Bronte shame, sailor’s trousers, embarrassing falls and yet more flooding



The weather gods granted me a day out on Wednesday – as my mum used to say, there was ‘enough blue sky to knit a pair of sailor’s trousers’ — so I enjoyed a drive and short walk along and beside the Stainforth to Halton road in the morning, then a trip to Malham from Langcliffe in the afternoon. Penyghent looked resplendent – seen above from Dale Head – while at the Giant’s Grave there was still plenty of water around to creatrockfalle a splash or two. Here the water can take several different directions, filling huge potholes before eventually finding a way down Penyghent Gill and into Littondale.

In the upright photo showing the moors above Halton Gill in the distance, is evidence of a recent rockfall probably caused by the storms. The tree hangs on precariously.


Farms along Henside Road from Cowside to Arncliffe via Malham Tarn are often cut off during winter. I recall Bill Mitchell writing a piece for Dalesman about a family stranded at Capon Hall Farm for several weeks during the bad weather of (I think) 1962. Here’s one of the farms, with Malham Tarn visible in the background. There was a light sprinkling of snow/slush around the higher moors on Christmas Eve but nothing to bother these hardy farmers too much … yet.


I like seeing the fields above Malham, and the limestone of the cove, in the early evening sun when most of the tourists are making their way home. The animals graze peacefully and the whole scene takes on a more pastoral feel.


Embarrassing Falls

The heavy rain has reintroduced many waterfalls which are usually only observed when the underground channels are full. The historic view of water tumbling over Malham Cove last week is a prime example, but there have been many other reappearances too throughout the Yorkshire Dales. This one on the Horton side of Selside doesn’t often teem over the top. It’s a fine little fall which according to the Ordnance Survey doesn’t have a name. Ended-on-my-arse-here Falls would be appropriate, for me at least. Muddied and briefly embarrassed, hoping that no one witnessed my mishap, I walked towards High Birkwith and back along the Pennine Bridleway.

embarrassing falls

On returning home this little chap was waiting for me. He posed for one picture on a neighbour’s bench, then flew off. I haven’t seen him since – perhaps his mission is to say hello to everyone in the dale over the Christmas period.


Even more rain towards the end of the week meant extended time on the computer or watching some mind-numbingly tedious Christmas TV programmes, usually involving ‘celebrities’ – most of whom I’ve never heard of. Can we look forward to a series titled ‘Celebrities on Benefits’. Only a joke, before people write in. It’s no laughing matter being unemployed and anyway, whingeing about TV seems churlish considering what happened yesterday. The floods in the north have caused devastation and severely disrupted the lives of many thousands of people. I had to curtail my journey down the Aire Valley yesterday – I had never seen it so badly flooded – and I was lucky to get back up to Ribblesdale before the roads were closed or impassable. My heartfelt sympathy to everyone affected. Sorry, Mr Cameron, you’re going to have make yet another journey oop t’north for a photo-shoot to show the nation what a caring PM you are.

Bronte shame

Bronte panopticon

A few miles from Ribblesdale is the once-deserted hamlet of Wycoller which contains a partly ruined hall, thought to be the setting for Ferndean Manor – the home of Rochester in the Charlotte Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. The place underwent a bit of a revival a while back but is now under threat again, along with the Wycoller Country Park (pictured above at the Panopticon) and the Bronte Way footpath. All are under the care of Lancashire County Council, but it is now planning to completely close down the management, maintenance and ranger service. If this happens visitors may no longer be able to see the great aisled barn or use the countryside activity centre. The visitor toilets will close and the privately run cafe and shop are unlikely to survive. Wycoller hamlet is one of the area’s prettiest destinations, attracting thousands of Bronte fans, and is served by dozens of volunteers. It is managed by a countryside ranger with a modest budget, so any cost savings from closing it down will be negligible. I first became interested in the area’s literary connections and fascinating countryside some forty or so years ago, and believe it would be a shame if this key part of the Bronte heritage was lost forever. If you agree sign this petition or contact the council

Ribblesdale images

The second instalment of my ‘Year in Ribblesdale’ picture gallery shows snaps taken between May and August inclusive. The choice was difficult as there were some lovely days during spring and summer. September to December photos follow next week.

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.

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