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 2010

December 2010

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. 

A total lunar eclipse introduces the 2010 winter solstice sunrise over Baildon Moor

(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.

This very 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 this time. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

See our previous posting here. See other reports here.

21 December 2010

Youngest Fell Rescue Chief appointed

The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association has just appointed the Ian Hook, new chairman of UWFRA 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 underground rescues.

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 they face.

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 Dales".

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 Mountain Rescue.

See our previous posting here. See also the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association website here.

13 December 2010

November 2010

Winter wonderland for last steam charter

Travellers on the Christmas Fellsman were treated to a true Winter Wonderland on The Christmas Fellsman "Leander" arrives in a snowy Carlisle Saturday as the Yorkshire Dales were carpeted in thick snow.

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 Settle-Carlisle line.

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 £8.

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 The Fellsman is operted by Statesman Rail 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 disappointed.

See Statesman Rail's website here and check other steam charters here. Get the latest news from the Settle-Carlisle line here.

28 November 2010

Who owns the land?

Land ownership in Britain has changed dramatically in the last 150 years, Camping at Gordale Scar according to research by Kevin Cahill, author of Who Owns Britain.

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:

  1. The Forestry Commission - much of whose 2.5 million acres are due to be sold off by the government. 
  2. The National Trust - whose 630,000 acres include the 7,200-acre Malham Tarn Estate, on the route of A Dales High Way.
  3. The Ministry of Defence - 590,000 acres.
  4. The Pension Funds - 550,000 acres.
  5. Utilities such as water, electricity and railways - 500,000 acres. 
  6. The Crown estate - 360,000 acres. 
  7. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) - 320,000 acres. 
  8. The Duke of Buccleuch & Queensbury - 240,000 acres. 
  9. The National Trust of Scotland - 190,000 acres. 
  10. The Duke of Atholl's trusts - 146,000 acres.

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 The Planets - carved stone on Rombalds Moor Saltaire and Addingham, but a new community project led by a group of experts called Carved Stone Investigations.

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 deterioriating.

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 carvings.

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 Stone.

Volunteers will receive training between December and March next year, when the first trial recording phase is expected to begin.

See the CSI blog here and view some of the Rock art here. See the ERA website here and view our previous post here.

6 November 2010

October 2010

Cove stairs chief retires

The man responsible for building the 400 plus steps at the side of Malham Cove is Steps besides Malham Cove. Photo: Almostailsaretiring 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 The Crosby Garrett helmet 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 disappear abroad.

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 sports parades.

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 here. View the Tullie House Museum Appeal here.

8 October 2010

September 2010

Eden test bed for river cleanup project

A site on the River Eden has been chosen to host a new five-year study into Hoff Beck feeds the River Eden near Appleby 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 harvesting

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 South Pennines Walk & Ride Festival 2010 weekend in Ilkley.

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 Programme." 

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 £3.

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 posting here.

7 September 2010

August 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

Resting at Haverah Park (above). Leaving the high point at
Lippersley Pike (below).

Leaving the high point at Lippersley Pike

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 Dales Way.

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 Parks"

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 Harrogate Ramblers.

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 Trench G107 is opened on Stanbury Hill, found to contain an oval stone structure. 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 been launched.

See previous report here. See the Bingley History Society introductory pages here. Detailed project reports can be found on the main project website here. See also photos from the project on the Facebook site here.

12 August 2010

Sedbergh book fair "The Write Idea"

Sedbergh's late summer Books & Drama Festival has a new name The Professor Stephen Regan visiting Basil Bunting's grave at Brigflatts. Photo: John Rice 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 poet.

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 meeting House.

4 August 2010

July 2010

Three Peaks fundraiser for Mountain rescue group

Volunteers with the Cave Rescue Organisation, which is responsible for CRO training session at Ingleton Quarry 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."

Since 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 The River Dee at Church Bridge, Dent 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.

See more information from United Utilities here. See our previous posting on the floods here.

9 July 2010

June 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.

Hill farmer from CRC report "High ground, High Potential". Photo (c) Charlie Hedley

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 second-homers.

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.

See previous 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 Dentdale Music & Beer Festival 09 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.

See previous 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 Besides Flashing Lane at Fair Hill 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 good."

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 problems."

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

May 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 Salts Mill overlooks the refurbished park 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 Saltaire Village Society. See previous posting here.

Titus Salt oversees preparations for the grand re-openingUpdate 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 follow-up.

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 Skipton waterway festival 1940s theme 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 Fred here.

3 May 2010

April 2010

Upgrade for Moors tracks

Part of a £1.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund will be used to improve Ilkley Moor 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 existing artefacts."

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 montage below:

See the Pennine Prospects Watershed Landscape Project here, and the Cliffe Castle Museum here.

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.

Purple Saxifrage on Ingleborough

The delicate flowers of the rare purple saxifrage begin to show. Found around the peaks of Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough..

They 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 pavement.

"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

March 2010

Pennine peatlands under threat

Yomping across the wetter areas of the Yorkshire moors on A Dales High Way may Cottongrass blankets the wetland areas of the moors in June 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 species.

"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 Ice covered Ingleborough, 9 March 2010conditions 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 conditions improve.

Check the latest Yorkshire Dales Mountain areas forecast from the Met Office here. View the conditions on Ingleborough from the Ingleborough Web-cam here.

12 March 2010

Opinions sought on conservation plans

A series of major public consultations is being undertaken by The Yorkshire Dales Dent Main Street 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 south".

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 1969.

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 posting here.

2 March 2010

February 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.

Above a snowy Addingham MoorsideBradford 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 mph.

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 footpaths.

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 Addingham on 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 2009. Photo - David Barrett 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 time.

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 the festival.

"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 name.

"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 Barrett.

See the Sedbergh FolkFest website here, and check the previous posting here.

12 February 2010

January 2010

Ramblers regroup after crisis year

As the Ramblers Association celebrates its 75th anniversary, grassroot activists are Volunteers of the Ramblers at work 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 made redundant.

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 April.

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 to: 

* 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 Ramblers.

31 January 2010

Portillo revisits the Settle-Carlisle

Michael Portillo, the man responsible for saving the Settle to Carlisle Railway from Michael Portillo approaches Ribblehead Viaduct 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 pm.

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 difference'".

If you miss the programme, catch it on the BBC's iPlayer, check out the Settle Carlisle Line or visit Michael 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 Easter on Shipley Glen 100 years agoOnline 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 website.

4 January, 2010

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