The Charms of Ribblesdale (with barns and bunnies)

By Ribble’s stream I’ll pass my days,
If wishes aught avail;
For all that mortals want or praise
Is found in Ribblesdale.
thornsbw
So goes the first verse of Novello’s madrigal, The Charms of Ribblesdale. (I’d love to hear it sung so if anyone knows of a recording please let me know.) The poem’s sentimentality may be a tad OTT but I did feel the need to sing the dale’s praises myself on Monday. Wandering alone – give or take a few dozen sheep – around the deserted settlement of Thorns I wondered why anyone would ever want to leave such an idyllic spot. After just a short ascent from the crumbling buildings glorious views of the dale open up – without the effort and toil of struggling up one of the peaks. parkI continued a little further along the Ribble Way which heads from Thorns towards High Birkwith. Within half a mile of Thorns is another derelict building, Back Hools Barn (note to self: find out about that name!).
hools
One sheep on lookout duty at the door alerted a gang of other sheepish looking characters obviously up to no good inside. They scarpered as I took a nosey at the rotting wooden partitions and beams. The stone doorways and window lintels were nicely carved and a mason’s mark showed he was proud of his work.
Barns and walls are the furniture of the dales and, despite being man-made, without them the whole area would be less appealing. Back in 2006 the National Park did a sample survey which showed that 58 per cent of all traditional farm buildings were in a state considered unfavourable. Of 310 such sites surveyed in Ribblesdale 32 per cent were classified as poor or worse (ruinous or demolished) while 37 per cent were classified as good or excellent. Of the rest, 17 per cent had been converted to residential use and 14 per cent were classed as fair. I’d be interested to know what the figures now show.
inglesun
On a wet day this week I looked back through some of last year’s photos and posted on Twitter and Facebook this sunset on Ingleborough. It caused quite a stir and brought me more’ likes’, ‘favourites’ and ‘retweets’ than I’d ever got before. Funnily enough, I think my previous ‘best’ was of a similar light on Penyghent. I would go for a hat-trick with a shot on Whernside but its position at sunset is not as favourable – perhaps a sunrise would suffice if I can be bothered to crawl out from under the duvet early enough.
goods
On Thursday I set off on a gentle circular walk from Helwith Bridge beside the river to Horton, intending to return below the quarries to Foredale. However, a sign informed me that part of the return route was closed for the rest of the year – which seemed a bit draconian just for a couple of hundreds yards of path. Curiosity didn’t get the better of me this time but I might do some discrete investigation at a later date. The little bunny on the other side of this dramatic ‘no entry’ sign either can’t read or is a bit of a rebel.
bunny
Foredale’s row of cottage with unforgiving background always reminds me of a Welsh mining scene or a landslip disaster waiting to happen. It’s not like that at all really and if you haven’t seen the film Lad: A Yorkshire Story which is shot in this area, I recommend you do so immediately.
foredale
The railway line was busy during my walk – goods going up and steam coming down.
steamrib
The river certainly livened up as the week wore on, and after last night’s storms today the sun is out once again. And so am I.weir

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