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.

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.

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.

Ribble reflections and crown of Thorns

Ribble 2Two enjoyable shortish walks by the Ribble to report on this week. The river looked fabulous as it reflected the sun while I sauntered along to Stainforth.

Ribble stackhouse
The Ribble and Stackhouse from Stainforth Scar

Then it was a trudge up Stainforth Scar to take in views up and down Ribblesdale. I’ll let the photos do the talking here as I’m out of breath…

Ribble smearclouds
Lovely clouds over Ingleborough, Smearsett Scar and Knight Stainforth
Ribble pyggap
Penyghent seen through a gap in an ancient wall on Stainforth Scar
Ribble path
One of my favourite paths near Langcliffe
Ribble rocket
Looks like a rocket taking off from Skipton – the first manned exploration probe into Lancashire?
Ribble stile
Another view towards Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough
Ribble hayfield
One day, son, all this hard work will be yours…

Making hay while the sun shone was the order of the day as I approached Langcliffe. So satisfying to see people working while I idle my time away.

Ribble langhay

Ribble langhay1

Ribble head

Later in the week in cloudier weather I snatched a short walk at the head of the Ribble. Thorns Gill looked and sounded fabulous. The crown of Thorns has to be the hidden waterfall at the Gearstones end. But the old bridge which has defied gravity for hundreds of years was also a splendid sight.

Ribble thornsfall

Ribble thorns1

Ribble thornsrock
A miniature world on a rock – a bit like planet Earth, really

The Three Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Penyghent took on different moods as the clouds (and trains) passed by.

Ribble thorns2
Clouds gather over Park Fell and Ingleborough
Ribble thornstrain
Zoomed in from Thorns Gill – a goods train over Ribblehead Viaduct, helping to remove more lorries from our congested roads.




Changing scenes, honours and farewells


I didn’t know until this week that someone could become a ‘honorary Yorkshireman’. The old notion that unless your Yorkshire lineage stretched back as far as the Viking invasion you were, and always will be, considered as an offcumden, seems to have been chucked out with the bath water. On Monday, a bloke called Gary Barlow was awarded the distinction of Yorkshireman at what appears to have been a very un-Yorkshire-like OTT event put on by the Welcome to Yorkshire tourist organisation. Apparently, this Barlow fellow was once part of a popular beat-combo ensemble called Take That, and his credentials for being upgraded from Ordinary Cheshire Chap to Honorary Yorkshireman is due to him writing songs about our Calendar Girls. Now I’m not knocking Welcome to Yorkshire, who do a splendid job promoting the county, but I wonder if they are overstepping their jurisdiction here. Just who has the right to declare someone as being ‘Yorkshire’? And surely a pie and pea supper followed by a bingo session at a village hall would have been a more appropriate occasion to bestow such recognition? I wonder if Mr Barlow (Hon Yks) is now advocating a change of name to ‘Teck That Pal’?

Top picture: a giant caterpillar crawls out of the mist over the Settle landscape this week.

I attended the memorial service to a real Yorkshireman on Tuesday when the folk of Settle and district paid their respects to the late Bill Mitchell at St John’s. Bill attended the chapel for many years and was also a lay Methodist preacher in the district. The place was packed – he will certainly be missed in these parts but thankfully he leaves a great legacy.


I was itching to get out into the Dales by Thursday, and with the forecasters saying there could be some sunshine in the morning I found myself heading up Penyghent early doors. Just a quick trip up-and-down the pointy bit, starting from Dalehead Farm on the Stainforth to Halton Gill road. The forecasters didn’t mention there would be intermittent sun/cloud, which led to scene changes happening every few minutes. I got all the way to the top without meeting another soul, and ate my chocolate digestives alone beside a very windswept and mist-covered trig point. Neighbouring Fountains Fell was completely enveloped by cloud, while the view down Ribblesdale offered little by way of photography. You can just about recognise distant Littondale in the above picture during a brief cloud break-up.

In his lovely book, Summat and Nowt, Bill Mitchell says Penyghent from this angle looks like a marooned whale. He continues: “From the west it takes on the appearance of a recumbent lion with splendid mane. The nose-end enhances the view from the Ribble bridge between Settle and Giggleswick. A local philosopher spent so long contemplating this view that someone asked him what great thoughts had been going through his mind. He replied: ‘I was just thinking how much Penyghent resembles an upturned pudding dish’.”


I sometimes see the great hill as a partly-eaten layer cake. On Friday it looked like icing sugar had been sprinkled over (above). Last weekend those Met Office types had predicted snow on them thar hills by the end of the week. There was the aforementioned light coating on Penyghent and also on Whernside, but nothing on Ingleborough by the time I drove down Chapel-le-Dale.

Regular readers will know of my fascination for changing light in the Dales – and are probably fed up to the back teeth with me mentioning it – however, my passion was satisfied once more near Ingleton as the clouds parted and the landscape around Twisleton Scar briefly lit up. The spectacle is difficult to capture on a still photo and I wish I’d set the camera to video mode:


I continued my journey home through Clapham along the old back road to find the village’s normally sedate falls sporting a whole new persona following the heavy rain. This time I did switch to video – there’s a 23-second movie here:
If you can’t be bothered with going to Youtube for a video then here’s a still…

As I take in the beauty and peace of the Dales countryside I often wonder who will look after it for future generations, thus allowing them to do likewise. Judging by the actions of some fellow human beings recently, I can’t help but think we are still too primitive a species to be left in charge of this beautiful, fragile planet. We kill each other indiscriminately instead of adequately pooling wealth, resources and knowledge; we exterminate plants, birds and animals which keep Nature in balance; we continually destroy and exploit natural assets for selfish gain. Does anyone actually know what – if there is one –  the long-term goal is for humanity? Sometimes it’s difficult not to feel depressed about such issues. Thankfully I’m lucky enough to live in a peaceful part of the world and still have the freedom and ability to enjoy and appreciate its precious gifts.

Meanwhile, the rain continues to pour down here in Ribblesdale. Time to put on the waterproofs and see how my part of the world is coping…

Can you solve my Pecca mystery?

pecca falls

One of the best things about not having only weekends and bank holidays to visit popular tourist haunts is being able to stroll around in a more leisurely fashion. (Apologies to wage-slave readers for such blatant gloating.) This photo of Pecca Twin Falls on the spectacular Ingleton waterfalls trail was taken on such a day. Often you have to queue to see this view and then quickly move on after becoming conscious of dozens of eyes piercing the back of your bobble-hat while you mess about with the camera. This was a wet Tuesday morning in June when I encountered just a handful of fellow retirees – and one well-behaved school group – all the way round the 4-mile trail. I’ve been trying to discover why the falls are called Pecca. I know Pecca is a rare surname and is also an Italian word meaning flaw or fault, but why does it appear in this part of Yorkshire? Any help appreciated.

A dabble in the Dales


I don’t often dabble in the black (and white) arts. I prefer my snaps to reflect Nature just as I find it. But while I was at Scaleber Foss above Settle in Ribblesdale this lunchtime I thought I’d take the above shot with black and white in mind – and it turned out okay although professional photographers might think differently. The water looks inviting in the shot below but I can tell you it was incredibly cold as it flowed off the limestone scars above. Scaleber Beck joins Long Preston Beck to meet the Ribble just below Long Preston village.


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.


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