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.
There’s a splendid website which I regularly visit called grough.co.uk which offers all sorts of news and views for walkers, visitors and residents of the Dales, Lakes and beyond. I read a report on there on Tuesday of a walker being rescued from Watlowes dry valley above Malham (pictured). The Clapham-based Cave Rescue Organisation came to the walker’s aid. It was the team’s 72nd rescue of the year. What a great job done by them and the other volunteer rescue teams, such as uwfra.org.uk. It is so easy at this time of year to slip and slide on the fells. I nearly came a cropper myself, slipping on damp limestone while heading down the steep bank to Catrigg Force on Monday. All I was bothered about was my camera. We both emerged unscathed. I got a few photos of the water falls but I’ve not yet captured my ideal shot of this place. There’s usually a lot of ‘clutter’ in the way, but with leaves now dropping rapidly more can be seen of the main falls. Also, there’s such a contrast between the bottom half and the top half of the scene that getting the exposure right is difficult. Perhaps some experts can advise.
The bright blue sky seen through the canopy at Catrigg was almost the last I saw of it this week.
The track up from Stainforth to Catrigg and on to Winskill seems to get steeper every time I tackle it but the view back down between the walls, looking over to Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough, provides a perfect excuse to stop.
Tuesday’s stroll from Langcliffe to Settle via Victoria Cave and Warrendale Knotts was a strange affair. I moved from bright sunshine into thick fog several times. It’s a good job I know the route well – it would have been so easy to have strayed off course. Here’s one of the bright moments:
The landscape’s outline along this part of Stockdale sometimes reminds me of the wild west as seen in old cowboy films. So I couldn’t believe it when I saw heading towards me a herd of cattle being driven down from the hills by some farmhands. Ye-ah.
I chap momentarily mistook me for Mike Harding in Settle the other day; on top of this, someone else mentioned our similarities on Twitter. I wouldn’t mind but he’s even shorter than me and is also about 10 years older. Either I’m looking older than my age or he appears youthful… let’s go with the latter. Perhaps I can get away with a few free pints around Settle? As long as they don’t ask me to sing Rochdale Cowboy or play the banjo. If you’re a fan of folk and traditional music I highly recommend Mike’s podcast which can be downloaded (for nowt) from mikehardingfolkshow.com every Sunday. Perhaps you can listen to it while reading this blog and imagine we’re the same person.
Even though I am ancient I still enjoy kicking my way through the fallen leaves as I’m walking down country lanes. The leaves offer an opportunity for some creative work with the camera – not that it’s my normal style, but I liked the colours and patterns of this shot across Langcliffe Mill Pond taken last Sunday.
Unfortunately, another engagement means I miss the Remembrance service at the village memorial today when the names of Langcliffe’s fallen are read out.
I concluded this week that drystone walls make up the greatest man-made structure in the Dales. I’d looked at all other elements such barns, abbeys, viaducts, quaint cottages and posh houses etc and decided that the humble wall reigned in the dales. No fancy drawings by architects, no cement, no GPS help needed — not much more than a hammer, a bit o’ twine and a good eye have created a masterpiece in the landscape. Above is a photo I took on Thursday evening looking south-west from near Winskill showing the waller’s art.
Hobbyist photographers like me need a bit of luck to end up with photos we’re happy with. I just carry a medium quality digital camera around with me and if I something catches my eye I snap away. I often come across photographers who look like they’re setting up an outdoor studio, and who sit around for hours awaiting the perfect conditions — I’m not knocking them; their results are usually fantastic, and if it’s how you earn a living then you need the best possible results. Last Sunday evening I briefly popped out for a breath of air and spotted these two opportunities as threatening clouds drifted over Ribblesdale. Within a few minutes the scene was completely different — such is the luck of the draw in the dales.
Similarly, on Wednesday I was just walking back home over a railway footbridge near Langcliffe when I heard the sound of a steam train approaching and was able to capture this shot with Penyghent in the background.
I had to spend most of Thursday indoors but fortunately by teatime and with the sky clearing I was able to head up to Victoria Cave. I can see why prehistoric tribes made their home here. The views together with the limestone escarpments of Langcliffe and Attermire Scars plus Warrendale Knots make this one of my favourite regions in the dales.
Photos below show the views east and west from near the cave.
Friday had been pretty dismal but I caught a bit more luck in the evening when I visited one of the former quarries at Helwith Bridge. There’s a small one by the main quarry entrance which has been given over to Nature and I’ve been told that around dusk long-eared owls can sometimes be spotted here. I didn’t see one but was lucky enough to capture some late rays of sunshine both on the water and on Penyghent, one shot reminding me of Ayers Rock in Australia – not that I’ve ever been, but you know what I mean.
Spotted this old forgotten road sign yesterday on a stroll down to the river Ribble which as you can see from my photo by Langcliffe Weir was running low.
I don’t usually have much luck with plants so when I stock up pots and baskets in spring I usually include more than enough, presuming some will die. However, this year it seems all the fuschias in my hanging basket have taken and are now complaining of overcrowding.
I know it’s not that unusual but I watched the sun rise this morning and set again tonight. With more than a tinge of envy I took two friends to Manchester airport for one of those ridiculous ungodly boarding times and waved them off to Cuba. Never mind, I thought, I’ve still got my bit of Yorkshire. In the evening I watched a couple of hang gliders (or should that be gliderers, or maybe glidists?) floating effortlessly above Victoria Cave near Langcliffe, then I witnessed a glorious sunset. By messing about with the camera settings (I MUST read the instruction book one day or go on a course) I captured this shot over Ribblesdale which I rather like for some reason. Who needs foreign lands anyway?