Looking through the Yorkshire photos in my archive I shouldn’t have been surprised over how many shots feature walls and barns. Foregrounds, backgrounds or the main focus of attention, the skill of the stonemason is often on show. Perhaps there’s something in my genetic make-up – for in among my family history of weavers and farmers is also a long line of stonemasons. But I reckon the reason so many pictures include walls and barns is not down to genes or the volume in the area. It’s down to the fact that they look good: photogenic works of art. A perfect subject for that book I’m going to write or that exhibition I’m going to put on but both of which I’ll never get round to.
As mentioned in previous blogs, over my years of tramping the Yorkshire Dales I’ve seen an increasing number of barns being left to decay. I’ve noticed a lot more recently that are missing their stone-slate roofs. The slates are probably the most vital part of the barn – both from a protection point of view and that of value. Traditional slates are sold for large sums. Barns are being robbed of the slates by thieves, or sold by the buildings’ owners, or deliberately removed by farmers and stored elsewhere. I’m surprised it’s being allowed to happen, especially in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, as these crumbling buildings make the place look unloved and uncared for.
The Yorkshire weather’s been playing good cop/bad cop this week. Pea-sized hailstones clattered the car (pic below), and a wild lightning fork struck a nearby field as I drove down the Slaidburn road towards Clapham on Sunday. I’d been up to Bowland Knotts where I witnessed shafts of sunlight shining over Stocks Reservoir and blue sky over the distant South Pennines. The grouse moors all around changed colour like a kaleidescope, while snow remained visible in the crevices of Ingleborough and Penyghent.
Gorse is a feature in this neck of the woods and the bright yellow provided a lovely foreground for the view from a minor road towards both Ingleborough and Penyghent.
Thursday was one of the ‘good-cop’ days. Ribblehead was packed with sightseers and walkers. I headed further up to capture the view around Arten Gill – there’s never a train around when you want one to bring some action into a shot. Plenty of roofless barns to be seen, however, in these parts (see also third pic in blog).
Earlier, these sheep at Helwith Bridge mistook me for the farmer and headed towards me expecting to be fed. Yet another derelict barn here.
I stopped off for an hour’s wander around Selside and down to the river. There are some terrific old buildings in the settlement as well as great views up and down Ribblesdale and of the Three Peaks. Grade II listed Top Farm has a dated door lintel stating 1725 but parts of the building are even earlier. The postbox on the old shop bearing the former Settle-Carlisle railway station sign is an early Victorian-style box.
Around 60,000 walkers tackle the Yorkshire Three Peaks every year whether it be to raise funds for charity or just to say they’ve done the trail. The footfall has taken a toll on the iconic dales mountains, especially on the Swine Tail, the final climb before reaching the summit of Ingleborough from the north. Attempts have been made to fix the path but increased use and wetter winters mean that the best way of solving the problem is to lay stone slabs. It’s a costly business so the Mend Our Mountains campaign has started a crowd-funding appeal. Please help if you can – more details here: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/campaign/mend-our-mountains
Twilight added a yellow glow to my stroll around Winskill. Picture shows the outlines of Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough – oh, and a wall.
Vibrant heart of the Yorkshire Dales
Settle is one of the most vibrant places in the Dales. The brilliant Settle Stories Festival has been on this weekend and later this month the cycling tour of Yorkshire heads this way. There’s much more happening throughout the summer so if you are a visitor or resident please take a look at the 2016 guide to the area – out now with a downloadable or screen version available free from here: