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.)
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.
The dales took a back seat this week as I’ve been working on a project with my son. So it felt grand to take a short break one afternoon for a trip in the sun between Ribblesdale and Littondale. Penyghent, Plover Hill and Fountains Fell all looked glorious from the narrow Silverdale Road before clouds eventually descended and turned the scene grey.
The fascinating area around Giant’s Grave, where water for Penyghent Gill springs from any number of mysterious underground caverns through holes in the dishevelled looking rocks, was bursting with colour.
I believe the bright yellow plant is mountain saxifrage but I welcome any other suggestions from better educated botanists. It can be found all around the dales and contrasts well against the higher fells where the heather is becoming more and more purple. Littondale was as always picture perfect…
I timed my walk last Sunday with the arrival of Flying Scotsman near Langcliffe on the Settle-Carlisle line. It really looks a big beast close up.
I spent my childhood in Yorkshire’s Heavy Woollen District and despite residing for much longer here in the Dales there are certain words and phrases I still use from those early years that give away my past. Not that I’ve ever tried to hide my upbringing in the working class mill-town area of the county of which I am very proud, but whoever you are and wherever you are from you will usually retain some of the local lingo. I brought up the subject of different dialects and sayings within Yorkshire when I edited Dalesman, and boy did it open a can of worms. Correspondence about certain words is probably still continuing many years on. I was reminded of all this during the week when I went into a local bakery and without thinking asked for teacakes. It’s not the first time I’ve done this and regretted it. I was brought up to believe a teacake was a plain, white, flat-ish, light, round of bread about the size of an adult hand. None of your bread cakes, balm cakes, stotties or whatever other fancy name you want to give them. And where I came from if you wanted one with fruit in it you asked for a currant teacake. Simple job then, but not now, not here in the Dales anyway. In the shop I’m questioned, slowly, like I’m some kind of half-witted alien until I end up just pointing to what I want, paying up and leaving the shop red-faced.
My surnames page is proving really popular with visitors from all over the world. Is your surname there yet?