Look forward to another year in our changing Dales

Dales - Ribblesdale from Langcliffe

Another year passes by – and so quickly, too – here in the Yorkshire Dales. An outsider looking in via occasional visits might think very little changes in the Dales, and they are comforted by that thought. But those who have lived here many years have a different perspective.

Yes, there are still the beautiful rivers, waterfalls and hills (‘Nobbut gurt mounds o’ muck’ as one old Dalesman once stated), but Dales life has altered a great deal over the last few decades.

Village schools are closing at an alarming rate; local shops and businesses have gone; there are fewer jobs, bringing about the dispersal of many long-established families. Their homes are being bought by commuters, holiday-let owners and as weekend retreats (that’s not a dig at those people, by the way, as without them some villages would probably have closed down altogether).

Ancient agricultural buildings are being left to decay as farmers no longer have use for them, can’t afford their upkeep or are refused permission to sell off or develop the barns as homes. Bus and train services are poor, as is broadband in many areas.

But would I prefer to live in a large town or city? Not on your Nellie! (Apparently this expression stems from rhyming slang, originally ‘Not on your Nellie Duff’ – rhymes with puff – meaning breath of life. Your education is incomplete without this knowledge.)

Dales sunset
Top photo shows Ribblesdale from Langcliffe; above, capturing a Dales sunset.

Back in the Dales soon!


My nearest hospital is a 45-minute drive away, a journey I’ve had to make several times over the last few months for treatment on kidney stones. How something so tiny can cause so much pain and leave a person so debilitated is astounding, but hopefully I will be heading up and down the Dales again shortly.

Photos in this final blog of the year show some of the places I’ve been missing, but which I’ll be re-visiting during 2019.

Dales Horton
Memorial at Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Dales Stackhouse
Stackhouse
Dales steam train
Steaming beneath Penyghent
Dales Settle Station
Settle Station
Dales - Settle
Settle area from Giggleswick Scar
Dales - Brimham
On the rocks at Brimham
Dales - Littondale
Lovely Littondale
Dales Ingleborough
Majestic Ingleborough
Dales meadow
Thank you for reading the Dales blog during 2018. I hope you’re enjoying a merry Christmas and have a happy new year.

My Yorkshire Surnames page is updated every month. Visit http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

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.

How the Dales have changed since 76

During the long, hot summer of 1976 the Yorkshire Dales were my playground. I was 23, fit and energetic and starting to create a career in journalism. Move on some 42 years to another sunny summer, and here I am: overweight, fond of an afternoon doze and I’m a pensioner – but at least the Dales remain my playground.

While idling my time away on the slopes beside Ribblehead Viaduct one day last week, waiting to photograph a steam train crossing the mighty structure, I thought about how the place had changed since the 1970s. Yes, the topography is pretty much as it was back then but the atmosphere is very different.

Today I walked up the track towards Blea Moor alongside people who were wearing flip-flops. The recently extended car parking areas were full to the brim. A group on a sponsored Three Peaks hike ploughed through the sightseers. A small helicopter landed and took off again ten minutes later. A chap tried out his new drone (unsuccessfully).

Two noisy Chinook helicopters made their way over the Dales like annoying flies, circled over the viaduct then headed back over Cam Fell. Flashes from mobile phones greeted their arrival and departure.

I’d arrived to my spot early to find a good uninterrupted view of the viaduct with Ingleborough in the background. Two minutes before the train was due a family of four plus a loose and inquisitive dog plonked themselves right in my sight-line. The Dales were never so in the 1970s, or perhaps in those days it was me who was being the nuisance?

I’ve taken so many photos since my last blog – even a cartload of snaps from a few days in the Scottish Borders around Kirk Yetholm at the end of the Pennine Way – that I’ve had difficulty narrowing down the selection. Anyway, here I share a few. The top pic shows the view from above Buttertubs Pass back towards Ingleborough.

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Shades of brown, looking towards Ingleborough again, this time from Giggleswick Scar. Below, the other direction with Giggleswick School chapel dome above the trees.

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From near the same spot, a sheep shelters from the sun and the view down towards Settle.

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Not sure what happened here.

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In case the previous photo has anything to do with Trump then I’ve sussed out where to head: Hoffmann Kiln, Langcliffe.

Above, church gate decorations in Langcliffe plus two shots up Pike Lane, in the village.

Gargoyles at St Michael’s, Spennithorne near Leyburn.

The Eden Valley seen from the road to Keld.

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Stock shot down Swaledale taken while the grass was still green.

I went to get a shot of a train, well here it is at Ribblehead quarry.

What, no train photos? Fear not, train buffs, I will be putting up special page for you when I get a spare moment. Meanwhile, here’s a moody Ribblehead Station.

I’ll not bore you with my snaps of the Scottish Borders but here’s one from a garden in Yetholm Town … it’s not gnomal, is it?

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.

Ice to see you and paws for thought – 15 dales pics

I suppose I have to talk about this week’s weather here in the Dales. As a nation we’re not very good at dealing with cold winds, snow and ice, are we? Thankfully, there are a lot of individuals who can cope – and not surprisingly they tend to live in the country’s higher, more exposed regions.
I had an early* walk in a blizzard for some emergency tea bags one day and saw that a farmer had been up early* to bring his sheep down off the hills and spread out some hay on a low-lying field for his animals.
(*The difference between my retirement early and a farmer’s early is about five hours.)

Dales hill-farmers knew what was coming and when it would arrive; they were prepared, took action when needed and just got on with dealing with the job without much fuss. On TV I heard someone complaining because he was being restricted to driving at 30mph in his 4×4, and another person moaning about her recycling bin not being emptied. Before I start on a Jonathan Pie-style rant (he’s brilliant, by the way) I’ll move on …

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Battling through a blizzard in search of Yorkshire Tea. Below, I did check to see there was no one asleep on the bench.


My son ‘kindly’ reminded me that I was a child during the bad winter of 1962/3 by asking what it was like in those days. I lived in a town in those days but there were plenty of hills, and I remember the enormous icy slides and much sledging … and scraping ice from the inside of our bedroom windows.
He and I have also being trying to identify paw prints in the snow around our houses. Stray dogs seem to be the most numerous – I say ‘stray’ because I’d hate to think pet owners were chucking out their dogs on such cold nights.

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Left to right: fox, dog, cat, badger.

Photography-wise, I’ve not felt inclined to dig out the car for a drive around the Dales looking for stunning snowy scenes – I’m not sure I can justify that heading into the wilds to take pictures is a ‘life-or-death journey’ (unlike the aforementioned tea-bag catastrophe). But I have managed some local shots …

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Frozen mill pond, Langcliffe

Snow drifts between Langcliffe and Settle

St John’s Langcliffe

Mill pond overflow, leading to the Ribble.

Snow-bound lane from Langcliffe.

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Snow-topped rubble on the Ribble.

Wintry sunset over Langcliffe.


Dales Three Peaks path plea

If you haven’t already seen this, please watch the video here, uploaded by the Dales3Peaks people, and help maintain our paths around the Dales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcrZftnuhqw&feature=youtu.be

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Two views of Whernside seen earlier in the week. Above, looking over Gauber; below, with Ribblehead Viaduct.

And finally … ice monsters emerging from the depths to slowly climb the memorial in Langcliffe. Don’t have nightmares, folks.

More golden days in the Dales (12 pics)

dalesThar’s gold in them thar Dales – tha knaws … there have been some glorious golden moments in the Dales over the last 12 months. By standing in the right place at twilight – with or without a camera – I’ve enjoyed many a memorable sunset scene here in the western Dales. I’ve dug out a few shots for this week’s blog:

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First two shots taken this week from Winskill, above Langcliffe in Ribblesdale.

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The last rays of the night, looking over Bowland Fells. Below, the cloud gives the impression of a giant aircraft taking off.

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Above, a golden glow over Settle from Giggleswick Scar; below, Attermire catches the evening sunshine.

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A couple of weeks ago – Langcliffe in winter light. Below, sheep silhouettes at Winskill.

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Above, the sky reminds me of those shots of Saturn. Below, valley mist and more golden light.

Tipping scum


One of my pet hates is fly-tipping. Whether found in the Dales or in towns and cities it’s disgusting and whenever I see such selfishness I will report it. Last week on my way to watch my football team in Huddersfield I saw a wagonload of discarded household goods dumped near the canal. I Tweeted about it and the story was followed up by the Huddersfield Examiner. I was there again yesterday and the rubbish had gone. So the understaffed local press still has some power and a part to play in the community. I wonder how long the trash would have stayed had it not been publicised – and how long before more is dumped there?
https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-town-fan-brands-fly-14290468
In 2015/16, the estimated cost of clearing of fly-tipping to local authorities in England was nearly £50 million. When councils are struggling to pay for schools and social services, this is such a waste of revenue. Added to this, the cost of fly-tipping on private land is estimated at between £50 – £150 million a year. Fly-tipping can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court yet this doesn’t seem to stop the criminals.
I know people will say that councils should stop charging residents for taking larger loads to their tips – I wonder if those same folk would complain if the £50m cost was added to the general rates? In many cases fly-tipping is carried out by rogue traders who charge customers for disposal but instead of disposing it properly just dump the rubbish on someone else’s doorstep. As I say, scumbags.

Dales Olympics

That youthful lad inside my head really wanted to sledge down this sloping track above Langcliffe. Alas, I think it would only have ended in tears and broken bones.

Another year in the Dales goes west

A Dales photo for each month during 2017. Looking back on a year’s wandering – fairly aimless wandering it must be said – and photographing around the western Dales this year, I hadn’t realised how much the sky had dominated so many of my shots. Clouds move swiftly in this part of the country as the breeze sweeps in from the Irish Sea and strikes the hilly barrier in its way. A stormy sky can turn clear blue in minutes – and the opposite can happen quickly too, to catch out the unwary.

Photos can often hide the truth – the top picture, taken above Giggleswick Scar, shows a lovely clear day looking down on Settle bathing in sunshine. But don’t be deceived, it was taken in January and believe me it was freezing up there that day.

This February shot shows snow on Penyghent and a steam special heading through Ribblesdale.

In March I watched this dramatic cloud formation above Kingsdale as it made its way from the north-west. Whernside bore the brunt of the bad weather it brought.

About as far as you get in the western Dales is Barbondale. This April day was full of light and shade.

The Sun in May is still fairly weak and I was able to point the camera directly at it for this shot of a distant Ingleborough from Winskill.

The weather was right for a stroll up Attermire Scar in June. This was the view looking north-west, showing the track to Malham by Jubilee Cave and the foot-hills of Penyghent and Fountains Fell.

Just as the sun was going down on a July day at Winskill, Ribblesdale. Distant Penyghent soaking up the last rays.

A typical August sky and a typical walled green lane. I was on my way from Horton-in-Ribblesdale to photograph the impressive Hull Pot.

A September shot of Settle. I chose this one for my yearly round-up not because of the great view of the town from Castleberg Rock but for the shape of the clouds above, which take you to the distant fells.

October brought some storms to the region. I was right on the edge of this particularly nasty one above Ribblesdale before making a hasty retreat back home to Langcliffe.

As autumn turned to winter I was lucky to grab this November shot on the track between Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Brackenbottom before the gold and brown tints disappeared.

I had to include a December shot of a snowy Penyghent, even though Ribblesdale didn’t have a white Christmas Day. This was taken from Selside.

Thank you for continuing to follow this blog during 2017 and I hope you have a fabulous new year.

Why we love a Dales winter (15 pics)

dalesHappy Christmas from the Yorkshire Dales. It’s not been a good week for photography with there being so much fog around here in Ribblesdale. Add that to my annual catch-ups with old friends, visiting family and having a stinking cold means my photographic output has been practically zilch. It has, however, given me chance to search through this year’s archives and pick out a few Christmas and wintry scenes featuring the Three Peaks area and further afield in the Dales. The top picture and this one of frosty trees were both taken in Wharefdale, near Appletreewick.

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These shots of Ingleborough are not in black and white. A chilly dales day with swiftly moving clouds.

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Another freezing day at Ribblehead Viaduct

A day of contrasts: blue sky above a snowy Whernside.

Two shots showing the third of the Three Peaks: Penyghent looking majestic.

Park Fell and Ingleborough, not to be taken lightly on days like this.

In and around Langcliffe, Ribblesdale.

One of my favourite views, Ingleborough and Ribblesdale seen from Winskill Stones.

Dales in lights

A couple of hand-held night shots from Settle (above) and Langcliffe.

Have a great Christmas x

Dales vampires and brass monkeys (14 pics)

Just as I find satisfaction in kicking my way through autumn leaves, I get the same childish thrill crunching along on a frosty Dales track. Cracking the small iced up puddles (after admiring their wondrous patterns) and feeling the crispness of the frozen grass under my boots, while being well togged up of course, is still a delight. I know, I know, I should really leave those lovely ice patterns for others to enjoy, but I’m just a big kid. Such conditions were plentiful in the Dales this week …

As you drive out of Settle over the top of Buckhaw Brow, just after the old road veers off towards Feizor, there’s a pull-in on the right. I remember many years ago tramping through the small wood here with friends who said there was good climbing to be found. I’m not the climbing sort and didn’t partake other than a bit of line holding. I can’t remember if climbing was allowed there at the time – perhaps I was also the lookout for approaching landowners. Anyway, despite passing this place hundreds of times over the years, this week I took a little saunter through that wood for the first time since those carefree days. It’s a tricky place to walk but there are surprises along the way. The caves are well documented (do a search for ‘caves Buckhaw Brow’) for those who like that kind of thing. I also saw many signs that climbing still takes place here. If you look closely on this photo you can make out hooks on the overhang.

Banks are closing down at a rapid rate throughout the Dales- yet another blow for rural communities around the country. Still, it’s not a new thing … this one in Dent, which I photographed on Monday, closed in 1972!

Dales churches


St Andrew’s, Dent, dates back to the 12th century, was rebuilt in 1417, restored in 1590, and again in 1787. A further restoration was carried out in 1889–90.

There’s a gravestone by the church porch which is said to be the final resting place George Hodgson who died in 1715, aged 94. Local legend has that if you saw George’s ghost around the churchyard in the moonlight then you would quickly die. Dent’s God-fearing folk decided he was probably a vampire and that his body should be exhumed from its original grave and placed by the church door. It is said that on exhuming his body, George’s hair and nails had grown and his skin was a glowing pink. Just to make sure he was dead a stake was thrust through his heart. His ‘new’ gravestone appears to have a hole in it, in case an extra stake is ever needed. Those misery guts who like to pour cold water over such fanciful tales say the gravestone is a gatepost that has been reused, and the hole is simply part of the mechanism. I say let’s dig up the old beggar and ask him.

I couldn’t go to Dent and not take a photo of the Adam Sedgwick memorial – especially when there are no cars or people around.

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One pleasant Dales sunset this week; I didn’t know the bird was on the photo until after downloading.

 

I was reminded of brass monkeys yesterday when I saw Langcliffe’s festive tree during the freezing temperatures.