What a wet week in the Dales. But there are a lot worse places to be when it’s chucking it down, so mustn’t grumble. One of my favourite perching places is on Bowland Knotts where the Western Dales can be seen in all their glory. On Tuesday, while sitting on this gritstone outcrop at around 1400ft above sea level, I took this layer-cake of a photo. The Lakeland Fells weren’t visible this time but the Three Peaks were.
The above photo shows bleak Clapham Common from the same spot. Clapham is a few miles away but the smallholders from the parish were (maybe still are?) allowed to graze their stock here. The area was probably once forested and as I sat here I thought this would be the perfect kind of land on which to plant much-needed native trees.
With forests on my mind I drove down to Gisburn Forest and Stocks Reservoir for a few more photos and a stroll through the woods where the colours are rapidly changing.
Hoping in vain for another day without rain, later in the week I headed up Wenningdale to High Bentham and attempted the town’s Heritage Trail. A couple of miles in I had to turn back such was the rain and boggy ground. Another one to add to the list of dry-day walks.
Referendum for Yorkshire?
Talk this week about Yorkshire becoming a self-governing country got me wondering if all of us who voted to remain in Europe would also vote for our county to remain in GB should there ever be such a referendum. What would our stance be over immigrants from Lancashire and the North East? There would be no problem about passports for Yorkshire folk, as we never leave the county anyway, but would we allow people from London and the South East safe passage through to Scotland for their skiing or golfing trips, or even let them cross our air space? The Dalesman has a test to see if you qualify as a Yorkshire person – take it here. Ashamedly, for a former editor of the magazine, I only got 11/12 (I know nothing about films – had that question been about Yorkshire football I’d now be a fully qualified Tyke. More revision required.).
The Ribble was a bubbling cauldron at Stainforth Foss one evening this week. I tried to capture the violence and chaos – and a rainbow.
Also, here’s a short video of the scene…
Dales churches (again)
Adding to my collection of Dales churches are these two – St Leonard’s at Chapel-le-dales and St Batholomew’s at Barbon.
The blog (+12 pics) title refers to a Dales walk I did on Monday. Many locals will know the 5-mile circuit from Langcliffe in Ribblesdale. Starting from the village head down to the mill and around the mill pond to cross the Ribble at Langcliffe Locks. Follow the river up to Stainforth Foss, over the packhorse bridge and up into Stainforth. Take the road by the church up to the stepping stones over the beck, then up the steep track to Catrigg Force (the submission part is where you wrestle with the path and have to stop several times for a large breather and take a photo). From the falls head up to Winskill then take the path down the Langcliffe side of Stainforth Scar back to the village, enjoying the fabulous views down Ribblesdale. Sadly, Langcliffe no longer has a pub to round off the walk properly but if you do the route on a summer Sunday there’s usually yummie tea and cakes available at the Village Institute (2-4pm). Above and below are a few pics along the journey.
Friends of the Dales is the new brand name of the Yorkshire Dales Society the only registered membership charity campaigning for, protecting and enjoying the Dales. I renewed my membership this week – why not help keep the Dales special and vibrant for years to come? Visit https://www.friendsofthedales.org.uk
On a brief respite from rain I took a short walk around the tiny settlement of Keasden, near Clapham. Quiet roads and barely visible paths across fields and through woods make it ideal for exploration. Centuries ago this would have been a busier place but now there are just a few farms and a church – St Matthew’s. Keasden’s name stems from old words for ‘cheese valley’ – I wonder if there is an old recipe for original Keasden cheese lurking around somewhere. There’s a thought for some local cheesemonger and marketing whizz to latch on to…
On Friday, not for the first time this year, the electric was off in the village, and it was chucking it down so I didn’t fancy another walk. I looked around the house for something to read – nothing new so off I set for Sedbergh and a mooch around the bookshops. Now I’m proud owner of a first edition (1956) copy of The Yorkshire Dales by Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby. I already have some of their books and I just turned the first few pages when the power came back on. I like the pair’s fussiness and little personal asides which offer a glimpse of their upbringing and lives in the post-war Dales. Their observations of Dales life are always backed up with detailed research; they have an authoritative writing style which seems to proclaim ‘we are always right in what we say’! I also love Hartley’s sketches and woodcuts.
I travel by train as often as I can but it’s not always easy. Settle is my nearest station, so invariably I have to travel via Leeds (even if my destination is in the other direction, such as Manchester). Leeds is an hour away, trains are infrequent and the last one back to Settle leaves Leeds at 19.19 (17.41 on Sundays). I’ve been on Settle-Leeds trains when passengers have had to stand the whole journey, and often at Leeds station there is a rugby scrum of people trying to board the service. So it is with increasing dismay I see the predicted costs for the new HS2 spiralling out of control. The first phase alone (London to Brum) started at £32bn, then it went to £56bn while latest figures from DfT suggest the cost will double. There’s absolutely no justification in spending so much money when there are far greater priorities in this country. This folly will wreck so much countryside and ruin so many people’s home lives. Spending £100bn+ to knock half an hour off the journeys of those who will be able to afford a ticket is scandalous. HS2 symbolises a country run against the interests of the many and in the interests of the few. Far less could be spent on creating better local services, restoring old lines and adding to the current ‘low speed’ (apparently 125mph isn’t fast enough) rail network over the next decade. Maybe we should have a referendum on it … oh wait a minute, they don’t work do they. Or how about just letting politicians do whatever they want and have their rich friends pick up all the lucrative contracts, and sod the consequences?
Harking back to a bygone era – steam engines heading along Ribblesdale this week
I see that a video of the beck rising in Kingsdale has ‘gone viral’ this week (I also saw on tinternet that the Daily Bile (Mail) described the water’s steady progress as a ‘torrent’- apparently people actually buy this disgraceful excuse for a newspaper). The sudden rise of Dales streams isn’t uncommon. I remember seeing similar happening in neighbouring Chapel-le-Dale. You can witness the Skirfare suddenly appear in Littondale when rain soaks the surrounding hills. Also, near Cowgill at the top of Dentdale the dry bare rocks on the bed of the River Dee can instantly turn into cascades. Still a cracking video though – gotta love the Dales.
I received a card this week wishing me a Happy Yorkshire Christmas. It got me imagining Santa wearing a festive red flat cap, shouting ‘Ey up! Narthen! Sithee!’ as he travelled across the Broad Acres on a sleigh pulled by half a dozen whippets. Then I read somewhere that some chap was complaining about not seeing any sweeping plantations in the county where Yorkshire Tea is grown. I tweeted that despite the lack of tea-growing, folk can visit the forests of Pudsey where Yorkshire Puddings are scratched from the ground by specially trained ferrets. And that you can watch traditional divers off the coast of Scarborough who risk their lives searching the Great Yorkshire Reef for Yorkshire Mixtures. Yorkshire Parkin is still quarried from prehistoric deposits in Giggleswick of course. And Yorkshire Curd Tarts are produced in darkened sheds throughout the Yorkshire Dales by Yorkshire Women in pinnies mixing Yorkshire Water and Yorkshire Milk while supping Yorkshire Best Bitter. We’re short of nowt here.
I see that Giggleswick Quarry (that’s the limestone one, not the Parkin quarry) has been put up for sale. It will be interesting to see what happens to it – and what is allowed. I always thought that quarry owners in the Dales were supposed to restore any former workings once they’d been plundered, not just sell them off to the highest bidder for the new users to take on responsibility. So I looked on the Dales Environment Network website – it states:
‘We have an obligation to restore quarry sites once we have finished working them, and in the Dales we do so in partnership with a number of organisations such as the National Park Authority, Natural England, the Wildlife Trust and Dales Millennium Trust. Giggleswick quarry was closed in 2009, and is now undergoing the process of restoration. As with Old Ingleton quarry, we will be primarily relying on natural regeneration – however this is being supported by native tree planting and broadcasting of wildflower seed mixes across the site.’
So I’m left a little confused. Not being one of Her Majesty’s card-carrying investigative journalists any more, I won’t be following this up but wonder if anyone else has bothered to ask what’s happening? Perhaps the quarry owners have actually fulfilled their statutory obligations – I don’t know, but viewed from the path above, the quarry just looks like a big Yorkshire Hole.
One hole in the Dales is Birkdale Tarn – the third largest expanse of water in the Dales after Malham Tarn and Semerwater. At 1600ft it’s the highest of the three, best for solitude and hardest to photograph!
It’s a bit black ovver t’back o’Bill’s mother’s.
I couldn’t go a week without a photo of Winskill, could I? ….
Fabulous sky above Ribblehead Viaduct…
Small screens don’t do justice to panoramic views but I recommend looking at this one of the Howgills, taken a little while back, on a computer if possible.
Penyghent made but a brief appearance from under its shroud during the week…
Despite slipping and landing on my backside in the mud, a trip down to Stainforth Foss this week was worthwhile. The repaired packhorse bridge (top photo in blog) looked much better and the river was lively. Here are a couple more photos and video link.
There’s a fabulous 360-degree Dales view from Stone Rigg at the head of Barbondale. If ever you want to know why more parts of this area have been roped into the revised Yorkshire Dales National Park then this is the place to go. Standing on the small rocky outcrops at the top of Stone Rigg – just a short walk from the steep, narrow road from Dent – you see the Howgills to the north. The lower end of the Howgill range is already in the park but further north towards Ravenstonedale is rightly being included later this year. Swinging right you stare across at Aye Gill Pike and down Dentdale to Great Knoutberry, then on to the western slopes of Great Coum and Crag Fell.
At 180 degrees you’re looking down Barbondale itself with the steep side of Middleton Fell glaring down on your right. I’ve been here several times before and never tire of the all-round beauty. Further down the narrow dale heading towards Barbon is a little boundary stone which signals the end of the current park. The lower slopes of the dale become thickly wooded before it opens out to reveal some glorious views along Lunesdale.
Later in the week I also revisited another part of the new park, heading up Mallerstang and stopping off at the enigmatic 12th-century Pendragon Castle. The view down towards Wild Boar Fell was, as always, a pleasure to see.
From the castle it was on towards Nateby. Gypsies were camped ready for the final part of their annual journey to Appleby – it seemed an appropriate spot for their camp and surely much more of a pleasure for the horses than beside the busy A65 (where they’ve been causing enormous traffic jams). I love the journey between Nateby and Keld through Birkdale. Here is a very different Dales character to my normal Ribblesdale habitat: bleak and rough; fewer walls and tougher sheep. But you’re soon into a greener Upper Swaledale; enclosed by steep sides but gentler, with the young Swale dancing over exposed browned bedrock. A grand drive over Buttertubs Pass to Wensleydale, up Widdale and home via Three Peaks country of Ribblesdale. I might not be exercising my legs much at the moment but my eyes are certainly active.
I wonder, had Kirby Misperton fallen within their land, if the Dales National Park would have allowed last week’s fracking fiasco to happen? Seven councillors who are supposed to represent Yorkshire on matters of planning, ignored the 92 per cent of locals and instead pandered to what the government wanted them to do – a government which is currently keeping secret a report on whether fracking causes climate concern. Hell, even Lancastrian councillors had the sense to boot out the get-rich-quick fracking cowboys. Hang your heads, seven shameless Yorkshiremen.
Which brings me on to another whinge I have, stirred up by this week’s ‘news’. There’s a decline, says a study, in the humber of people using regional accents. It seems we are all starting to sound like we come from the south east. That certainly won’t do. And some teachers have been told to change the way they speak to children by cutting down on local accents. Sometimes I listen to people in their late teens/early 20s, using that very boring generic university accent, in which almost every sentence seems to end with a question mark, and I thank mi Mam n Dad for teaching me to speyk Yorksher.
Talking of moaning – an acquaintance was moaning about pot-holes in Ribblesdale’s roads the other week. This week he is moaning that ‘they’ are closing the roads throughout the region to mend those potholes. Now I’m moaning about him moaning.
Bridge of Sighs
I was very saddened to see that someone had a go at demolishing the pretty packhorse bridge over the Ribble at Knight Stainforth this week. Obviously, the person didn’t go out to deliberately wreck the ancient structure – whether it was caused by someone using a sat nav instead of a brain cell, or by careless driving, I don’t know. But it’s going to be costly to repair the National Trust-owned bridge. The original stonework is going to have to be recovered from the river before it is washed away, and the bridge will probably not look the same when rebuilt. It wasn’t meant to take motorised traffic. I realise this will inconvenience a few local users but I think the current diversion via Stackhouse Lane or Helwith Bridge should be made permanent and the bridge left for cyclists and pedestrians only. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that during the Bank Holiday weekend, which brings all kinds of folk to Stainforth Foss, we don’t see more damage or accidents.
It’s been a pleasure hobbling around Ribblesdale this week while spring really blossomed. By the Ribble in Langcliffe were thousands of rampant ramsons like riotious football fans charging down the packed terrace, hopping over the fencing and spilling on to the pitch.
Sitting here listening to the birds and a gently trickling river was simply beautiful. However, one youngster licking its lips as it approached me was a little disconcerting…
Funny how we take everyday things for granted. Postboxes for example. On my regular Ribblesdale stroll this week I noticed snowdrops growing by a postbox — and have to admit that until I’d seen both snowdrops and postbox together I’d not taken much notice of that bright red metal thing. It got me thinking about other postboxes around the Dales. I hunted through my photo archive for some more examples … and found these in Chapel-le-dale, Langstrothdale (above) and Mallerstang.
If you know of any postboxes in picturesque Dales locations let me know – I might do a bit of ‘collecting’ myself. Apparently there is such a thing as the Letter Box Study Group www.lbsg.org with a website and more than 600 members. I shan’t be joining, but surely taking photos of postboxes is more acceptable than searching the country to capture gas holders? I read this week about one chap who has this as a hobby. His pastime came to the notice of the newspapers when it was decided that the famous gas holder beside the Oval cricket ground in London (yes, non-cricket fans, it really is famous) is to be saved from demolition because it is seen as some kind of icon. Historic England adds: ‘…but our other beautiful gas holders are going’ [to be demolished]. Beautiful? Come on! Seems it is acceptable to churn up hundreds of miles of priceless countryside for the pointless HS2 railway, and to allow our green and pleasant land to be fracked up to kingdom come, but not to knock down a rusting, useless gas holder? It’s a mad, mad world.
Took my first sunset shots of the year last Sunday up on Winskill Stones in Ribblesdale. The late evening sunshine lit up the limestone and also the distant western side of Penyghent. The last few minutes before the sun disappeared over Lancashire provided some startlingly vivid colours.
The following time-lapse shots are a bit arty-farty for me, I know, but I display them only to show the speed of the water at Stainforth Foss on Tuesday following heavy overnight and morning rain in Ribblesdale. The shutter speed is set at just one-fifth of a second which tells you much about the volume and speed of the water passing in front of my camera lens. If you’d like to join me for a couple of minutes at the popular spot you can see a video here https://youtu.be/Agba6D6Txvg Excuse the quality — it’s taken on my normal camera not a video camera, and I was being buffeted by a strong wind.
After the rain came Wednesday’s snow. The village (Langcliffe) took on a different persona — cosier, somehow. The photo of St John’s church (above) looks like a black-and-white, but it isn’t. And despite seeing them a thousand times before, I just had to take a trip further up Ribblesdale to see how the Three Peaks were looking in the snow – and they didn’t disappoint.
This week I’ve had to endure one of life’s greatest hardships. It’s not been easy for me, especially living on my own. Having no kids or partner around to help out has been a total nightmare. Yes, the TV remote broke. Getting up to manually change channels or just to turn the damn thing on and off has left me exhausted and frustrated. Must be the batteries (the remote’s, not mine) I thought, so off I trotted in the snow in search of power. Alas, new batteries didn’t solve the problem. So, another trip to town for a replacement zapper — no one had anything suitable for my TV. Amazon it was then. Three days delivery they said. Aargh! Just how did folk manage before remote controllers?
Regular readers will know of my fondness for the deserted Ribblesdale hamlet of Thorns (pictured above), just a mile or so from Ribblehead Viaduct. Thorns was an important location on a former packhorse route. Records of the settlement I often visit for quiet contemplation, date back to 1190, when it belonged to Furness Abbey. Wills, parish records and censuses indicate that there were five tenements in 1538, three households in 1841, and one uninhabited dwelling in 1891. Those stats are courtesy of the charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) which this week announced it was looking for budding archaeologists to take part in an archaeological survey of Thorns. Visit the website www.ydmt.org for more information.
Yesterday was my birthday. It’s the 63rd time this as occurred so I’m used to birthdays and I don’t take much notice of them now. However, I must admit I was a bit taken aback when I read that a birthday flypast tribute by the Red Arrows had been arranged. How pleasing too that my big day was also the 80th birthday of the Spitfire and I could share my special display with that great invention.
The village school closed back in 2007. It was sold six years later for £230,000 and remains unoccupied, the new owners’ plans being refused permission by the National Park. I’ve often wondered who pocketed the money and what was done with it. What I do know for certain is that some accountant somewhere declared that the school as an education establishment was ‘economically unviable’ and shut it down. Its closure certainly wouldn’t have been decided by locals or teaching staff. Village schools help keep dales communities together – but that’s not something an accountant working on behalf of government can quantify in monetary terms so it is ignored.
I know a lot of teachers – or more precisely ex-teachers (many of them jumping ship as soon as their pensions would allow them to do so) – and I’m probably more sympathetic to the plight of teachers and how the education system is being run than a lot of the general public. I attended teacher training college before finding an opening in journalism and I was married to a teacher for many years. So I’ve kept an eye on education matters – as we all should, really … after all, this is the country’s and our children’s/grandchildren’s future we’re talking about.
The problems and solutions are far too numerous and complex for me to go into in depth here. But I will say that I wish politicians would just leave alone something about which they know and understand very little. Many of them attended expensive private schools which bear no co-relation with the education of the masses. Most have no idea about the everyday life of teaching a class or running a school, yet ministers (and accountants) decide the rules and regulations by which our children are educated. I have the feeling that government would prefer if teachers just brainwashed children so that they don’t have any individual thoughts, or think creatively or question their elders.
One of my singer/songwriter heroes is Tom Paxton, and this week I listened again to one of his songs from the 1960s, called ‘What did you learn in school today, dear little boy of mine?’. The verses, although based on the USA at the time, could well ring true today in this country and elsewhere. Here are some of the words which his little boy said in response to the question:
I learned that Washington never told a lie.
I learned that soldiers seldom die.
I learned that everybody’s free.
And that’s what the teacher said to me.
I learned that policemen are my friends.
I learned that justice never ends.
I learned that murderers die for their crimes.
Even if we make a mistake sometimes.
I learned our government must be strong.
It’s always right and never wrong.
Our leaders are the finest men.
And we elect them again and again.
I learned that war is not so bad.
I learned of the great ones we have had.
We fought in Germany and in France.
And some day I might get my chance.
Standing on top of Great Stone of Fourstones, which marks the Yorkshire border with that other county whose name escapes me, you can enjoy one of the best ‘driveable’ views of the south-western dales. The Three Peaks, Gragareth, Howgills and the distant jagged teeth of the Lakeland Fells are laid out before you. The 16ft-tall glacial deposit is the only one of four large stone outcrops remaining on this spot on Tatham Fell, near High Bentham – the others probably having been broken up for buildings and tools. I wanted a view but not a trek on Wednesday and this monolith once again proved an ideal location. With a 200mm zoom lens I was able to make out the layered-cake effect of Ingleborough and capture Whernside looking particularly dominant above Twisleton Scar.
After writing last week’s blog on Sunday I wandered up Ribblesdale and on to Stainforth Foss where dozens of people were on salmon-leap-watch. I wondered whether there would be any conflict here today, as just a few yards down river from the falls were two anglers … salmon fishing? Poaching? I didn’t stop to find out, but headed further downstream to Langcliffe where the colours on the riverbank and millpond stood out starkly against a drab sky.
I reckoned this week would be one of the best for capturing the changing colours and I was right. On Monday I took a stroll around Malham Tarn – almost ignoring the tarn and concentrating on the surrounding bogland, shrubs and trees. The last time I’d been in this woodland I’d been startled by a deer but there was no sign this time.
The blue sky came out later and I got some good shots of the eastern side of Penyghent. I was also able to snatch some great scenes around home later that day in the evening sun.
St John the Evangelist in Langcliffe might not have the history or ancient architecture of older dales churches but it is certainly a pretty Victorian building within well-kept grounds and it looks a picture when caught in the evening sun.
At this time of year I like to raise my eyes above the area’s wonderful landscape and take in the ever-changing autumn sky. It’s been a treat this week with a variety of clouds, shades, and sunsets. On Friday I sat above Winskill and watched an invasion of aliens beaming up all before them … I woke up Saturday morning with ‘REJECT: Beyond Best Before Date’ stamped across my forehead.
Yesterday, after strolling by the Ribble in some glorious changing light, I drove up to the old road between Settle and Feizor to watch the sunset. I also waited as long as I dare for an unsteady hand-held night shot, to capture an outline of Ingleborough.
Wednesday: Checked the weather via my iPad. Taken aback to see a great big exclamation mark in a triangle with WARNING written underneath in large capital letters. My first thoughts were of nuclear clouds raining down those nasty radioactive thingies. Should I stock up on food for the cat? Have I time to build a shelter? Is my will up to date? Then I saw ‘Yellow alert’. Phew! Perhaps I have a few hours to prepare to face the approaching catastrophe. I read a little further about mankind’s impending doom: rain. Rain? I read it again. It’s going to rain. I live in the Dales, in the north of England, of course it’s going to rain. That’s what it does here … on a regular basis. We have rivers, and streams, and waterfalls … they exist because of the rain. I tossed the iPad aside in disgust and pondered why ‘they’ have to make everything into such a drama, another soap opera. I put on my waterproofs (like you do when it rains) and ventured out to witness the predicted scenes of nightmarish destruction and see how the masses were facing up to this Armageddon…
One of my favourite places after a ‘little downpour’ is on the foothills of Penyghent along the Silverdale Road to Halton Gill around Giant’s Grave. As you walk across one of the fields here you can hear – and feel – the water rumbling its way through underground caverns before it rushes out to fill the normally placid beck. Above the road, Penyghent was hiding behind a curtain of cloud.
Down in Stainforth the swollen beck submerged the stepping stones, while at the Foss any hopes salmon had of making their journey up to the spawning grounds today were thwarted by this torrent. A short video here https://youtu.be/Jze79UvfCP0
A Stainforth chap, who knows I live in neighbouring Langcliffe, spotted me loitering suspiciously in his village and asked to see my passport. I said I’d applied for it and it was obviously lost in the post. I was allowed in temporarily – you can’t be too careful about border crossings nowadays. For his benefit I’ve rewritten an old Dales verse, reminding him that we in Langcliffe are indeed worthy visitors on his turf:
There are things they do at Stainforth,
In Settle and Horton too,
That we who live in Langcliffe
Would rather die than do.
With Giggleswick’s behaviour
We don’t see eye to eye,
for the moral tone of Langcliffe
Is very, very high.
My photo diary allows me to compare the seasons year on year. Locally, October so far hasn’t been much different from last year. I took the top photo in the blog on 12 October 2014 on The Highway, between Langcliffe and Settle, and the scene was similar when I walked along this quiet back-road yesterday (excluding the anonymous models whom I thank for making that picture more interesting).
I also grabbed some smart sunsets in 2014, and last Sunday the sky drew me out again for a little wander around Helwith Bridge. At first I couldn’t decide if above me were vapour trails leading to and from Manchester Airport but I learned later that they were clouds, possibly Cirrus Radiatus. There have been some great atmospheric conditions in the dale…
We interrupt this blog for an important public announcement
[Insert large exclamation mark inside triangle here] WARNING LYCRA ALERT
It’s been announced that Settle will be one of six host towns in next year’s Tour o’ Yorkshire (what’s all this ‘de’ nonsense? We’ll be eating garlic next). Do not enter the town next April if you are allergic to Lycra or offended by people wearing skin-tight luminous clothing. Please don’t stare at their nether regions as it only encourages them.
The weirs at Langcliffe (pictured below) and Settle looked much calmer yesterday than they had done earlier in the week, and I’m told that salmon have now been seen heading upstream.
Even the footballers donned autumn colours for their match by the Ribble in Settle.
Sadly, events this week have been over-shadowed by the death of friend and former work colleague Bill Mitchell MBE. He died peacefully in hospital on Wednesday night aged 87. Bill contributed to Dalesman Publishing Company (later Country Publications) for more than 60 years, doing everything from delivering copies of magazines to editing them, as well as writing books. When he retired as editor in 2008 he continued to write (more than 200 books in all) from his home in Giggleswick and freely gave talks and lectures. Many of his early interviews and recordings are in the process of being digitised for future generations to enjoy and learn from (www.settlestories.org.uk) and an archive of his work and collections is stored at Bradford University.
Bill was a modest man; he won many awards and accolades but I don’t recall him ever mentioning them in my company. He didn’t write for vanity or to amass wealth – he just wanted to record life as it really happened. When I sat with him for tea and biscuits – before his lovely wife Freda died it was gorgeous home-made cakes and tea – he would take me through a maze of stories, anecdotes and one liners, often with broad Yorkshire phrases thrown in for good measure. The stories never centred around him, they were about the people he’d met, the places he’d been, Nature, life and tradition. The mark of a good editor and writer is the ability to know and supply exactly what the reader wants. Bill achieved this in an unfussy, informative and entertaining way. He will never be replaced and I feel privileged to have known him.
The picture is one I took of Bill when we visited the original home of Dalesman in 2008. He’s stood on Brokken Bridge in Clapham. The top house of the row on the left is Fellside, which the magazine’s founder, Harry Scott, rented and used as a home and office from 1939 to 1955. The owners kindly let us in, and Bill reminisced about his time there.
I think I’m developing RSI in my camera-clicking finger. The week has seen some amazing atmospheric conditions in Ribblesdale and, although I’ve been carless and stayed local, I’ve managed to capture a bucket-load of pictures. The thing about being a point-and-shoot, capture-quickly-what-you-see snapper like me is that you usually end up with a hard drive swamped with flotsam and jetsam and just a few pearls hidden in among. This week, however, it’s been difficult to narrow down a selection to use in the blog. The cows provided me with a perfect foreground for shots of Ingleborough (above) and Penyghent (below) taken from Winskill Stones.
Just a little further down the lane Samson’s Toe erratic helped with my view down Ribblesdale over Settle and Giggleswick.
There were some clear shots looking south-west this week, and I particularly liked this one with the dappled sunshine. In the distance you can see the natives of Lancashire burning witches in the borderlands.
I fair galloped out of the house one evening on seeing a large dark cloud passing overhead. It came and went quickly and happily deposited its contents elsewhere, but it was certainly a scene-changer in these parts. Here are a couple of many shots I grabbed. The four sheep, unconcerned about what’s happening above, seem to have established their own space with some accuracy.
I do enjoy being a photographer-on-the-hoof, but occasionally I wish I’d been a bit more professional and taken with me more equipment (and had more technical know-how – and patience!). A tripod and remote clicker would have improved my shots at Catrigg Force and the Hoffmann Kiln (below).
Walking up to Stainforth Foss I spotted this heron. Every time I got within 50 yards of it it flew on a little further up the Ribble. We played this enjoyable little cat and mouse game for about ten minutes. This is a poor shot (below) I know, but it shows that I did at least try to be a bit more Ray Mears.
The foss and bridge looked splendid and I was the only person around. This, and strolling up to Stainforth to have a grand pint of Wainwright’s in the Craven Heifer, reminded me of how lucky I am to be retired and to live in such a lovely place.
Walkers heading up Goat Scar Lane from Stainforth to Catrigg may often have their head down wishing the steep climb would soon end. But stopping and taking a look back across towards Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough is well worth it.
The clouds on that photo and also on the next one showing Penyghent, remind me of the start of the Simpsons cartoon on TV. No manipulation on my part – the sky is exactly as I took it at the time.
Looking up at the magnificent Stainforth Scar (below) during the week I pondered why this wasn’t more of a Mecca for climbers. Some crag rats will probably tell me the rock isn’t stable enough, but even for a definite non-climber like me I can see the obvious attraction here.
Finally this week – who needs the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (a wonderful place by the way) when we have our own version in Ribblesdale. Every time I visit Lower Winskill there seems to be another welcome addition to the landscape. Some talented folk up there.
People were rushing for their sunglasses in Ribblesdale this week – not to shade their eyes from the welcome sun but to prevent glare from my milk-white legs which I exposed to an unwary public for the first time in a couple of years.
Last Sunday there was some lovely evening light which I was lucky enough to witness at Lower Winskill. The peaks of Smearsett Scar and a distant Ingleborough looked cool.
On Monday I popped back down to Langcliffe Mill pond to see if the tiny chicks were still around and was relieved to see there were still nine despite the presence of a huge heron.
A goods train from Carlisle passed beneath me as I trundled over the footbridge and I thought what a better way this was to transport stone from the quarries than via the hundreds of noisy trucks which pass on the nearby B6479 road.
I felt sorry for the sheep on a humid Tuesday as they struggled with heavy woollen coats but found some shade beside this cute little barn next to the Ribble. Close by are these lovely allotments – a credit to those who tend them.
An earlier comment I read on Facebook had reminded me of a Grade ii* listed building in Ribblesdale called Lodge Hall, sometimes known as Ingman’s Lodge. Many walkers doing the Three Peaks will have passed by the 17th-century building which, along with several outbuildings, doesn’t look in the best of condition. I’m in no way having a go at the owner but I would have thought English Heritage or similar would want to ensure this architectural treasure is maintained for future generations to admire. The dog here didn’t seem too pleased with my interference.
The same day, I drove down the top end of Dentdale and happened upon this steam train leaving Dent Station, and I also managed to capture it as it crossed Dent Head Viaduct. A great sight and tribute to those who worked hard to keep the Settle-Carlisle Railway open. (Can I assure friends here that I DO NOT need an intervention regarding any perceived obsession with trains.)
I got up early for a stroll by the Ribble from Langcliffe to Stainforth on Friday. But I was left downbeat by the sad state of the area around Stainforth Foss. It looked like there’d been a mini-Glastonbury Festival there … cans, bottles and other garbage strewn everywhere, even in the river. Goodness knows what it was like over the weekend – the place means a lot to me and I dare not go look just yet. Come on, Park Rangers and police – this behaviour is not just a disgrace but also illegal – do something about it.
On my way back home, as I was chuntering to myself about how I’d make the morons pick up the litter with their teeth, I popped my head into the Hoffmann Kiln. The light reflected from the bright, sun-lit greenery produced a stunning effect inside this man-made cavern. My first thought was what a tremendous art gallery this could become.
The weather? It’s been a week of sun, rain, hailstones the size of golf balls, high winds, gentle summer breezes and soaring temperatures, not to mention the thunder and lightning which played havoc with my electricity and computer. The ups and downs of summer in the Dales.
I’ve written previously about wishing that my blog visitors could hear the thundering sound of the Ribble at Stainforth Force in Ribblesdale in the Yorkshire Dales… well here’s your chance. I was messing about with the movie feature on my camera and came up with a short 30 second sequence. There’s a wobbly bit halfway through when the camera strap got caught on the tripod (novice error apparently) but you get an idea of the sound made by the water as it rattles down the limestone. The falls had calmed down today after the deluge of the last few days and therefore the sound was not as wild as I’d previously heard. Unfortunately WordPress charge $60 a year to allow videos on their pages so I’ll have to divert you to another place…