Tuesday, but will now run until the end of May.
Having quite a few ancient books cluttering up the house I often look through them for old photos of places around the dales. I like to visit those places to see how they’ve changed. With many of the scenes being in the National Park, there’s not always a lot of differences to be seen… above is a Langcliffe scene pictured 65 years apart. Below is Settle Cricket Club, the old photo taken in 1946 when a Yorkshire XI played against Settle, and the other one taken yesterday.