Solstice magic over Baildon Moor
The winter solstice brought a special touch of magic this year,
with a total lunar eclipse spectacular to open events.
(Top) The shadow of the earth begins to cross the face
of the full moon. (Below) 30 minutes after totality, the
sun rises over Baildon Moor, on an optional part of A
Dales High Way.
rare geometric alignment saw the full moon, high over a freezing
snowy landscape, slip completely into the earth's shadow, just 30
minutes before the sun made its own dramatic dawn entrance to
signal winter had reached its peak. From now on the days will
begin to lengthen again.
Quite what our Stone Age ancestors would
have made of this is unclear, but the fact that they celebrated
the winter solstice is evident from the construction of such sites
as the Twelve Apostles stone circle nearby and the vast number of
prehistoric rock art panels that litter the high moorland.
Rombalds Moor, of which Baildon Moor is but a part, is currently
the scene of a phenomenal number of key community archaeological
projects, designed to investigate and record this prehistoric
legacy, as well as other more recent historic events such as the
medieval mining on Baildon Moor.
The turning point in winter, when
the shortest day passes and spring can begin to be anticipated,
must have been especially important in ancient times. And its
worth remembering that's precisiely why we celebrate Christmas at
Merry Christmas everyone!
See our previous posting here. See
21 December 2010
Youngest Fell Rescue Chief appointed
The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association has just appointed
the youngest chairman in their 62 year history - local builder Ian
Hook from Glasshouses near Pateley Bridge. Ian 41, a caver, has
been an active member of the team for over 11 years.
The team covers Nidderdale, Wharfedale, Littondale and parts of
Airedale, including the early stages of A Dales High Way. It is
the third oldest in the country and is one of only three teams -
all in the Yorkshire Dales - who perform both surface and
Last year was the busiest since the team's formation with
members providing more than 2,200 manhours to the North Yorkshire
Police covering 36 incidents. But the record is already set to be
broken this year. All its 80 members are volunteers and undergo
demanding training to deal with the life-threatening situations
Ian, who has lived in the area all his life is looking forward
to the challenge; "It is such a privilege and honour to have
been elected chairman. We have many long serving members, indeed
over half have served more than 25 years with a good number as
long as 40 years and more and as such we have considerable
knowledge of the local area and of course rescue techniques. My
aim is to help increase the number of younger members for us to be
able to pass on this expertise in our lifesaving work in the
Luckily Ian's team has not yet faced any major callouts since
he took over, despite the recent arctic weather conditions.
And remember, if you ever find yourselves in difficulty whilst
walking the fells, call 999 and ask for the police, then ask for
See our previous posting
here. See also the Upper Wharfedale
Fell Rescue Association website here.
13 December 2010
Winter wonderland for last steam charter
Travellers on the Christmas Fellsman were treated to a true Winter
Wonderland on Saturday as the Yorkshire Dales were carpeted in
As if on cue the sudden November cold snap provided the perfect
backdrop for the last of this year's steam charter trains on the
But the spectacular scenery can be enjoyed by anyone who hops
on the regular daily service between Leeds and Carlisle. And as a
special bonus, owners of West Yorkshire Metro cards can travel the
whole length of the line and back during the winter for just
Several companies operate special steam charters along the line
throughout the summer, mostly at the weekend. Fellsman Charters,
operated by Statesman Rail, are offering a weekly Wednesday
service between July and September next year. Demand is
usually high and the trains are often booked up well in advance.
But walkers returning from
A Dales High Way can enjoy the views
just as much for a fraction of the price using the main line
diesel service. Recent upgrades to the line promise even more
regular services in the future.
With the current cold snap predicted to last, now is perhaps
the time to check out next year's walking prospects with a trip
along England's most beautiful railway line. You won't be
See Statesman Rail's website here and check
charters here. Get the latest news from the Settle-Carlisle line
28 November 2010
Who owns the land?
Land ownership in Britain has changed dramatically in the last
150 years, according to research by Kevin Cahill, author of
Seven of the top ten landowners are now corporate bodies,
including The National Trust and the RSBP. However, more than a
third of land is still in the hands of aristocrats and the landed
gentry, much of which
can be traced back to the Norman conquest of 1066. The 36,000
members of the Country Landowners Association (CLA) own 50% of the
rural land in England and Wales.
The research, published this month in Country Life, draws on
the latest figures from the Land Registry, which lists ownership
of 75% of the land. Since compulsory registration for land
purchases only became universal in 1990, ownership of the other
25% may never be known.
There is a total of around 37 million acres (15 million
hectares) of land in England and Wales.
A government survey in 1872 showed almost all rural land was
then held by family estates. Now the top ten landowners are:
- The Forestry Commission - much of whose 2.5 million acres
are due to be sold off by the government.
- The National Trust -
whose 630,000 acres include the 7,200-acre Malham Tarn Estate, on
the route of A Dales High Way.
- The Ministry of Defence -
- The Pension Funds - 550,000 acres.
such as water, electricity and railways - 500,000 acres.
Crown estate - 360,000 acres.
- The Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds (RSPB) - 320,000 acres.
- The Duke of
Buccleuch & Queensbury - 240,000 acres.
- The National Trust
of Scotland - 190,000 acres.
- The Duke of Atholl's trusts -
See the Country Life website here and
The National Trust Malham
Tarn Estate here.
18 November 2010
CSI: Rombalds Moor
No, there's no Miami style Crime Scene being investigated on
the moors between Saltaire and
Addingham, but a new community
project led by a group of experts called Carved Stone
The three year project will set out to record in detail all the
prehistoric rock art on Rombalds Moor using the latest 3-D
photographic techniques. Over 400 examples of the strange
cup-and-ring marked stones have so far been catalogued on the
moor, but there are fears that the 4000-year old carvings may be
At a packed meeting in Ilkley today, the background to the
project was presented to over 90 potential community volunteers.
Lead archaeologist Gavin Edwards explained that the new recording
would set a benchmark against which the rock art could be
monitored for future deterioration.
He said "We are building on the pioneering work of the
past, work such as that done by the Ilkley Archaeology Group. But
we're not just repeating the recording of the rock art in the way
that's already been done, now we have the opportunity to do
something more, we have a technique that will allow us to look at
them in a completely new way."
The new technique is called Photogrammetry, which takes two or
more photographs of an object, taken from slightly different
angles, and combines them using sophisticated computer software to
produce accurate 3-dimensional models. The models would also allow new
investigations into the source and purpose of the mysterious
The new project builds on a similar pilot project undertaken in
Northumberland and is led by the same team. The results will be
added to the ERA online resource, available to the public.
Following the meeting, potential volunteers were taken on to the
moor to look at some of the finest examples of cup-and-ring
stones, including The Planets (see photo), Haystack and The Idol
Volunteers will receive training between December and March
next year, when the first trial recording phase is expected to
See the CSI blog here and
view some of the Rock art
here. See the ERA
website here and view our previous post
6 November 2010
Cove stairs chief retires
The man responsible for building the 400 plus steps at the side
of Malham Cove is retiring
from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority after a career
spanning three decades.
Jon Avison, who started his career with the National Park in
1980 as the area warden for Malhamdale, will leave his job as Head
of Park Management and the Authority’s Deputy Chief Executive at
the end of October.
“One of the first jobs I did was to organise the building of
the steps up the side of Malham Cove because there was only a
rough footpath there,” he said. “We recruited all sorts of
volunteers from RAF groups to school children and we did it all by
hand – stone by stone.”
Over 200 Dales Volunteers turn their hands to a wide variety of
projects in the National Park every year including conservation
work on footpaths, bridleways and nature reserves. It is to be
hoped however that after the news this week that grants for
national park authorities will be cut, these volunteers won’t be
the only ones at work.
In a statement before the cuts were announced, Helen Jackson,
Chief Executive of the Campaign for National Parks, said “Our
National Parks provide outstanding value for public money and cuts
to them will affect the level of services that they deliver for
the public and would be a loss to the nation as a whole. For
example, cuts to visitor services, rangers and the education role
will diminish visitors’ experience at a time when we need more
people enjoying National Parks”.
Walkers on A Dales High Way who stopover in
Malham have good reason to be grateful for the steps as they make
their way back to the top of the Cove to re-join the route. Thank
you Jon. We wish you a happy retirement.
Photo: Steps besides Malham Cove, by Almostailsa.
See the Yorkshire
Dales National Park website here, and the Campaign
for National Parks here.
24 October 2010
Rare Cumbrian Roman helmet sells for £2.3 million
A precious Roman ceremonial helmet and facemask, discovered in
May this year by a metal detectorist in a Cumbrian field, was lost
to the public after fetching almost eight times the estimated
price at Christies auction house.
The helmet was valued at £300,000, but was sold at auction to
an anonymous private bidder for £2.3 million. The sale was a
bitter disappointment for the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, who
had raised almost £100,000 in public and private donations in
just three weeks. There are now fears that the helmet will
A statement from Tullie House Museum said "The
overwhelming generosity and support of funding organisations,
companies, other cultural institutions including the British
Museum, local schools and most importantly the public, who all
pledged their support both financially and in-kind, gave Tullie
House the once in a life time opportunity to go to Christie's to
try and secure the acquisition of this rare object.
"The future of the helmet, whether it will remain in the
UK or even be on public display is speculative as the new owner
has remained anonymous. Hopefully, the Government will impose an
export ban to prevent the helmet being taken abroad."
The helmet is the best example of the three of its kind to be
discovered in Britain. Dating from the late first or second
century, it would have been worn by an elite Roman cavalry man at
The helmet was found in a field near Crosby Garrett, which sits
at the eastern end of the Orton Fells, just 3 miles from
Newbiggin-on-Lune on the route of A Dales High Way.
The region was occupied by the Celtic Brigantes at the time of
the Roman invasion of Britain. Originally allies, the Brigantes
turned against the Romans in 69 AD and put up a fierce resistance
to the subsequent Roman occupation of the north.
See the helmet on the Portable Antiquities website
the Tullie House Museum Appeal
8 October 2010
Eden test bed for river cleanup
A site on the River Eden has been chosen to host a new
five-year study into agricultural river pollution.
An experimental farm at Newton Rigg, near Penrith will be used
to develop ways of preventing farm waste and chemicals from
polluting rivers. It will bring together researchers, farmers,
water companies and policy makers and act as a demonstration farm
for new techniques.
“It’s really exciting and there are about 60 people
representing Defra, different farmers and scientists coming
together,” said Professor Phil Haygarth, project leader and
professor of soil and water science at Lancaster University.
“The River Eden is a great example of a type of river that we
need to understand and has had real problems with diffuse
pollution and flooding in the past.”
Whereas pollution from specific sources such as industrial
sites is relatively easy to monitor, diffuse pollution from land
run-off is harder to trace and treat.
Wetlands, ponds and sediment traps are some of the solutions
being tested by experts. Others ideas include an anaerobic
digester for farm yard manure and food waste and rainwater
It is one of three test sites in the country – the others are
at The Wensum in Norfolk and the Avon in Hampshire. The
multi-million pound project is funded by Defra with support from
the Environment Agency.
The River Eden is home to the largest colony of nesting sand
martins in Cumbria and is one of the most important British sites
for the native white-clawed crayfish.
See The River Eden Demonstration Test Catchment Project here
and the Eden Rivers Trust here
21 September 2010
Ilkley launches walking festival
The fourth annual South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival kicks
off this weekend in
Ilkley Walkers are Welcome are hosting the free launch event on
Saturday and Sunday, with a series of guided walks and talks.
These include a ramble over Ilkley Moor to visit the Twelve
Apostles stone circle, and a walk following the footsteps of
Charles Darwin who stayed in the town whilst his book "On the
Origin of the Species" was published.
A Dales High Way will be represented with a stall in the Riddings Hall on
Saturday from 9.45 am, and the former Dalesman editor Bill
Mitchell will talk about his latest book "Herriot, a vets
life" at the Grove bookshop in the evening.
The Festival itself runs throughout September and features over
100 events in the heart of the South Pennines. A festival
organiser said "This year is special because we are
celebrating the Watershed Landscape Project which focuses on the
story of the South Pennines uplands. We are also taking the
opportunity to celebrate The Ramblers 75th Anniversary year and
the Year of Biodiversity through special events marked in the
Ilkley received its Walkers are Welcome status
last year as a town that promotes walking with its beautiful
countryside, well maintained paths and walker friendly
accommodation, bars and restaurants.
Chris and Tony Grogan will also be giving an illustrated talk
about A Dales High Way at the Richmond Walking &
Book festival later this month. They will be joining Travel and
Nature writer Mike Bagshaw at the Kings Head Hotel, Market Square,
on Wednesday evening, September 29th. Bar and book stall, tickets
Download the Festival brochure
here, or visit the South
Pennines Walk & Ride festival website here. Details of the Richmond
Walking & Book Festival are here. See also our previous
7 September 2010
New Harrogate Link for Dales Way
A new link route from Harrogate to Ilkley, the start of the
Dales Way, was officially unveiled on Saturday when over 40
ramblers set off to walk the 16 mile route.
Resting at Haverah Park (above). Leaving the high
Lippersley Pike (below).
The walkers, who had gathered from Leeds, Bradford and
Harrogate, were addressed by the Mayor before leaving Valley
Gardens at the heart of the town. Superb weather accompanied the
walk and the heather was in full bloom on the moors.
The original Harrogate Link, launched in 1974, followed a route
to Bolton Abbey, crossing a section of land owned by the Duke of
Devonshire on a permissive path. But closure of the path during
grouse shooting and restrictions on publicising the route were
amongst the reasons for the new Link being developed.
Delia Wells of the Harrogate Ramblers said "The Harrogate
Dalesway to Bolton Abbey was 20 miles long, a long day start for
the Dales Way itself. It also missed out a fine section of the
Dales Way between Ilkley and Bolton Abbey. The new Link gives a
total walk to Bowness of 100 miles. What a terrific trip!"
Colin Speakman, chairman of the Dales Way Association, joined
the walk and described the remarkable contribution of the late
Corrie Gaunt in establishing the right of way across Haverah Park
which made the link route possible.
The Harrogate Link is one of three major link routes to the
Colin Speakman said "These routes link three major centres
of population - Leeds, Bradford and now Harrogate - with the start
of the Dales Way, and make the Dales Way unique in that you can
walk from the centre of these towns or cities, on public paths,
directly into the heart of two of Britain's most iconic National
The Dales Way, which runs 80 miles from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere
following riverside paths, celebrated it's 40th anniversary last
year. It is the one of most popular long distance trails in the
country and for many it is the first long distance walk they
tackle. The new Dales High Way makes a perfect complimentary
challenge and is also served well by these three link routes.
Copies of a guide to the new Harrogate Dalesway Link are
available from Mr P L Goldsmith, 20 Pannel Ash Grove, Harrogate
HG2 OHZ for £1. Please send an A5 SAE and make cheques payable to
See our previous posting
here. See the Harrogate Ramblers
website here and the Dales Way Association
here. Check the Dales
Way Route details here.
23 August 2010
Bronze Age house on Rombalds Moor?
A community archaeology project has uncovered what may be a
3000 year old house on part of Rombalds Moor.
During the month long excavation, in which a group of
volunteers worked alongside professional archaeologists, four
trenches were opened to explore two cairns, a section of
embankment walling and a complex oval stone structure, all of
which are believed to date from the Bronze Age. Further
excavations are expected to continue next year.
Senior archaeologist in charge of the dig, Louise Brown,
said: 'The first season of the excavations was a great success. I
couldn't have hoped for a more dedicated and interested team to
work with. The team learnt much over the four weeks and became
proficient in many aspects of archaeological fieldwork. As for the
archaeology itself, the discovery of an oval/round structure on
the edge of the mound was very exciting... although we will have
to wait until the next field season to find out more.'
The excavations took place on the grouse moor at Stanbury Hill
on Bingley Moor, during a short window between the bird nesting
season and the shooting season. It is the third year of the
Heritage Lottery funded project, the first two involved detailed
surveying of the huge half-kilometre square site.
Next year the oval structure will be investigated further,
alongside three new sites featuring the mysterious cup and ring
marked stones, two of which are scheduled ancient monuments.
Project director Dr. Keith Boughey said: "The whole
project really is inspired by the wish to understand what the rock
art on the site is all about. Not only what it was about but how
it related to the other stuff on the hill.
"So we've got two scheduled sites to dig, and that is to
go around and under the examples of rock art, and that is
especially exciting because that is very rarely if ever done. So
that could not only be a first for Bingley, but a first for
Yorkshire if not a first for England. So that really is exciting.
"The final trench we're going to go for is a really sweet
one which is a cairn with a cup and ring marked rock right bang in
the middle of it."
Rombalds Moor is famous for its prehistoric rock art. Over 350
examples of cup and ring marked stones have been catalogued to
date, with more discovered each year. A new project to make 3D
records of them using a technique called Photogrammetry has just
report here. See the Bingley History Society introductory pages
Detailed project reports can be found on the main project website
here. See also photos from the project on the Facebook site
12 August 2010
Sedbergh book fair "The Write Idea"
Sedbergh's late summer Books & Drama Festival has a new
name The Write Idea, but continues to provide plenty to
interest visitors to England's official Book Town.
As well as workshops, authors, playwrights and storytellers,
Professor Stephen Regan will introduce the new Bloodaxe edition of
Basil Bunting's internationally acclaimed epic poem Briggflatts,
to be followed by a showing of the 1982 Channel 4 film of the
Born into a Quaker family in 1900, Bunting was a conscientious
objector in the first world war and was imprisoned. His first
major poem Villon was published in 1925, but it was
his rediscovery by young modernist poets in the 1960's which led,
in 1965, to the publication of his major long poem, Briggflatts,
named for the Quaker meeting house in Sedbergh where he is now
buried. Divided into five parts, Briggflatts is a kind of poetic
autobiography, looking back on teenage love and on Bunting's
involvement in the high modernist period.
Authors talking about their works include Sue Armstrong, who
looks at the hidden world of the pathologist, and award-winning
Cumbrian novelist Sarah Hill. There are also workshops for young
writers and playwrights and poetry readings in three of Sedbergh's
Main Street cafes.
Festival organiser John Rice said "This year our Books
& Drama Festival has a new name, The Write Idea, and though
the number of events is smaller than in previous years (cultural
projects are having to trim their cloth just like the rest of us!)
we believe we have retained the quality of speaker that audiences
have come to expect."
The festival runs from September 17th to 25th.
Photo by John Rice: Professor Stephen Regan visiting Basil
Bunting's grave at Brigflatts.
See the Festival
programme here. See video extracts of Basil
Bunting reading his poem at the publishers website here, or
visit Brigflatts Quaker
4 August 2010
Three Peaks fundraiser for Mountain rescue group
Volunteers with the Cave Rescue Organisation, which is
responsible for rescuing hundreds of fell walkers, climbers and
cavers in the region, are set to tackle their second Yorkshire
Three Peaks Challenge to raise much needed funds.
The Challenge, which takes place on August 7th and marks the
organisation's 75th anniversary year, looks likely to become an
annual event for the team and their supporters, after it was first suggested by
respected rescue member Phil Haigh, who sadly died in 2008. In its first outing last year, over £3,500 was raised.
This year has seen a quieter start for the rescue group, with
29 incidents logged in the first half of the year. The prolonged
icy spell at the start of the year led to a number of call outs.
Here's just a sample:
"Feb 06 Sat 14.35 Ingleborough, North Yorkshire - Mountain
Rescue. A walker (m, 31) tripped descending from the summit of
Ingleborough, sustaining head / facial injuries. Following
treatment by CRO the casualty was stretchered down to Crina Bottom
and transferred to an off-road ambulance."
"Mar 06 Sat 14.20 Malham Cove, North Yorkshire - Mountain
Rescue. A walker (f, 66) slipped on rocks at the top of the Cove
and sustained a fracture to her wrist and facial injuries.
Following treatment by CRO the casualty was assisted to a team
vehicle for transport off the hill and transfer to a road
ambulance on the Cove Road."
"May 30 Sun 12.05 Blea Moor, North Yorkshire - Mountain
Rescue. A walker (f) tripped near the Bleamoor Signal Box and
sustained facial injuries. The casualty was treated by paramedics
and flown off the hill by air ambulance, landing at Ribblehead
just after CRO arrived."
1935 the CRO has attended over 2,300 incidents. 2009 was a record year, with 94 incidents recorded in total,
including 59 fell rescues, 5 climbing and 15 cave rescues. The Cave Rescue
Organisation is based in Clapham and provides the cave and
mountain rescue service in the Three Peaks area of the Yorkshire
Dales National Park, and also extending westwards into Lancashire
and Cumbria and eastwards as far as Malham and Gordale. It is run
by volunteers and is almost entirely dependent on public donations.
Walking the fells can be dangerous under any conditions and
great care is needed, especially when you're tired. Should you
ever find yourself in difficulties walking A Dales High Way, phone
999 and ask for the Police, then ask for Mountain Rescue.
See The Cave Rescue Organisation website here and support their
Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge fundraiser
here. See also the
Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team, the Upper Wharfedale Fell
Rescue Association and the Kendal
Search & Rescue Team.
20 July 2010
Hosepipe ban for drought-hit Cumbria
A hosepipe ban was introduced today for most of the North
West by water company Unitied Utilities.
The ban follows a prolonged dry period in the region with
average rainfall down 50% for the first half of the year - the
driest conditions the region has seen for 74 years.
John Sanders of United Utilities said: "Despite some
recent rainfall in the north of the region, reservoir levels are
still significantly lower than we would expect at this time of
year and are now at a point where we need to impose some temporary
restrictions on our customers."
The company is also seeking drought permits to take additional
supplies from lakes and rivers. Reservoirs in the Lake District,
which were full at the end of last year, are now dangerously low.
Many rural homes which are not connected to the mains water
supply and rely on streams and bore holes, have been dry for two
months. Water has to be bought and delivered by tanker.
"We need to be very mindful that we share our water supply
with the environment and we all need to do our bit to protect
supplies for the benefit not just of our own communities but also
our river wildlife," added Mr. Sanders.
Just last November Cumbria suffered severe floods.
As the hot weather looks set to continue, walkers on A
Dales High Way need to ensure they carry enough water to
see them through a full day as they head into the remote and
exposed upland areas.
information from United Utilities here. See our previous
posting on the floods here.
9 July 2010
Green resources key to upland's future
More government support for hill farmers is essential to
protect and sustain the natural resources of the uplands,
including clean water and carbon storage. These are the main
findings of a year-long inquiry into the future of England's
upland communities by the Commission for Rural Communities.
Recognising the current economic climate, the report
suggests that money should come from the EU as part of the reform
of the Common Agricultural Policy from 2013.
England's Upland areas, which cover 17% of the country and are
home to 2 million people, generate an average of £1.8 billion a
year from tourism, with more than 40 million annual visitors to
the National Parks. But the report highlights that safeguarding
water catchments and protecting huge carbon-storing wildernesses
may come to rival the revenue potential of tourism.
"Rather than defining these areas purely by their
agricultural disadvantage, the nation should be considering them
as areas that offer great public benefit and environmental
value," says the report. "Not only are they iconic
landscapes, providing space, tranquillity, beauty and the
protection of our cultural heritage, but they are also working
areas that deliver crucial goods and services to sustain and
support human livelihoods."
The commission says that help is also needed to sustain
everyday life in the uplands, from more accessible healthcare and
faster broadband to cheaper housing for residents rather than
Hill farmers are struggling to make a living under current
conditions, but are essential for any long term management of the
uplands. George Dunn, Tenant Farmers Association chief executive,
welcomed the report:
"Unlike some recent policy statements from other
organisations, the report from CRC takes a very common sense
approach to the problems currently facing upland communities in
England. It does not shy away from highlighting mistakes that have
been made in the past and does not underestimate the work that
needs to be done to ensure that upland communities have the chance
of a vibrant future"
"Without the hill community in the uplands making money
from ruminant livestock production, the landscape will change out
of all recognition in a short period of time. Once it has gone it
will be nearly impossible to get back," he said.
story. See the Rural Commission's report
"High Ground, High Potential" here. See also the Tenant
Farmers Association website.
Update: 1 July 2010. The government have just announced
that the Commission for Rural Communities is to be scrapped.
29 June 2010
Escape the footy at Dentdale Festival
The second Dentdale Music and Beer Festival provides the
perfect opportunity to escape England's World Cup woes.
The free festival, which runs over the weekend of 25th-27th
June, proved a huge success last year, thanks largely to the
involvement of an army of volunteers and the dedication of the
unpaid organisers. It was a true community event, with musicians
performing in the two pubs and on street corners, as well as the
two main stages.
This year acts include The Urban Folk Quartet, Johnny Dickenson,
Little Johnny England and the beautiful voice of Sarah Gillespie.
The irrepressible Muppet will be on hand to compere proceedings.
Campsites last year were full to capacity, so book now if you
haven't already done so.
The new festival was established last year when the original
Dent Folk Festival moved to a new home in Sedbergh, where it is
able to cater for larger bands. Despite running over the same
weekend, the events are in fact very different and many people
chose to take advantage of both last year. Walkers on A Dales High
Way, with a bit of careful planning, can do the same and enjoy the
best folk music in the north.
posting. See the Dentdale
Festival website and the
Sedbergh Folkfest website.
13 June 2010
New rules for Fair approach
New rules for Gypsies and Travellers on the approach to Appleby
Horse Fair have been introduced this year.
And despite initial complaints from travellers who have been
stopped from camping on some traditional approach sites, the new
arrangements seem to be working. One of four new "managed" temporary sites at a
farmer's field at Scrogg Bank on the A683 near Sedbergh, opened
for the first time last Monday and was soon filling up with
families, their caravans and horses.
Traveller Janet Wilson said: "The kids weren't safe last
year. It's a good do this, it's great. We all went mad when we
heard we'd have to stay in here, but as it turns out it's
Billy Wilson, from West Yorkshire, said: "There's no
complaints from me. The police and council have been very nice,
handing out bin bags and trying to help us, so we're happy. This
is a nice campsite we've got here."
Appleby Horse Fair is the largest gathering of Gypsies and
Travellers in Europe, attracting over 30,000 visitors each year
from all over the world. The fair starts on Thursday, June 3rd and
runs for a week. Walkers reaching the finish of A Dales High
Way this week are in for an amazing spectacle.
The new rules follow complaints last year from residents in
areas such as Cautley, where large numbers of travellers who had
arrived early, camped on grass verges as they waited to be allowed
to move onto Fair Hill in Appleby. As well as the new camping
restrictions, police have promised a "zero tolerance"
approach to any trouble.
Assistant Chief Constable Jerry Graham, who is in charge of the
Appleby Fair policing operation, said: "Cumbria is a safe,
beautiful county and as Cumbrian residents respect the tradition
of the Fair, so visitors need to respect our communities. The
majority of gypsies and travellers who travel to the Fair come to
enjoy the event and celebrate the long-standing tradition, but
there are a few who are intent on causing trouble. My message to
this minority is that you are simply not welcome."
Billy Welch, who represents the Gypsy and Traveller community
on the Fair's Co-ordinating committee, said: "The police have
got a balancing act between us and the settled community and I
have every faith in them. We will see how it goes this year with
the increased presence but I am sure there will be no
See the previous
posting. Visit the official Appleby Horse Fair
website, or view to the report from last years Fair by four
Appleby schoolgirls above.
1 June 2010
World Heritage park reopens after £4.5 million facelift
This Saturday sees the re-opening of Roberts Park in Saltaire,
following a £4.5 million refurbishment courtesy of the Heritage
Lottery fund and Bradford Council.
As well as restoring the walkways, shelters and fencing to
their former glory, a new bandstand has been built, a new play
area constructed and the former park keepers lodge re-opened. The
lodge will act as an information and education centre and the base
for the council's local park manager. The Half Moon café overlooking the cricket
pitch has also
been refurbished .
Events on the day kick off with a Mad Hatters Tea Party at 1.00
pm, followed by performances at the new bandstand, including the
Titus Salt School Jazz Band and the Hammonds Saltaire Band, who
will be performing a specially commissioned opening fanfare
composed by Bradford Composer Jonathan Brigg.
The bandstand will see performances continue throughout the
year. Saltaire songwriter Eddie Lawler, of the Saltaire Village
Society, has organised the programme of events, starting on
Saturday and continuing every Sunday through the summer.
Eddie said: "It has meant a lot of commitment from a lot
of local people, particularly the local cricket club and the
Friends of Roberts Park. But asking musicians to play was like
knocking at an open door - this year people have filled in the
programme very quickly."
The event also includes lots of fun and sporting activities for
the whole family including bouncy castles, Punch & Judy, Face
Painting, Craft make and do, Circus Skills workshops, 'have a go'
multi sports sessions, cricket match - Saltaire v Bankfoot plus
guided walks of the park and restoration works.
The park was built by Titus Salt in 1871 as part of his model
mill village complex. The village and park were designated a World
Heritage Site in 2001. Saltaire marks the starting point for A
Dales High Way.
See the re-opening event flyer or check out the
Village Society. See previous posting
Saturday 22 May 2010: Hundreds turned out beneath a
blazing sun to watch the re-opening ceremony at the new bandstand,
performed by the Lord Mayor John Godward under the gaze of Sir
Titus Salt. The Rainbow Morris entertained in the lead-up and
Hammond Saltaire Brass Band gave a rousing performance in the
Saltaire was heaving as the heatwave brought thousands of
visitors to the village. Lengthy queues for ice cream and
refreshments at the newly refurbished Half Moon Cafe spilled out
onto the pavement for much of the afternoon. Many joined in the
wide range of activities throughout the park, or sat and watched
with cooling drinks from the Boathouse across the river.
News that a much needed Visitor Information Centre is to open
at Salts Mill in the late summer was also well received.
21 May 2010
1940's theme for Skipton Waterway Festival
The ninth Skipton Waterway Festival took on a 1940's theme over
the May bank holiday weekend. Many of the 100 or so canal boats
which arrived from around the region sported war-time era themes.
Zoe Clarke of Pennine Cruisers, which led the organisation of
the event, said "Most of our entrants are local, or moor on
the canal, although we do attract a considerable number of boats
from the Burnley and Liverpool area, which means they can have
travelled for up to three weeks to get to the festival."
On Sunday evening an illuminated boat cruise saw boats sailing
from Horse Close Bridge into the canal basin.
Last year the festival attracted an estimated 10,000 visitors,
to enjoy the mix of boats, stalls and live entertainment over the
three days the festival runs.
An added attraction this year is the recently installed
"Fiery Fred" Trueman live-size bronze statue that takes
pride of place in the canal basin. Trueman became the first test
player to reach 300 test wickets and ended his career with a total
of 307 from just 67 tests. The £50,000 statue was officially
unveiled in March.
Local information from Skipton
Online. See the Pennine
Cruisers Festival site here. Watch the unveiling of Fiery
3 May 2010
Upgrade for Moors tracks
Part of a £1.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund
will be used to improve access to the upland areas of the South
Pennines, including tracks across Rombalds Moor followed by
walkers on A Dales High Way.
Other money will go towards preserving and recording important
archaeological artefacts, such as the Stone Age rock art found
along the way. The work of artists will be used to bring awareness
and appreciation of the unique Watershed Landscape of the South
Pennines to a wider public.
Amongst the tracks to be improved on Rombalds Moor is the main
route down from Lanshaw Lad towards Ilkley. Wooden boardwalks
which cross the wetter areas will be replaced with stone flags.
Leading this work is Danny Jackson, Countryside Manager for
Bradford Council. He said:
"In terms of the difference on the moor, obviously my
project will hopefully create some long-lasting surfaces on
strategic routes that will reduce the existing erosion and
re-vegetate the surrounding moorland. Timescales for the works are
the next 3 years, but the re-vegetation might take a bit longer.
"The archaeology and arts projects are more about
recording and celebrating the moors as inspiration. There could be
a few pieces of art appearing relating to the moor, but the main
aim is to raise awareness and appreciation of the human and
natural history of the area, whilst protecting some of the
The work will be co-ordinated by Pennine Prospects, a
regeneration company representing key local authorities, water
companies, community groups and others, set up in 2005 to act as a
champion for the South Pennines. The South Pennines area is the
only upland landscape in England not to have the benefit of an
official 'Protected Landscape' designation - such as National Park
or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
To celebrate the distinctive local landscape, "Another
View" is an exhibition from the permanent collection of
Bradford Museums and Galleries that runs until June 20th at Cliffe
Castle, Keighley. On display will be fossils, flora, fauna, maps
and paintings alongside poetry and prose inspired by the landscape
including work by the Brontës, as well as film stills from
Wuthering Heights and The Railway Children.
Watch the "Watershed Landscape Lives" photo and audio
See the Pennine Prospects Watershed Landscape Project here, and
the Cliffe Castle Museum
22 April 2010
Flowers of the Dales Festival
The Flowers of the Dales Festival, which runs through to
October, got underway this month with a host of events.
The delicate flowers of the rare purple saxifrage
begin to show. Found around the peaks of Pen-y-ghent and
include a "Boozy Flower walk" on Sunday April 24th which
ends at an Ingleton pub, and a "Spring Herb and Wild Food
Walk" on Thursday April 29th by Janet's Foss at Malham. As
well as wildflowers, events will feature bumblebees, butterflies
and bats to help celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity.
Over a hundred events are being run by a wide range of
organisations, including popular photography courses, guided
walks, art exhibitions and plenty of children's activities. The
Festival is put together by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, a
charity set up in 1996 to help conserve the wonderful jigsaw of
heritage features which make up the Dales landscape.
Hay Time is one of the trust's key projects. Run jointly with
the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Hay Time project
helps to conserve and restore flower-rich meadows, for which the
Dales are internationally renowned. The Flowers of the Dales
Festival, now in its second year, builds on this success.
Don Gamble, the trust's hay time project manager, said:
"Wildflowers and lots of other plants can be found all over -
in the flowery Dales meadows, on the wild, heather-clad tops, in
cool, shady woodlands and in the grikes of other-worldly limestone
"From the common to the not-so-common to the rare, the
festival aims to celebrate them all.
"Over 1,200 people enjoyed taking part in events in 2009
so hopefully this year's Festival will also be very popular."
Download the full programme of events
here, or visit the
Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust here.
12 April 2010
Pennine peatlands under threat
Yomping across the wetter areas of the Yorkshire moors on A
Dales High Way may seem a trial at times. But these areas are an
important wildlife habitat and play a vital role in the battle
against climate change.
A new report published this month shows the country's important
peatland areas are under threat, with three quarters of England's
deep peatlands damaged or degraded.
The high level of damage means that the reservoir of 580
million tonnes of carbon stored within the peat is now slowly
leaking back into the atmosphere. The report estimates that, as a
result, our damaged peatlands are releasing almost 3 million
tonnes of CO2 each year - equivalent to the average emissions of
over 350,000 households.
Natural England, which produced the report, has launched a
comprehensive review of the condition of England's peatlands and
the vital role they play in combating climate change.
Helen Phillips, Chief Executive of Natural England, said:
"This report is a wake-up call - England's peatlands are a
crucial buffer against climate change but have been extensively
damaged by centuries of inappropriate management. We have to stop
the rot and ensure that peatlands are properly looked after as one
of our most precious environmental resources."
Peat extraction for garden compost is likely to be phased out
by 2020. But inappropriate management such as drainage, regular
burning or cultivation are exacerbating the damage. The report
makes it clear that the widespread restoration of peatlands by
re-wetting dried out bogs and minimising damaging practices could
substantially reduce these carbon losses.
The newly formed Yorkshire Peat Partnership aims to
substantially increase the amount of peatland being restored in
upland areas by working with farmers and landowners.
Rob Stoneman, Chair of the Partnership said "Yorkshire
peatlands are the rainforests of Northern Europe - they are
teeming with life and provide a rich habitat for many of our rare
"We want to better understand how peat works and share the
vital information with others so that the benefits from peatland
habitats can be enjoyed by future generations to come."
Get a copy of the report "England's
peatlands: carbon storage and greenhouse gases" here. See
also the Yorkshire
Peat Partnership website here.
30 March 2010
Ice clings to fell tops as walking season starts
Sunshine has greeted the traditional start to the walking season
this year. But adverse weather conditions
remain on the higher ground, as freezing temperatures
have left the fell tops covered in ice and snow.
The Met Office Mountain area forecast for the Yorkshire Dales
today (Friday) gives a high risk "Severe chill effect"
with rain and sleet, possibly falling as wet snow, at higher
levels, which leads to "Considerable risk of hypothermia and
frostbite, unless adequately equipped and protected."
The coldest winter in 30 years has left Ingleborough still
covered in deep snow and ice. Walkers attempting the summit
require the proper equipment, including crampons (ice spikes) for
their boots. The steep descent from the northern edge, along the
Three Peaks Route to the Hill Inn, should definitely be avoided
until the ice and snow are gone.
Walkers on A Dales High Way at this time should stick to the
lower alternative route via Selside and Ribblehead until weather
Check the latest Yorkshire
Dales Mountain areas forecast from the Met Office here. View
the conditions on Ingleborough from the Ingleborough
12 March 2010
Opinions sought on conservation plans
A series of major public consultations is being undertaken by
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority on its conservation
plans for areas along the route of A Dales High Way.
The entire Settle-Carlisle line and both Dent and Sedbergh are
amongst those currently under scrutiny. A series of impressive
appraisal documents has been published, which make fascinating
reading for anyone interested in the history, architecture and
character of these places.
Dent is noted for its "compact, intimate and intricate
street pattern with narrow cobbled lanes and yards confined by
continuous building frontages and/or high stone walls", the
general layout which hasn't changed significantly since the 1850s.
Sedbergh retains a "compact historic core with 19th and
20th century residential development on three sides and the
extensive well treed grounds of Sedbergh School to the
The village reports were drawn up by consultants following
detailed research and a series of local public meetings. They aim
to provide a "vivid succinct portrait" of the villages
as well as outlining proposed changes to the conservation area
boundaries. The conservation area status was first established in
The appraisals for Dent and Sedbergh were published last
December and the date for final submissions is midday on Monday
March 8th, so those with strong opinions need to act now.
The appraisal for the historic Settle-Carlisle line has just
been published and no date has yet been given for its completion.
The Settle and Carlisle Railway stretches for 72 miles and was
designated a conservation area as a result of a collaborative
effort between the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and
three district councils. It is believed to be the longest
conservation area in the country.
Stuart Parsons, the Park Authority's Member Champion for
Conservation of Cultural Heritage, said: "Every conservation
area has a distinctive character that has been shaped over time by
its natural and man-made surroundings.
"This appraisal is an opportunity to re-assess the railway
line and to evaluate and record its special interest. It sets out
how this most unusual conservation area has evolved and identifies
the key elements of its character and quality, as well as defining
what is positive and negative, and looking at ways it can be
managed for the better in the future."
View the full reports
here. See previous
2 March 2010
Traffic speeds to be cut on busy Addingham bypass
Speed reductions are set to be introduced on a stretch of the
A65 near Addingham that is crossed by walkers
on A Dales High Way.
Council's Highways officers have said a speed limit of 50 mph
should be in place by April on a busy three-lane stretch of the
Addingham bypass. Locals have been pressing for more than two
years for the reductions, with some wanting a limit of just 40
The current limit is 60 mph, but former Addingham Moorside
resident, Councillor Angus Hartley, claimed some drivers were
travelling above 70 mph. Parish councillor Alan Jerome thinks
eastbound traffic should be restricted to a single lane, to stop
overtaking on the downhill section.
"I think there would be a solid white line, like there is
on the Blubberhouses road. That would be a lot more
sensible," he said.
The bypass was opened in 1990 as increasing traffic struggled
along the narrow village main street. The bypass effectively cuts
off Addingham to the west and south, crossing a number of
Addingham dates from Anglo-Saxon times and has more of the feel
of a Dales village than a typical south Pennine village. Its long
main street hosts no fewer than five pubs.
The tiny farming hamlet of Addingham Moorside sits above
the valley side at the foot of the moor escarpment. It lies on the route of A Dales High Way and
makes an excellent, natural break in the first section of the walk.
Just 10½ miles from the start it has a
number of B&B's.
Today the moor above Addingham was once again covered in snow
in what is likely to prove the coldest winter for over 30 years.
See the Addingham village
website and check the accommodation
at Addingham & Addingham Moorside.
22 February 2010
New name for famous Dent Folk Festival
Tickets have gone on sale for the Sedbergh FolkFest - the new
name for the famed Dent Folk Festival - which runs over the last
weekend in June. This year's line-up includes the Peatbog Faeries,
Waterson:Carthy, Dervish, Julie Fowlis and Sheelanagig.
The festival moved from Dent to Sedbergh last year for it's
eighth annual outing, but kept the name "Dent Folk
Festival", which no doubt caused some confusion, especially
since the Dentdale Beer and Music Festival ran in Dent at the same
Festival organiser Alec Lyon explained: "In 2009 The Dent
Folk Festival moved to a new site just down the road near Sedbergh,
England's book town, as it had outgrown it original site in
Dentdale. The new site is a stunning location under The Howgill
Fells and the move proved a huge success and a great new home for
"Hence we have decided to change our name to better
reflect where the festival is now held. The festival is still
organised by the same dedicated team, all that's changed is its
"The festival is widely regarded as one of the best small
folk festivals in the country with a very friendly atmosphere.
There is something for everyone including a full programme of
family events and on site camping."
Anyone walking A Dales High Way that week might well wish to
include the festivals in their itinerary, but should be aware that
pressure on accommodation locally will be acute.
Festival organisers are still looking for volunteers to help
run the event. Those willing to work a couple of 4-hour shifts get
free camping and a weekend festival pass. Applications can be made
via the website.
Photo of Dent Festival 2009 - David
See the Sedbergh FolkFest website here,
and check the previous posting
12 February 2010
Ramblers regroup after crisis year
As the Ramblers Association celebrates its 75th anniversary,
grassroot activists are organising to reassert their authority
following a financial crisis that threatened to derail the
country's largest walking charity.
As news of the crisis began to emerge in June last year,
trustees at the Ramblers Central Office in London were forced to
cut £1.7 million from the charity's £6.7 million budget. The
Ramblers' Scottish and Welsh offices were closed and 17 staff
Chief Executive Tom Franklin said "Like many charities,
the Ramblers has been affected by the worst post-war recession. We
have had to reduce our spending and raise subscription rates for
the first time in two years. But, as a result, our finances are
stable and we're stronger for the future."
Key activists, shocked and dismayed by events, have organised
under the banner "Concerned Ramblers" and look likely to
win key policy changes at the Ramblers General Council meeting in
Keith Wadd, who chairs the group, said: "The Concerned
Ramblers were meeting together for two main reasons, firstly
because of dissatisfaction about how the RA's recent financial
crisis had been handled and the poverty of information that had
been communicated to members, and secondly because of deep
concerns about the direction of RA strategy and, in particular, a
widespread view that a diminishing priority is now being given to
Rights of Way work."
The Ramblers has a membership of 120,000. At its heart are the
20,000 active volunteers, who run Area and Local groups, organise
the upkeep and improvement of the local Rights of Way network and
run an extensive programme of led walks.
In the last 75 years Ramblers have campaigned successfully
* Put the Public Rights of Way network on a firm legal basis
and ensure its inclusion on OS maps
* Create the 14 National Parks and 19 National Trails
* Establish the public "Right to Roam" over huge areas
of upland country
* Create public access to the entire British coastline
Without the work of the Ramblers, long distance trails like A
Dales High Way would not exist.
Although Rodney Whittaker, chairman of the Ramblers nationally,
did much to reassure members of the West Riding Ramblers at their
annual meeting in Ilkley yesterday, two critical motions proposed
by the Concerned Ramblers were approved overwhelmingly.
Find out more at The
Ramblers website, the West
Riding Ramblers and the Concerned
31 January 2010
Portillo revisits the Settle-Carlisle
Michael Portillo, the man responsible for saving the Settle to
Carlisle Railway from closure, revisited the line after twenty
years as part of his TV series "Great British Railway
Journeys" which can be seen next Wednesday on BBC1 at 3.40
Speaking of the line, Portillo says "The reason it's so
special is that this is a piece of magnificent railway
architecture. It goes through some of the most stunning
countryside and it has some of the most remarkable viaducts. You
don't have to be a railway enthusiast to be blown away".
In the programme Portillo meets Pete Shaw and Mark Rand of the
Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line, who
helped organise the campaign against the proposed closure by
British rail in 1985. The former Transport Minister explains:
"The campaign raged for six years, generating huge publicity
for the line. As a result, ever more people began to use it,
strengthening the case for keeping it open. It was my job to get
the Prime Minister on side".
Early in the campaign Portillo arranged a top secret cab ride
over the line to assess it for himself. He admits it was a
"really stressful" decision; "I did feel quite
emotional about it, because I felt emotional about a line which is
so important in our heritage, and by the way, I thought Margaret
Thatcher would understand that argument too."
In the programme, filmed last September over two days, Portillo
stops at Settle, Ribblehead, Dent and Garsdale, taking time out to
visit the tiny chapel at Chapel-le-Dale where many of the bodies
of the navvies and their families who died building the line are
buried. He also joins a steam train over Ribblehead Viaduct,
crossing the route of A Dales High Way.
Michael Portillo clearly enjoyed making this programme. He
admits that saving the Settle Carlisle was his greatest
achievement in politics. "Of all the things that I did, it's
the one I can still point out and say 'look, that made this
If you miss the programme, catch it on the BBC's
out the Settle Carlisle Line or visit
Portillo's own website.
13 January 2010
Saltaire on film 100 years ago
Astonishing footage, filmed 100 years ago, of Edwardian mill
workers visiting Shipley Glen and Saltaire, can now be viewed
online. The Yorkshire Film Archive Online was launched
last year with 21 hours of historic film, including this 4 ½
minute clip. Another 29 hours are to be added in the near future.
The film shows workers travelling from Bradford to enjoy the
Easter fair on Shipley Glen, in 1910 or 1912. The Glen, which is
climbed early on A Dales High Way, got its
first attraction in 1887 following the closure of the Saltaire
Exhibition. The Pleasure Ground, Glen Tramway and other
attractions soon followed and it became a popular weekend day out.
In his notes accompanying the film, local historian Mike Short
explains: "This film dates from Easter Monday 1910, when
around 200,000 people visited the Glen, with around 17,000 using
the Tramway. It was filmed as an advertising short to be played at
the region's fledgling movie theatres as a way of attracting
audiences. A local film maker, Eric Hall, salvaged the original
film from a skip."
The film also shows crowds outside Salts Mill, at the bottom of
Victoria Road which used to extend straight over the River Aire to
the park gates. A steamboat is seen pulling alongside the
Boathouse, and people explore Loadpit Beck below the Glen rocks.
The fairground finally closed in 2005, but the Tramway still
runs, although it is currently undergoing repairs.
The Yorkshire Film Archive is a charity established to find,
preserve and provide access to moving images documenting over one
hundred years of life in Yorkshire and has been based at York St
John University since 2003.
Watch Easter on Shipley
Glen. Visit the Yorkshire Film Archive
online or the Shipley Glen Tramway
4 January, 2010