Flashes of despair and delight in the Dales

Dales photo opportunities have been rare for me recently but I have managed a couple of quick forays up Ribblesdale. As is usual in the Dales, the colour and appearance of trees can change quickly as the wind from exposed fells whistles from all directions through the valleys, and the temperature away from the towns drops rapidly. There are pockets of trees all around this sheep-munched region so autumn in the Dales is still a joy. Top photo shows Stainforth Scar as seen from the road to Knight Stainforth.

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Further down the road towards Settle is Stackhouse, with different views seen below from t’other side of the Ribble.

The other week I stopped off at Hellifield Flashes to pay my respects after being shocked by the decision of Yorkshire Dales National Park and the RSPB to withdraw their objections to totally inappropriate development plans for the area. Thankfully the CPRE and local campaigning groups haven’t similarly turned their backs. At a planning meeting this week the council didn’t come to any firm decision and said they ‘wanted to walk the area’. You’d have thought that after umpteen years of receiving planning requests for this green space they would have done that already.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/saveourcravencountryside-108150632557939/

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The largest of the Hellifield Flashes.

I attended the launch of a booklet called ‘Fifty Years On – Securing North Craven’s Heritage’, at the Folly in Settle last week. In his introduction to the publication playwright Alan Bennett comments: “The planning process is still weighted against conservation with the proposed development at Hellifield Flashes a good example. The planning set up is weighted in favour of a developer who, faced with opposition, can submit an amended plan as often as is required with the opposition eventually worn down and the developer winning by process of attrition.”
I’m not being NIMBY about this, but looking at the number of housing developments and applications being submitted for our region it’s obvious that developers are seeing this edge of the National Park boundary along the A65 and Settle as being an easy and profitable area – and that Craven Council are more than happy to tick off a few boxes of targets set by a distant and uncaring government. ‘Nobody wants a suburban Craven’ says Alan – I’m not sure about ’nobody’, Mr Bennett.
The splendid booklet celebrates 50 years combined work by the Settle & District Civic Society, North Craven Heritage Trust, North Craven Building Preservation Trust and Museum of North Craven Life. It is available from the Folly in Settle and other outlets.

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Changing colours near Clapham.
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Evening light below Penyghent, seen from Selside.

Being confined to quarters for longer than usual I’ve watched a bit more television than normal and come to the conclusion that the majority of programmes are not aimed at me. I’ve never managed to watch a whole Strictly or Big Brother; or anything that contains wannabes or celebrities (what is a celebrity? I thought a celeb was someone I would recognise – but apparently not). I don’t do soaps at all (I use them now and then). There is one TV programme about people watching TV programmes and loads more where we witness people cooking meals, baking cakes or painting their houses. Programme announcers drive me mad with their smirky tone and drawn-out last syllables. When it comes to adverts I’m not the type of person to be persuaded to buy my insurance by a stuffed mammal or an opera singer; and don’t get me started on what is described as ‘The News’.  Then there are those annoying programmes where they tell you what’s coming up beforehand, tell you again before every ad break, then give us a reprise of what happened before the break because we’re not capable of remembering what we were watching three minutes ago. I realise that many people who work full time need to switch on their tellies and ‘switch off’ their minds but… please let me back out into the Dales.

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Track near Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
Evening light on Stainforth Scar; below, looking from the same spot but west this time.

Great to see that the Blue Plaque Society will recognise the achievements of icon of the Dales Bill Mitchell with the unveiling of a plaque (7th December 2018) at Skipton Parish Church Primary School. Bill was a pupil there and the idea of a plaque was put forward by Bill’s son David who said:
“My father dedicated himself to writing about Yorkshire for over 60 years. He was editor of the Dalesman for twenty years and wrote over 200 books as well as hundreds of articles. He delivered innumerable talks and conducted countless interviews with Yorkshire characters. Many are contained in the WR Mitchell Archive, available online. Yorkshire TV marked his retirement with a programme about his life, narrated by Alan Bennett. He received an MBE in 1996 and was made an honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Bradford. He was the first patron of the Yorkshire Dales Society. September 2009 saw him voted ‘Greatest Living Icon’ for the Yorkshire Dales National Park. In April 2014 he was voted 33 in a poll to find the 75 Greatest Icons of Yorkshire. Much much more is covered in his Wikipedia entry. There cannot be many parts of our great county that haven’t been touched by his magical presence. My sister and I are very proud of him”.

A spot of synchronised supping at Winskill.
Colours and detail of a Dales autumn.

Summer: there it was – gone! (21 Dales pics)

Summer seems to pass through the Dales a little quicker each year. Since last month’s blog the landscape has changed colour, fields have been cropped, lambs have disappeared and the bulk of tourists have headed home. The Settle area where I live is a vibrant place during summer with local shows, the flowerpot festival, folk music and dancing, steam trains on the Settle-Carlisle line and much more. After all that activity it could feel like we’re already starting to batten down the hatches for a long winter – yet autumn can also be an exhilarating season, full of colour, drama and beauty and I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the Dales with the camera.
Here is a selection of photos that I’ve taken since my last blog, a reminder of summer 2018:

Top photo, above and below late summer in Ribblesdale.

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Even in August there were signs of changing colour down Ribblesdale.

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A moody evening near Cowside.
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I see the beautiful ancient tree by the rugby ground in Settle has been destroyed despite a lot of opposition. At least the chap who wanted more light in his house and garden will be happy.

 

Settle Railway Station once again looked splendid during August – as did all the stations up the Settle-Carlisle line.

 

That’s how to make an entrance.
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Ribblehead where the weather can catch out the unwary.

 

A classic Dales railway shot taken near Selside with Penyghent in the background.
Above and below, sunny evenings to remember in Ribblesdale.

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I often wonder if trees get lonely. Mighty Ingleborough is its neighbour.

 

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I was asked to judge the photo competition at this year’s Langcliffe Show. The standard was excellent, especially in the sunset category. I was inspired to head up to Winskill to take a few shots myself…

The main steam excursion season is over but there’s still much to see in this part of the Dales. I look forward to seeing what the next month brings.

Joyous June in the Dales (37 pics)


So, a month of strolling and taking pictures in the Dales has gone by without a blog from me. It’s not been easy – I’ve been dying to show off about living in such a beautiful place and the Nature I’ve seen as the Sun threw wide its arms, saying ‘come on lad, fill thi booits’.
Even the milk-bottle legs got an airing (allowing all manner of flying objects to help themselves to a Jackson blood-fest).
Within a 25-mile radius of home the Dales have provided relaxing walks and waterfalls, stunning sunsets and glorious sweet meadows to melt the senses. The camera has worked overtime and illustrates the wonderful Yorkshire Dales through pictures much better than I can with words.

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Let’s start with some Three Peaks photos. Top is Ingleborough; above is Whernside seen over Ivescar Farm; below are two shots of Penyghent in Ribblesdale.

Trains in the Dales

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Apologies for the quality. I zoomed in from the Coal Road above Dent station across a few miles to try capture this train as it left Blea Moor tunnel.

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I see now what I have in common with train enthusiasts: grey hair.
Littondale

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First few photos around Foxup, Cosh and Halton Gill. The last two on the way to Littondale from Stainforth showing Penyghent Gill and farm, and Fountains Fell.
Nature in the Dales

Cheeky little monkey (calf, actually) sticking its tongue out at me.

More Dales scenes

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Four photos from a walk along the Pennine Way around Malham and Darnbrookdale. Below a couple from around the Dentdale area.

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Aisgill Falls near Hawes, and a classic shot of Hawes church.

I also visited Appleby Horse Fair earlier in the month. Some locals complain about the annual fair while others are happy to make a bit from increased visitor spending, renting camping space and charging for parking. As a visitor I only see a snapshot of the event, of course, but it seemed well policed and had plenty of RSPCA officials on hand. I wasn’t around to clear up any mess though. For a short slideshow visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSu-Ypcw0zM

And finally…

I could have filled the blog with many more June shots but you’d have probably fallen asleep … here are three shots taken at sunset from Winskill, Ribblesdale, looking towards Ingleborough, to help you snooze.

See you next month.

A fond farewell and those frightful Dales

DalesTravelling through the Yorkshire Dales in 1724 Daniel Defoe got to Settle Bridge. In his diary he wrote: “Looking to the north-west of us we saw nothing but high mountains, which had a terrible aspect and more frightful than any in Monmouthshire or Derbyshire, especially Penigent Hill. So that having no manner of inclination to encounter them, merely for the sake of seeing a few villages and a parcel of wild people, we turned short north-east.”
You’d think that the chap who created such strong characters as Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders would have had a bit more about him than to worry about the good folk and the landscape of upper Ribblesdale. Anyway, he missed a treat.

During my own travels up this ‘frightful’ part of the Dales this week, I sat in the shade beneath a beautiful tree showing off its new spring clothes. I listened contentedly to the cackle of water over the pebbles of a low Ribble, and to the chirping of excited birds. Sheep and lambs, cows and calves mingled in a field across the river – there was no human-style dispute over who had the right to graze here.

The smell of wild garlic filled the air, and a small fish popped up briefly to cause a ripple on the shallow water – and surprise a duck and her tiny offsprings who were showing cowardly Defoe-type tendencies. The scene reminded me once again of how lucky I am not to be shackled to some hectic city street or suffering in a war-torn country.

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All the above photos were taken by the Ribble near Langcliffe.
Clouds and steam

As I waited for this week’s Dalesman steam-hauled train to pass over Ribblehead Viaduct I watched wispy clouds floating aimlessly over the Dales. The mass of Whernside, seen in the panorama below, looked glorious in the midday sunshine.

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This week’s Dalesman steam excursion on the Settle-Carlisle line… with Penyghent in the background, on the way up (above) and back down (below).

Farewell for now

I’ve been blogging here every week for more than four years now. That’s well over 3,000 photos of the Dales and goodness knows how many meaningless words. It’s time to give it (and you) a rest. I’ll continue to post photos on social media and, occasionally, on here – and I’ll also update the Yorkshire surnames section of the site once a month. Thanks for taking an interest in the blog – have a great summer. My Twitter feed is @paulinribb

While at my son’s house I asked if I could borrow a newspaper. He said, “We don’t have newspapers any more Dad, get with the times – use my Ipad.”
I’ll tell you what, that annoying fly never knew what hit it!

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St John’s, Langcliffe.

More reasons to love the Dales (12 photos)

dalesWe have some fabulous old buildings around this part of the Dales. Friars Head Hall (above) at Winterburn is a prime example. The manor of Winterburn was granted to Furness Abbey during the 12th century. The original building at Friar’s Head was said to be a hunting lodge for the abbots. The present structure was built by Stephen Proctor around 1590. It’s Grade II* Listed Building – and there are a couple more houses plus a bridge and chapel that are Grade II listed in Winterburn. It’s a grand area for walking; near Malham but away from the crowds.

dalesAnother pleasant stroll is around Brae Pasture Nature Reserve, owned by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and situated between Horton and Selside in Ribblesdale. Those favourite late spring flowers such as wood anemone, primrose and early purple orchids are showing right now here and all around the Dales.

dalesWhile perched on the small limestone plateau I also enjoyed watching clouds pass quickly over Penyghent, Newhouses Tarn, and to the north up towards Cam Fell.

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Early purple orchid at Brae Pasture, Ribblesdale

Size matters

I also had a full-length view of a 26-wagon freight train on the Settle-Carlisle line as it approached Selside (below). That’s 26 wagons off the Dales roads and onto rails. Surely that’s a good thing – unless of course you happen to be a lorry driver or owner of a road-haulage business.

Ancient Dales

I know, the pic below is a bit of a cliched shot, but I couldn’t resist it as I peered out of Jubilee Cave up above Langcliffe. Iron Age and Roman material along with artefacts of Mesolithic and Late Palaeolithic type have all been found in the cave. There are some great views over the Dales from up here, although a little hazy the day I took the photos.

Langcliffe blossoms

Besides taking lots of photos of the blossom around Langcliffe this week (which I posted on Twitter and Facebook) these local scenes grabbed my attention:

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Memories (vague) of a real Dales pub

10 Dales photos here. Earlier in the week I was staring down Chapel-le-Dale. It was hazy in the distance – and hazy in my head. I was overlooking the Old Hill Inn (see pic below) and thinking, I’m sure it was just called the Hill Inn when I went there in the 1970s, but I suppose even pubs get old.

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I’ve not been inside for donkey’s years; if I do it’ll probably ruin the nostalgia. Back in the seventies it was full of walkers, climbers and cavers – and we drank lots of beer; there was nothing else on tap. If we were lucky there might have been a packet of crisps to share. I remember dozens of wet hiking socks and boots drying by the open fire.

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Ingleborough this week.

Daft cavers and climbers would test their skills by traversing the exposed internal stone walls like gigantic spiders, making their way to the outside loos. I don’t remember there being a closing time but somehow we (usually) ended up in our tents in the neighbouring field.

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High-contrast view down Chapel-le-Dale, one of my favourite dales.

Occasionally a guitar would appear and a bout of folk singing would break out; but the music genre depended very much on the clientele – my group of rowdy outdoor activities types, for example, preferred bawdy rugby songs.

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You’ll not be surprised to learn that Penyghent features again this week. The dominant hill of Ribblesdale puts on many faces (top photo in blog, seen from Langcliffe Scar), above from Selside and (below) as a backdrop for the Settle-Carlisle railway line. Good to see the steam excursions heading up and down the dales once more.

The pleasant weather had me out on a few local strolls to capture the colour, flora and wildlife …

St John’s, Langcliffe.


In other news: I’ve reluctantly switched from Yorkshire Tea to PG Tips and will remain that way until Yorkshire Tea remove plastic from their tea bags. So there.

My contributions to May’s Countryman and Down Your Way magazines include memories of the old kitchen ranges, a round-up of conservation news, and a look at the surname Holmes. Please support local magazine publishers: dalesman.co.uk  Latest magazines available in most newsagents and supermarkets.

April hues, ewes and awws in the Dales

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.)

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Warrendale Knotts (above) one evening this week, and Halton Gill (below) last week.

“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

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Two evening scenes from Horton-in-Ribblesdale taken this week. That’s Penyghent in the background on the shot below.

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.

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Typical Dales April: above, Penyghent from the road to Halton Gill from Stainforth in glorious sunshine last week; below, this week Whernside hidden by low cloud as a goods train passes over Ribblehead Viaduct.

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April ewes, ears and awws.

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?

Doggy-doo days in the Dales

DalesMean, moody and magnificent – my description of the Dales this week (12 pics here). With many schools on half term, tourists have flooded into the area to boost the local economy and bring a bit more life into Dales villages where many houses are now second homes or holiday lets.

Camping and caravan sites have burst back into life … and visiting dogs have left their contribution, too. I’ve never seen so many little plastic bags full of you-know-what stuffed into walls and left beside paths.

Away from the crowds I strolled up lonely Kingsdale and explored the land around the Cheese Press Stone – I didn’t see a soul for almost two hours but I still came across several poo bags. Someone’s gone to the trouble of picking up their dog’s biodegradable droppings, placed them in an non-biodegradable plastic bag and cast them aside for wildlife to choke on. Unbelievable.

Glad I got that off my chest. But no doubt you’ll say – and I agree – there are one or two bigger issues for the world to think about at the moment.

Yes, I should be thankful for what I’ve got – the views from up above Kingsdale are superb; lots of different shapes and angles for photography even when the distant views haven’t got the clarity you’d hope for. Ingleborough, Whernside and Gragareth provide fantastic backdrops here; I couldn’t quite make out the Lakeland Fells today but the Bowland Fells stretched away into the murkiness.

I’ve seen moody mists, stunning sunsets and whopping whales (sorry, whopping was the only alliteration I could summon up for whales) around the Dales this week so here’s the rest of the photo diary:

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Morning mist rising to reveal Langcliffe in Ribblesdale.

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Subtle light over Ribblesdale seen from Winskill Stones.

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Evening view of Penyghent from Swarth Moor.
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The whopping whale – part of the successful Settle Stories weekend – as seen from Castleberg Rock.

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… and it’s goodnight from the Dales.

Springing back to life in the Dales

dalesLooking over the western Dales from my perch at the trig point near Bowland Knotts I thought about the people I’ve known who are now sadly unable to enjoy such pleasures. It’s good for the soul to remind yourself every now and then just how lucky you are.

The moors up here can be bleak – and they were certainly cold the day I visited this week. But today the Sun is out, and at last there are signs of spring. I can hear peewits (lapwings) calling, back on the higher ground from the valley looking for nesting sites and mates. A less-travelled red grouse shrieks after being disturbed in the heather.

In the distance I can make out the snow-topped Lakeland fells, while directly across Wenningdale the guardians of the Dales line up in defiance: Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough, Penyghent and Fountains Fell. While supping tea from a flask I really appreciate what Nature has dished up for me this morning. Top photo: the view of Ingleborough and Whernside from near the trig point.

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If you look very closely you can just about see the trig point – follow the wall to the top left. Below, zoomed in on Ingleborough and Penyghent from the trig point.

I watched this coot for a while at Helwith Bridge quarry. It swam into thicker reeds where a moorhen was minding its own business. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, much squawking and splashing of water before the coot took off and made an undignified landing at the other end of the pool.

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This waterfall, unnamed on the OS map, only performs after a long period of rain. It can be found just off the road about half a mile from Selside in Ribblesdale on the Horton side.
I posted this photo of Penyghent on Twitter earlier in the week – the last time I looked at the stats it had attracted more than 12k impressions. A classic Dales shot, photo-bombed by a crow.
There are lambs all over the Dales are the moment. Farmers are still putting out extra feed as the grass isn’t as lush as it normally is at this time of year. For comparison here are photos from this year (above) and on the same day in 2017.

 

“And this, children, is the view towards Crummackdale – oh, where did that idiot with the camera come from?”

I took this photo of Penyghent on my way to view the previously mentioned waterfall. I upped the contrast a bit and it now it looks more like a painting. I wish I had the patience (and talent) to sit there and sketch the scene.

No, I didn’t head for the coast: black and white seemed appropriate for this shot of the anglers’ quarry at Helwith Bridge.