Hidden Ribblesdale, bridging north-south divide, dales immigration issues

Ribblesdale viaduct

Ribblesdale calls me… having been tied up with other matters, and also due to yet more poor weather, I’ve not been able to take the camera for a walk much this week. But on Tuesday I wrapped up well for a trip to the head of the dale. The Three Peaks were all hidden under their cloud-caps, but the sun did make a brief appearance to light up Chapel-le-Dale. Ribblehead viaduct looked majestic against the backcloth of an ever-changing, moody sky. It would have made the perfect setting for a TV drama … (I didn’t see it – some folk tell me I didn’t miss much).

ribblesdale whernside

Hidden Whernside

Doing the Boot-Boots Hop

While I was parked at Ribblehead, scoffing the chocolates I’d stuffed in my pocket from a seemingly endless bag received at Christmas, I laughed to myself as I watched a couple who had parked next to me doing the Boot-Boots Hop. That’s the name I give to that silly little dance attempted by walkers who open the boot of their car and try to don their walking boots. We’ve all done it: hopping, balancing, gripping on to our walking partner or to some section of car so as not to get wet feet or pick up grit under your socks (which becomes a constant nightmare as you walk – do you, like me, shake your foot about like someone with a nervous tick to try shift that tiny annoying piece of grit until finally, half an hour later, give in and take off your boot to eject the blithering thing?). Worse still, the Boot-Boots Hopper slips down the slope because when they backed into the parking spot they ended up too close to a ditch. I hope the couple didn’t see me smirking.

Bridge over the Thames

You might, like me, not be too interested in what Boris and his cronies are up to in London. Well, while we in the north are struggling to get round the place because of damaged and collapsing bridges due to flooding, in the capital they’re well on with planning the ‘London Garden Bridge’. This will be a pleasant not-so-little bridge spanning the Thames, dressed up like something from Chelsea Flower Show. The website https://www.gardenbridge.london states it will cost £175m to deliver the project. Around 65% of the capital costs to build the bridge will be fundraised from the private sector. More than £145 million has been pledged already and there is a business plan to cover the £2 million annual maintenance and operations costs. Transport for London and the Government have together contributed £60 million in total. It’s unbelievable that more than £200m can be whipped up for such a vanity project.

ribblesdale thames

This is a Yorkshire bridge over the Thames in Giggleswick – before anyone writes in and says this is the Tems, not the Thames, I direct you to early Ordnance Survey maps which clearly states the latter spelling. Perhaps someone in London later thought Giggleswick was getting a bit too big for its boots and ordered a spelling change.

ribblesdale chapel

I bought a small pamphlet/book about Giggleswick from those doyens of Ribblesdale history, Phil and Rita Hudson of Settle – a very interesting guide to the ancient township. It contains a walk around the village and details of some fascinating architectural features. On Wednesday I did the walk and added an extra mile or so. On this view of Settle’s situation in Ribblesdale you can see the rooftops of the houses sitting snugly beneath the massive limestone scars, with Castleberg Rock in the middle right. The school chapel, which took four years to build and was opened in 1901, dominates Giggleswick’s skyline from many a different angle.

ribblesdale settle

On Friday, snow hit Ribblesdale from Selside northwards and on higher ground. Penyghent was shrouded in cloud for most of the day but I just grabbed this shot from Winskill Stones in the late afternoon as it briefly emerged:

ribblesdale penyghent

Ribblesdale immigration issues

A few years ago, for an article I was writing about family history, I had my DNA tested. Turns out I’m descended from an immigrant, probably from somewhere in Scandinavia. I have a ‘mutation’ (I know, you already thought that) in my genes which developed thousands of years ago and is found mainly in people from Denmark and in Sweden at frequencies above 30% of the population in those countries. In England this mutation is found in 15% of the population and is most prevalent in northerners. It is possible that my lot hired a longboat about 1600 years ago, and on seeing Yorkshire thought ‘that’ll do’ and decided to set up home here. I drift down this line of thought after being challenged by a Wensleydale chap last week who on hearing me speak said, “Tha’s net fro’ rahnd ’ere, es ta?”
I told him I was born in the Heavy Woollen district of Yorkshire but had lived most of my life around the Craven and Ribblesdale areas. “Thowt so,” he said dismissively. I felt a bit miffed – is Yorkshire such a big place, I thought, that I’m considered a foreigner in my own back yard? I now wonder whether had I told him my male line in Yorkshire goes back to at least 400AD, and perhaps earlier, that he would have been more accepting? Anyway, I bet he was descended from some marauding Scot.

Footnote: when I scribbled a couple of weeks ago about the poor quality of country and wildlife TV programmes, I most certainly wasn’t including anything by David Attenborough. Watching in wonder and listening to the 89-year-old talk with such authority in his Great Barrier Reef series this week reminded me of how spoilt people of my age are to have grown up with such a wonderful ‘teacher’ and presenter.

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