How we build walls in the Dales, Mr Trump

Dales penyghentIt’s hard to picture the Yorkshire Dales without walls. Yes, there are a some wilder spots such as the grouse moors with fewer walls, where there’s no need to prevent stock from wandering where they’re not wanted. I was pondering over this while driving round the Three Peaks area during the week. Penyghent (pictured above), Ingleborough and Whernside all have prominent walls going over the top of them. I think in all three cases these walls are as much to do with indicating parish boundaries as keeping sheep in the right place. Whatever, you’ve got to admire the skill and tenacity of those wall builders of the Dales whose work has lasted many a wild winter. Just a thought … should we invite Mr Trumped-up for a state visit to the Dales to teach him about wall building?



The breeze was strong and the clouds shifted quickly overhead. While Ingleborough and Whernside wore thin white caps, Penyghent was briefly bathed in sunshine. At one time it thought the three were playing a party game, switching hats to the music of the wind. From Kingsdale I watched the scene changing rapidly before I chickened out of a trip along the high narrow road over to Dent as the weather worsened. The Dales can be beautiful and frightening at the same time.

Brief sleety shower on Whernside this week.
Dales in the evening sun – Penyghent from Winskill Stones

When I get older losing my hair… etc

Yes I’m that age today so just a brief blog as I prepare for hordes of visitors heading to my Dales cottage bearing gifts and alcohol. I can’t believe I’d still be singing the Beatles’ When I’m 64, when I’m actually 64. The song was released when I was 14. Where have the last 50 years gone?

Why are our dales crumbling?

dales-ruin15Are there more ruins in the Yorkshire Dales than ever before? Are the traditional stone barns, walls and farm buildings which make the Dales unique gradually disappearing from our precious landscape? Who should be responsible for the upkeep of these iconic Dales features? Will their demise eventually affect tourism and thus local businesses and accommodation providers? Does anyone really care? Those thoughts crossed my mind this week during a short walk on which I came across several run-down buildings. Back home I looked through photos I’d taken over the last 12 months and counted more than 20 shots which included different Dales buildings that had seen better days. I’d not gone out specifically to capture the ruins, nor was my intention to put landowners to shame. I’d merely used the buildings as foregrounds or focal points for the pictures. Some of the buildings were once beautiful structures, architecturally perfect for their settings. They used locally sourced materials and were built by local craftsmen. Agricultural progress and changes have meant that in many cases the original uses for the buildings no longer exist. Many farmers can’t afford to maintain little-used buildings. The National Park’s rigid planning rules allow little by way of development in many cases. And anyway, some are in such out-of-the-way places that changing the use and improvement to modern living standards would be beyond the reach of all but the very richest people. I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know that if nothing is done to stop our heritage from crumbling, the Dales of the future will be far less attractive for residents and visitors. There follows a selection of local Dales buildings captured by me over the last year. I should also say by way of balance that I have seen a few superbly renovated barns on my travels around the dales.


















Vital wildlife corridors worth preserving


There’s a lovely old hedge close to home – interestingly unkempt and a mixture of all kinds of trees, bushes and shrubs. Unusually for this time of year, this morning there were small birds flitting between the branches and singing as though it was already spring. There aren’t a lot of hedges here in Ribblesdale, where those iconic drystone walls tend to dominate the scene. The Dales just wouldn’t be the Dales without those ancient walls; man-made but giving off a natural feel and perfectly embracing their surroundings. Last year I took a number of photos featuring the walls of Ribblesdale; including the one above in autumn just out of Langcliffe village and the one below on a beautiful summer’s day along Watery Lane in Settle. Just as with the hedges, walls provide homes, shelter and vital corridors for all kinds of wildlife – long may they remain part of our countryside.


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