Dales doors and unwelcome guests

I thought I’d better tap in a few words just to let blog readers know I’m still plodding on. There’s not been much ‘plodding’ around the Dales on foot, or out with the camera for me since lockdown but unlike many town and city dwellers, at least I have my local countryside to enjoy.

We’re certainly living in strange times with a pandemic and a political coup going on, but thankfully the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales remains pretty much the same as it has been for centuries. Don’t ask me why, but over the last few months, I’ve been taking more notice of Dales architecture. Not just the 5,000 miles of walls and countless barns that identify this part of the world, but also the doors, lintels, date-stones, and gates many of which are unique to the Dales. Here are a few examples I’ve ‘collected’:

Dales buildings
Dales building
Dales buildings

The walker sees so much more than the motorist – and the motorcyclists who seemed to have swarmed around the Dales more frequently since early July. I’ve nothing against the sensible bikers (don’t laugh – I owned a Honda 125 in my youth) but too many put their own and other people’s lives at risks on tricky roads they don’t know too well. Although over the decades the road from Settle to Ribblehead through Ribbledale has been widened in many places for lorries transporting lime and stone, it is still not suitable for fast traffic. I’m old enough to remember traveling the road in the 1960s before it was straightened out in a few places. Prior to the construction of the mini-bypass, winding your way through Stainforth was a nightmare.

During July farmers were busy in the fields, creating winter feed for their animals and I managed to capture a couple of shots of them at work. The long days and a short spell of sunshine have helped them gather in quite a bit, but damp weather can be disastrous.

Summer evenings became quieter in August. Wildflower meadows should be filled with clouds of butterflies and the buzz of bees, but devastatingly, we’ve lost over 97% of them in the UK. We CAN reverse the decline, but this can’t be done without help. Visit: http://ywt.org.uk/wildlife-recovery-fund

BREAKING I finally got my hair cut. I could have insulated my loft with the cuttings. The barber charged me £1 for a face mask. The previous day I’d bought 50 masks for £17 to use in my son’s cleaning and laundry business. You might see me selling masks from a stall outside the barber’s for 50p each.

My lad’s business depends on tourists, and after three months with zero income, the visitors came flocking back after July 4 to help him keep going. The majority of guests to the Dales are well behaved and considerate, but we’ve noticed an increasing number of disrespectful types compared with last year. Some are behaving like dogs being let off leashes; they’ve no care for the countryside or those who live here, or try to run a business … litter, parking … oh, don’t get me started.

You’d think in times of hardship that local people and businesses would help each other – and in the majority of cases, they do. However, some business owners are not so thoughtful. My son did a lot of work for Great Harlow Lodges of Clapham in March. Despite emails, phone calls, and letters he has not been paid. The matter will be passed on to a debt collection agency. It’s not much money for the owner of the company but a lot for my son. I saw yesterday that the same people are advertising for others to do work for them. My advice to anyone interested is to ensure you get paid upfront.

On a more cheerful note … a few local images:

Langcliffe
Mill pond at Langcliffe
The Ribble at Langcliffe
The Ribble at Horton in Ribblesdale
Mighty Stainforth Scar

I’ve added the names Faber, Hardcastle, Surtees, and Jubb to the Yorkshire surnames file – http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

Dales in mad March and democracy (14 pics)

A Dales March can roar in like a lion and leave like a lamb, as the old saying (roughly) goes. This year March didn’t really know what it was supposed to be doing: pretty much like the government really. Sadly, the shutter broke on my overworked old camera so I’ve not been able to capture so much of this changeable weather’s effect on the Dales.

One day there’s snow on the Three Peaks, another day gale-force winds charge down Ribblesdale. The river almost burst its banks at one point and there were also some T-shirt days to boot. Top photo: not the best shot I’ve ever taken but I just liked the stark contrast in the dale around Horton-in-Ribblesdale on the day.

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The other 2 of the Three Peaks with their snowy caps on.

Whenever it snows during spring I think of the Dales hill farmers. Their job is tough enough at lambing time without having to cope with freezing conditions and difficulty getting around the fells.

In her book, Yorkshire Heritage, Marie Hartley writes about one of the isolated farms at Ravenseat. The place is better known nowadays thanks to the well-documented lives of that lovely couple Clive and Amanda Owen and their large flock of children. (See my post http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/2017/01/). Marie Hartley talks about the place during the 1930s when one stormy night a family living there had to take a poorly child by sledge to the main road and then on to Kirkby Stephen. Sadly the young girl died shortly afterwards.

We take so much for granted today: phones, 4x4s, helicopters, Mountain Rescue, etc. The Dales can be a treacherous place to get stranded. One evening this week I was driving back from the top end of Ribblesdale in a snow/sleet storm. Windscreen wipers were in manic mode. Suddenly the road was completely white. I could see no tyre tracks in front of me and nothing in the gloom behind. It reminded me of how quickly conditions can change and how vulnerable you can feel here – even in ‘spring’.

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On a sunnier day I popped over to Malham and walked to Janet’s Foss and Gordale. The white-painted shop is what many people remember from their childhood visits to the village.
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I had another fine-day stroll around Wharfe near Austwick. The blossom was out and it felt like proper spring … until the snow came.
dales horse
Again, not a brilliant photo but I liked seeing the pony with the sun on its back at Wharfe (below).

Take care, son

Before retiring I worked with Tony Husband – a brilliant cartoonist who is also involved with dementia care. This poem, which always makes me shed a tear on reading, is from his lovely and thoughtful little book Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and His Dementia. You can get it on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Take-Care-Son-Story-Dementia/dp/1472115562 or from book shops for under a fiver – and it is worth double that amount.

Democracy? What democracy?

There are a lot of people banging on about democracy at the moment. Many believe that because they shout the loudest they have some kind of democratic right to have things their own way. They then cry foul when those supposedly democratically elected don’t ‘represent’ them.

Because of our voting system, we don’t live in a ‘dictionary-defined’ democracy. That’s why MPs will never truly represent the majority of people. For example, in the last election the Greens got 512k votes but just 1 MP, whereas DUP received only 292k votes but 10 MPs. The Lib-Dems got nine times that number of votes but only 12 MPs.

In the ill-conceived EU referendum, leave got 17.4m votes, remain received 16.2m while 13m didn’t vote at all. So when people say ‘the majority of Brits wanted to leave’, that’s not strictly true is it?

The voting and political system in this country needs bringing into the 21st century; Westminster needs turning into a museum and some of its dusty inhabitants should be mothballed. Rant over.

Evening light on rushes at Helwith Bridge.

‘And he had trudged through Yorkshire dales,
Among the rocks and winding scars;
Where deep and low the hamlets lie
Beneath their little patch of sky
And little lot of stars:’
Wordsworth

It looks like the end of a warm day up on Winskill – but actually it was freezing.

Anyone for a Yorkshire Dales dawdle drive? (10 photos)

Dales Ribble

A Dales dawdle drive is something I enjoy greatly during retirement. My son, who runs a business in which he needs to travel the Dales roads daily, curses folk like me. His cab van fills with words I certainly didn’t teach him when he gets stuck behind the doddering old Dales dawdle driver. Set off earlier and enjoy the view I tell the impetuous youth.

If I’m not feeling too cantankerous I will pull over on seeing a ‘worker’ wanting to pass, as I did for white van man along the narrow road between Halton Gill and Arncliffe on a bright February day this week. Sadly, the Queens at Litton wasn’t open on that morning saunter along lovely Littondale.

Earlier I (yet again) called in at Stainforth to admire the ancient packhorse bridge (top photo in blog). I’ve been visiting this spot for more than fifty years now and never tire of it.

Dales Halton Gill
I always stop or slow to admire the cosy location of Halton as I pass over the brow on the road from Stainforth.
Dales fields
Field patterns in Littondale.
Dales Arncliffe
View to Arncliffe from the Darnbrook road.

Snow no-show?

Looking back through photos from previous years I notice a few fabulous Febs, but last year I see snow in Ribblesdale during the month, while in 2016 the first week of March is a fair covering of the white stuff. I wonder if this year will be the same?

There is an abundance of snowdrops this year as well as crocuses and even daffs. Pink blossom is sprouting on a neighbour’s tree and the birds are getting excited. If you’re reading this in southern England you’re probably muttering ‘so what?’. I can tell you that here in the Yorkshire Dales it is unusual for February. My photos show bright blue skies, mellow sunsets, and grass much greener than normal for this time of year.

Dales sunset
Looking west from above Ingleton at sunset.
Dales Newhouses
The setting Sun shines on Newhouses below Penyghent.

Lovely Dales church

Dales church
St Oswald’s, Arncliffe.

I like the church of St Oswald at Arncliffe with its fifteenth-century tower. There’s been a church on the bend of the River Skirfare since Saxon times. One of its bells dates from around 1350. Sitting in the churchyard among the snowdrops and ancient trees, watching the river rattle by, it is easy to see how nineteenth-century author Charles Kingsley was inspired to write ‘The Water Babies’ while on a visit here.

The Falcon wasn’t open either so I head over the steep switchback via Darnbrook and by Malham Tarn back to Langcliffe. A delightful Dales dawdle drive.

Dales barn
This barn’s been looking over Crummackdale for centuries but its best days are gone. I don’t like to see Dales furniture and history crumbling away.
Dales Malham
On a quiet stroll round Malham Tarn in the winter sunshine.
Dales steam
Steam excursion along the Settle-Carlisle railway in Ribblesdale.

My Yorkshire surnames page is updated every month: visit http://http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

Look forward to another year in our changing Dales

Dales - Ribblesdale from Langcliffe

Another year passes by – and so quickly, too – here in the Yorkshire Dales. An outsider looking in via occasional visits might think very little changes in the Dales, and they are comforted by that thought. But those who have lived here many years have a different perspective.

Yes, there are still the beautiful rivers, waterfalls and hills (‘Nobbut gurt mounds o’ muck’ as one old Dalesman once stated), but Dales life has altered a great deal over the last few decades.

Village schools are closing at an alarming rate; local shops and businesses have gone; there are fewer jobs, bringing about the dispersal of many long-established families. Their homes are being bought by commuters, holiday-let owners and as weekend retreats (that’s not a dig at those people, by the way, as without them some villages would probably have closed down altogether).

Ancient agricultural buildings are being left to decay as farmers no longer have use for them, can’t afford their upkeep or are refused permission to sell off or develop the barns as homes. Bus and train services are poor, as is broadband in many areas.

But would I prefer to live in a large town or city? Not on your Nellie! (Apparently this expression stems from rhyming slang, originally ‘Not on your Nellie Duff’ – rhymes with puff – meaning breath of life. Your education is incomplete without this knowledge.)

Dales sunset
Top photo shows Ribblesdale from Langcliffe; above, capturing a Dales sunset.

Back in the Dales soon!


My nearest hospital is a 45-minute drive away, a journey I’ve had to make several times over the last few months for treatment on kidney stones. How something so tiny can cause so much pain and leave a person so debilitated is astounding, but hopefully I will be heading up and down the Dales again shortly.

Photos in this final blog of the year show some of the places I’ve been missing, but which I’ll be re-visiting during 2019.

Dales Horton
Memorial at Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Dales Stackhouse
Stackhouse
Dales steam train
Steaming beneath Penyghent
Dales Settle Station
Settle Station
Dales - Settle
Settle area from Giggleswick Scar
Dales - Brimham
On the rocks at Brimham
Dales - Littondale
Lovely Littondale
Dales Ingleborough
Majestic Ingleborough
Dales meadow
Thank you for reading the Dales blog during 2018. I hope you’re enjoying a merry Christmas and have a happy new year.

My Yorkshire Surnames page is updated every month. Visit http://www.jacksoneditorial.co.uk/yorkshire-surnames/

Memories (vague) of a real Dales pub

10 Dales photos here. Earlier in the week I was staring down Chapel-le-Dale. It was hazy in the distance – and hazy in my head. I was overlooking the Old Hill Inn (see pic below) and thinking, I’m sure it was just called the Hill Inn when I went there in the 1970s, but I suppose even pubs get old.

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I’ve not been inside for donkey’s years; if I do it’ll probably ruin the nostalgia. Back in the seventies it was full of walkers, climbers and cavers – and we drank lots of beer; there was nothing else on tap. If we were lucky there might have been a packet of crisps to share. I remember dozens of wet hiking socks and boots drying by the open fire.

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Ingleborough this week.

Daft cavers and climbers would test their skills by traversing the exposed internal stone walls like gigantic spiders, making their way to the outside loos. I don’t remember there being a closing time but somehow we (usually) ended up in our tents in the neighbouring field.

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High-contrast view down Chapel-le-Dale, one of my favourite dales.

Occasionally a guitar would appear and a bout of folk singing would break out; but the music genre depended very much on the clientele – my group of rowdy outdoor activities types, for example, preferred bawdy rugby songs.

dales
You’ll not be surprised to learn that Penyghent features again this week. The dominant hill of Ribblesdale puts on many faces (top photo in blog, seen from Langcliffe Scar), above from Selside and (below) as a backdrop for the Settle-Carlisle railway line. Good to see the steam excursions heading up and down the dales once more.

The pleasant weather had me out on a few local strolls to capture the colour, flora and wildlife …

St John’s, Langcliffe.


In other news: I’ve reluctantly switched from Yorkshire Tea to PG Tips and will remain that way until Yorkshire Tea remove plastic from their tea bags. So there.

My contributions to May’s Countryman and Down Your Way magazines include memories of the old kitchen ranges, a round-up of conservation news, and a look at the surname Holmes. Please support local magazine publishers: dalesman.co.uk  Latest magazines available in most newsagents and supermarkets.

Doggy-doo days in the Dales

DalesMean, moody and magnificent – my description of the Dales this week (12 pics here). With many schools on half term, tourists have flooded into the area to boost the local economy and bring a bit more life into Dales villages where many houses are now second homes or holiday lets.

Camping and caravan sites have burst back into life … and visiting dogs have left their contribution, too. I’ve never seen so many little plastic bags full of you-know-what stuffed into walls and left beside paths.

Away from the crowds I strolled up lonely Kingsdale and explored the land around the Cheese Press Stone – I didn’t see a soul for almost two hours but I still came across several poo bags. Someone’s gone to the trouble of picking up their dog’s biodegradable droppings, placed them in an non-biodegradable plastic bag and cast them aside for wildlife to choke on. Unbelievable.

Glad I got that off my chest. But no doubt you’ll say – and I agree – there are one or two bigger issues for the world to think about at the moment.

Yes, I should be thankful for what I’ve got – the views from up above Kingsdale are superb; lots of different shapes and angles for photography even when the distant views haven’t got the clarity you’d hope for. Ingleborough, Whernside and Gragareth provide fantastic backdrops here; I couldn’t quite make out the Lakeland Fells today but the Bowland Fells stretched away into the murkiness.

I’ve seen moody mists, stunning sunsets and whopping whales (sorry, whopping was the only alliteration I could summon up for whales) around the Dales this week so here’s the rest of the photo diary:

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Morning mist rising to reveal Langcliffe in Ribblesdale.

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Subtle light over Ribblesdale seen from Winskill Stones.

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Evening view of Penyghent from Swarth Moor.

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The whopping whale – part of the successful Settle Stories weekend – as seen from Castleberg Rock.

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… and it’s goodnight from the Dales.

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.

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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.

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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.

Ribblesdale spring – blame the Russians (10 pics)

Ahh, spring in Upper Ribblesdale. As I write, snow flakes are doing a drunken dance, not knowing which direction to take next. The village looks like a Christmas card, and I have to conjure up a vision of the surrounding hills because they’re shrouded in cloud, or should that be clouded in shroud. Let my photo diary record that this is all the fault of the Russians. They seem to be getting the blame for everything at this moment in history, so why not the weather? I’d best not go all political here. I was around when Russia got it the neck during the Cold War, today I have a war against cold around my neck. Top photo shows Penyghent just before the latest snow Ribblesdale.

I watched some new-born lambs looking distinctly miserable in temperatures that with added wind-chill dipped as low as -12 in Ribblesdale this week.

Ribblesdale
Langcliffe: rooftops at sunset, and the village ‘green’.

The bathroom needs a lick of paint. Unenthusiastically, I dug out a half-full tin of emulsion and a brush from the cupboard under the stairs. Of course, everything had to be removed from the abyss before I found said items at the back. I took them to the bathroom, wondering if I formally introduced them to the walls, would they strike up an instant rapport and just get on with the job themselves. As I turned to fetch a dust-sheet, sunshine burst through the bathroom window. Within minutes I was driving up Ribblesdale, camera by my side. The tin of paint and brush are still on the bathroom floor, walls remain unpainted. I’m presuming they didn’t form any kind of relationship. Perhaps they just need a little more time to get to know each other better.

Ribblesdale
A different angle on Whernside from Chapel-le-Dale. In my youth I followed that wall up to the top from Ingleton. What a slog. Thankfully, never again. I can’t imagine what hell the wall builders went through.

Badly cropped photo of cows looking over Ribblesdale early in the week.

Scaleber Force close-up.

Above, and two following photos, a tree theme – early spring in Ribblesdale between Horton and Helwith Bridge.

Dales in the twilight hour (11 pics)

Once again the Three Peaks area of the Dales has captured my attention. The whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park is well within an hour’s drive from home – and I love it all, but the Three Peaks are on my doorstep so I get the chance to see them in all their moods in changing weather and light.

Crepuscular. Yes, you heard me correctly. Crepuscular is my word of the week. It’s a word for the twilight and those rays of sunshine that poke through the clouds. If you’re standing on the right vantage point at the time they appear you can scan around the dales and pick out the places they highlight. I zoomed in from Winskill to catch one on Ingleborough (top photo). Above, the setting sun on Friday.

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Two more shots from the same evening.

Below – lovely to look at but not for the unwary or badly equipped, the Dales trio of Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside capped in snow this week:

I like this view of Ribblehead Viaduct (below). Probably not close enough for the train spotters but it helps prove what an achievement it was to build the structure in such an unforgiving landscape.

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Earlier in the week I posted on Twitter a shot taken further down this lane in Langcliffe but looking the other way. Below, frozen quarry pond at Helwith Bridge.

From Dales to Town

Sheep pretending to be rocks – or rocks masquerading as sheep? I’m writing the blog earlier than normal because football is now run by TV companies (bear with me – the dales, sheep, TV and football will all be linked, eventually).

In the past, wool from the ancestors of these Dales sheep would have been transported further down the Pennine chain to the West Riding towns and turned into some of the finest cloth and carpets in the world. Mill owners built their fortunes and mansions off the backs of these sheep and the hard-grafting working class.

However, trade deals struck up with far away countries with even cheaper slave-labour (ring any bells?) virtually brought an end to the industry, bringing about unemployment, the destruction of communities in its manufacturing heartland, as well as the demise of many a farmer’s livelihood in the Dales.

Some of my ancestors headed from the Pennine hill farms for employment in the mill towns, hence my connection with the industrial West Riding. Nowadays I follow the old wool route from the Dales to Huddersfield to watch my football team, who thanks to TV scheduling have been ordered to play at the ridiculous kick-off time of noon on a Sunday. Baa.

Why the Dales are top of the pops

I see that several of my favourite areas of the Dales are featured in the list of Britain’s top 100 walks. Many of the 8,000 people who contributed to the list have walked in my footsteps. It’s good to see the promotion of a healthier lifestyle, and when it benefits local traders, accommodation providers and publicans etc, then so much the better.

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Earlier in the week Ingleborough looked like it had been ‘lime-washed’. The walk from Clapham up to Ingleborough summit features in the top 100 walks list – you wouldn’t have got me up there on this day for all the tea in Yorkshire.

My small gripe about the list is that most of the walks are already popular and the publicity is likely to attract thousands more boots over those same paths. I wonder how many walkers (or TV programme makers for that matter) will be willing to pay for the upkeep of those over-used routes.

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Another of the favourite walks is the Ingleton Falls route. Picture shows Pecca Falls.

Before you have a go at me, I know that in a way my blog and other writing down the years has also contributed to attracting more tramping of the fells – I’m not being hypocritical, I have given (and still give) money towards path repairs and Mountain Rescue charities in the Dales.

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/itvs-britains-100-favourite-walks/

Since slipping on icy steps a few weeks ago and injuring my left hip and knee I’ve not done much strolling, so thank goodness I also have a car to get me around the dales. Top photo in the blog shows Penyghent from near Brackenbottom. To complete the Three Peaks trio here’s a wintry looking Whernside and Ribblehead Viaduct.

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Looking from Horton-in-Ribblesdale across the quarry workings to Ingleborough.

I’m saddened to hear this week of the death of the inspirational Hannah Hauxwell (91). I only met her briefly at some ceremony or other. Being involved with Dalesman at the time I asked if she and her neighbours up in Baldersdale still considered themselves as Yorkshire folk (since the political boundary changes in 1974). Hannah replied firmly that they always thought of themselves as Yorkshire and felt no association with Durham. I hope everyone born on the south side of the Tees still thinks the same. Hannah was a lovely lady unspoilt by all the attention she received.

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I watched the sun go down from the old back road between Clapham and Ingleton on Wednesday. The golden glow belies the fact it was below freezing thanks to a strong westerly wind.

I must add my congratulations to everyone involved with Langcliffe Community Gardens on winning the Greener Craven Award category of Craven Community Champions. A great effort by those neighbours of mine who got involved. Plenty of snowdrops to admire in the local churchyard, too:

The Snowdrop

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid,
Ever as of old time,
Solitary firstling,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
February fair-maid!

Fans of steam trains make sure you buy a copy of this month’s Countryman magazine (now in the shops) in which I reminisce about the golden age of railways. The Settle-Carlisle and Keighley & Worth Valley lines are included. http://www.countrymanmagazine.co.uk
In February’s Down Your Way magazine I write about the surname Loftus/Lofthouse. http://www.downyourway.co.uk