Sheepish in the Dales and a waste of space

dales sheepUsually at this time in my Dales photo blog I’ll offer a ‘best of’ selection from throughout the year. Instead, for the next three weeks I’ll be presenting a different theme using photos taken during 2016. No prizes for guessing this week’s Dales theme…

dales sheep

dales sheep

dales sheep

dales sheep
Waste of space

This week I received a letter from our MP, Julian Smith, in response to a letter I’d sent regarding the proposed closure of Horton-in-Ribblesdale school. Of course, he didn’t give any personal opinions or his own thoughts on the closure but he did include a response he had received from North Yorkshire County Council. There was nothing more in the tangled reply than I hadn’t already read elsewhere, but I was interested in the paragraph reproduced above. The lack of spaces between some of the words has me wondering if this is part of the cutbacks now facing local government. I imagined the following memo being distributed: ‘Management is concerned about the number of spaces being used in correspondence and therefore from today all letters, memos, emails, blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts must contain at least 10 per cent fewer spaces. Thiswillnotonly savetimeand wearandtear oncomputerkeyboards butwillalsosave paper. However, the saving of man hours means that we will have to let one of you go, so wearelooking forsomeone totake voluntaryredundancy.’ The management.

Train of thought

I’m a great fan of the Woodland Trust and once again this year I’ll not be sending out Christmas cards (bah humbug) but will make a small donation to the trust to help with saving trees. I was dismayed to discover a while back that the trust agreed in principal to the building of the HS2 railway – in my opinion it is an expensive vanity project which will churn up the countryside, destroy farms, homes and ancient woodland, increase pollution, drain rescources and cost you and me billions of pounds just so those who can afford it will get to London half an hour quicker. Far less money would be needed to improve the existing network.
However, at least the Woodland Trust is putting up a fight against some of the HS2 proposals – you can read more about on the link below. Their main concerns are: 1. HS2 Ltd has failed to identify ancient woodland before selecting route options for Phase 1; 2. The compensation proposed for loss of ancient woodland is woefully inadequate; 3 Phase 1 could set a precedent for future infrastructure project, including subsequent phases of HS2.
Ancient woodlands and the ecosystems created around them are irreplaceable – think of it as Brimham Rocks … would you agree to destroying this ancient landscape to run a railway line through it?,YXGL,4VVIR1,2QT4O,1

Friends asked if I’d send them some photos of Langcliffe as a reminder of a recent visit to the dales. Instead, I put together a little calendar for them and had a couple printed by one of those quick-print internet companies. One of the calendars is on show in St John’s church so villagers can take a look should they ever need reminding about where they live!

Yes, this week’s theme was cows.

Dales images 2015, fracking hell, litter louts, curlews calling

dales images viaduct
I wrapped up warm and headed for the the head of Ribblesdale on Sunday to see what the snow was like and hopefully capture some more Dales images. Obviously, the top photo was not taken last weekend, but I just couldn’t bide having yet another grey-sky shot to kick off the blog. To greet me at the gate of Ingleborough National Nature Reserve was a large brown bag from McDonalds left by some inconsiderate half-wit. It included containers of partly-eaten food. The nearest outlet is more than 30 miles away from Ribblehead, and I wondered just how many bins the moron passed on his/her way to the beauty spot. I put the rubbish in my car boot, took it home and binned it – not too difficult a task – but I certainly wasn’t ‘loving it’. Ice and a cold wind didn’t lighten my mood but at least I didn’t encounter any rain – for at least an hour or so.

dales images icyquarry

A few outdoor types also leave evidence of their presence in the Dales. I read this week on that a group put together by Kuta Outdoors bagged 16 sacks of rubbish on a clean-up around the Yorkshire Three Peaks route. Kuta Outdoors, who take groups along the Three Peaks routes several times a year, organised the litter pick with people who had walked alongside the company in the past raising money for various charities. Company owner Phil Lee said: “If everyone who comes to the Three Peaks picked up a bit of litter when they saw it, the peaks would stay clean all season.” Well done Phil and the litter-pickers but you really shouldn’t have to do this.

Curlew calling for help

The call of the curlew comforts me. It’s one of the signposts that reminds me I’m tramping the Yorkshire moors. I listen and watch out for the bird from April as it nests around here, and I’ve been known to follow the Ribble to dales images curlewMorecambe, where it spends the winter, to watch it paddling about in the bay. Sadly, the curlew is now on the RSPB’s ‘Red List’ of endangered species  They say the problem is caused by changes in upland management and increased predation. Nature is so finely balanced. Too often we forget we’re not the only species on Earth. I snatched this photo of a curlew as it carried out a fly-past over my head while I was walking between Helwith Bridge and Silverdale earlier this year.

images ribbscar

Trees please

I won’t be sending Christmas cards this year. Instead I’ll be making a small donation to the Woodland Trust. Sorry if that sounds like I’ve a bit of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude. I also think that dedicating a tree to someone is better than giving them a box of Quality Street – bet you’re glad you’re not on my Christmas list. The Woodland Trust does a great job campaigning against indiscriminate felling of trees and saving ancient woodland. Above, trees on Stainforth Scar; below, Gisburn Forest.

dales images gisburn

Wow! Amazing!

I’ve been a fan of Nature and outdoors programmes on TV for many years but I must admit to tiring of them now. Constant dumbing down; the way they give us a five-minute chunk of a story then ‘come back to it later’ really frustrates me. ‘Experts’ are given the shortest time possible to explain things properly so that OTT presenters can ‘have a go’ – I really don’t give a damn if ‘Ellie can milk a llama’ or not. And I’m constantly asking myself what these TV presenters said before they discovered ‘wow’ and ‘amazing’? Must be an age thing.

Fracking hell

Remember the way the Tories heralded their ‘localism’ idea of a few years back? Locals will get to decide on local matters and we’ll all live happily ever after, they claimed. And do you recall how they promised our National Parks and green spaces would remain free from developers and be kept for us all to enjoy? Guess what – they were lying. I’ve watched industrial wind farms spring up all around the Dales and on the edge of the National Park like some giant fence – most being erected against the wishes of the locals. I’ve seen bits of green land gobbled up by developers, again against the wishes of the locals. And now they are allowing more capitalist friends of the government to frack up our countryside. There are parts of the USA and Australia where fracking has taken place on a massive scale; where the consequences have included the contamination of water supplies, toxic waste destroying fertile ground, plants, trees and animal habitats, and huge disruption to the lives of residents. For a map of possible UK fracking sites click here

Dales images 0f 2015

On re-reading this week’s blog, it seems like the persistent damp, grey conditions here in the dale are definitely making me grumpy. At least the bad weather has given me chance to motor on with an idea to portray a year in North Ribblesdale using my snaps. I’m going to be pasting on the site a photo (or two) from every week during 2015, starting this month with Dales images taken between January and April. I’ve not necessarily chosen the best technical or artistic shots, just the ones that tell a story or portray the dale at the time. Hope you enjoy them – May, June, July and August to follow next week (unless we have cracking weather and I’m out and about instead of staring at a computer screen getting even more miserable and political). You can click on the Dales images on the carousel to enlarge (automatically scrolls every 3 seconds). Merry bloody Christmas.

A reminder of our Norse past in the Dales


Scaleber Foss is a lovely location a mile or so above Settle in Ribblesdale on the road to Kirkby Malham. I got caught in a brief hailstorm while there this morning but managed a couple of photos before the soaking. Now, as I look out of my window while typing this blog, fluffy clouds are moving quickly across a pretty blue sky above Scaleber – such is life in the dales. Scaleber Wood is a Woodland Trust property and provides some good walking as well as the series of waterfalls. Foss is an old Norse word for fall and it is said that many Yorkshire words developed from the settling of Scandinavians in the county. I recently discovered that my Y-chromosone male line stems from the oldest tribe to have inhabited Europe (uninspiringly called Haplotype I, mutation M253). They lived in Scandinavia from before the Ice Age, then after the glaciers retreated 15,000 years ago began to spread to the British Isles and elsewhere. So perhaps it was one of my ancestors who brought with him endearing terms such as ‘sithee, eyup and what’s tha laikin at?’.

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