My encounter with the Dales reds

Ten photos from the Dales and beyond this week. On Wednesday I recalled heading from Hawes to Snaizeholme while on duty for Dalesman. The red squirrel trail had just opened. It’s a fair old trek from Hawes railway station up to the viewing area and on that first visit in miserable weather I did wonder if a very fleeting glimpse of a distant red was worth the effort. I’ve been several times since – usually from a closer starting point – and been utterly enthralled. This week’s visit was the best so far. Not only were there many more reds scuttling about, but they were also more visitor friendly. I moved slightly away from the popular viewing area and stood quietly beside a fence, my right hand resting on a gate. I noticed some movement to my right and there was a young red sat on the fence just a few feet from me. I didn’t go for my camera but stayed very still. It continued towards me along the fence, ran over my hand and under my nose along the gate before jumping into the undergrowth. Two more chased each other at such a speed that neither me nor the camera could keep up – I have a lot of very blurred images to remind me of the experience. Top photo shows part of Snaizeholme Wood.

dales red
Not as blurry as the others…
dales geese
The noisy honking of Canada Geese echoes around Snaizeholme
dales jeep
Gradually merging into its surroundings in the Dales at Snaizeholme.

A day earlier I left the dales to meet some old friends over Huddersfield way. I enjoy the rugged Pennine moors and moody sky here – and my visits are made even more memorable when I see the town’s football team defy the odds to see off some of the league’s big spenders.

dales huddersfield
Not the dales… above and below, two views from Castle Hill as the light was fading

dales viaduct
A clear view of Dent Head Viaduct on Wednesday in the Dales
dales railway
Goods train passes down Ribblesdale beneath Penyghent, Wednesday
dales winskill
Subdued evening scene from Winskill this week.
In the middle distance is the farm famously sandwiched between the two sides of the M62 motorway as seen from Ripponden Road.

A red devil in the Dales

This morning, for the third time in around a year, I visited Snaizeholme, Widdale in the Yorkshire Dales, in a bid to photograph some red squirrels. There’s a viewing area overlooking a feeding station where I hung around for quite a while. Earlier, about 100 yards away from me, a red had crossed the track I was walking down and so I thought my luck might be in. Another one darted across some open land above the feeding area but it didn’t look like any were ready to perform where my camera was trained. I turned round briefly to watch a brightly coloured grouse only to see one of the little red blighters about a stride away from my feet! As soon as I moved to adjust the camera, the squirrel started having me on, jumping and dashing around like a… well, a squirrel I suppose. It peered around a tree trunk at me and I managed this slightly out-of-focus shot before it ran crazily around so fast I only captured one more half-decent shot. I smiled. I think we both had a bit of fun.

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