A 90 mile walk across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales
A Dales High Way Walk: a 90 mile walk across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales

A Dales High Way

News Archive - Aug-Dec 2008

Grouse shoot to resume on Ilkley Moor

A controversial decision by Bradford Council to allow grouse shooting to resume on Ilkley Moor was approved by the Council Executive last week. Hunt Saboteurs disrupt a grouse shoot on the moorsShooting is expected to resume within 2 years, after grouse numbers have recovered from a devastating moor fire in 2006.

Grouse shooting was stopped on the publicly owned moor by the then Labour-run council in 1997. The current Tory administration signed a new 10-year lease for the shooting rights in June this year, but a challenge from Animal Welfare Groups and opposition councillors forced a review.

The lease has been granted to the Bingley Moor Partnership, which owns adjoining Bingley and Burley Moors where they have run grouse shoots since 1947. The Partnership will install a gamekeeper and pay £10,000 to the council each year when shooting resumes. They charge shooters over £1000 per day during the shooting season, which runs from August 12 to late October.

Management of the moor, the whole of which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, will involve the trapping and killing of some natural predators, which include fox, brown rat, stoat, mink, weasel, crow, magpie, owl and raptor.

Tory councillor Anne Hawkesworth said "The land management that goes with grouse-shooting, such as heather burning and bracken control, drainage management and sheep farming, is one of the practices which ensures the moorland is maintained to the best possible standard."

Green councillor Kevin Warnes said "The people who are paying the money for the grouse shooting will, at the end of the day, justify it as moorland management but they are doing it because they enjoy the sport of shooting birds."

Concern has also been expressed on the effect shooting will have on walkers. The route of A Dales High Way, which crosses both Bingley and Ilkley moors, sticks to designated Rights of Way and so there are no restrictions here. However, walkers wishing to go off-route to enjoy their Right to Roam may well face restrictions.

Significant amounts of public money have recently been obtained to improve, amongst other things, public access to the moor. How the council will manage these conflicting interests remains to be seen.

Read the Councils Ilkley Moor Management Plan. Read the views of The League Against Cruel Sports and the Moorland Association.

22 December 2008

Time Team excavate Dent shanty town

Channel 4's new Time Team series, to be shown in the new year, will feature the excavation of one of the "shanty towns" that sprung up to Time Team site: Air shaft and spoil heaps above Rise Hillhouse the navvies and their families who constructed the Settle-Carlisle railway line. The construction of the line, across some of the most bleak and inhospitable terrain in the country, was the last of the great Victorian construction projects. The work started in 1869 and over 6000 men worked on the project at it's peak, living a series of shanty towns with names such as Inkerman, Sebastopol and Jericho.

The Time Team crew worked for 3 days in June at the site atop Rise Hill, where a tunnel runs between Dent and Garsdale stations. Two air shafts were constructed and the material excavated from the tunnel stills sits in spoil heaps by the shafts. Access to the site is difficult, with the team using forest tracks closed to the public.

Members of the Sedbergh & District History Society met researchers from Channel 4 before the dig and visited the site during the second day of the dig.

Local historian Richard Cann said: "Before lunch we wandered around the site watching the digs in progress one of which involved Phil Harding. We also encountered other leading characters including Tony Robinson who fronts the programme. We then joined in the excellent communal lunch and if an army marches on its stomach then Time Team certainly digs on its.

"After lunch we met the historians in the team and discussed the sources which give information about the site and the people who had lived there during the railway's construction. Later we were filmed talking to Dr Helen Geake about these topics."

The excavation is said to have been successful, though the weather was bad. 

Update: The programme is due to be transmitted On Sunday, February 1st 2009.

See The Time Team's Official and Unofficial websites, or read the History of the Settle-Carlisle line.

10 December 2008

Skipton High Street "Best in Britain"

Skipton's famous High Street has been voted "Great Street of the Year" Skipton High Street on a quiet dayfor 2009 by the Academy of Urbanism. The result was announced last week at a glitzy ceremony at Liverpool's St Georges Hall. Skipton beat 2 other finalists - London's Kensington High Street and Portobello Road.

Skipton High Street, which lies on the route of A Dales High Way, is at it's liveliest on market days - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - when dozens of market stalls huddle along the roadside cobbles. As well as shops, pubs and cafes, the High Street hosts the Craven Museum at the Town Hall, the nearby canal basin and one of the best preserved medieval castles in England at the top of the street beyond Holy Trinity Church.

Last years winner was Buchanan Street in Glasgow. The Academy presents other awards including European City of the Year, Great Town, Great Neighbourhood and Great Place.

John Thompson, chairman of the Academy said: "It is the character of the people and place that makes Skipton High Street stand out; when you go there it is such a welcoming place.

"Slowly, a lot of towns are becoming clone towns, but Skipton retains a very strong identity and character. It has a wonderful canal next to the high street, and it's such a beautiful setting."

See SkiptonWeb and the Academy Of Urbanism

2 December 2008

November 2008

More money to study Moor archaeology

The study of prehistoric rock art on Rombalds Moor received a further Volunteers conduct geophysical survey on Stanbury Hill - photo Mike Shortboost last week when The Heritage Lottery fund earmarked almost £2 million for the South Pennines Watershed Landscape Scheme. The project is made up of six elements including getting people involved in the area's history and geology and enhancing key habitats for wildlife. 

Gavin Edwards of Ilkley's Manor House Museum said part of the money would be used to conduct a benchmark survey of the prehistoric stone sites, to create more secure footpaths to protect the sites and to employ a new community archaeologist. The scheme is being run by the Pennine Prospects Group, of which Bradford Council is a member.

The route of A Dales High Way passes several of the prehistoric sites, including the Twelve Apostles stone circle, the Swastika Stone and the Piper Crag Stone.

The new money comes on top of the £45,000 grant to the Bingley Historical Society who are conducting a community based research project on the moor at Stanbury Hill. Already dozens of volunteers have received training at Bradford University's Archaeology department and are presently conducting topographic and geophysical surveys in advance of any potential excavations next year. They are investigating cup-and-ring marked rock carvings associated with possible Bronze Age burial cairns.

Photo: by Mike Short, shows volunteers conducting Geophysical survey on Stanbury Hill.

See the Bingley Historical Society website and the Pennine Prospects website. See also previous story "Public to help solve riddle of the stones"

18 November 2008

Farmland bird numbers at all time low

The numbers of farmland birds have reached an all-time low, new statistics show.

Black Headed Gulls at Seaburn, January 2007 by Allan BruntonBetween 2005 and 2007 numbers of popular farmland birds like Turtle Dove, Grey Partridge and Linnet fell to their lowest level on record. The results are the latest from a survey by the Department for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

The decline is likely to continue following the removal of the "set-aside" requirement of farmers by the EU, which saw areas of farmland left uncultivated. This requirement was dropped in September last year to boost food production, although the financial subsidy remains. Farmland bird numbers are directly related to the availability of winter and summer food and nesting habitat.

Last week Government minister Hilary Benn responded by announcing that from 2009 farmers receiving EU subsidies will be required to dedicate a small fraction of their land to wildlife friendly habitats, thus reproducing some of the environmental benefits of set-aside.

The Wild Bird Populations 2007 Report showed:

Breeding farmland bird numbers are 52 per cent lower than 1966 levels.
Woodland bird numbers are currently stable after declines in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Water and wetland breeding bird numbers are 6 per cent lower than the 1975 level.
Seabird numbers are 31 per cent higher than in 1970, but have shown a slight decline in recent years.
Between 1970 and 2007 wild bird numbers as a whole have remained broadly stable

Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of the largest inland bird colony in Britain 10 years ago. 12,000 breeding pairs of Black-headed Gulls used to gather each year at Sunbiggin Tarn, near Newbiggin-on-Lune, on the route of A Dales High Way. Then suddenly the colony disappeared. Why they stopped coming is unknown. Sunbiggin Tarn remains, however, one of the most important spots for resident and migrating birds in the country.

See the report from Birdlife International

5 November, 2008

Dalesman features new High Way

A Dales High Way is featured in the November issue of The Dalesman magazine. The article has already November issue of The Dalesmangenerated interest from home and abroad in the new long distance walk. In the magazine editor Paul Jackson explores how the walk came about with authors Chris and Tony Grogan.

"It's a real thrill for us to be featured in the Dalesman" said Chris, "I've already had calls from friends and family around the country. It's amazing just how widely read this essential Yorkshire magazine is."

Dalesman Publishing is especially important to walkers, as it has published guides to most of the major routes in the region, including the first account of The Dales Way by Colin Speakman in 1970.

The Dalesman has a current circulation of over 37,000 and is sent out around the globe. It was founded in 1937 in Clapham by Harry J Scott and quickly rose to become the largest regional magazine in the country, with a peak circulation of 70,000. 

Yet it's current editor, Paul Jackson, who took over the job in January this year, is only the 5th editor in the magazines 70 year history. Previous incumbents have included Bill Mitchell and David Joy. Former editor Terry Fletcher, who finally left after 15 years in post, said

"When I was appointed the late Richard Whiteley told me I had just got the best job in journalism and he was right."

See The Dalesman website or read the feature here.

1 November 2008

October 2008

Top accolade for Angel of the North

The Angel Inn, Hetton, is amongst the best restaurants in the country, and top eating out experience in Yorkshire, according to the 2009 Hardens The team at the Angel Inn, HettonUK Restaurant Guide.

Yorkshire has more good quality restaurants than anywhere else in the country, with 113 entries. North Yorkshire came top with 44 good restaurants, the top 4 being the Yorke Arms, Ramsgill-in-Nidderdale; Magpie Cafe, Whitby; Star Inn, Harome, and the Angel Inn, Hetton.

The guide was compiled using 85,000 reports from more than 8,000 regular diners.

Richard Harden, co-editor of the Harden's UK Restaurant Guide, said: "The UK restaurant scene is more diverse and varied than people might think with pockets of excellence all over the country.

"There is most definitely no simple North/South disparity when it comes to dining out.

"It will certainly come as a surprise to the capital's chefs to hear that reporters in our national survey find the very best restaurant food of all in the North West."

In the capital, Gordon Ramsay lost his top position to former apprentice Marcus Wareing.

However, Dales High Way walkers planning an overnight stop at the Angel will need deep pockets - the cost of B&B for two people starts at £130!

Visit The Angel Inn website or Hardens Restaurant Guide website.

20 October 2008

Success story continues for Ilkley Literature Festival 

This years Ilkley Literature Festival is proving to be another huge Ilkley Literature Festival 2008success, despite the credit crunch. Indeed, the festival is in danger of becoming too popular, with many of the main events sold out long before the festival opened, including Cherie Blair, Sheila Hancock, Louis de Bernieres and Kate Adie. 

"I think because of all the doom and gloom of the economy and because it's October and the dark, rainy nights are drawing in, people need something to cheer them up. Tickets are always reasonably priced anyway so, despite what's happening in the financial world, we are doing well" said Festival Director Rachel Felberg. 

However, tickets were still available, at the time of writing, for over 80 events, including leading neuroscientist Susan Greenfield on Wednesday, and kids horror author Darren Shan on Sunday. 

Cherie Blair opened the Festival last Friday with an interview conducted by Francine Stock. It runs until October 19th. 

The Festival was launched 35 years ago by Ilkley resident Michael Dawson, who was then the first director of the newly formed Yorkshire Arts Association. It featured W H Auden in his last public performance. Germaine Greer, however, refused to attend. Writer and broadcaster J. B. Priestley wrote to support the first festival and said:

"Ilkley is the right size for a Festival town...large enough to provide various amenities and small enough to stroll around and run into everybody." 

Despite attracting some big names early on, such as Conor Cruise O'Brien, John Brain, Auberon Waugh, Marguerite Duras and Melvyn Bragg, the Festival had it's ups and downs, coming close to closing in 1984. However, it survived the turbulent times and is now regarded as one of the top 3 Literary Festivals in the country. 

See the Ilkley Festival website

10 October 2008

Calendar Girls hit the stage

The 2003 award-winning movie Calendar Girls has been brought to the stage by it's writer Tim Firth. The Calendar Girls - the stage shownew production opened this week at the Chichester Festival Theatre, and opens at the Bradford's Alhambra Theatre on Monday, 6th October for a week. 

Calendar Girls tells the amazing story of a group of women from the Dales villages of Hetton, Rylstone and Cracoe, who set out to raise money for Leukaemia Research by producing an Alternative Womens Institute Calendar

"At first glance it should look like your classic WI calendar. Jams, cakes, sewing and all that. Except for one tiny thing..."

So far the Rylstone & District Womens Institute has raised over £2 million.

The show stars Patricia Hodge, Gaynor Faye, Lynda Bellingham, Sian Phillips, Elaine Smith and Julia Hills. The show tours the country until the end of the year.

See the Tour schedule, or take a look at the original Rylstone WI webpage.

3 October 2008

September 2008

Whernside Fell Race runs again

Over 170 runners turned out on a glorious autumn day for the resurrection of the famous "Whernside". It's 7 years since the race was last run - it fell Runners start the 2008 Whernside fell raceto a combination of clashes with other races and the inevitable drop in numbers. But runners have always spoken affectionately of the race, and the excellent turnout proved that it has been missed.

Competitors spoke highly of the impressive organisation, which bodes well for future outings. The gruelling 12 mile run, which starts and finishes at Church Bridge in Dent, climbs Whernside - the highest of the Yorkshire peaks. It then drops to Kingsdale before another climb to the top of Great Coum, which at 687 metres almost matches Pen-y-ghent.

First in was Matthew Speak, with others close behind after only an hour and a half.

The main fell race in Yorkshire is the Three Peaks Race. First run in 1954, this year it was run as the World Long Distance Mountain Running Challenge on April 26th. With over 900 entries, including 100 international runners, and a distance a little over 23 miles, the winner Jethro Lennox came in at a little under 3 hours!

Check the The Whernside results

27 September 2008

Book Town's "Absolutely Fabulous" Festival ends

Sedbergh's annual two week literary festival drew to a close on Sunday with a one man show Sweet William performed by Michael Pennington, Sedbergh - England's official Book Townfounder of the English Shakespeare Company, but probably best known for his role as Death Star commander Moff Jerjerrod in the film Return of the Jedi.

Shakespeare was the theme of this years Festival of Books and Drama, the fourth since Sedbergh established itself as a Book Town in 2003. It was recognised as England's official Book Town in 2006.

"The Shakespeare theme has been a great success and Saturday's fringe event, which included twelve hours of writing from a largely amateur crowd of performers, was absolutely fabulous" said organiser Carole Nelson.

"We have had very good turn outs for the lectures, which is good for a literary festival because lectures aren't for everyone, and we have had a couple of hundred more children coming to events this year."

Next year's theme will be Travel and Adventure, but the event may be hosted at a different time of year.

Take a look at England's Book Town.

22 September 2008

Rain fails to dampen Yorkshire spirits

The unusually heavy rain through August and early September has led to flooding in parts of Yorkshire and the cancellation of some events, such as Gordale Beck in full flow at Gordale Scarthe annual Keighley Show. But most events have gone ahead successfully despite the waterlogged ground. Dentdale Show proved a success following earlier fears that it might be cancelled.

Climate change has been blamed by the Environment Agency for the 5th wettest summer on record. The worst was last year. The Agency's regional director for Yorkshire and the North-East, Toby Willison, said:

" It is absolutely clear that climate change is having an effect on weather patterns. If you look back 10 or 12 years ago, there were seasonal floods in the autumn, winter and early spring months. But flooding can happen at any point during the year now."

It seems we may have to get used to it. However, the wet weather has it's advantages, as one young couple who braved the rain to walk A Dales High Way discovered - spectacular waterfalls. Their photo shows a torrential Gordale Beck in full flow at Gordale Scar on Saturday. 

View their video of Gordale Scar.

9 September 2008

Public to help solve riddle of the stones

A new archaeological project to investigate the mysterious cup-and-ring-marked stones of Rombalds Moor is seeking volunteers from the public. 

Cup and Ring marked stone at Grainings Head, Rombalds MoorRombalds Moor is famous for it's large collection of prehistoric Rock Art. Over 690 examples have been catalogued on Rombalds and surrounding moors to date. They are believed to date from the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age period - over 4500 years ago - but their meaning remains a mystery. 

The Bingley & District History Society and Bradford University are forming the team with financial help from the Heritage Lottery Fund. They plan to investigate sites at Stanbury Hill on the edge of Bingley Moor. 

Project director Dr. Keith Boughey said,

" Stanbury Hill is a relatively undisturbed prehistoric moorland site. As such, it provides a unique opportunity for both archaeologists and the local community to learn more about their Bronze Age past, especially the rock art, as well as providing volunteers with the experience and skills of an archaeological dig at first hand, supervised by a Department of Archaeology with a first-class record."

Those wishing to volunteer must attend a meeting at the Eldwick Village Memorial Hall on Saturday 20th September from 10am to noon, in order to register. Work is expected to start later this year and continue throughout next year.

See the Bingley History Society website. See also examples of Rock Art on Rombalds Moor and visit West Yorkshire Archaeology Services website

1 September 2008

August 2008

Royal drama shot in Saltaire

ITV cameras were out in Saltaire last week filming an episode of the popular 1960's hospital Filming of ITV's The Royal at Saltaire drama The Royal. Locals watched as old cars, complete with "DEC 69" tax discs, were parked on Albert Terrace and double yellow lines were painted over. Even the controversial wheelie bins were replaced with metal dustbins, a vast improvement according to one bystander.

Saltaire's narrow streets and Victorian terraces make the village a great location for artists, photographers and filmakers. Albert Terrace, with its cobbles and view of Salts Mill chimney is often seen in pictures of Saltaire and local artist Stuart Hirst is famous for his paintings of its wet pavements.

Another famous Saltaire local was Tony Richardson, director of Look Back in Anger and A Taste of Honey whose father owned the chemist shop at 12, Victoria Road.

The filmed episode of The Royal is due to be shown next year. We can't reveal the plot line, except to say that it involves a Rag 'n Bone man and his horse and cart.

Visit The Royal or take a look at Stuart Hirst paintings.

23 August 2008

African Drummers open Dentdale Show 

Live music, fell racing, sheepdog trials, human bingo - there's something for everyone at the Third Dentdale Show third annual Dentdale Show. This Bank Holiday event starts on Friday 22nd August with a band, disco, bar and bbq in the evening and is followed by a packed two days of events.

If you're walking A Dales High Way this week it's well worth stopping in this lively little village.

On Saturday morning African drummers "Honeydrum" lead the parade from the village green to the showfield where you can see birds of prey, vintage cars and more. For the really energetic the fell race to the top of Rise Hill and back starts at 2pm.

On Sunday there's a tug of war, golf competition and a sheep show and if visitors to Dentdale still haven't had enough, on Bank Holiday Monday there's the annual Dent Gala.

See the Dentdale Show website.

16 August 2008

Official Walk Guide launch set for Saltaire Festival

The new guide book for "A Dales High Way" will be officially launched at this year's Saltaire Saltaire Festival Dog Show 2007 Festival. The hugely popular village festival, which has grown quickly into one of the region's major arts festivals, enjoys its 6th outing this year.

Local authors Chris and Tony Grogan will introduce the new long distance walk with an illustrated talk and sign copies of the book. The launch event will be held at the Half Moon Café in Roberts Park at 6.45 p.m. on Monday, September 15th. Admission fees of £3.00 or £2.00 will be refunded to those buying a book.

The Saltaire Festival began in 2003, organised by a small Festival committee with the help of a band of volunteers and finance from a number of local sponsors. It is a true community event and has grown significantly in the last 6 years, with over 40,000 people attending the Weekend Finale last year.

The 11 day Festival runs from September 11th to the 21st. The Festival Ball on Friday 12th leads into the first weekend of music, drama, dance, talks, walks and exhibitions.Saltaire Festival logo 2008

The Weekend Finale includes a Gala and Funfair in Roberts Park, a Continental Street Market, live performances at the Piazza Stage and the annual Carnival Parade by local school kids. There will also be a Festival Arts Trail, a local Produce Market and a Saturday Fete.

A full list of events can be found on the Saltaire Festival website.

1 August 2008