Memories of a white Dales Christmas


Remember Christmas Day 2010? Snow had been falling for a couple of days but the clouds opened up to reveal a glorious clear blue sky on the 25th. I headed up Ribblesdale where the Three Peaks wore wispy scarves of light low cloud mixed with loose blowing snow. The handful of customers in the Station Inn at Ribblehead gave a cheery welcome; further along the road down Chapel-le-Dale at the Hill Inn was this icy greeting. Sadly it doesn’t look like we’ll be treated to a snowy landscape this year – just as well seeing as my camera is still on the blink – but I hope you enjoy a fabulous Yorkshire Dales Christmas just the same.


Serpent of the Dales


I spotted this rare two-horned dinglewart tree serpent near Ingleborough during my break in the Dales this afternoon. Its tongue, horns, protruding fang, right eye and ear are clearly visible and you certainly wouldn’t want to come across one of these things in fading light. They feast on dinglewarts, an endangered species of small furry mammal which are now confined to this corner of Yorkshire and also a tiny section of Peruvian rain forest. Locals tell of an evil curse surrounding the slithering serpent:
If into the serpent’s eyes you stare,
Grey will become your head of hair.
And should the serpent not be fed,
Into cowclap you will tread.

I’ve already suffered that indignity this week and my hair couldn’t get much greyer so I scarpered quickly and took this photo of Ingleborough through autumn trees at St Leonard’s, Chapel-le-Dale.


Room for individuality in the dales?


Do over-zealous planning rules restrict our individuality? Bit of an unusually deep question for me and my blog I know, but this was a discussion that cropped up following a glass or two of red recently. I’m all for preventing the building of a branch of Burger King at the top of Ingleborough but do we really need to gain permission from some bureaucrat to paint our front door red or our garden gate purple? Those of you from towns might wonder what all the fuss is about but if you live in the Yorkshire Dales you’ll know that planning rules can be a nightmare. I was in Shropshire recently  – in a lovely area full of natural and man-made beauty – where several touches of individuality had created a quirky, interesting and vibrant place, and residents were rightly proud of their town. The woman who painted her house with spots did receive some negative comments from a few but the planners eventually agreed to allow the design. I imagine she would have been dragged through the streets by her hair and burnt at the stake in some dales villages. What do you think? Take the poll… I’ll not report you to the Thought Police.

Going with the flow of the Ribble


It’s a shame you can’t hear this photo. I popped out for a bit of air at lunchtime, despite the rain, to see how Stainforth Force was looking. I could hear the mighty thundering of the Ribble from several hundred yards away; standing beside the fall it was deafening. Perhaps it doesn’t look so impressive in the photo but you have to remember that this is normally a short series of falls…  at times today it look like one powerful cascade – and incredibly there were salmon trying to leap against the flow. Daft beggars.
The packhorse bridge here is one man-made structure no one could ever object to in the dales.


Dales barns worth saving


During my travels around the Dales I’ve noticed an increasing number of farm buildings being left to go to ruin. In most cases farmers can’t afford their upkeep and planners won’t/can’t allow permission for their redevelopment. I realise that reusing some of these ancient buildings as homes won’t go very far in solving any housing shortage but it could certainly help save many historic Dales buildings – and also maintain the attraction of the region. I wonder what a similar dilapidated barn to the one above in Widdale would fetch if it were for sale in the Cotswolds or Surrey?

Reds in the Dales


By the time I’d taken this photo those two Jaffa cakes had melted. The cuppa was welcome though here at Ottiwell Lodge, Snaizeholme, near Hawes in the Yorkshire Dales. I’d come to see how the population of wild red squirrels were doing. I spotted a few of the cuties but the little beggars weren’t in the mood for posing for the camera and I certainly wasn’t quick enough to capture them in focus! The scenery of course was wonderful and the temperature in the wood very pleasant.

Water way to walk




The stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal between Kildwick and Skipton offers one of the best waterside walks in the county. Blank out the never-ending traffic noise from the nearby A629 and you can witness beautiful scenery up and down the Aire Valley as well as enjoying nature at close quarters. With the car in for a service at Kildwick this beautiful June morning I walked the four miles or so on the canal towpath to Skipton before catching a bus back. I lost count of the birds I heard; I watched hot sheep in their inappropriate woolly jackets drinking from the canal, and cows lazily grazing in golden buttercup meadows. The bluebells in Farnhill Woods looked stunning where the spotlights of sun breeched the branches. All along the path wild garlic flowered a brilliant white and the smell was intoxicating. Ducks fussed over their untidy straggle of ducklings while two swans looked a little more serene as they guided a group of cygnets out of harm’s way. Cyclists, walkers, boaters all said a cheery ‘morning’. What a difference a bit of sunshine makes. Mind you, the car service bill brought me back down to earth with a bump.