I have often thought that left without any interference from human and beast, thistles would eventually dominate the world. I’m sure this year I’ve seen more fields taken over by the plant than ever before. While everyone is worrying about militants and terrorists, thistles are sneaking up behind us. You read it here first. I saw these (below left) on a walk up to Stainforth Scar (above) which looked splendid in the morning light. The one on the right appears ready to take on weapons of mass destruction.
The last week has reminded me that to live in the Dales I must also accept their ever-changing moods. I enjoy watching light dancing across the moors and pastures like this little performance over Newhouses Tarn (below) which is on the road between Horton and Birkwith.
Not as pleasant but often just as dramatic are those times when rain clouds pass quickly overhead. One day last autumn my aim was to slog my way up Park Fell but it became too soggy so I followed the path across the limestone close to the ancient settlement and towards Ribblehead. This photo of Penyghent was taken on my way up the track to Colt Park. I liked the way the trees and sheep were forming an orderly queue up the hill.
When I remember, I will take a plastic bag on my walks so I can carry home any small bits of litter carelessly dropped by others. I’ve not got some kind of disorder or anything like that; primarily I just don’t like the thought of animals or birds choking on garbage selfishly discarded by humans who should know better. Locally there’s usually very little to pick up but at certain popular spots used by day trippers the problem can be horrendous. The culprits don’t seem to realise (or care) that no one is actually paid to tidy up after them in the open countryside. So imagine my horror this week on seeing litter being thrown out of the back of a very expensive car – by children – along the back road to Malham from Settle. Well done parents, that’s the way to engender respect for the countryside.
Shortly afterwards I came across bags of dog poo in a lane, and I almost went into full-blown Victor Meldrew mode. A local told me they thought the bags would probably be picked up by the dog walkers on their return journey to save them having to carry them around their walk, which placated me a little. But I have seen poo-bags hanging from branches and fences like Christmas gifts on a tree before now. Unbelievable.
Talking of dogs, I’ve often admired this construction on the path between Stackhouse and Settle. Part of it lifts up to allow pooches easy access. However, a warning to dog owners walking this stretch at the moment: a couple of fields nearer Settle there were several cows with calves when I walked through yesterday.
Nature’s colours have definitely changed this week and autumn has announced its imminent arrival in the dale. Early-leafing trees are now quickly shedding, and a couple of colder, clear nights have sped up the process. I like bright autumn days and look forward to capturing the colours once again. Here are three photos taken during the last week around my home. Above, a view from Stanforth Scar over the Ribble and Stackhouse; below, a leafy lane in Stackhouse; bottom, on the path between Winskill and Settle.