Signs of the past, dodgy wives and the Elf King


After last week’s regular Sunday stroll by the Ribble under Stainforth Scar I stayed out a bit later than normal to watch the sun go down. Golden light settled briefly on the Scar, while Penyghent looked cooler in the distance with snow still lying in the shade. The late sun shining through the trees above Langcliffe stopped me in my tracks. No filters or Photoshop shenanigans on these shots, just the ‘sunset’ setting on my camera.

pjsignpostAround 40 years ago I posed for this photo at Ribblehead (taken by my friend Graham Hobson). The signpost was replaced with a bland version many years ago – probably due to idiots climbing up the old one. The photo serves to remind me just how long I’ve been visiting this enigmatic area. I’m always finding something different or interesting here – long may it continue. I was there again on Wednesday, taking a boggy trek around the Limestone Walk on Ingleborough Nature Reserve in Chapel-le-Dale. There were still some icy patches along the path where the sun hadn’t reached, and flecks of snow were still visible on Whernside.

ingleuprightAlong this route you can hear water rushing into and through the limestone caverns beneath your feet. There’s a great network of caves and pot holes around here, and the path, going clockwise, passes Great Douk Cave then later, joining the main path up to Ingleborough, goes by the amazing sinkhole of Braithwaite Wife Hole – partly pictured below. It’s around 80ft deep and knocking on 200ft wide. I’d be interested to know how it got the name – there are a few sink holes named after wives in the Dales. Legend has it that the ladies were chucked down the giant pits after some misdemeanour. But if that were the case you’d think there’d be even more of them named after men.



oldfarmIt’s sad to see old farm buildings in a dilapidated state – like this one at Southerscales in Chapel-le-Dale. But I suppose it is all part of the evolution of the Dales. Less than a mile away on one of the limestone ridges between Ingleborough and Ribblehead are the remains of an ancient settlement, dating back thousands of years. In this part of the Dales humans have come and gone since prehistoric times and evidence of ancient walls can be found all around…

Making a living on this boggy land has always been extremely difficult. Shaded by Ingleborough, Simon Fell and Park Fell, there is little direct sunlight during winter. Hardy farmers still try to eke out a living here…


I took some fine photos of Chapel-le-Dale along the route, which I’ve already posted on Facebook and Twitter this week, showing Twisleton Scar, Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct. Here’s a different one, looking down on the small settlement around the Chapel Inn.


As Black Friday turned into Grey Saturday there were few photographic bargains to be had in the dales for me, but one of my neighbours, Mark Corner, emailed me this photo taken on Giggleswick Scar. Myths and legends surround these ‘fairy circles’, and here Mark’s lovely dog Oscar looks like a worthy king of the elves.


Sunsets, tarns, top views, trains and therapy

This week I took far more photos of trains than would normally be considered as healthy. Therapy has been suggested but in my defence it was the final week of the summer steam train season on the Settle-Carlisle line which runs close to my home. I’ve bunched a few of my favourites from Wednesday and Thursday at the foot of the blog. The helicopter, however, was not the form of transport I was expecting to see while waiting at Ribblehead Viaduct.
After writing my previous blog on Sunday I walked up Ribblesdale to Stainforth and back to Langcliffe via the scar and Lower Winskill. There’d been thunderous storms the previous night and a new ‘tarn’ emerged at the foot of the scar. I suspect that eons ago there was once a tarn covering much more of this area as well as in many other parts of the dale.
The calm after the storm brought about a fabulous sunset, and once again the camera went into overdrive. Here are a couple of my favourites looking west from Winskill Stones.
Wednesday saw me visit one of the old quarries on Ingleborough Nature Reserve where Nature is gradually taking over once again. This will one day be a super place for studying wildlife, plants and enjoying the landscape. There’s a well-designed seat which follows the contours of the background hills of Park Fell, Simon Fell and Ingleborough as well as portraying the underlying geology. There’s no doubting the major wind direction in this area – Whernside in the background.
I always know that summer is coming towards its end when the rowan berries add an orange tinge to the dale’s scenery. They sit well against the grey walls, barns and scars, contrasting perfectly against green pastures. This was taken on Thursday and shows Stainforth Scar.
This week saw the publication of Dalesman’s Top 50 Yorkshire Views, as voted for by its readers. The county is spoilt for choice, of course, and we all have differing reasons for liking particular scenes. The number one view is that from Sutton Bank, looking across Lake Gormire, the York Plain and beyond. A cracking panorama which I suspect also came out tops because of the viewpoint being easily accessible. I prefer hillier landscapes with limestone scars, walls, barns, pastures: typical Yorkshire Dales scenes. Also, I like the element of surprise; being able to walk around a corner or reach the top of a hill where a whole ‘new’ view opens up before me and takes my breath away. I’ve seen so many of these around the Dales that I don’t think I could ever choose a favourite.  Check out the Dalesman website/buy the magazine – now on sale.

As promised, more trains. Time to google ‘steam train therapy’.

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