Steamy lovers and falling for the Dales – 20 pics for you

dalesI did a mini tour of Dales waterfalls with my son on Wednesday. After heading up from Skipton through Wharfedale we dropped down to Cauldron Falls at West Burton. The view down Bishopdale towards the higher fells beyond as you top Kidstones Pass still makes my heart miss a beat. We did the touristy Aysgarth Falls trio, and called in at Semerwater before paying our dues at the Green Dragon to take in spectacular Hardraw Force. Then it was up over Fleet Moss for the gentler falls of Langstrothdale. A great day in the dales.

Top falls at Aysgarth
Son Will at Lower Falls, Aysgarth
Cauldron Falls, West Burton
Mighty Hardraw
Middle Falls, Aysgarth
Behind Hardraw Force
Close-up of the falls at West Burton

The views up Crummackdale and in the opposite direction towards the Bowland Fells were excellent as I walked from Austwick up to Oxenber and Wharfe Wood. But it was the sky that caught my attention that day – crisp blue high to the south-west with a cauldron of clouds bubbling up beneath.

Austwick and Robin Procter Scar
View up Crummackdale from the path to Oxenber Woods
Steamy lovers corner

Last Saturday through to Tuesday saw four consecutive days of steam excursions on the Settle-Carlisle line. I managed to capture a few as they passed close to home….


The scene at Ribblehead Station wouldn’t have been much different 50 years ago

On another early evening stroll near Selside I enjoyed some lovely scenery across Ribblesdale. First pic in blog and the one below show Penyghent from Selside.

If you’re going out fruit-picking in the Dales this week please remember to leave plenty for the birds and small mammals …

Excluding games being played Sunday, as I write, my beloved Huddersfield Town are top of the Premier. A little premature to be celebrating anything perhaps, but it’s not been often during the 60 years I’ve been watching the team – my Dad first lifted me over the turnstiles at Leeds Road when I was a 4-year-old – that I’ve been able to gloat. So I’m not getting carried away… but already looking forward to playing Barcelona in next year’s European Cup.

Going off the grid in chuffing Ribblesdale

RibblesdaleYou’ll not find the name Beacon Scar on a modern OS map of Ribblesdale despite the place being higher and more significant than many of the surrounding named hills. Go back to the 1800s when they were fond of lighting beacons and you’ll find the hill on maps, 1,426ft above sea level beside Warrendale Knotts on the edge of Stockdale near Settle. Presumably the good folk at Ordnance Survey thought there were too many ‘Beacons’ around the north so they decided to cull a few.

RibblesdaleThey did however note that it was in such a strategic position that they placed a trig point where the ancient beacon would have been. If you stand there, looking west, you’ll note you are lined up almost in a straight line across Ribblesdale with Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough (see pic above) which also have trig points and were once beacon sites – and ideal places for warning locals of invading Scots in days gone by. The 360-degree view from Beacon Hill is superb. There’s a short video of it here if you’re interested. It wasn’t the clearest of days when I went up there on Monday and you’ll note the furthest fells are melting away a little.

Looking south from Beacon Scar across Stockdale toward Rye Loaf Hill.
Zoomed-in views of Penyghent and Ingleborough across Ribblesdale.


I’ve bumped into a lot of chuffing train enthusiasts on my saunters around Ribblesdale this week, as there’s been a lot of steam action on the Settle-Carlisle line. Here are a few of the shots I’ve taken:

Above, Flying Scotsman on a wet day near Helwith Bridge; below, yesterday passing through Settle and Giggleswick.

I see Tan Hill pub is for sale at £900k. When it was up for grabs in 2008 it was on the market for £1.1m although I don’t know what it eventually sold for. Pictures show the place some 50 years apart.

If you haven’t yet tried Ribblesdale’s newest Coffee House at The Folly in Settle then I can highly recommend it (they also do tea for tea freaks like me). Mind you, all the cafes and pubs in Settle are worth a visit – but don’t attempt to do them all in a day, you’ll put on two stone such is the quality of available cakes. Some of the creations for this year’s Flowerpot Festival are also impressive – another reason to visit the town. I hope to bring photos of the festival next week.

Away from the madding crowd in Ribblesdale

Yesterday I managed to squeeze in a stroll around one of my favourite spots, Thorns Gill and the derelict settlement of Thorns at the head of Ribblesdale. Ribblehead, looking more like Blackpool prom on a Bank Holiday Monday, is nobbut half a mile away yet there I was completely alone for an hour in this beautiful glen with its waterfalls and fascinating rock formations.

Sheep don’t often pose for me but I think this one’s a bit of a diva …

And finally…

A neighbouring cat gives me the eye for disturbing the peace. I wonder if cats dream in black and white?

During the week I also post shots and opinions on Twitter. Visit @paulinribb



Train of thought at Ribblehead


As I was heading away from Ribblehead the other night after watching the sunset, this little train trundled very slowly across the viaduct. I’d heard some time ago that toxic waste is sometimes taken along the line from the north west. Can anyone fill in the detail? The truth is out there! Anyway, I thought it made a nice picture.

Expect the unexpected in the Dales


I’ve come across many quirky little places as I’ve wandered around the Dales. This unique scene shows a peculiar mix of dales landscape, industrial intervention, nature’s guile and man’s ingenuity.  You’ll only come across this strange spot if you head up Littledale on the path from Ribblehead Viaduct to Bleamoor Tunnel. Victorian builders of the Settle-Carlisle railway created a channel to divert the stream; a tree managed to root itself in the minutest of cracks on the wall top; then recent wall builders decided the tree’s efforts should not be in vain and left it room to grow. Some folk find Man’s meddling with the countryside downright irritating, but now and then it can prove interesting and entertaining. Further along this track – the Craven Way – are some fabulous views over Dentdale. Walkers can also branch off up Whernside or follow the line of the tunnel to Dent Head from here.

Time for a bite in Dentdale


Every time I reach this spot on the road to Dent from Ribblesdale I curse for not bringing a Settle-Carlisle rail timetable with me. One day I’ll snap a special steam train crossing Dent Head viaduct – but then, no doubt, there’ll be dozens of proper rail-photo enthusiasts with the same idea. Today, instead of continuing through Dentdale I turned off over the dodgy narrow road to Garsdale where the views over Wensleydale and beyond were spectacular. But every time I got out of the car to admire the scenery I was attacked by hundreds of flying-ant-type insects. This was the car roof after stopping for no more than a few seconds…


Countryside rip-up is a rip-off


The thought of ripping up thousands of miles of beautiful countryside, blighting properties, wrecking wildlife habitat and ancient woodland just to create a high-speed rail link to London (HS2) leaves this normally placid chap seething. That’s before I even mention the cost. As far as I can see the only benefit will be that you’ll be able to get far away from the capital a little bit quicker. If the hypothetical figures about creating thousands of jobs and how the North and Midlands will be so much better off actually comes off I’ll eat my flat cap. I’m not saying I don’t believe in railways, I just think we should be making better use of what we’ve got, improving stock, bringing back more local lines and increasing the number of people working on the railways.

I thought of this while I was struggling up a hill outside Horton-in-Ribblesdale last week. I made the excuse to stop to watch this train working down the Settle-Carlisle line beaneath Penyghent. The line is underused by the quarry owners who prefer to send huge clanking trucks through the villages. And there’s a perfectly good line from Lancashire that joins up with the Settle-Carlisle line at Hellifield… but there’s no passenger timetable for it. Tourists bringing business and prosperity to this to this part of the Dales have to take an hour or more detour.

I assume the locals and landowners were up in arms when the Victorians decided to rip up this bit of the countryside to build the Settle-Carlisle railway but now it’s here – thanks mainly to volunteers – we should be making the most of it instead of pandering to some political pipe-dream.

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