Earlier posts

Earlier posts
This blog is a continuation of an older one. To explore previous posts please click the photo above.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021


The high level path (see yesterday) eventually drops down to meet the Dalesway long distance footpath at the hamlet of Yockenthwaite. Eagle-eyed viewers may recognise this a location in the recent TV adaptation of 'All Creatures Great and Small', the tales of a Yorkshire vet. It features as 'Heston Grange' where Helen lives. The still-used postbox is a nice pop of red and an unusual addition to the scene. 

The hamlet is accessed by a rather fine 18th century bridge over the fledgling River Wharfe. You wonder that it needs such a high arch, when the river is almost dry in summer - but water can rage down here in a torrent in winter. 

At this time of year the meadows are full of wildflowers. I'm particularly fond of the fragile-looking harebells that grace our limestone areas. This one was nestled in a little pile of delicate thistle-down. 

Another rather unusual and attractive flower is the scabious. I think I'm right in identifying this one as the small scabious, with five petals to each little flower lobe; it's a native of limestone grasslands.  


Monday, 30 August 2021

Wonderful Upper Wharfedale

I revisited Upper Wharfedale recently, to enjoy one of my favourite walks round the head of the dale. It starts off with a rather challenging steep trudge from Buckden car park, through Rakes Wood and around the flank of Buckden Pike. It's apparently a Roman road. Those Romans must have had strong legs! Glorious views from part way up, looking across Wharfedale and along Langstrothdale (and taking a photo gave me chance to catch my breath!) By this stage of summer, much of the foliage is a rather uniform dull, dark green but nevertheless it is a wonderful view. 

There is a tricky-to-spot sharp left turn down to the hamlet of Cray. I've missed it in the past and ended up walking too far, up to the bridge. Found it this time but when I saw the signpost I realised why I've not noticed the turn off in the past! 

From there you drop down steeply to the stream in Cray Gill. This is limestone country and in dry weather these streams disappear almost completely underground - so the stepping stones were rendered rather superfluous. 

Then it's a gentle pull up to the edge above the woodland, where there is a fairly good and level path round the head of the valley and along into Langstrothdale. Sublime views, looking back down Upper Wharfedale towards Kettlewell, even though the light wasn't the best by this stage. It had forecast rain showers but I was very lucky and got back to the car in Buckden just as the raindrops started! 


Sunday, 29 August 2021


A circle of sunflowers suddenly burst into bloom in the Shipley College allotment garden. I like how gardens can do that - one minute, it seems, there is nothing remarkable to see and then all of a sudden something explodes into colour. I think these look so cheery against the backdrop of Salts Mill; love how nature and buildings can complement each other.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Bolton Abbey

Now the restrictions have lifted considerably here, it's been lovely to revisit favourite places that I've not seen for two years or so. One such is Bolton Abbey, the Duke of Devonshire's estate, up the River Wharfe from Ilkley. I went with a friend so I only took my phone for snapshots (and Blogger is massacring the quality of photos at the moment...!) 

There were plenty of people enjoying the estate and the riverside walks, but being outdoors feels safe enough. We didn't walk right down to the ruined abbey itself but found this lovely view of it from up high. The riverbank walks are lovely and, although there were threatening clouds and the light was dull, we didn't actually have more than a few spots of rain, so that was lucky. 

It's now that time of year when the varied greens of spring have all blended into a dull monotone, and it's not really my favourite time for photography, but still it's very good to be out in the fresh air enjoying these beautiful places.

Despite recent heavy rain the water level in the Strid was as low as I've ever seen it. The river narrows here to plunge through a rocky gorge. It is, apparently, extremely deep and dangerous with currents. People have died in there, and it's wise to keep well back from the edge. The rocks can be slippery. 

Friday, 27 August 2021

The Persian Paddleboarder

I happened to be down by the canal, in between showers, when this chap was performing his hilarious routine on a paddleboard. A mixture of comedy, clowning, acrobatics and dance (robotic, when I was watching) delighted the people watching, especially the children. His name is Bobak Champion, aka The Persian Paddleboarder. 'Good thoughts, good deeds, good words' - I'll second that. 

Thursday, 26 August 2021


On a whim, I set off for Wakefield to see the Festival of the Earth: Gaia exhibition in Wakefield Cathedral. (It is only on for ten days, ending on 30 August.) This is a seven metre replica of Earth, created by the artist Luke Jerram from detailed NASA images. Illuminated from the inside, it appears to float in the nave, slowly turning to reveal the continents and the vast expanses of ocean. It helps you to realise that almost half of the globe is effectively free of land masses (below). Pretty awesome to see. 

I went to Wakefield by train as it is not a very nice drive really and the train is arguably cheaper and quicker (except it wasn't, as there was a broken-down train holding things up). Leeds station, where I had to change, was really busy and I was surprised at how few people were now wearing face masks, even though they are recommended (but no longer mandatory) on public transport. The 16-30 age group in particular seem to have decided they don't need them. I wore one for the whole trip but I must say I didn't feel all that comfortable to be 'out and about' again, especially since we know the Covid infection rate is rising again and currently averaging around 27000 new cases a day in the UK. 

Our familiar and beautiful world certainly feels a lot less familiar and a lot less beautiful these days, at so many levels. I do wish we were taking care of it and all its inhabitants better. 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Such a thrill!

I was thrilled beyond measure to catch a pretty decent photo of the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive, just coming out of Saltaire. (You can see the URC tower in the distance). Lots of steam too, as it got up speed on the straight stretch by the pedestrian crossing. There were a few other photographers waiting but we each managed to find a good view and luckily I had time to set up my camera. Of course, down here there are the electric overhead wires in the shot. Further up the line in the Dales you can get free of them but it's a long drive and I'm not that much of an enthusiast. 

The locomotive was pulling one of the Waverley excursions from York to Carlisle and back. Steam excursions happen quite regularly on the main line in summer but it's not usually this famous loco hauling it.  You can read its history HERE.


Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Ghostly inhabitants

Playing around with some of my photos from Thorns, I decided I'd move the ghosts of my great grandmother Annie and great uncle Percy and his dogs into what's left of the hamlet. 

Monday, 23 August 2021

Thorns Gill packhorse bridge

To get to the deserted hamlet of Thorns (see earlier posts) from the (modern) road you have to pass over a packhorse bridge at Thorns Gill that straddles Gayle Beck, one of the streams that sources the River Ribble. The bridge is believed to be at least 300 years old, a high arch made of rough limestone that appears to grow out of the rock on either side. The limestone river bed below is scoured and pitted with deeply eroded pools. There was little water in it when I was there. In limestone country the streams often disappear to flow underground in dry weather. The chasms show that sometimes the water must churn through the narrow ravine in a torrent. 

The bridge from above is little more than six feet wide, with no parapet (so that the heavily-laden packhorses could pass over without hindrance). Imagine the jaggermen - the drovers, with a chain of perhaps twenty or thirty packhorses - traversing the bridge on a pitch black night in the depths of winter, having walked from Settle, perhaps, on the way to the market at Gearstones or even further to Hawes or Askrigg. The whole of this northern countryside was crisscrossed with similar trails, since goods were almost exclusively transported by packhorse from farm to market. 

Sunday, 22 August 2021

These things connect us

This substantial bank barn is the most complete structure remaining in the deserted hamlet of Thorns, Ribblehead. (A 'bank barn' is built into a hill or slope so that the lower and upper levels can both be accessed from the ground, usually with livestock kept below and a threshing floor on the upper level.)

There are little indicators of its past life - a wisp of rope, a rusty hinge, a galvanised metal bin, the careful arrangement of stones and sills, placed hundreds of years ago by a human hand. These things connect us to the past and bear witness to the resilience of the folk who eked out a living in these remote fells, farming, raising children, doing the laundry and keeping a fire burning in the hearth. 

Away in the distance, you can just catch a glimpse of the huge Ribblehead railway viaduct, built over several years in the 1870s. The hamlet of Thorns was still occupied at that time. I wonder how the inhabitants reacted to the sight of hundreds of navvies engaged in its construction. Did they wonder at it, gawp at the shanty towns that sprang up to house the workers? Or did they feel aggrieved that their remote and yet familiar existence, hardly changed for hundreds of years, was being invaded by the 'modern' world's noise and hustle? Who knows? - but what we do know is that Thorns itself was abandoned by 1890, its purpose all but extinguished. 

Saturday, 21 August 2021

The deserted hamlet of Thorns

Our destination for the camera club outing at Ribblehead was the long deserted hamlet of Thorns. Situated on an ancient packhorse route, at one time drovers passed through, taking livestock and goods to market. Census and other documents tell us that in 1538 there were five inhabited properties here. By 1841 there were three households and the hamlet was uninhabited by 1891. Presumably passing traffic ceased and more reliable employment was to be found in the towns as the Industrial Revolution changed society. 

What remains - stone walls, the foundations of houses and barns, is evocative of another time. You can imagine washing hanging on a line, children clambering over the boulders left in the fields by glaciers, the clatter of the drovers passing through. It must have been a scratched existence at the best of times. 

There is evidence of a small ford (below) and some of the barns have been more recently used by farmers, though they are all now derelict. 

All around, the grandeur of the scenery (Ingleborough, below), calling birds, bleating sheep, ever-changing weather. Bleak and yet beautiful. 

Friday, 20 August 2021


I'm fortunate to live within relatively easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, though I tend to visit Ribblesdale, on the western edge, rather less often than some of the other dales. It has a very different character. This is 'Three Peaks' country (Pen y Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside) and is bleaker and more open than many of the other Dales areas. 

We had a camera club outing up there recently, and it reminded me that it is quite spectacular and scenic. I've rarely been there on a sunny day and the weather did not disappoint! There were billowing storm clouds, though we didn't get any rain until later in the day so we were very fortunate.  

My top photo shows the eastern flank of Ingleborough, though the actual peak can just be seen jutting out beyond and was in the cloud for much of the day. Any climbers won't have had a good view! The rocks in the foreground are some of the many glacial erratics that litter the area. 

North east of Ingleborough lies Ribblehead, with the famous viaduct: 24 arches that carry the Settle-Carlisle railway across the wonderfully named Batty Moss. Built between 1869 and 1874, it necessitated a workforce of 2300 men, who lived in shanty towns near its base. Over 100 men died during its construction and it was the last major railway structure to be built primarily by manual labour. Plans to close the line in the 1980s were fought off and regular trains still use it, as well as frequent steam excursions. In fact we saw a steam train crossing it while we were there, though my lens isn't long enough to get a good photo from that distance.

The area has a number of outcrops of limestone pavement, and an array of interesting plants grow deep in the grikes (clefts).  


Thursday, 19 August 2021

Sunshine and showers

A break in the showers urged me out to stretch my legs with a brisk walk round the park but, halfway round, another sharp shower caught me out. The light was rather beautiful and then there was a rainbow - even the hint of a double rainbow - over the New Mill.  A pot of gold on top of the tower, perhaps? 

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Peeping through

Those scarlet roses in the Victoria Road allotment provide a wonderful foreground, with Saltaire's Victoria Hall tower peeping through. We are doing quite well for summer this year, plenty of blue sky and sunshine. 


Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Treasure in the woods

Since my short holiday, it has been a joy to revisit my favourite local haunts, especially Hirst Woods. I'm so familiar with it and yet there is always something new to see - the way the light falls through the leaf canopy, the gnarled old tree trunks: 

Acting on a 'tip-off', my friend and I rooted through the undergrowth to uncover this carved rock, crudely engraved with the name Olive Howarth and what seems to be a bluebell. I am not sure what it is or who inscribed it. I think it might be quite old though there is no date on it. It was well covered with moss. I assume it may be a memorial to someone who died, someone who loved these woods perhaps. 

We also came across this strange creature, asleep on a log: 

Monday, 16 August 2021

Robin Hood's Bay

Yorkshire holiday 17

Robin Hood's Bay is perhaps the jewel in the crown of Yorkshire's coast, although it gets uncomfortably crowded with tourists at the height of the season. It's a picturesque fishing village, crammed precariously into a ravine in the cliffs. Its inaccessibility (originally surrounded by marshy moorland) meant that in the 18th century it was a hotbed of smuggling. Interconnecting cottages, tunnels and passageways and the connivance of many locals (fisherfolk, farmers, gentry, clergy were all complicit) meant that it was easy for the smugglers to escape the Excise men.  Read more about its history HERE

It remains a labyrinth of narrow passageways, steps and steep cobbled streets. However, most of the cottages are now holiday homes, and the upper part of the village, with larger properties built in Victorian and Edwardian times, now has many hotels and guesthouses. 

I chose to visit in the early evening, so it was cooler for exploring and much less busy, though there were groups of people enjoying the warm evening outside the several pubs scattered through the village. 

The disadvantage was that it was high tide, which meant I couldn't really take the iconic shot of the village from the beach.  This was the best I could do. I'm not too sure how that ice-cream van got down on to the beach! I think he'd have to wait for the tide to recede before he could get home for his dinner.