Why I love Ribblesdale in autumn

Ribblesdale
Penyghent from above Langcliffe in Ribblesdale

Autumn is a great time of year when you live in a well-wooded part of the Yorkshire Dales. Here in Ribblesdale, I’m surrounded not by great ranging forests but by many delightful small pockets of mainly deciduous woods. Beside the Ribble, on the dale’s sides and on fenced-off farmland where the sheep and cattle can’t wander, are colourful patchy reminders of how the dale once looked when it was fully clothed with native trees.

Ribblesdale
Stainforth Scar in evening autumn light

I find it hard to imagine what life would be like without trees around me. More to the point, there would be no life around any of us if it wasn’t for trees. It should be made compulsory to plant a new tree for each one that is felled; for every building that is erected and for every person that is born.

I’ve taken thousands of photos around the Dales and trees often feature, either as stand-alone subjects, as a foreground or as part of a panorama. Scattered around this blog are just a few tree shots taken in the last couple of weeks.

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Goat Scar Lane, Stainforth

Back in the 1960s when I was nobbut a lad and living in the Heavy Woollen district, we’d travel by an ancient charabanc from my school to stay in The Hut, as it was known at Little Stainforth, or camp beside it in the field. The road to Stainforth wasn’t as wide or well made as it is today and the mini bypass hadn’t been built so all traffic went through the middle of Stainforth village.

Sometimes the bus driver wouldn’t risk going over the bridge by the Craven Heifer in case it got ‘marooned’ so we would all get off and carry our gear down the lane to Little Stainforth. More daring teachers driving the bus would attempt the route via Stackhouse Lane and drop us off at Stainforth Hall. Woebetide anyone coming the other way because I’m not sure the bus had a reverse gear and there was no way anything could pass. The old bus often over-heated so usually the journey was broken up with a cooling-off stop at what was then called the Tomato Dip just outside Skipton.

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Is that Great Britain floating off into oblivion?

Seventeenth-century Stainforth Hall is one of many fine ancient buildings in this neck of the woods. Built around the same time was Lodge Hall, north of Selside (see my blog here) and of course The Folly, Settle’s only Grade 1 listed historic building. The area around the town does have more Grade I listed buildings though: St Alkeda’s church in Giggleswick; St Oswald’s in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Lawkland Hall and St Mary’s in Long Preston.

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Approaching storm, on the road to Cragg Hill Farm, Horton-in-Ribblesdale


One interesting building I pass every day on my way to Horton but have never been able to visit is Sherwood House hidden below road level between Stainforth and Helwith Bridge. It’s also well over 300 years old and apparently has a massive inglenook fireplace which contains 14 joggled voussoirs – but then you probably already knew that. (Google it – I had to.)

A few more recent shots:

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Looking towards Langcliffe Scar
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Autumn canopy
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Clouds enveloping Penyghent, seen from Selside
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Autumn tints; Penyghent in background
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Autumn sunset over Smearsett Scar

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