Why you can’t always bank on Yorkshire

A fine Yorkshire evening at Ribblehead

Summer in Ribblesdale is almost over but I look forward to autumn and the changing colours. The dale is blessed with a good covering of native British trees. Set against the grey backdrop of limestone scars which mellow in the autumn sunshine, they will provide many memorable moments.

Settle is becoming more and more vibrant. The flowerpot festival and folk weekend along with the success of Settle Stories and improvements to the Folly and continued excellence at Victoria Hall have helped attract more visitors. Local shops pubs and accommodation providers all benefit so a ‘well done’ from me to all those involved.

Penyghent from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

I travel to Horton-in-Ribblesdale virtually every day now, helping my son who has a business based there (http://www.cravencleaningservices.co.uk). This summer has seen an incredible number of walkers arriving in Horton to tackle one or all of the Three Peaks. Weekends have seen the tiny village jammed full of cars and large groups of walkers bedecked in T-shirts proclaiming the charities who will benefit from their efforts.

Penyghent this time in the evening

I’ve absolutely nothing against these good folk testing themselves against the Dales landscape as long as they are properly equipped and prepared. But I do sometimes wonder why they all find it necessary to start from Horton. When the first Three Peakers blazed the trail they actually caught the train to Clapham and walked up Ingleborough first. Starting at Ribblehead or Ingleton are also options. And if you just want to do Penyghent, then Helwith Bridge and Dale Head are both excellent starting points.

Waterfall in Ingleborough Nature Reserve

There’s one bit of Yorkshire I’ve gone right off. I’ve been trying to get through to the Yorkshire Bank helpline for 4 days now. If I hear that guitar loop or the Scottish lady telling me I’m in a queue just once more I’ll throw the phone into the Ribble. I can’t currently access my online banking account because they’ve changed the logging-in procedure. They’re sending a passcode to a phone number – except the phone number isn’t mine. Go into the local branch and give them what for, you say? What local branch? The nearest one up to last month was 15 miles away but Yorkshire Bank’s now closed it, so the next nearest one now means a round-trip of 52 miles. A while back I was told I should get the bank’s mobile app so I can bank ‘anywhere, anytime’. That’s a laugh – I can’t get a mobile signal in my rural home. And anyway why should I buy a mobile phone and spend money phoning the bank so they can make staff redundant and close down convenient town centre premises? I read this weekend that 28 percent of the population don’t have mobiles and 18 percent don’t access the internet. That’s a big chunk of the population who are badly catered for by banks. I suppose I’ll be labeled a dinosaur, but being a fully paid-up old fart I don’t care what people think. A bit like the banks really. I’ve been with the Yorkshire for more than 40 years now but I’m afraid that particular relationship will soon be coming to an end. But maybe they’re all as bad?

A Ribblesdale summer – Stainforth Scar from Langcliffe
A few more for the train buffs…

Dales in mad March and democracy (14 pics)

A Dales March can roar in like a lion and leave like a lamb, as the old saying (roughly) goes. This year March didn’t really know what it was supposed to be doing: pretty much like the government really. Sadly, the shutter broke on my overworked old camera so I’ve not been able to capture so much of this changeable weather’s effect on the Dales.

One day there’s snow on the Three Peaks, another day gale-force winds charge down Ribblesdale. The river almost burst its banks at one point and there were also some T-shirt days to boot. Top photo: not the best shot I’ve ever taken but I just liked the stark contrast in the dale around Horton-in-Ribblesdale on the day.

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The other 2 of the Three Peaks with their snowy caps on.

Whenever it snows during spring I think of the Dales hill farmers. Their job is tough enough at lambing time without having to cope with freezing conditions and difficulty getting around the fells.

In her book, Yorkshire Heritage, Marie Hartley writes about one of the isolated farms at Ravenseat. The place is better known nowadays thanks to the well-documented lives of that lovely couple Clive and Amanda Owen and their large flock of children. (See my post http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/2017/01/). Marie Hartley talks about the place during the 1930s when one stormy night a family living there had to take a poorly child by sledge to the main road and then on to Kirkby Stephen. Sadly the young girl died shortly afterwards.

We take so much for granted today: phones, 4x4s, helicopters, Mountain Rescue, etc. The Dales can be a treacherous place to get stranded. One evening this week I was driving back from the top end of Ribblesdale in a snow/sleet storm. Windscreen wipers were in manic mode. Suddenly the road was completely white. I could see no tyre tracks in front of me and nothing in the gloom behind. It reminded me of how quickly conditions can change and how vulnerable you can feel here – even in ‘spring’.

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On a sunnier day I popped over to Malham and walked to Janet’s Foss and Gordale. The white-painted shop is what many people remember from their childhood visits to the village.
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I had another fine-day stroll around Wharfe near Austwick. The blossom was out and it felt like proper spring … until the snow came.
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Again, not a brilliant photo but I liked seeing the pony with the sun on its back at Wharfe (below).

Take care, son

Before retiring I worked with Tony Husband – a brilliant cartoonist who is also involved with dementia care. This poem, which always makes me shed a tear on reading, is from his lovely and thoughtful little book Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and His Dementia. You can get it on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Take-Care-Son-Story-Dementia/dp/1472115562 or from book shops for under a fiver – and it is worth double that amount.

Democracy? What democracy?

There are a lot of people banging on about democracy at the moment. Many believe that because they shout the loudest they have some kind of democratic right to have things their own way. They then cry foul when those supposedly democratically elected don’t ‘represent’ them.

Because of our voting system, we don’t live in a ‘dictionary-defined’ democracy. That’s why MPs will never truly represent the majority of people. For example, in the last election the Greens got 512k votes but just 1 MP, whereas DUP received only 292k votes but 10 MPs. The Lib-Dems got nine times that number of votes but only 12 MPs.

In the ill-conceived EU referendum, leave got 17.4m votes, remain received 16.2m while 13m didn’t vote at all. So when people say ‘the majority of Brits wanted to leave’, that’s not strictly true is it?

The voting and political system in this country needs bringing into the 21st century; Westminster needs turning into a museum and some of its dusty inhabitants should be mothballed. Rant over.

Evening light on rushes at Helwith Bridge.

‘And he had trudged through Yorkshire dales,
Among the rocks and winding scars;
Where deep and low the hamlets lie
Beneath their little patch of sky
And little lot of stars:’
Wordsworth

It looks like the end of a warm day up on Winskill – but actually it was freezing.

Dales snow: make the most of it – 14 photos

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The Dales wrapped in a white winter coat – a rarer sight than it once was. I wonder if today’s youngest generation will one day be telling their grandchildren about the time they witnessed the final snowfall in the region. Climate change is definitely happening.

‘Experts’ might disagree over the causes, and certain trumped-up heads of state might be in denial over it, but I’ve seen it happening in my lifetime. That’s not just through misty reminiscences of harsh winters – such as in 1962/3 when as a child I recall enormous ice-slides and endless sledging – but also through my work.

When editor of Countryman http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk/ I received hundreds of articles concerned with changes in animal behaviour, the disappearance of species, alterations to landscape, unusual flooding and strange seasonal variations etc. Left alone, Nature will take its course – the trouble is, humans are not always in line with Nature’s wider picture.

I received hundreds of articles concerned with changes in animal behaviour, the disappearance of species, alterations to landscape, unusual flooding and strange seasonal variations etc. Left alone, Nature will take its course – the trouble is, humans are not always in line with Nature’s wider picture.

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Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct

Changing times

This month’s photos show how different the weather has been over the last few weeks . One minute it’s green and warm, fooling spring flowers into poking through; the next minute the same plants are battling temperatures of -6C.

Seeing all the snow reminds me of some of the old Dales sayings I’ve come across over the years. Farmers up in Swaledale might say: “Snaw’s fair stourin’”, which means a strong wind is blowing snow strongly.
If it is tewtlin’, it means the snow is falling gently and settling. In one of his many books, Bill Mitchell talks of farmers teeavin’ (wading) their way through snowdrifts to rescue sheep. Small 4x4s can help nowadays but hill-farming is still a very arduous job (with scant financial reward) when the Dales are in the grip of winter.

Penyghent from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Penyghent – in fact, all the Three Peaks – display an air of majesty in the snow. Lovely to look at but their ascent should be tackled only by the fit and well-equipped. I did the Three Peaks this week – by car and photographically, needless to say – to capture the scene from some of my favourite locations:

What do you mean?

Folk often ask me, ‘What does Penyghent mean?’. You’ll discover a few answers but really no one can be certain of its origin. It’s (probably) a name that’s been passed down from the days when Celtic tribes lived in the area. But as our language changed and different people moved in, translations were often corrupted or deliberately altered. Even in the last century thoughts on the name’s meaning have varied. Today we’re told it means ‘hill of the winds’, whereas in Victorian times it was translated as Pennigant (from Pen-y-Gaint), meaning ‘at the field head’ or ‘end of the plain’. Another Dales mystery.

Trains in the Dales

There was a fair old gathering of photographers braving the chilly conditions at Ribblehead yesterday. For those who need to know … it is the Mayflower (front) and British India Line pulling the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express excursion. https://www.settle-carlisle.co.uk/

While the posse kept an eye out for the main event, I was looking the other way at the setting Sun.

Some more of the greener stuff from late January…

Stainforth Scar from Langcliffe
Ancient fields near Langcliffe, Ribblesdale
View to Ingleborough from Winskill
Penyghent Gill at Giant’s Grave
Penyghent from the road between Stainforth and Halton Gill

Check out your Yorkshire surname: http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

How the Dales have changed since 76

During the long, hot summer of 1976 the Yorkshire Dales were my playground. I was 23, fit and energetic and starting to create a career in journalism. Move on some 42 years to another sunny summer, and here I am: overweight, fond of an afternoon doze and I’m a pensioner – but at least the Dales remain my playground.

While idling my time away on the slopes beside Ribblehead Viaduct one day last week, waiting to photograph a steam train crossing the mighty structure, I thought about how the place had changed since the 1970s. Yes, the topography is pretty much as it was back then but the atmosphere is very different.

Today I walked up the track towards Blea Moor alongside people who were wearing flip-flops. The recently extended car parking areas were full to the brim. A group on a sponsored Three Peaks hike ploughed through the sightseers. A small helicopter landed and took off again ten minutes later. A chap tried out his new drone (unsuccessfully).

Two noisy Chinook helicopters made their way over the Dales like annoying flies, circled over the viaduct then headed back over Cam Fell. Flashes from mobile phones greeted their arrival and departure.

I’d arrived to my spot early to find a good uninterrupted view of the viaduct with Ingleborough in the background. Two minutes before the train was due a family of four plus a loose and inquisitive dog plonked themselves right in my sight-line. The Dales were never so in the 1970s, or perhaps in those days it was me who was being the nuisance?

I’ve taken so many photos since my last blog – even a cartload of snaps from a few days in the Scottish Borders around Kirk Yetholm at the end of the Pennine Way – that I’ve had difficulty narrowing down the selection. Anyway, here I share a few. The top pic shows the view from above Buttertubs Pass back towards Ingleborough.

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Shades of brown, looking towards Ingleborough again, this time from Giggleswick Scar. Below, the other direction with Giggleswick School chapel dome above the trees.

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From near the same spot, a sheep shelters from the sun and the view down towards Settle.

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Not sure what happened here.

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In case the previous photo has anything to do with Trump then I’ve sussed out where to head: Hoffmann Kiln, Langcliffe.

Above, church gate decorations in Langcliffe plus two shots up Pike Lane, in the village.

Gargoyles at St Michael’s, Spennithorne near Leyburn.

The Eden Valley seen from the road to Keld.

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Stock shot down Swaledale taken while the grass was still green.

I went to get a shot of a train, well here it is at Ribblehead quarry.

What, no train photos? Fear not, train buffs, I will be putting up special page for you when I get a spare moment. Meanwhile, here’s a moody Ribblehead Station.

I’ll not bore you with my snaps of the Scottish Borders but here’s one from a garden in Yetholm Town … it’s not gnomal, is it?

Joyous June in the Dales (37 pics)


So, a month of strolling and taking pictures in the Dales has gone by without a blog from me. It’s not been easy – I’ve been dying to show off about living in such a beautiful place and the Nature I’ve seen as the Sun threw wide its arms, saying ‘come on lad, fill thi booits’.
Even the milk-bottle legs got an airing (allowing all manner of flying objects to help themselves to a Jackson blood-fest).
Within a 25-mile radius of home the Dales have provided relaxing walks and waterfalls, stunning sunsets and glorious sweet meadows to melt the senses. The camera has worked overtime and illustrates the wonderful Yorkshire Dales through pictures much better than I can with words.

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Let’s start with some Three Peaks photos. Top is Ingleborough; above is Whernside seen over Ivescar Farm; below are two shots of Penyghent in Ribblesdale.

Trains in the Dales

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Apologies for the quality. I zoomed in from the Coal Road above Dent station across a few miles to try capture this train as it left Blea Moor tunnel.

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I see now what I have in common with train enthusiasts: grey hair.

Littondale

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First few photos around Foxup, Cosh and Halton Gill. The last two on the way to Littondale from Stainforth showing Penyghent Gill and farm, and Fountains Fell.

Nature in the Dales

Cheeky little monkey (calf, actually) sticking its tongue out at me.

More Dales scenes

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Four photos from a walk along the Pennine Way around Malham and Darnbrookdale. Below a couple from around the Dentdale area.

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Aisgill Falls near Hawes, and a classic shot of Hawes church.

I also visited Appleby Horse Fair earlier in the month. Some locals complain about the annual fair while others are happy to make a bit from increased visitor spending, renting camping space and charging for parking. As a visitor I only see a snapshot of the event, of course, but it seemed well policed and had plenty of RSPCA officials on hand. I wasn’t around to clear up any mess though. For a short slideshow visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSu-Ypcw0zM

And finally…

I could have filled the blog with many more June shots but you’d have probably fallen asleep … here are three shots taken at sunset from Winskill, Ribblesdale, looking towards Ingleborough, to help you snooze.

See you next month.

Memories (vague) of a real Dales pub

10 Dales photos here. Earlier in the week I was staring down Chapel-le-Dale. It was hazy in the distance – and hazy in my head. I was overlooking the Old Hill Inn (see pic below) and thinking, I’m sure it was just called the Hill Inn when I went there in the 1970s, but I suppose even pubs get old.

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I’ve not been inside for donkey’s years; if I do it’ll probably ruin the nostalgia. Back in the seventies it was full of walkers, climbers and cavers – and we drank lots of beer; there was nothing else on tap. If we were lucky there might have been a packet of crisps to share. I remember dozens of wet hiking socks and boots drying by the open fire.

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Ingleborough this week.

Daft cavers and climbers would test their skills by traversing the exposed internal stone walls like gigantic spiders, making their way to the outside loos. I don’t remember there being a closing time but somehow we (usually) ended up in our tents in the neighbouring field.

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High-contrast view down Chapel-le-Dale, one of my favourite dales.

Occasionally a guitar would appear and a bout of folk singing would break out; but the music genre depended very much on the clientele – my group of rowdy outdoor activities types, for example, preferred bawdy rugby songs.

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You’ll not be surprised to learn that Penyghent features again this week. The dominant hill of Ribblesdale puts on many faces (top photo in blog, seen from Langcliffe Scar), above from Selside and (below) as a backdrop for the Settle-Carlisle railway line. Good to see the steam excursions heading up and down the dales once more.

The pleasant weather had me out on a few local strolls to capture the colour, flora and wildlife …

St John’s, Langcliffe.


In other news: I’ve reluctantly switched from Yorkshire Tea to PG Tips and will remain that way until Yorkshire Tea remove plastic from their tea bags. So there.

My contributions to May’s Countryman and Down Your Way magazines include memories of the old kitchen ranges, a round-up of conservation news, and a look at the surname Holmes. Please support local magazine publishers: dalesman.co.uk  Latest magazines available in most newsagents and supermarkets.

April hues, ewes and awws in the Dales

It’s the end of April, a third of the way through the year – where has time gone? Seems like only yesterday I was thinking about snowdrops not making it through a layer of snow. Now already the daffodils are on their way out and the lambs are growing up. Soon the flower meadows will be bursting with colour here in the Dales. I seem to be getting old very quickly nowadays so my vow is to get out and enjoy the landscape; smell the flowers and listen to the birds as much as possible as spring turns into summer.

I hadn’t much chance to get out with the camera this week but here’s a medley of April photos showing how different the month can be. The first two pictures were taken during ‘this week’ a year apart. (Top near Moughton Scar, the other showing Ingleborough.)

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Warrendale Knotts (above) one evening this week, and Halton Gill (below) last week.

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
– Robert Frost, 1926

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Two evening scenes from Horton-in-Ribblesdale taken this week. That’s Penyghent in the background on the shot below.

Do I ever travel ‘abroad’ to take photos, you ask. Well yes, of course – I took these at one of my favourite places outside the Yorkshire Dales: the NE coast around Bamburgh and Lindisfarne. I love the Yorkshire coast too, but the vast skyscapes and the unspoilt Northumberland beaches with their dramatic castles and history take some beating.

So we go to the polls again next week, once more trying to convince ourselves that we live in a democracy; that the ‘will of the people’ will triumph; that our cross on a bit of paper will bring us nearer to the Utopia we crave. Will you vote for a political party, no matter who the candidate might be? Or vote for someone who is actually looking to care for your corner of the country? I’d like to see local council elections stripped of all political labelling and backing; and for council chambers to cease trying to be mini-Houses of Parliament where party policies and in-fighting become more important than actual local issues.

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Typical Dales April: above, Penyghent from the road to Halton Gill from Stainforth in glorious sunshine last week; below, this week Whernside hidden by low cloud as a goods train passes over Ribblehead Viaduct.

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April ewes, ears and awws.

Springing back to life in the Dales

dalesLooking over the western Dales from my perch at the trig point near Bowland Knotts I thought about the people I’ve known who are now sadly unable to enjoy such pleasures. It’s good for the soul to remind yourself every now and then just how lucky you are.

The moors up here can be bleak – and they were certainly cold the day I visited this week. But today the Sun is out, and at last there are signs of spring. I can hear peewits (lapwings) calling, back on the higher ground from the valley looking for nesting sites and mates. A less-travelled red grouse shrieks after being disturbed in the heather.

In the distance I can make out the snow-topped Lakeland fells, while directly across Wenningdale the guardians of the Dales line up in defiance: Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough, Penyghent and Fountains Fell. While supping tea from a flask I really appreciate what Nature has dished up for me this morning. Top photo: the view of Ingleborough and Whernside from near the trig point.

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If you look very closely you can just about see the trig point – follow the wall to the top left. Below, zoomed in on Ingleborough and Penyghent from the trig point.

I watched this coot for a while at Helwith Bridge quarry. It swam into thicker reeds where a moorhen was minding its own business. There was a bit of a kerfuffle, much squawking and splashing of water before the coot took off and made an undignified landing at the other end of the pool.

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This waterfall, unnamed on the OS map, only performs after a long period of rain. It can be found just off the road about half a mile from Selside in Ribblesdale on the Horton side.

I posted this photo of Penyghent on Twitter earlier in the week – the last time I looked at the stats it had attracted more than 12k impressions. A classic Dales shot, photo-bombed by a crow.

There are lambs all over the Dales are the moment. Farmers are still putting out extra feed as the grass isn’t as lush as it normally is at this time of year. For comparison here are photos from this year (above) and on the same day in 2017.

 

“And this, children, is the view towards Crummackdale – oh, where did that idiot with the camera come from?”

I took this photo of Penyghent on my way to view the previously mentioned waterfall. I upped the contrast a bit and it now it looks more like a painting. I wish I had the patience (and talent) to sit there and sketch the scene.

No, I didn’t head for the coast: black and white seemed appropriate for this shot of the anglers’ quarry at Helwith Bridge.

Dales trains, waterfalls, sunsets and kittens

dalesIt’s a pleasure to see a steam-hauled train dashing through the Dales. Here Galatea makes its way off Ribblehead Viaduct on the spectacular Settle-Carlisle line (yesterday evening).  There were just a few remnants of snow on Whernside but looking at the weather forecast it seems like there’s more to come.

DalesI thought it was about time I tried a longer walk this week to see if my injured (ancient) left hip and knee could stand it. Four miles around Ingleton was enough. I took in part of the waterfalls walk and although the lighting was poor I managed to add a few shots to my collection.

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The collection of Dales twilight and sunset shots also grew a little fatter this week. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram etc are not really geared up to show subtlety in photographs but I hope, even on phones, you can get some idea of what I was aiming for in these shots taken in Ribblesdale.

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Penyghent under a sunlit cloud.

As mentioned in previous blogs, if I want to clear my head I’ll often drive on the road from Clapham up to Bowland Knotts and have a little saunter around. I love the view over the western Dales but by heck it was cold earlier in the week.

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The other two of the Three Peaks, Whernside and Ingleborough, as seen from Bowland Knotts.

If you look closely all three can be seen in this photo.

If you’ve got a ‘Hi-Dad-hope-you-are-ok-can-you-do-me-a-favour’ offspring then you’ll know that most of what you’ve said to them over the years has probably gone in one ear and straight out of the other without saying the briefest hello to any active brain cells. A few weeks back my son said he’d love a kitten for his new home and I dutifully (and boringly) informed him about all the pitfalls about costs, smells, vets, food costs, leaving it alone while at work, keeping you up at night etc, etc. Last week he got one – of course. I must admit he’s the cutest thing (the cat, not my son) and his picture (the cat, not my son) is now my screensaver. I reckon the cat, who looks very smug, will take as much notice of my son as my son does of me. Photo by William Jackson.

Dales in the twilight hour (11 pics)

Once again the Three Peaks area of the Dales has captured my attention. The whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is well within an hour’s drive from home – and I love it all, but the Three Peaks are on my doorstep so I get the chance to see them in all their moods in changing weather and light.

Crepuscular. Yes, you heard me correctly. Crepuscular is my word of the week. It’s a word for the twilight and those rays of sunshine that poke through the clouds. If you’re standing on the right vantage point at the time they appear you can scan around the dales and pick out the places they highlight. I zoomed in from Winskill to catch one on Ingleborough (top photo). Above, the setting sun on Friday.

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Two more shots from the same evening.

Below – lovely to look at but not for the unwary or badly equipped, the Dales trio of Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside capped in snow this week:

I like this view of Ribblehead Viaduct (below). Probably not close enough for the train spotters but it helps prove what an achievement it was to build the structure in such an unforgiving landscape.

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Earlier in the week I posted on Twitter a shot taken further down this lane in Langcliffe but looking the other way. Below, frozen quarry pond at Helwith Bridge.

From Dales to Town

Sheep pretending to be rocks – or rocks masquerading as sheep? I’m writing the blog earlier than normal because football is now run by TV companies (bear with me – the dales, sheep, TV and football will all be linked, eventually).

In the past, wool from the ancestors of these Dales sheep would have been transported further down the Pennine chain to the West Riding towns and turned into some of the finest cloth and carpets in the world. Mill owners built their fortunes and mansions off the backs of these sheep and the hard-grafting working class.

However, trade deals struck up with far away countries with even cheaper slave-labour (ring any bells?) virtually brought an end to the industry, bringing about unemployment, the destruction of communities in its manufacturing heartland, as well as the demise of many a farmer’s livelihood in the Dales.

Some of my ancestors headed from the Pennine hill farms for employment in the mill towns, hence my connection with the industrial West Riding. Nowadays I follow the old wool route from the Dales to Huddersfield to watch my football team, who thanks to TV scheduling have been ordered to play at the ridiculous kick-off time of noon on a Sunday. Baa.