I see that several of my favourite areas of the Dales are featured in the list of Britain’s top 100 walks. Many of the 8,000 people who contributed to the list have walked in my footsteps. It’s good to see the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, and when it benefits local traders, accommodation providers and publicans etc, then so much the better.
My small gripe about the list is that most of the walks are already popular and the publicity is likely to attract thousands more boots over those same paths. I wonder how many walkers (or TV programme makers for that matter) will be willing to pay for the upkeep of those over-used routes.
Before you have a go at me, I know that in a way my blog and other writing down the years has also contributed to attracting more tramping of the fells – I’m not being hypocritical, I have given (and still give) money towards path repairs and Mountain Rescue charities in the Dales.
Since slipping on icy steps a few weeks ago and injuring my left hip and knee I’ve not done much strolling, so thank goodness I also have a car to get me around the dales. Top photo in the blog shows Penyghent from near Brackenbottom. To complete the Three Peaks trio here’s a wintry looking Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct.
I’m saddened to hear this week of the death of the inspirational Hannah Hauxwell (91). I only met her briefly at some ceremony or other. Being involved with Dalesman at the time I asked if she and her neighbours up in Baldersdale still considered themselves as Yorkshire folk (since the political boundary changes in 1974). Hannah replied firmly that they always thought of themselves as Yorkshire and felt no association with Durham. I hope everyone born on the south side of the Tees still thinks the same. Hannah was a lovely lady unspoilt by all the attention she received.
I must add my congratulations to everyone involved with Langcliffe Community Gardens on winning the Greener Craven Award category of Craven Community Champions. A great effort by those neighbours of mine who got involved. Plenty of snowdrops to admire in the local churchyard, too:
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Many, many welcomes,
Ever as of old time,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
Fans of steam trains make sure you buy a copy of this month’s Countryman magazine (now in the shops) in which I reminisce about the golden age of railways. The Settle-Carlisle and Keighley & Worth Valley lines are included. http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk
In February’s Down Your Way magazine I write about the surname Loftus/Lofthouse. http://www.downyourway.co.uk
One grey day this week I motored up Ribblesdale and stopped off at St Leonard’s in Chapel-le-Dale. I’d made a mental note to return to see the snowdrops in the churchyard and on neighbouring land. Snowdrops here are usually a little behind those elsewhere but my timing was perfect. The beck had totally disappeared underground, and the moss-covered limestone and walls hereabouts created an other-worldly feel.
The little chapel’s entrance faces mighty Ingleborough as if in defiance. Its graveyard spills over into nearby land having had to cope with the deaths of more 200 souls who worked on Ribblehead Viaduct between 1869-76. The building mostly dates to the late 17th century although some parts are older. A chapel of ease (built for the local community who found it difficult to travel the eight miles or so to Bentham) is recorded as being here from the late 16th century. There are 18th century alterations and it was restored in 1869. The chapel wasn’t know as St Leonard’s until the 1940s.
I took the narrow former Roman road down into Ingleton. You hope not to meet anything large coming the other way. Alas… living in the Dales you get used to reversing a quarter of a mile. There are very few places to stop and admire the scenery and interesting topography but I recommend a walk along this part of the dale and on nearby footpaths which run alongside Twisleton Scar. Ingleborough always looks impressive from this angle. Good to see the tea van back at at Ribblehead. I only live a few minutes down Ribblesdale but always enjoy a cuppa while staring at the Three Peaks.
On Sunday I was still celebrating Huddersfield Town’s 4-1 mauling of Leeds United the previous day. All I captured on a short walk on a grey day were some lambs. The internet is a funny old world. Some people say it reflects the real world – I don’t, but that’s a discussion for a late night when too much booze has been drunk. Sometimes I post what I consider to be a stunning landscape photo on Twitter or a Facebook group and it creates a ripple of appreciation. This week I offered a simple, quickly snapped photo of a lamb with its mother and it prompted a tsunami of responses. Hundreds of internetters leapt for their like buttons and emojis and exclamation marks. They wrote gooey sentiments or humorous lines about mint sauce. I had to turn off the pinging alert on the computer. When I edited magazines I learned that the number one rule is to give the readers what they want – not what you, the editor, wants. If you don’t supply the right material then your regular readers will not continue to buy the magazine. I don’t have to satisfy accountants or directors now, however. I can post whatever I want (if the internet masters deem it appropriate) and if viewers don’t like what I post they can just move on. Not everyone feels able to move on quietly; some have an urge to voice their opinion no matter how crass, petty or vindictive it makes them sound. So, in the hope of satisfying my readers, here is a brief collection of lamb pictures. Coo away…
I was in Harrogate on Monday for the funeral of my sister’s husband Frank who was a lovely man and will be sorely missed by all the family. Everything went well apart from dreadful traffic all around the town. Will Harrogate’s road problem ever be sorted I wonder. Billions is to be wasted on shaving a few minutes off train journeys to London through High Speed rail, when for far less money local rail services could be improved easily to entice more people off the roads. I heard later in the week that the X75 bus service between Skipton and Harrogate has been halted because accountants say it is no longer viable, mainly due to government subsidy cuts. Once again the elderly, the young and the lower paid will be the ones to suffer most of all, while motorists continue to pollute and clog up the roads. Harrogate came out tops in the north-east section Sunday Times Best Places To Live guide (call me cynical if you like, but maybe it came out tops because more people read the Sunday Times in Harrogate than, say, Cleckheaton?). Anyhow, road congestion apart, it is a lovely place (so is Cleckheaton) – the flower displays were fabulous and weeks ahead of those in my part of the world in the Dales.
The cat and I both felt a little down about not being able to get outside due to some miserable midweek weather in Ribblesdale.
The weather picked up eventually and I got away from the Good Friday crowds with a morning stroll around the Eldroth area. The name Eldroth conjours up a sense of the Gothic – but it actually means ‘alder hill’ from Norse words elri + hofuth. It was recorded as Ellerhowyth in 1383. Here, west of the Craven fault line the millstone grit takes over from limestone. Rolling drumlins hide dozens of farms from view. Ancient paths and tracks join them all together like veins, criss-crossing the landscape in all directions. Farmstead names tell their own stories… Rigghead, Black Bank, Ravenshaw, Butterfield Gap, Howith and Accerhill Hall are just a few. I pass through King’s Gate to a hidden trig point at a height of just 207m.
There’s an old quarry near Eldroth where an abandoned vehicle of some kind is parked far from the nearest road. FOR SALE: one careful owner. Genuine mileage. Needs some minor attention.
Blimey, a quarter of the year’s gone already. Ribblesdale, and especially Settle, is gearing up (pardon the pun, given the impending cycle race) for a very busy season. http://www.visitsettle.co.uk/whats-on.html has details, as do several other sites.
Snowdrops are making their annual appearance in the local churchyard.
They’re a welcome sight after a few bland weeks here in Ribblesdale.
But I fear their coy and courteous bow is premature.
The spring they hope to herald in remains a distant dream.