A Tale of Two Festivals
The eighth Dent Folk Festival got under way on Friday, in a
field just outside Sedbergh. Meanwhile the first Dentdale Music
and Beer Festival got underway, in Dent.
The Dentdale Festival site on Saturday
Andy Irving plays at the Dent Festival on
Confused? Some of those who turned up certainly were, unsure
which festival they were at. But it all ended well as both events
looked to be resounding successes, with the scorching June
sunshine emerging just on cue. Plenty of people and a few
performers ended up travelling to and fro between the two
The Dent Folk Festival has gained a deserved excellent
reputation on the folk circuit. But it's growing success led
organisers to look for a new venue.
"In a nutshell we have outgrown our original site in
Dentdale and although we are very sad to leave we didn't really
have much choice if the festival was to continue. So we are moving
to an absolutely stunning setting at Buck Bank Farm under the
Howgill Fells near Sedbergh, Englands book town" organisers
But some Dent locals didn't want to lose their local festival
and so decided to organise their own to fill the void. And what a
fine job they made of it. A true community festival combining beer
and music - and all completely free.
As they describe it: "Musicians have been coming to Dent
for many years to enjoy the views, meet friends and enjoy the
crack, so The Dent Folk Festival was born out of this initiative
and continued to grow year on year until 2008, when it reached
bursting point. This is why Dent has a new name for 2009 -
Dentdale Music & Beer Festival, as the old committee and the
name has moved several miles up the road to a brand new home /
venture to accommodate the full growth potential it deserves - we
wish them well!
"So here's to a brand new chapter in bringing great music
The Dent Festival's Sedbergh campsite was packed by Friday
evening. Camping at the new site generates additional income for
the festival and allows some top performers to be booked. Kila and
the FOS Brothers were sold out a month in advance. Others
appearing include the legendry Andy Irving, Solas, Ade Edmundson
and the Bad Shepherds, and Black Umfolosi.
Meanwhile back in Dent the line up was more modest but no less
entertaining, with perfomers including Martin Stimpson, Last
Orders, the Duncan McFarlane Band and Gordon Giltrap. The
atmosphere was fantastic, campsites were heaving and getting a
pint in the local pubs for the packed impromptu music sessions was
proving to be a difficult task.
Both festivals look certain to be repeated next year. Can
Sedbergh and Dent sustain two festivals? Judging by this weekend
the answer seems to be an emphatic Yes.
Posting. See also Dentdale
Music and Beer Festival site, and Dent
Folk Festival site.
28 June 2009
Crisis for hill farmers could damage upland landscape
Hill farmers are facing a crisis as their incomes plummet and
youngsters turn away from the hard, precarious lifestyle. And
fears that a collapse in
hill farming will also damage the landscape were expressed to a
new inquiry into the plight of upland communities, which begins
preparing its final report this month.
"Without hill farmers, much of the beautiful British
countryside which we take for granted could very quickly become
unkempt, inaccessible and poorly maintained" said Tim Farron,
MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale. "The average income of a
hill farmer is around £8,000. Up to 85% have no one in place to
take over the business when they retire."
Evidence given to the inquiry shows that the average net income
for a hill farmer dropped from £17,459 in 2004 to £10,786 last
year, a fall of 40%. The average age of hill farmers is 59 with
over one in five already past retirement age. Changes in
subsidies, designed to reduce overgrazing, have generally meant
cuts in income for hill farmers. Many are selling up. The number
of small farms in the Dales National Park area has halved since
the mid 1950's.
The Inquiry into the future for England's upland communities
will release an initial draft report in July with the final report
going to the Prime Minister in September. The Inquiry has been
held by the Commission for Rural Communities, created in 2005 to
provide independent government advice.
Countryside Tsar Stuart Burgess, who chairs the Commission, set
about visiting rural farms, pubs, homes and businesses. He was
shocked by what he found and urged the government to initiate the
inquiry, telling the Prime Minister: "I believe the future of
our hill farming communities merits particular attention. There
needs to be a stronger recognition that the management of these
upland landscapes and environment has a real economic and social
value, alongside the production of food and crops.".
Burgess, the former leader of the Methodist Church, was made a
CBE in the Queens birthday Honours List this weekend.
Visit the website of The
Commission for Rural Communities.
15 June 2009
Record turnout expected for Horse Fair
As the temperature soars Appleby is preparing for a huge turnout
this week at the annual Horse Fair. Around 10,000 Gypsies and
Travellers are expected, with another 30,000 visitors who come to
enjoy the spectacle. All this in a town with a normal population
of just 2,500.
The fair is based around Fair Hill, where some 1800 caravans
will gather, and runs from this Thursday to next Wednesday, with
the weekend being the busiest time.
The annual fair is run under a Royal Charter and has been held
since at least 1750. It is not an organised event as such, just a
traditional gathering of Romany and Irish families travelling to
meet up with old friends, celebrate their culture and conduct
business - particularly buying and selling horses. It is probably
the biggest and oldest such gathering in Europe.
There's a definite touch of the wild west about the event but the anarchic atmosphere doesn't suit
Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson said he recognised the mixed
emotions that the local community had about the fair and the
police's responsibility to manage the potential for public
"It is also vital that we respect the traditions of the
fair and make sure that we are sensitive to the gypsy and traveller
cultures, which have been around far longer than our policing
operation" he said.
An estimated 1500 horses will be sold over
the six days. Sellers wash them in the River Eden and run them on the
so-called Flashing Lane in front of potential buyers. This year the RSPCA has doubled the number of
inspectors it has attending to 20.
The Horse Fair has been growing in popularity in recent years
and the best way to visit is by train. The chances of booking
accommodation in Appleby at this time are nil.
Find information about the
fair here or click below for a flavour of the 2008 fair.
2 June 2009
Brigantes offer baggage service to A Dales High Way
Brigantes, one of the best known baggage couriers for walkers
in the Yorkshire
Dales and the north of England, have now added A Dales High Way to
the routes they cover. For a modest fee they will pick up and
transfer your baggage from stop to stop, giving you the freedom to
enjoy each day's walking carrying only a day bag.
They can also offer a full holiday service, arranging and
booking accommodation for the entire walk.
Mike Schofield of Brigantes said; "We have already had
quite a few enquiries regarding the Dales High Way, and indeed
secured a number of bookings. From past experience we have found
that new routes tend to take up to two years to become known, so
for us to have even one booking for a new walk is good news.
Everyone we have spoken to about the new walk has given a good
opinion of it and we are sure it will prove to be popular."
A Dales High Way was launched as a new long distance route last
September. Author Chris Grogan said: "A lot of people have
asked us if any baggage couriers covered the route, so we are
really pleased Brigantes have picked it up. They are a well known
local company with a good reputation and I'm sure they will help
make the walk a real experience to remember."
Brigantes have been in business transferring baggage and
providing walking holiday packages for the main long distance
routes in the north for twenty years. The Pennine Way, the Dales
Way, the Coast to Coast, the Cleveland Way and the Inn Way walks
are amongst the most popular. It looks like A Dales High Way is
set to join them.
Brigantes website here
23 May 2009
National Park to take in final sections of A Dales High Way
Plans are being considered to extend the Yorkshire Dales
National Park, to take in areas such as the northern Howgill Fells
and the Orton Fells - areas covered
by the last stages of A Dales High Way.
Natural England, which is the government's statutory advisor on
National Parks, is setting up a project team whose first job will
be to undertake a public consultation on the proposals.
At present the northern boundary of the Dales National Park
ends in the centre of the Howgill Fells, at the Calf. It has long
been recognised that the northern fells and the Orton Fells beyond
are outstanding landscapes but have never been designated. An
alternative option is to classify these as Areas of Outstanding
Natural England had already started the process, but halted its
designation work last year to await clarification of legal
uncertainties that were being considered during the Public Inquiry
into the South Downs National Park.
Other areas under consideration for inclusion in the Yorkshire
Dales National Park include Mallerstang & Wild Boar Fell,
parts of the Lune Valley, Firbank Fell, Middleton, Barbon &
Leck Fells, and areas around Cold Cotes and Kirkby Lonsdale.
Birkbeck Fells to Whinfell, Helsington Barrows to Sizergh, and an
area around the River Kent will be considered as a variation to
the Lake District National Park.
Poul Christensen of Natural England said: "I am delighted
that our work in reviewing parts of the Lake District and
Yorkshire Dales National Park boundaries can now continue. It is
fitting that as we celebrate 60 years of National Parks - and all
that they have achieved for people and wildlife - we now have a
unique opportunity to look at a major expansion of two of
England's most cherished protected areas."
See the Plan
of the new proposed areas and Natural
6 May 2009
Bingley Harrier triumphs at 55th Three Peaks Fell Race
Rob Jebb from the Bingley Harriers took first place on this
Three Peaks Fell Race yesterday. Second spot went to Ricky
Lightfoot of Ellenborough, with Karl Gray of Calder Valley taking
This is the 55th outing for the mother-of-all Yorkshire fell races. 688 runners took part, with 50 places held for international
competitors. The first 3 Peaks race in 1954 attracted just 6
entries. The first attempt to walk the 3 peaks was
recorded in 1887.
The race starts at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, with runners climbing
Pen-y-ghent first, then crossing to Ribblehead to climb Whernside,
before finally crossing Ingleborough to return to the start.
The route, at 23.3 miles, is slightly different from that taken
by walkers, as is the completion time. Whilst walkers are
considered to have done well if they cover the course in under
12 hours, the top runners finish in under 3 hours!
The record for the race is held by Jeff Norman, who finished in
just under two and a half hours in 1974. The course has changed
slightly since then. Bingley Harrier Andy Peace holds the record for the current
course, finishing in 2 hours 46 minutes and 3 seconds in 1996.
A Hog Roast, skiffle band and beer tent provided the
traditional finale to the event.
See the 3 Peaks Race
Association site and check the results
26 April 2009
Falcons on view at Malham Cove
A special viewing point with telescopes has been set up at
Malham Cove to give visitors the opportunity for a close-up view
of the wild birds who nest
there, including peregrine falcons.
It is the sixth year that the Dales National Park Authority and
the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have organised the
free Falcon Watch. Last year over 21,000 people took advantage of
the high-powered telescopes and the experts on hand to view these
magnificent birds of prey.
The watch will be open each day from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm,
weather permitting. It will run from April 10th to August 30th.
The viewpoint is located at the bottom of Malham Cove next to the
Matthew Capper of the RSPB said: "We are hoping the
Peregrines will be true to form and produce some young again this
During the 1950s the peregrine population in the UK declined
dramatically due to
the use of agricultural organochlorine pesticides. Following a
complete ban of these pesticides, the peregrine population began
to increase, and in 1978, the first pairs returned to the
Yorkshire area of the National Park. Despite the large number of
people that visit the Malham area each year, peregrines settled at
the Cove and first bred in 1993. They have been present ever
As well as the peregrines, visitors to Malham can expect to see
green woodpeckers, little owls, redstarts and cliff-nesting house
Picture at top shows the first of the 2008 peregrine falcon
chicks to fledge. Photo by Neil Aldridge.
Visit the National
Park's Peregrine Falcon site.
14 April 2009
Loyal Ruswarp marks 20 years of campaign success
On April 11th a very special bronze statue will be unveiled to
mark 20 years since the official reprieve from closure of the
Settle-Carlisle railway line.
was the only dog to sign the petition against closure, but more
importantly he was to become a symbol of courage and dedication
that inspired campaigners and gained him the RSPCA Medallion for
In the 1980's the scenic Settle-Carlisle railway was threatened
with closure. Amongst campaigners who gathered to fight the
closure, under the banner of "The Friends of the
Settle-Carlisle Line" (FoSCL), was Graham Nuttall, a modest
Lancashire man who became the first secretary of the the group.
Graham loved to walk the fells with his faithful companion Ruswarp
Shortly after the line's official reprieve, on January 20th
1990, Graham bought day return tickets from Burnley to Llandrindod
Wells, to walk the Welsh mountains. When Graham didn't return his
neighbours raised the alarm and police and mountain rescue teams
in the Elan Valley and Rhayader went looking for him, but with no
Eleven weeks later, on April 7th, a lone walker found Graham's
body by a mountain stream. Nearby was Ruswarp, who had loyaly
remained besides Graham throughout those long, cold winter weeks.
The 14 year old Border Collie was so weak he had to be carried
from the mountain, where he was cared for by Graham's aunt and
Ruswarp survived just long enough to attend Graham's funeral.
The RSPCA had been inundated with offers to re-home Ruswarp.
The life-size bronze statue of Ruswarp will be unveiled at the
newly restored Garsdale Station, one of Graham's favourite spots. A
fitting symbol of the heroic battle to save England's most
beautiful railway line.
See The story of the
Ruswarp sculpture and details of the 20th
30 March 2009
On a beautiful sunny Saturday morning, the life-size bronze
statue of Ruswarp was
finally unveiled at Garsdale station. Hundreds turned out for the
very moving ceremony, which marked both the 20th anniversary of
the successful campaign to save the line from closure, and a
£250,000 restoration of the isolated station.
Network Rail's Route Director Jo Kaye said: “With the help of
the Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line and the Settle Carlisle
Railway Development Company to name just two, this line has gone
from strength to strength."
Sculptress Joel Walker said: "After hearing the stories of
the petition and the faithfulness of this remarkable dog, it was
an honour to create and provide the bronze Ruswarp statue. This
story and the scenery really inspired me."
Dogs and their owners posed for photos with Ruswarp, including
our own Chris and Jess.
Update: 12 April 2009
Holiday Eco-pod trials for Dales barns
Trials have begun on a new concept to allow temporary holiday
homes to be created in disused field barns in the Yorkshire Dales.
at the National Park have given the go-ahead for the temporary use
of a free-standing 'eco-pod' inside an isolated barn on the Bolton
Abbey estate near Skipton. For the next year, it will be occupied
occasionally by experts from Bath-based architects Feilden Clegg
Bradley Studios (FCBS) who will be testing its viability as a
place to stay or work.
"Barns are one of the National Park's special qualities
and, with around 2,000 now in 'poor' or 'very bad' condition, it
is becoming imperative that we find ways of stopping them from
deteriorating any further," said Gary Smith, the Park's Head
of Conservation and Policy.
The free-standing pod is installed inside the barn, having no
material impact on the fabric of the building. It can be removed
at any time to leave the barn exactly as it was. All that is
required is that the barn be made weatherproof - an essential step
in any case for the barn's conservation.
If successful the eco-pods could be installed in barns across
the Dales, with power, water and sewage services provided on a
trailer towed into position by the farmer when required.
See the Feildbarn Project
16 March 2009
Dent Folk Festival moves to Sedbergh
Dent Folk Festival, judged by many to be one of the best in the
country, is moving venues this year - to nearby Sedbergh.
six years in Dentdale we have outgrown our original site and we
are moving to a new venue, with on site camping, a few miles down
the road. It’s an absolutely stunning site between the Howgill
Fells and Wild Boar Fell just outside Sedbergh, England’s Book
Town" said one of the organisers.
The new site is at Buck Bank Farm, just over a mile from
Sedbergh. For the first year the festival will have on-site
camping, plus a free regular shuttle bus link to the town.
"We're really pleased about this as many of our regulars
have asked us over the years to run a festival campsite. By
camping on the festival site you will be making a major
contribution to the sustainability of the festival. The camping
will be basic but comfortable. The site is in a fantastic setting
and you'll be with a great crowd of other festival goers, so lots
of potential for sessions and meeting people from all over the
place with a shared passion for music."
This years artists include Andy Irving, Tony Wilson, Adrian
Edmondson & the Bad Shepherds, Kila and Black Umfolosi from
Zimbabwe. The festival runs from June 26th - 28th.
"We are very sad to leave Dentdale, but to see the
festival come to an end after six years of dedicated hard work
would be unthinkable to those involved in it. We've had to take
difficult decisions and move on."
See the Dent
Festival website for full details of the 2009 programme.
1 March 2009
Green hydro scheme for Settle
Work is expected to start on a pioneering new green energy
project in Settle this April. Craven Council finally gave the
go-ahead last week for the
Settle Hydro project, a community-funded scheme to generate enough
hydro-electricity to power 50 homes.
The £300,000 scheme, funded through a £100,000 community
share issue with backing from Yorkshire Forward, Future Energy
Yorkshire and the Co-op, will use an Archimedean Screw installed
at the town's Bridge End Weir.
The proposed scheme was initially turned down by council
planners in October last year, over concerns on the effect the
scheme might have on the River Ribble's fish stock. Fishing is
estimated to bring £11 million annually to the local economy. The
Ribble is one of the most important migratory rivers for salmon
and trout in Europe. In Autumn nearby Stainforth Force, on the
route of A Dales High Way, is a popular spot for people to watch
as the salmon struggle upstream to spawn.
However, after assurances from the Environment Agency that the
needs of migrating fish would not be put at risk by the 50 kw
hydro station, councillors voted to back the scheme.
Director of Settle Hydro Ann Harding said: “This is brilliant
news and just the decision all our shareholders were hoping for.
We’ve got a great scheme which will provide electricity for
years to come at no cost to the planet. And what’s more, any
surplus funds will be ploughed back into community projects. I’m
hoping the hydro will be a great source of pride for Settle and I’m
sure people will come from all over to see the project as it
See the Settle
21 February 2009
Big freeze takes toll
The unexpected February freeze - the coldest weather for 20
years, has taken it's toll with a number of walkers in this region
injured in the icy conditions. 7 people have died so far walking
on mountains in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District.
One Bradford man was lucky to be rescued when he got lost climbing Great Whernside in
Wharfedale. He was picked up
after 11 hours in blizzard conditions suffering from frostbite and
dehydration after he became disoriented. He had set out without a
map or compass, but fortunately carried a mobile phone.
Alan Hudson explained: "I’ve been up there dozens of
times in all weathers. Sometimes visibility has been really bad
but I’ve always been able to see the path and knew exactly where
“On this occasion the path got covered with snow and somehow
I got off it. I tried to trace my footprints back up Great
Whernside but they were covered. It was then I realised I was lost
and phoned the police.”
A police spokesman said "Walkers should ensure that they
have a mobile phone on their person, and that they tell their
contacts their planned route and which vehicles they would have
access to during this time."
Some sections of A Dales High Way cross areas which can be
tricky in adverse weather conditions, such as the steep descent
from Ingleborough to Humphrey Bottom which should be avoided in
Bearing in mind that in many remote areas a mobile phone signal
may not be available it is vital to leave details of your route
and expected time of arrival with someone, particularly if you,
like many walkers, prefer to walk alone.
Ramblers advice for walkers and the Upper
Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.
11 February 2009
Blood, sweat and beers
The Time Team excavation of the Rise Hill shanty town, on the
route of the Settle-Carlisle railway, is to be screened on Sunday,
February 1st at 5.35 pm on Channel 4. The programme will be shown
again the following Saturday.
Presenter Tony Robinson and the Time Team spent three days with
the Yorkshire Dales National Park's Senior Conservation
Officer Robert White investigating the site of one of the
construction camps set up to house the workers who built the
The railway navvies - arguably the toughest and most lawless
breed of the Victorian era - lived on site with their families and
endured harsh conditions. Many perished through accident or
disease and over 200 are buried at St Leonard's church in the tiny
hamlet of Chapel-le-Dale, on the route of A Dales High Way.
The investigations centred on construction camp 2, which was a
group of five huts that housed some of the workers and their
families who built the Risehill Tunnel north of Dent Station - the
second longest tunnel on the railway - between 1869 and 1875.
Occupations recorded in the 1871 census included a carpenter,
two blacksmiths and stone masons as well as railway miners.
"Although we know a little bit about the construction of
the Settle Carlisle Railway, we had very little knowledge of the
actual process and the living conditions of the people who built
it," Robert said.
"The Risehill camp was on top of a hill in the middle of a
peat bog. The excavations showed just how harsh their living
conditions were and helped give an idea of the scale of the
machinery that was used to help build the tunnel."
See the previous story "Time
Team excavate Dent shanty town". See also St
1 February 2009
Gordale Scar access improved
The awesome splendour of Gordale Scar will soon be opened up to
everyone thanks to a huge project to improve access through the
by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, aided by
volunteers, to resurface the path, improve drainage and clear away
fallen scree is virtually finished and it should be ready for use
by the end of the month.
“Although Gordale has always been more accessible than many
areas in Malhamdale, the improvements will mean it will be much
easier for everyone to reach the base of the waterfall,”
said Cat Kilner, the Park’s Area Ranger for Malhamdale and Lower
Ribblesdale who has overseen the work.
“The path is often virtually washed out in heavy rain so we
have improved the drainage to prevent this happening in the
future. Another problem was that it was rather steep at one point
so we have reduced the gradient there.
“We also have a problem with scree falling onto the path so
we have organised a set of volunteers to regularly patrol the
route and remove it – which means it should always be
“Gordale waterfall is a spectacular limestone feature with an
apron of delicate tufa rock on its face that is created by calcium
carbonate from the stream being deposited. It is only right that
this area should be available for everyone to view.”
See more of Gordale
20 January 2009
Brits head for great outdoors in 2009
As the credit crunch bites more people than ever are planning
camping holidays at home this year. This is a trend that has grown
over the last 3 years, despite the wet summers we've enjoyed
Caravan Club reports advanced bookings for 2009 up by 40% on 2008.
Nick Lomas for the Caravan Club said, “We confidently predict
that 2009 will be the year that welcomes the return of the great
British holiday, something Caravan Club members have enjoyed for
over a Century.”
In a recent report the Camping and Caravanning Club, the oldest
such club in the world, said that 40% of new members who join do
so as tent campers. This is a trend that has been steadily
increasing for a number of years. What’s more, the average age
of people camping with the club has dropped from 60 to 49.
Frances Tuke, a spokeswoman for the Association of British
Travel Agents, said that UK holidaymakers are taking more
traditional breaks than ever, also pointing out that so-called ‘posh
camping’, or 'Glamping' has gained more fans recently.
There's not much chance of Glamping on the route of A Dales
High Way, but Caravan Club members can pull up at spots such as
the Old Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale, while wild campers can pitch
behind the Station Inn at Ribblehead.
See the Caravan Club
or the Camping
and Caravanning Club websites, or check our own Camping
11 January 2009
Weather hots up for 2009
The global temperature for 2009 is likely to be 0.4 °C above the
long term average,
with an increased probability of record temperatures to follow,
according to climate researchers.
2009 is expected to be one of the top-five warmest years on
record, say scientists at the Met Office and the
University of East Anglia. The ten warmest years on record have
occurred since 1997.
Professor Chris Folland from the Met Office said:
"Phenomena such as El Niño and La Niña have a significant
influence on global surface temperature. Warmer conditions in 2009
are expected because the strong cooling influence of the recent
powerful La Niña has given way to a weaker La Niña." During
La Niña, cold waters rise to the surface to cool the ocean and
land surface temperatures.
These cyclical influences can mask underlying warming trends as
Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit,
University of East Anglia, explained: "The fact that 2009,
like 2008, will not break records does not mean that global
warming has gone away. What matters is the underlying rate of
warming - the period 2001-2007, with an average of 14.44 °C, was
0.21 °C warmer than corresponding values for the period
The Met Office, in collaboration with the University of East
Anglia, maintains a global temperature record which is used in the
reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Each
January they issue a forecast of the global surface temperature
for the coming year. The forecast takes into account known
contributing factors, such as El Niño and La Niña, increasing
greenhouse gas concentrations, the cooling influences of
industrial aerosol particles, solar effects and natural variations
of the oceans.
See The Met Office
and The University of East Anglia Climatic
1 January 2009