Summer seems to pass through the Dales a little quicker each year. Since last month’s blog the landscape has changed colour, fields have been cropped, lambs have disappeared and the bulk of tourists have headed home. The Settle area where I live is a vibrant place during summer with local shows, the flowerpot festival, folk music and dancing, steam trains on the Settle-Carlisle line and much more. After all that activity it could feel like we’re already starting to batten down the hatches for a long winter – yet autumn can also be an exhilarating season, full of colour, drama and beauty and I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the Dales with the camera.
Here is a selection of photos that I’ve taken since my last blog, a reminder of summer 2018:
There aren’t many flatish, longish, riverside-ish walks in the upper Dales. Here the becks and rivers are generally young and rash, heading energetically down the hillsides. They provide us with some picturesque waterfalls and quick scrambles, but not many easy, level strolls. One exception is beside the River Dee, near Dent, where I visited this week. (Not the top pic – see later.)
A pleasant figure-of-eight route uses part of the Dales Way long-distance walk. There are good views of Dent (above) and the surrounding hills, and thankfully for my creaking knees, no gradients to speak of along the way. The sound of water cackling over stone, frantic calling between ewes and lambs, and birds being busy doing what birds do in spring made this a very pleasant couple of hours.
I read this week that one Yorkshire pensioner shoots wild birds in his back garden because he “dislikes being disturbed” by their singing. He wouldn’t be very happy round my way at the moment as the swallows are returning after their winter hols abroad. I can’t imagine a world without birdlife. If it is irritating noise he dislikes I suggest he takes the gun down to … probably best not to continue on this line of thought.
From Dent I drove through the Dales calling at Sedbergh, Hawes and Askrigg – stopping off to photograph ponies in front of the Howgills, Cotter Force (above) and St Oswald’s in Askrigg (below). The church is Grade I Listed, dating from the fifteenth century with evidence of earlier building. Afterwards I just had to stop to capture a very different but just as architecturally important Dales barn beside the Ure in Wensleydale (top picture in blog).
I also had a quick trip one evening to Malham where some macho outdoor types were climbing bare-chested above Watlowes. I can think of more relaxing ways of getting a tan.
Photographic highlight of my week though was a trip on Friday evening to Morecambe. Despite living in the Dales, the bay is less than 30 miles away. Seen from the shoreline, the Lakeland Fells were just a grey-blue silhouette across the water. I headed home via the Trough of Bowland, stopping off at Jubilee Tower on Quernmore to witness a superb sunset.
Ribblesdale, of course, provided more spring joy. A short evening wander up the narrow road to Little Stainforth opened up this lovely pastoral scene (below). I’ve taken dozens of photos this week but I don’t want to be that bloke who bores you with his tedious, endless holiday snaps (oops, too late!) so I’ll save some for another day.
Back in Langcliffe, the annual imprisonment of naughty daffodils is taking place …
Mean, moody and magnificent – my description of the Dales this week (12 pics here). With many schools on half term, tourists have flooded into the area to boost the local economy and bring a bit more life into Dales villages where many houses are now second homes or holiday lets.
Camping and caravan sites have burst back into life … and visiting dogs have left their contribution, too. I’ve never seen so many little plastic bags full of you-know-what stuffed into walls and left beside paths.
Away from the crowds I strolled up lonely Kingsdale and explored the land around the Cheese Press Stone – I didn’t see a soul for almost two hours but I still came across several poo bags. Someone’s gone to the trouble of picking up their dog’s biodegradable droppings, placed them in an non-biodegradable plastic bag and cast them aside for wildlife to choke on. Unbelievable.
Glad I got that off my chest. But no doubt you’ll say – and I agree – there are one or two bigger issues for the world to think about at the moment.
Yes, I should be thankful for what I’ve got – the views from up above Kingsdale are superb; lots of different shapes and angles for photography even when the distant views haven’t got the clarity you’d hope for. Ingleborough, Whernside and Gragareth provide fantastic backdrops here; I couldn’t quite make out the Lakeland Fells today but the Bowland Fells stretched away into the murkiness.
I’ve seen moody mists, stunning sunsets and whopping whales (sorry, whopping was the only alliteration I could summon up for whales) around the Dales this week so here’s the rest of the photo diary:
The Dales shower didn’t bother me; I wasn’t cold. There was no fierce easterly wind biting as it did last week. I stood on Winskill Stones and watched a perfect semi-circle rainbow form above Ribblesdale. There was a dusty mist in the valley, dark streaks of rain drifted into the distance as the shower passed through. A grey veil hid Ingleborough’s flat summit.
The underside of heavy cloud to the west was tinged purple by the glow of a magnificent setting Sun. Just for a few minutes I forgot about problems caused by humans and marvelled at the wonder of a far superior Nature. Too briefly, shades of gold and red filled a stage in the sky. A beautiful Saturday night performance played for the benefit of many but attended by few. And people say they’ll miss Ant & Dec.
A friend asked me to settle an argument about where the River Ribble starts. I’ve been through this before via the blog, with me spouting some high and mighty claptrap about it never starting or finishing, as it is just rain water which heads to the sea, evaporates and falls again.
Not satisfied with my theory I was told to point to a place on a map. Annoying my pal further I insisted that there isn’t one particular source. There are so many tributaries, some just starting out as trickles of water off the highest fells or from springs dotted around the dale.
I’ve read a dozen books in which the authors have put forward arguments for different ‘sources’. There’s a spot on Cam Fell where water can either go east through Wharfedale or west through Ribblesdale; water from Batty Moss can head off to Morecambe Bay via Chapel-le-Dale or join the Ribble for a longer journey west. From up around Newby Head and surrounding fells, water can head down into Wensleydale to the Ure or find its way via various gills to help form the Ribble. Even the mass of Park Fell and Ingleborough on t’ other side of the dale can lay claim to providing a ‘source’ for the Ribble. The people at the Ordnance Survey aren’t much help, either. On a Dales map from the mid-1800s (reproduced here) is marked a spring, and beside it is printed ‘Ribble Head’. Later editions of the map don’t include this. In fact, the terms River Ribble and Ribblesdale do not appear on the later versions of the OS map until various water courses have joined forces near Selside.
We ended up agreeing there are bigger things to worry about in life, like whose round it was.
I have a treasured signed copy of Bill Mitchell’s book, Summat & Nowt, which is looking a bit tatty now having been read half a dozen times and referred to on numerous more occasions. I’d already known and worked with Bill for about five years when in 1998 he dropped off copies of that newly published book at the Dalesman office. He liked to pop in to talk of journalistic matters and be reminded what life was like ‘at the coal face’, as he would say.
The book has a chapter called The Long Drag, which is culled from a book he wrote of the same name. It’s a lovely piece on the Settle-Carlisle Railway – not about the intricate technical details the train buffs prefer, or a dry account of its construction and history – but of the characters who brought the line to life. The drivers, signalmen, station masters, tea lady – and a host of other volunteers who dragged the line through its darkest days.
So this week it was a great pleasure to be invited to the unveiling of a plaque at Settle station to commemorate Bill’s contribution to the railway. His son David and daughter Janet gave moving accounts of their dad’s affliction: Settle-Carlilitis. Photo shows David and Janet beside the plaque (yes, it was cold, Janet).
Talking about the Ice age … here’s a good example of how those vertical cracks form and destabilise rock faces (near Ribblehead):
Some more shots taken on a freezing trip around the former quarry at the top of Ribblesdale:
Further into the Dales: I had a quick trip down Widdale into Wensleydale early in the week – stopped to capture snow blowing up Burtersett High Pasture:
Thar’s gold in them thar Dales – tha knaws … there have been some glorious golden moments in the Dales over the last 12 months. By standing in the right place at twilight – with or without a camera – I’ve enjoyed many a memorable sunset scene here in the western Dales. I’ve dug out a few shots for this week’s blog:
One of my pet hates is fly-tipping. Whether found in the Dales or in towns and cities it’s disgusting and whenever I see such selfishness I will report it. Last week on my way to watch my football team in Huddersfield I saw a wagonload of discarded household goods dumped near the canal. I Tweeted about it and the story was followed up by the Huddersfield Examiner. I was there again yesterday and the rubbish had gone. So the understaffed local press still has some power and a part to play in the community. I wonder how long the trash would have stayed had it not been publicised – and how long before more is dumped there? https://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/huddersfield-town-fan-brands-fly-14290468
In 2015/16, the estimated cost of clearing of fly-tipping to local authorities in England was nearly £50 million. When councils are struggling to pay for schools and social services, this is such a waste of revenue. Added to this, the cost of fly-tipping on private land is estimated at between £50 – £150 million a year. Fly-tipping can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court yet this doesn’t seem to stop the criminals.
I know people will say that councils should stop charging residents for taking larger loads to their tips – I wonder if those same folk would complain if the £50m cost was added to the general rates? In many cases fly-tipping is carried out by rogue traders who charge customers for disposal but instead of disposing it properly just dump the rubbish on someone else’s doorstep. As I say, scumbags.
That youthful lad inside my head really wanted to sledge down this sloping track above Langcliffe. Alas, I think it would only have ended in tears and broken bones.
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
If I was ever banished from Yorkshire for some heinous crime – such as criticising Geoff Boycott, cooking Lancashire hotpot, or opening my wallet in public – then I’d like to be transported to Kirkby Lonsdale. In fact, many places in Westmorland would suit me as a Yorkshire convict. Even when I travelled through on a dull, unphotogenic day recently there was plenty to admire in this borderland which changes landscape character from gentler dales to rugged Lakeland fells.
Anyway, I’m happy to remain in the White Rose county, and I have no intention of breaking in Yorkshire laws at present. We in the western Dales missed the worst of the county’s snowfall this week but by gum it were parky. With plenty of blue sky around I got some nice shots on my local travels (top shot shows Penyghent from the churchyard of St Oswald’s, Horton-in-Ribblesdale), and I enjoyed a couple of splendid sunsets.
Yorkshire Dales churches
This week’s church is St Oswald’s at Arncliffe. There has been a church here, beside the River Skirfare in Littondale, since the early 1100s. The earliest building was demolished in the 1400s and a new one built. There have been many alterations since, but the tower remains from that 15th-century rebuild.
The next four shots were taken around Langcliffe on a cold and frosty morning…
Finally, I can officially mention Christmas now that Settle lights have been switched on. Please shop close to home and support your local businesses. http://www.settle.org.uk
Does anyone know of a decent etiquette guide for Dales walkers? I’ve tramped the county’s hills and valleys, villages and tracks for umpteen years and still I’m never sure when and how to greet fellow walkers. My guess is that you’re allowed to acknowledge people as long as there aren’t too many folk around. For example, if I’m walking from my village of Langcliffe to Settle along the back road known as the High Way, it seems acceptable to say ‘Morning’ – provided it’s the morning of course – but by the time you get to Constitution Hill at the top of Settle you must not pass the time of day with anyone (unless you know them).
Last week on a lonely green lane, after not seeing a single person for almost an hour, I crossed paths with a jogger who completely blanked me. Perhaps runners and cyclists have their own code of conduct? What do you do when you’re out in the countryside, where paths can be quite busy – like at Gordale Scar or Malham Cove – and where you can spend too much time saying hello when you ought to be admiring the scenery or avoiding animal droppings? Or when you pass a waggle (that’s my collective noun for a group of walkers) who have stopped mid route for refreshments, or you meet at a gate or stile – ‘morning all’ has to suffice in such cases, surely? When a waggle is a straggly waggle, it just becomes tiresome to say hello to everyone.
Then there’s what to say. I’ve tried all sorts … hello, how do, hiya, the aforesaid morning (but at what time should this change to aft’noon?). Just to amuse myself I have been known to drift into Yorkshire with ey up and na’then. Often I’ll come out with something that’s a mixture of many greetings and I’ll wander on, somewhat embarrassed, thinking ‘why on earth did I say that?’.
Sometimes I get the feeling that strangers from distant lands, like Bradford and Leeds, are humouring my quaint rural ways. Other times I receive a wary, suspicious response as strangers mentally question my sanity. And just who am I allowed to involve in this briefest of communication? You can get those strange teenage-type gawpy expressions from some younger folk; others avoid eye contact. Couples can be deep in conversation or mid argument and I don’t like to intrude – do I march on and ignore them? Occasionally there are those who deliberately bring you to halt and want to know your life story – or at least demand to know where you have been/going. There are walkers who insist on mentioning the weather – nice day; bit colder today; that wind’s a bit naughty intit? Not being one for eloquent or snappy responses, I normally respond with ‘Aye’ and quickly move on. And when is just a brief nervous smile, a raising of the eyebrows or a Yorkshire nod of the head deemed acceptable as a greeting? Walking can be stressful. Is it any wonder I try to find the loneliest places in the Dales?
Anyway, on with this week’s photos. The top pic and this one were taken on a morning walk by the Ribble from Horton.
As mentioned on my Yorkshire Surnames page, I write a short piece each month about names for Down Your Way magazine. I’m pleased to see that the publication won Best Community Publication at this week’s O2 Media Awards. Visit http://downyourway.co.uk
I see there’s festive food for sale in supermarkets. First person to ask me if I’ve made any plans for Christmas gets a withering look.
My old milk-bottle legs got an airing in the sunny Dales yesterday. Shorts were donned for a walk around Warrendale Knotts just up the hill from home in Langcliffe. From the top of any of the limestone knolls you can enjoy great views east and west. The mighty scars here are as impressive as any along the Craven Fault, and the limestone Dales landscape contrasts greatly from the neighbouring gritstone area where Black Hill and Rye Loaf Hill loom darkly. In the west, Ingleborough and Penyghent look down on Ribblesdale. Top photo shows Attermire Scar with Black Hill and Rye Loaf Hill in the background.
Off to Hell
Earlier in the week I drove through the Dales to the Mallerstang area, captured a steam train crossing Dandry Mire viaduct and took a trip to Hell. Well, Hellgill Force, to be precise. Sometimes this waterfall can be nobbut a trickle while other times it’s a truly spectacular sight when water cascades down from the steep fells. Hell Gill forms the boundary between Yorkshire and Westmorland and is where the water chooses which way to head to the coast – either west along the Lune and Eden route, or east and on to the North Sea via the Ure. This ‘Hell’ has nothing to do with that devil chap, in case you were wondering – the name stems from an Old Norse word ‘hella’, meaning flat stone.
Sometimes I’ll post on social media a Dales photo which I’m particularly pleased with only to find there’s but a trickle of interest in it. Other times I’ll pop up a quick snap which I feel is quite ordinary that causes a torrent of interest and admiration. The reasoning behind these reactions I’ll leave for the social media gurus and psychologists to fathom. I hate to use the phrase, but here goes anyway … ‘whatever floats your boat’. This week I dabbled a bit with Photoshop on a couple of shots (at this point half the audience throw their hands up in horror, their faces showing utter disdain). But I don’t care what people think of my resulting ‘artwork’. For me, Photoshop, and any other picture manipulation method, is just a medium, or a paintbrush. There’s satisfaction about creating something unique – which you personally enjoy. And anyway, the forming of the ‘watercolour’ of the area near Wharfe, Crummackdale, (above) helped pass away an otherwise miserable day in the Dales.
Close to where I took the original for my ‘artwork’ is this small dales waterfall along Wharfe Gill Sike. It looks serene here but after heavy rain it can be dramatic.
You’ll need to view this panorama large on a computer screen to appreciate the detail – clouds are still hanging in the dale to the north of Gearstones, seen from the limestone pavement above the former Ribblehead Quarry.
Similarly, this one showing the outline of Penyghent, taken from near Colt Park, will be nobbut a black blob if you view on a little phone screen. There’s some subtle light in the foreground and I was pleased with the redness of the cloud tops.
I wasn’t lucky enough to see the aurora this week but did manage a couple of stunning sunsets from up on Winskill Stones, above Langcliffe.
On a walk between Wharfe and Austwick the autumn sky cleared briefly to light up this lovely scene.
More dales views
A few more shots from my stroll around the former Ribblehead Quarry… the first three showing the Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and a distant Penyghent.
I popped into the impressive Village Store at Clapham for an open night this week. Besides sampling some impressive dales produce I bought Dalesman’s latest book, Bill Mitchell’s Yorkshire. Bill’s son David and daughter Janet were both there and it was a delight to see them both again. David compiled the book – you can see my thoughts about it on the Reviews page.