Why are our dales crumbling?

dales-ruin15Are there more ruins in the Yorkshire Dales than ever before? Are the traditional stone barns, walls and farm buildings which make the Dales unique gradually disappearing from our precious landscape? Who should be responsible for the upkeep of these iconic Dales features? Will their demise eventually affect tourism and thus local businesses and accommodation providers? Does anyone really care? Those thoughts crossed my mind this week during a short walk on which I came across several run-down buildings. Back home I looked through photos I’d taken over the last 12 months and counted more than 20 shots which included different Dales buildings that had seen better days. I’d not gone out specifically to capture the ruins, nor was my intention to put landowners to shame. I’d merely used the buildings as foregrounds or focal points for the pictures. Some of the buildings were once beautiful structures, architecturally perfect for their settings. They used locally sourced materials and were built by local craftsmen. Agricultural progress and changes have meant that in many cases the original uses for the buildings no longer exist. Many farmers can’t afford to maintain little-used buildings. The National Park’s rigid planning rules allow little by way of development in many cases. And anyway, some are in such out-of-the-way places that changing the use and improvement to modern living standards would be beyond the reach of all but the very richest people. I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know that if nothing is done to stop our heritage from crumbling, the Dales of the future will be far less attractive for residents and visitors. There follows a selection of local Dales buildings captured by me over the last year. I should also say by way of balance that I have seen a few superbly renovated barns on my travels around the dales.

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One thought on “Why are our dales crumbling?”

  1. You raise a definite local issue. People who steal stone roofs don’t help of course but I suspect that YDNPA planning policies need to adjust. Middle-of-nowhere locations of many field barns make them vulnerable to neglect. The cost of installing mains supplies of water and electricity must be major obstacles to anybody even considering restoration and conversion. Maybe some are suitable for on-site power generation and bore hole water? The technologies are developing rapidly. Road access is also a problem in many cases. So too financial penalties for improvements. Choice seems to be considered decay or encouraged restoration. What do YDNPA say?

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