Beautiful autumn colours last far too briefly in the Dales. It’s as though Nature is embarrassed by us seeing her removing her summer clothes. A touch of frost in the valleys, or a chilling northeasterly wind, is enough to rid trees of the covering they’ve proudly displayed during the previous months. Fortunately, here in Ribblesdale I don’t have to travel far to enjoy autumn’s glowing glory. There are many pockets of woodland on the dale-sides and along the river bank. Trees and bushes feature prominently in our villages, and the higher fells display heathery hues and colourful grasses and mosses where the sheep don’t graze. I hope you enjoy some of this year’s autumn collection…
Future generations of visitors to the Yorkshire Dales may well miss out on seeing typical buildings like Garth House near Horton (above). Its roof is caving in and the walls are feeling the strain of facing up to centuries of rough moorland weather. I don’t know how long it’s been left to crumble (or if there are any plans for it), but I read that within living memory haymakers would swim in the nearby Ribble after a hard day working in the fields around Garth House.
There are hundreds of similar irreplaceable abandoned vernacular buildings scattered around the Dales, left to go to ruin because farmers have no use for them or can’t afford their upkeep; and planning restrictions often mean they can’t be developed for residential use.
Mind you, anyone wanting to renovate Garth House will need to be railway enthusiasts as the Settle-Carlisle line runs just a few yards away. I walked by the building recently on my way to see Flying Scotsman (below) tootle past. Garth House was there long before the railway was built in the 1870s but I don’t suppose the Victorians cared a jot about spoiling anyone’s peaceful Dales existence.
There have been some cracking days by the Ribble since my last blog and I haven’t needed to travel very far from home to capture some stunning Dales scenery…
When I’m president of the People’s Undemocratic Republic of Yorkshire, and when Lancashire has been converted into my private golf course, I’ll be ordering southerners to build a wall from the Humber to the Mersey. The annexing of the Lake District will have been completed by then. The Geordie Camps, set up along the Tees for north easterners to be taught how to speak properly before being allowed across the border, will be producing a steady flow of workers for the Yorkshire Parkin mines. Yorkshire will not only be a buffer zone between the warring factions of Scotland and London but will also provide sanctuary for poor immigrants from Lincolnshire and East Anglia who have no hills. Should any cocky Cockney pilot try to enter Yorkshire airspace I will launch T’ Mam of all Bombs from the Alan Bennett International Airport, aiming to destroy the set of Eastenders. I aim to allocate more than half a dozen boats from Whitby to patrol the Thames Estuary, a show of force that will act as a deterrent and send a message that Yorkshire’s not to be messed abhat wi’.
As you can see, war has been on my mind. Around the world, scum has been rising to the top of the melting pot. Unhinged despots have been allowed to take charge of countries; selfish, trigger-happy tyrants flexing their muscles without a care for the consequences of their pathetic bravado.
I spent a day at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York this week where I was reminded in graphic detail what happened the last time a maniac tried to rule the world. We would all do well to remember that what our eldest generation witnessed here in our country 60+ years ago is actually happening now elsewhere in the world. Will we ever learn?
Yorkshire at its best: top picture and the two here show Giggleswick Scar and Settle on a bright and breezy Saturday evening.
Above, Stainforth Scar and lovely Langcliffe in Ribblesdale this week.
Ingleborough from near Buckhaw Brow as the light fades.
At the other end of the day: Smearsett Scar from Winskill in Ribblesdale just after sunrise.
BREAKING NEWS – Leeds United Airlines statement regarding the man being dragged kicking and screaming from the 8.30am flight from Birmingham Jasper Carrot Airport to the Alan Bennett International Airport: We would like to apologise to all passengers for any disruption caused by the removal by security staff of this man. Contrary to Press reports, the flight was not overbooked – we just didn’t like his accent.
Excellent autumn light tempted me out into the Dales this week. I’ve been happy with the photographic results and, if my Twitter statistics are anything to go by, so have my followers. Then why do I feel a little down at the end of such a productive and enjoyable seven days?
Why? Because it’s becoming more apparent just how much the quality of our rural life is changing and how little the government seems to care about it.
There’s a new kind of industrial revolution going on in the countryside and it’s increasingly noticeable around the edges of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Humans have always exploited the countryside. Mills developed around natural water power while lead and coal mines along with stone, slate and limestone quarries have been regular features in the Dales for centuries.
Driving around now I see an ever-increasing number of wind turbines. This week I stopped to view the massive solar power station at Gisburn, where 20,000 panels have been installed across three fields. Many more will follow.
After bemoaning the fact that fracking had been allowed on the North York Moors a couple of months back, permission for fracking has now been granted down the road in Lancashire… despite the fact that the locals and the council didn’t want it to happen.
Further afield huge agricultural businesses are gobbling up small farms, turning millions of acres into featureless prairies or unnatural meat factories, ruining the countryside’s natural balance, destroying wildlife habitats and forever changing communities.
I live in a Dales village where the local primary school was closed a few years back – now we learn that the lovely school at Horton-in-Ribblesdale is seriously under threat. With it could go the life-blood and future of another rural community. Families will move out and the place will be filled with second-homeowners and holiday cottages. (Don’t get me wrong – those people are most welcome, but it is the community balance I worry about.)
Libraries and other local resources, including municipal parks, are also being abandoned by councils while funds for National Parks are being cut.
Yes, we must always look for solutions to problems concerning provision of food and power, but why must it be at the expense of our quality of life and the destruction of the things many of us hold so dear?
That’s ‘progress’ I’m told. Don’t fret youngsters, old dinosaurs like me will soon be extinct… unfortunately so will much of the countryside.
Talking of extinction, as I was heading home from Gisburn the other day I came across a farmer who was driving along a minor road, presumably next to his farm, in one of those golf-buggy-type-things. He pulled to the side of the road, grabbed his gun and fired it skywards. It was a tad disconcerting but something not to be too surprised at out in the countryside. I didn’t stop to find out what he was firing at, but I do hope it wasn’t a rare bird of prey – there have been too many reports of them being killed this year. That’s another sensitive rural subject concerning songbirds, farming and the hunting-shooting-fishing brigade – but enough ranting for one day… enjoy the photos.
Two enjoyable shortish walks by the Ribble to report on this week. The river looked fabulous as it reflected the sun while I sauntered along to Stainforth.
Then it was a trudge up Stainforth Scar to take in views up and down Ribblesdale. I’ll let the photos do the talking here as I’m out of breath…
Making hay while the sun shone was the order of the day as I approached Langcliffe. So satisfying to see people working while I idle my time away.
Later in the week in cloudier weather I snatched a short walk at the head of the Ribble. Thorns Gill looked and sounded fabulous. The crown of Thorns has to be the hidden waterfall at the Gearstones end. But the old bridge which has defied gravity for hundreds of years was also a splendid sight.
The Three Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Penyghent took on different moods as the clouds (and trains) passed by.
Seeing this new build on the edge of Settle while on a walk to Cleatop Park on Friday reminded me of an article I’d read about the housebuilding industry in this country. The government continually tells us that the country needs more housing yet Britain’s biggest developers are currently sitting on enough land to create more than 600k new homes. The top four companies – Berkeley, Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – own 450k of these plots, and are hoarding £947m cash set aside to build the houses. Last year those four dished out £1.5bn to their shareholders (Berkley’s chairman netted a cool £23m himself). Yet according to CPRE developers are still looking to gobble up more of our precious green belt land. We need to put a time limit on these vultures – build on the land within six months or hand it back for less than the price paid, oh, and keep your grubby hands off our countryside.
Sadly, Otley-born cycling champ Lizzie Armitstead won’t be in day one of the Tour de Yorkshire race letour.yorkshire.com which ends in Settle on Friday (her race is elsewhere on Saturday). It is very likely that Lizzie’s distant ancestors came from the settlement called Armitstead in the parish of Giggleswick. The surname (as well as the alternative spelling of Armistead) is still common in these parts. This old photo shows the former Armistead shop by which the cyclists will pass on Duke Street, Settle. Today we find it strange to see the sale of tobacco and sporting equipment in the same shop. (See also my surnames column link above.)
Settle is certainly gearing up for the visit of hundreds of cyclists and spectators. Huge Hollywood-style lettering on Castleberg Rock reminds everyone where they are, and local shops, organisations and individuals have made a real effort to make everyone feel welcome. I’m not sure whether there was enough money or material to spell out GIGGLESWICK across the scar. The sprint race passes through that fine parish and I’m looking forward to seeing the cyclists tackling Buckhaw Brow.
I watched some very pleasant sunsets this week. Instead of focusing on the sun itself I thought I’d try to capture its late light on west-facing hillsides. Penyghent, Stainforth Scar, Moughton Scar and Crummackdale all took on a friendly fiery glow. Someone asked me the other day how the name Crummack originated. In 1190 it was recorded as Crumbok which stems from an ancient British word ‘crumbaco’ meaning crooked hill – so Crummackdale means ‘the valley of the crooked hill’.
When in Rome…
On Wednesday I went to Rome and saw Wham. Before you put me down as some kind of jet-setter with a dodgy taste in 80s music, I should clarify that Rome, Farther Rome and Upper and Lower Wham are tiny settlements on left of those zooming up Settle bypass towards the Lakes.
The lanes and paths in the area between Giggleswick and Gisburn Forest are a great place to explore. Good map reading skills are needed in some places as old signposts stating ‘Footpath’ (but no destination) often point across vast fields bearing no obvious sign of a path.
There were hazy views of Penyghent and Ingleborough to remind me that I was in the western Dales, but you can easily imagine being in the undulating Yorkshire Wolds. Unfortunately, the walk was spoiled for me when the line ‘wake me up before you go-go’ got into my head around Wham and stuck with me for the rest of the journey.
Just a gentle stroll in Thursday’s sun around Thorns Gill. The water was low and inviting; the pools the colour of Wainwright’s Gold beer.
Whernside, Ingleborough and Park Fell stood out against the blue sky, not yet in their green summer coats – the nights are still very cold here. There are signs, however, that some bushes and trees are starting to bud.
OK, just one more cute lamb shot and that’s yer lot this spring.
I started the blog telling you about Cleatop Park didn’t I? Well that was Friday. I love the views on this walk – the Ribblesdale panorama includes all three peaks (it’s the 62nd Annual 3 Peaks Race is next Saturday, by the way) – but my aim was really to try capture bluebells in the wood at Cleatop. Alas, too early; just a few brave souls peaking through here. I’ll be back to see them and the wild garlic.
I also had a delightful drive around Dentdale this week but I’ve already prattled on too much so I’ll save that for another blog.
A tourist went into a Yorkshire department store and asked where he could find towels. They gave him directions to the bird sanctuary.
Ever wonder how the good folk living by the Ribble reacted in the 1870s on being told that a railway was going to be built along their peaceful dale? Most ordinary residents probably thought they didn’t have a choice in the matter and just got on with their lives. Today we think and react differently – but in the end, as in the Victorian era, our protests will more often than not go ignored. Those with money and power will have their way, as it seems with the proposed High Speed 2 railway scheme.
‘HS2 has come to symbolise a country run against the interests of the many and in the interests of the few.’ That’s a great sentence, sadly not one of mine, written by Patrick Barkham. It sums up my feelings about yet another ill-conceived fantasy project from which London will be the biggest benefactor. Latest estimates predict it will cost £57 billion – yes, fifty-seven-billion pounds, let that sink in – to cut 32 minutes off the journey between Birmingham and London. Our Northern Powerhouse (falls about laughing at the shallow attempt being made to deliver that promise) will eventually link in with this project (price yet to be properly determined) and – whoopee! – uncouth Yorkshire oiks like me will be able to take out a mortgage for a ticket and get to the capital to improve my flagging social status, some 45 minutes quicker. To achieve this, thousands of square miles of beautiful English countryside will be destroyed, wildlife habitats torn up, homes demolished and many a village life wrecked. Meanwhile, we are being fed a load of bull about job creation and that this super highway will bring great benefits to the north – don’t believe a word of it. Shareholders and contractors will make sacksful of dosh, most jobs will be temporary with workers being paid minimum wage, and I have yet to read one single persuasive argument showing how the North will benefit as a region.
Don’t get me wrong – I like trains, I think they are a sensible form of transport – but why not spend £57bn+ improving what we already have, by providing more local services or opening up old lines so that ordinary folk – not just the rich or businesspeople – can use and afford them? Patrick wrote a splendid monthly column for me when I was editor of The Countryman. Read his article on HS2 here http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/17/hs2-the-human-cost-of-britains-most-expensive-rail-project
Also visit stophs2.org
Last February near Fountains Fell
Museum asset stripping
I’ve visited the National Media Museum in Bradford dozens of times. I’ve taken children there, attended functions and exhibition openings. I’ve always been proud to have a ‘National’ museum on my doorstep. It even hosts the International Film Festival, promoting the city and Yorkshire further afield… well, it did, anyway. Museum officials have just announced they are abandoning the festival after 20 years and followed this by saying they were sending 400,000 unique photos from its impressive collection to be exhibited permanently in London.
So the asset stripping of the museum is well under way. To be discussed is the renaming and streamlining of the museum. One suggestion involves relegating it from the premier division of ‘National’ to (Division One) ‘North’. Eventually, I see the title becoming ’Yorkshire’, then ‘Bradford’, followed by ‘a rear room of an independent camera shop in Idle’. Pardon the pun but there’s been a total loss of focus here. If we can afford to host top-class exhibitions and museums in London why can’t it be done in the north? What’s next to disappear down south – the National Railway Museum?
Bad weather, extra freelance work and problems with contact points on a camera lens have conspired to curtail my own photography this week. So there are a few older photos included in this week’s blog. Make the most of them because I got a call from Boris Johnson who says he wants the best 20 per cent of them exclusively for visitors to look at in a trendy coffee house in the capital. The top photo in the blog showing Penyghent was taken this time last year. The one above shows the hill from t’ other side just a couple of days later.
A song for the Ribble
On Tuesday a cleaner at BT pulled out a plug so the vac could be powered up (I could be wrong there) and the internet went kaput. So, despite the howling gale, I went for a walk. Sadly, the path through Castleberg Wood to the rock overlooking Settle was closed due to a fallen tree, a victim of the strong winds. I headed back to Langcliffe beside the Ribble via Giggleswick and Stackhouse. These perching pigeons caught my attention: a music score with Stainforth Scar, as a backdrop. The ground was decidedly sticky and further rain over the next three days won’t have improved the situation. The walls of the older cottages like mine are becoming saturated so let’s hope for a prolonged dry spell very soon.
I snapped this one quickly at the mill pond in Langcliffe and was surprised it turned out virtually black-and-white. I’ve not tampered with the photo at all. I do sometimes make adjustments to photos where I feel it is necessary – or just to amuse myself. Using Photoshop or other digital editors is no different from what used to happen in photographic darkrooms, yet for some reason viewers can get all hot and bothered by ‘touched-up’ photos. Some photographers are looking for an accurate representation of a subject; others want to add their own interpretation. Viewers can have an opinion on what’s been created but should remember that with ‘art’ there’s no right or wrong. That’s why we all have different artwork hung in our homes; why we decorate our walls differently or wear different styles and colours of clothes.
This time last year: Just one set of footprints to the honesty box at Dale End Farm below Penyghent – mine. Which, I know, doesn’t prove that I paid. The picture got me thinking whether it would be worth putting an honesty box in the Houses of Parliament… but then again…
The train spotting fraternity were out in force up and down the Ribble yesterday hoping for a glimpse of the revamped Flying Scotsman and the internet and Facebook groups are plastered with photos of the iconic engine. So where are all my piccies of this great event, you ask? Sorry, but on a Saturday I have to indulge in my own anorakic passion – watching Huddersfield Town. I admit to the addiction, and I know that each time I watch them it takes years off my life. If you have a cure please let me know.
A bit of poetry by the great Bob Dylan came to mind after re-reading this week’s blog:
I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet, But guarding fumes and making haste, It ain’t my cup of meat. Ev’rybody’s ‘neath the trees, Feeding pigeons on a limb But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, All the pigeons gonna run to him. Come all without, come all within, You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.
The former newsman in me said I ought to go find some dramatic flood shots last week, but then I thought that would only be adding to the misery of the situation. Flooded fields, gushing rivers and waterfalls are often witnessed here in Ribblesdale but further down the valleys, as all that water looks for a way back to the sea, many homes, businesses and lives can be ruined as a consequence.
In Nature, every action causes a reaction. When us humans mess with Nature, be it through greed or naivety, we generally cause mayhem somewhere down the line. Hopefully, a lesson is being learned about what causes flooding besides awful weather: the value of flood plains and why they shouldn’t be built upon; the erroneous river-banking to increase landownership; the cutting down of trees which absorb water; the bad management of moorland; the slashing of funds needed for proper river dredging, etc. Our obsession with cars doesn’t help – we build roads without adequate consideration for natural water flow, create enormous car parks; remove gardens so cars can be parked… the list goes on.
In 2012 I wrote a Diary piece in Dalesman following some more dreadful flooding in Hebden Bridge – here’s an extract: “ … many residents are partly blaming the management of the nearby Walshaw Moor where it is claimed that excessive burning of the blanket bog has been taking place. The estate owners, [headed by Boundary Mills businessman Richard Bannister] have also created new tracks through the 6,000ha estate which has increased the flow of water down the hillside. Sphagnum moss, Nature’s ‘sponge’ which slows the water coming off the moor, is rapidly disappearing as the estate owners try to create a habitat for red grouse which are then shot. “The management of this estate has caused Natural England to raise serious concerns in recent years. However, in March, without a clear explanation, Natural England reached an agreement with the landowners over the estate management and dropped legal proceedings, including a prosecution on 43 grounds of alleged damage. “Residents have set up a Ban the Burn campaign and are asking for support. They say: “We are aware that this is not just a local issue and it is not just about flooding. Sphagnum mosses are the main peat forming species providing vital carbon sequestration and carbon storage, but damaged UK peatlands currently release almost 3.7 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent per year of more than all the households in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds combined.”
Three years on the battle to see sense continues, and the unfortunate residents of Calderdale are still suffering. This isn’t just me having a go at rich folk again. We could all do more… by protesting against stupidity and greed and offering practical help: simple things like helping rid your local beck of rubbish, keeping drains clear of leaves and other debris, making sure your garden has grass, trees and plants and not just covered with impervious Tarmac or decking. Rant over.
The promise of blue sky tempted me out on Tuesday. Mist hung around the tops of the Three Peaks (Penyghent below) as I drove through Ribblesdale to Dentdale. The simple old road bridge over the beck is dwarfed by the viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line at Cowgill. I turned up the steep, Third-World-road between Dent and Garsdale railway stations where the views in all directions are wonderful. I couldn’t imagine making a living on these wild, boggy moors – it seems some have tried and failed. Returning home via Appersett, which had been cut off by flooding the previous day, a patch of blue sky briefly lit up Stags Fell as though nothing untoward had happened over recent times.
A couple of centuries ago, the main road from Settle to the west went through Giggleswick, Lawkland and on towards Austwick and Clapham. These places are now all bypassed by bigger, faster roads. The old lanes and off-shoots provide a pleasant drive or walk in lovely countryside completely missed by the majority of motorists to this part of the Dales. Those who travelled the ancient route by horse and cart centuries ago would have probably stood mouth agape at the sight of the mainly Elizabethan Lawkland Hall (a private residence with a fascinating history). Visit www.hha.org.uk/Property/568/Lawkland-Hall
My route was only just clear of water problems as I carried on through Austwick (pictured), and on to the hamlet of Wharfe (first photo in blog). The road back to Ribblesdale via Helwith Bridge was impassable the previous day because of flooding.
The following day I ascended – on foot – the steep slope from my house to Winskill Stones. It’s only a mile, but after eating and drinking excessively since my last trip up that hill I needed several ‘photo halts’. The light in the north-west was weird, probably something to do with incoming storm, while above and behind me was a bright blue sky.
A classic Winskill shot beckoned as that gallant tree, seemingly sprouting impossibly from the limestone, and Lower Farm standing out like a beacon set the scene.
Descending back down the side of Stainforth Scar looking towards Settle I saw that the mysterious vanishing tarn was back again. Geological features, ancient field patterns, the rolling Ribble and distant Langcliffe Mill show the development of this area.
Impressive as they were, I felt a tad miffed watching London’s extravagant fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Knocking on £2m spent on 11 minutes, during which time half of London’s population stood with camera phones pointing towards the sky, taking blurry pictures that will end up looking like the remnants of a three-year-old’s birthday party spread. £2m can be raised for the capital’s hedonistic event but ask for brass for London’s homeless or the North’s flood victims and people look the other way. Call me a party-pooper if you want, but I’m sure we used to enjoy NYE just as much before all this excess.
For my final photo round-up of the year I’ve chosen from pictures taken between September and November inclusive. I’ve not included December as most can be viewed in recent posts. Have a happy new year and thanks for dropping by.
I wrapped up warm and headed for the the head of Ribblesdale on Sunday to see what the snow was like and hopefully capture some more Dales images. Obviously, the top photo was not taken last weekend, but I just couldn’t bide having yet another grey-sky shot to kick off the blog. To greet me at the gate of Ingleborough National Nature Reserve was a large brown bag from McDonalds left by some inconsiderate half-wit. It included containers of partly-eaten food. The nearest outlet is more than 30 miles away from Ribblehead, and I wondered just how many bins the moron passed on his/her way to the beauty spot. I put the rubbish in my car boot, took it home and binned it – not too difficult a task – but I certainly wasn’t ‘loving it’. Ice and a cold wind didn’t lighten my mood but at least I didn’t encounter any rain – for at least an hour or so.
A few outdoor types also leave evidence of their presence in the Dales. I read this week on www.grough.co.uk that a group put together by Kuta Outdoors bagged 16 sacks of rubbish on a clean-up around the Yorkshire Three Peaks route. Kuta Outdoors, who take groups along the Three Peaks routes several times a year, organised the litter pick with people who had walked alongside the company in the past raising money for various charities. Company owner Phil Lee said: “If everyone who comes to the Three Peaks picked up a bit of litter when they saw it, the peaks would stay clean all season.” Well done Phil and the litter-pickers but you really shouldn’t have to do this.
Curlew calling for help
The call of the curlew comforts me. It’s one of the signposts that reminds me I’m tramping the Yorkshire moors. I listen and watch out for the bird from April as it nests around here, and I’ve been known to follow the Ribble to Morecambe, where it spends the winter, to watch it paddling about in the bay. Sadly, the curlew is now on the RSPB’s ‘Red List’ of endangered species www.rspb.org.uk They say the problem is caused by changes in upland management and increased predation. Nature is so finely balanced. Too often we forget we’re not the only species on Earth. I snatched this photo of a curlew as it carried out a fly-past over my head while I was walking between Helwith Bridge and Silverdale earlier this year.
I won’t be sending Christmas cards this year. Instead I’ll be making a small donation to the Woodland Trust. Sorry if that sounds like I’ve a bit of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. I also think that dedicating a tree to someone is better than giving them a box of Quality Street – bet you’re glad you’re not on my Christmas list. The Woodland Trust does a great job campaigning against indiscriminate felling of trees and saving ancient woodland. Above, trees on Stainforth Scar; below, Gisburn Forest.
I’ve been a fan of Nature and outdoors programmes on TV for many years but I must admit to tiring of them now. Constant dumbing down; the way they give us a five-minute chunk of a story then ‘come back to it later’ really frustrates me. ‘Experts’ are given the shortest time possible to explain things properly so that OTT presenters can ‘have a go’ – I really don’t give a damn if ‘Ellie can milk a llama’ or not. And I’m constantly asking myself what these TV presenters said before they discovered ‘wow’ and ‘amazing’? Must be an age thing.
Remember the way the Tories heralded their ‘localism’ idea of a few years back? Locals will get to decide on local matters and we’ll all live happily ever after, they claimed. And do you recall how they promised our National Parks and green spaces would remain free from developers and be kept for us all to enjoy? Guess what – they were lying. I’ve watched industrial wind farms spring up all around the Dales and on the edge of the National Park like some giant fence – most being erected against the wishes of the locals. I’ve seen bits of green land gobbled up by developers, again against the wishes of the locals. And now they are allowing more capitalist friends of the government to frack up our countryside. There are parts of the USA and Australia where fracking has taken place on a massive scale; where the consequences have included the contamination of water supplies, toxic waste destroying fertile ground, plants, trees and animal habitats, and huge disruption to the lives of residents. For a map of possible UK fracking sites click here http://frack-off.org.uk/locations/
Dales images 0f 2015
On re-reading this week’s blog, it seems like the persistent damp, grey conditions here in the dale are definitely making me grumpy. At least the bad weather has given me chance to motor on with an idea to portray a year in North Ribblesdale using my snaps. I’m going to be pasting on the site a photo (or two) from every week during 2015, starting this month with Dales images taken between January and April. I’ve not necessarily chosen the best technical or artistic shots, just the ones that tell a story or portray the dale at the time. Hope you enjoy them – May, June, July and August to follow next week (unless we have cracking weather and I’m out and about instead of staring at a computer screen getting even more miserable and political). You can click on the Dales images on the carousel to enlarge (automatically scrolls every 3 seconds). Merry bloody Christmas.
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.
Around 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.
Along 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.
It’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.