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 July-Dec 2009

December 2009

New guide to Britain's Long Distance Trails

A brand new guide to over 700 of Britain's long distance trails has just been Walkers climb past Pen-y-ghentpublished, featuring many new routes - including A Dales High Way.

The UK Trailwalker's Handbook is produced by the Long Distance Walkers Association and this expanded and updated edition is the eighth version to be produced since 1980. The first contained just 150 trails, but the list has grown year by year up to the current 730 trails covering some 60,000 miles.

Producing such a detailed and well illustrated directory running to 380 pages has been a momentous task. Co-author John Sparshatt said "Our team have been working on the book for the past three years. Paul Lawrence has been involved with the database for over 10 years."

With the popularity and growth in long distance trails, deciding what to include was a major headache. John reckons over 300 trails had to be left out:

"Each trail we included in the Handbook had in the main to be over 15 miles long and have a publication that was still available and sufficient information so that a prospective walker could obtain details. Many very good trails have been left out because the associated guide book had gone out of print and was no longer easily available. A great shame for some walks whose publications were old - however these walks are still detailed on our website where a comprehensive list is available to the public free of charge."

It is estimated that some 16 million people - about a third of the population - has used a named long distance path in the last year. Walking is now the most popular outdoor activity. So, happy walking to all out there for 2010!

The UK Trailwalker's Handbook, 8th edition, edited by Paul Lawrence, Les Maple and John Sparshatt, published by Cicerone. ISBN 9781852845797 price £18.95.

Buy the Trailwalker's Handbook from the LDWA website, or check out A Dales High Way's listing.

24 December 2009

Sherpa to carry load for High Way walkers

Sherpa VanBaggage couriers Sherpa Van have added A Dales High Way to the routes they service for 2010. This follows demand from walkers, and will compliment the service they already offer to Dales Way walkers.

It will cost £7 per day, subject to a minimum of two bags. Sherpa also offer full accommodation booking along the route if required.

Sherpa, the largest of the baggage courier companies, join Brigantes who have been servicing the route since May this year.

The Sherpa Van Project was the brainchild of Frank McCready, who organises walking holidays through his company Sherpa Expeditions. Sherpa Expeditions began in 1973 offering a months walking in Nepal. In the same year one Alfred Wainwrwight published his guide to a new long distance route - his Coast-to-Coast walk. Sherpa were soon organising walking and cycling holidays in Britain too.

In May 1998 Frank founded the Sherpa Van Project, which began carrying baggage for Coast-to-Coast walkers from B&B to B&B.

Frank said "Sherpa Van has been operating for about 10 years now. Demand for our services has been good - this year we are moving around 7000 bags every month in season."

Sherpa are currently featuring A Dales High Way as their "Trail of the month" on their website.

See The Sherpa Van website and Sherpa Expeditions. Brigantes are the other major baggage couriers.

13 December 2009

Settle-Carlisle railway in world top-ten

The railway journey on the scenic Settle to Carlisle line has been rated one of the A steam train crosses Ribblehead Viaducttop ten railway journeys in the world by ABC News in America.

The rail journey, enjoyed by walkers returning from A Dales High Way, is listed alongside the 1000-mile South African Blue Train journey, the Paris to Istanbul Orient Express, the Trans-Siberian railway and Canada's Rocky Mountaineer.

ABC's young London correspondent Samantha Fields said "For so many people, there is something undeniably romantic about the idea of train travel. Of the many great train journeys to be found around the world, we picked 10 of the most scenic and unforgettable; some expensive and luxurious, others historic and rustic. From Siberia to South Africa, Switzerland to Singapore, these are trips that will whisk you back in time, and away through some of the world's most stunning countryside.

Mark Rand, chairman of the Friends of the Settle Carlisle line, said: “We always knew the Settle and Carlisle was extra special, but to be ranked number two in the whole world is a real honour. Now we need to spread the word and bring in people from all corners of the globe to come and visit this wonderful line.”

See the ABC News article here, and watch the Yorkshire Post video of the journey.

1 December 2009

November 2009

Cumbria downpours set pattern for future

Police today appealed to walkers to stay away from the Cumbrian Fells until the Flood Rescue workers in Cockermouthweather improves, as mountain rescue team members rest after days of emergency flood relief work.

But the floods which have devastated many parts of Cumbria this month look likely to become regular features of climate change Britain.

Research at Newcastle University has established that rainstorms have got twice as intense over the last 40 years, while the Environment Agency predicts that days of heavy rainfall will become three to four times more common over the next decades, increasing flooding tenfold.

In Cumbria, the 314.4 mm rainfall recorded in just 24 hours at Seathwaite on Thursday 19 November is a new UK record. The downpour, in which local PC Bill Barker died, has been described as "biblical".

Similar weather conditions in January 2005 led to flash floods which swamped Carlisle. Three people were killed, many homes and businesses were flooded and schools were closed. There was widespread transport disruption with all of Carlisle's buses damaged. Appleby, Cockermouth and Keswick also had flooding.

Speaking to MP's in June 2007, whilst Britain faced record summer rainfall, former government chief scientist Sir David King warned of the effects of climate change.

"The most serious impact in Britain is flash floods. The Victorians left us with a drainage infrastructure that is good for soft rain, but with torrential down pours it can't cope," he told the committee. "We will have to have considerable more investment in redoing those systems."

Cumbria's Climate Change Strategy, published by the county council just last summer, forecast winter rainfall rising by as much as 30% by 2080.

The record 24-hour rainfall figures join a number of weather records set over the last few years: 
October 2008 - coldest October days recorded in South East England. 
July 2007 - record summer rainfall in UK. 
July 2006 - hottest month in UK on record. 
January 2003 - highest January temperatures on record over much of UK.

Update: the Met Office have confirmed that this November is the wettest November on record, with an average of 217.4 mm across Britain.

See Cumbria County Council's Flood updates, and the Cumbria Climate Change Strategy 2008-2012,

24 November 2009

Walking is the "new rock 'n' roll"!

The country's National Trails, which include the Pennine Way, the TV presenter Julia BradburyCleveland Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way, have been walked by record numbers this year.

In the first six months of 2009, "people counter" devices buried under the Trails have shown an increase in footfall of between 27% and 40%. And in the last three months the number of people visiting the National Trails website has risen 41% on the same period last year.

These figures reinforce other evidence that many people have chosen walking holidays at home this year in response to the recession.

Sheila Talbot, the National Trails Specialist, said "The glorious autumn weather we have just experienced has made a difference, with many people deciding to book a last minute holiday in this country. All the signs are that 2010 will be another bumper year for visitor numbers to our countryside. I attended the "Walkers are Welcome" conference in September and for the first time heard the phrase "walking is the new rock 'n' roll!" The increase in media coverage this year, from walking articles in the press to walking programmes on TV with glamorous young presenters such as Julia Bradbury is certainly helping make walking cool".

According to Welcome to Yorkshire - the county's official tourism agency - it has been a record breaking summer for Yorkshire’s tourism industry. Helped by a weak pound and the staycation summer, Yorkshire has outperformed the rest of the UK by reporting increased visitor numbers, increased visitor spend and increased occupancy levels.

See the National Trails website, Welcome to Yorkshire and visit Julia Bradbury's website.

14 November 2009

Day school updates Dales Archaeology

The Prehistory of the Yorkshire Dales was examined at a public day Delegates gather at Grassington Town Hall for the Prehistory day schoolschool in Grassington on Saturday.

The latest archaeological research was presented to an audience of several hundred people who packed into the town hall.

An overview of the changing Dales environment during the late- and post-glacial periods was given by Terry O'Conner. He pointed out that the current Dales landscape, which we work so hard to preserve, is perhaps only a few hundred years old. For much of the last 12,000 years the area was covered by woodland, and wild bear and lynx roamed here at least until the Anglo-Saxon period.

The morning session concentrated on cave archaeology, with presentations by Roger Jacobi, Tom Lord and Tim Taylor. Radio carbon dating on carved reindeer antler rods found in Victoria cave near Settle show modern humans were present over 14,000 years ago.

The important contribution of community archaeology projects featured in the afternoon sessions. New work on Prehistoric field systems in Swaledale and Upper Wharfedale were presented by Tim Laurie and Roger Martlew, with Alan King and Mark Simpson describing evidence from a new survey around the Ingleborough massif.

Finally Robert White, the National Park's Senior Conservation Archaeologist, gave an overview of current research and areas of concern in the Dales area. He highlighted the damage inadvertently done to archaeological sites by walkers building cairns and shelters. Those on Beamsley Beacon have already been removed and similar action on Ingleborough is planned.

The event was an addition to the annual history day school put on in April each year by the Dales National Park Authority. It was jointly organised with People, Landscape And Cultural Environment of Yorkshire (PLACE) and the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust.

Speaking before the event, Robert White said: "It is a must for anyone interested in local history and, unlike the April day school which looks at a wide range of aspects of the historic environment, this will concentrate on the prehistory in the Yorkshire Dales - life before the Romans. One of the main subjects will be the changing environment in the late and post-glacial periods."

See the websites for PLACE and the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust.

1 November 2009

October 2009

New Met forecast for Dales weather

The Yorkshire Dales now has it's own "mountain area" weather forecast from the Met Office. The forecasts, which Weather forecasts to help Dales High Way walkerswill be updated twice each day, include a colour-coded hazards forecast to highlight key risks on the fells, including hill fog, thunderstorms, chill effect and blizzards.

Pat Boyle, Public Weather Service Manager at the Met Office, said: "The weather in the Dales can change with little or no warning and an unprepared walker can quickly find themselves at risk. Whether it's a well-planned expedition or a spur of the moment decision to go to the hills, it is important to check the forecast first".

Mark Allum, Access Projects Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: "The Yorkshire Dales is a fantastic area for outdoor activities and, whether you are a hill walker, a caver or a mountain biker, an accurate forecast is a critical piece of information. The weather in the Dales is often very different to what is happening in Leeds or York, so this specific mountain weather forecast is very welcome."

The new forecasts for the Yorkshire Dales National Park will join the comprehensive forecasts already provided for the Brecon Beacons, Peak District, Snowdonia, Lake District, and West and East Highlands.

See the Met Office's Dales forecast here, or via our own Links page.

23 October 2009

Researchers investigate decline of summer birds

Researchers from the RSBP are heading to Africa to try and determine why there has been such an alarming decline in migratory birds who come to northern Britain for the summer.

Cuckoo

Cuckoo (www.northeastwildlife.co.uk)

A decline of around 40% in species such as the cuckoo, wood warbler and yellow wagtail has been recorded over the last three decades. Other species affected include the nightingale, turtle dove, flycatcher and winchat.

The RSPB and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), have joined forces to mount the largest research project of its type to understand more about our birds that spend the winter south of the Sahara desert.

The project will involve researchers monitoring birds along a corridor stretching from Ghana's Atlantic coast to northern Burkina Faso, spanning a range of habitats from coastal rainforest to the edge of the Sahara desert.

The RSPB's Dr Danaë Sheehan, who will be monitoring birds in West Africa, said: "The drastic declines of some of our best-loved summer-visiting birds, such as the cuckoo, turtle dove and nightingale, is one of the greatest concerns currently raging in conservation."

A number of potential causes for the declines of migrants have been suggested, including: climate change, changes in rainfall patterns, and land degradation. Predicted increases in human population and climatic variability in West Africa are likely to exacerbate these threats.

Of 105 widespread countryside birds in the UK, eight out of twelve of those declining most rapidly since the mid 1990s are summer migrants. According to the latest bird population estimates, published in the 2008 Breeding Bird Survey, the following summer migrants are suffering the greatest population declines between 1995 and 2007: turtle dove,-66 per cent; wood warbler,-60 per cent; pied flycatcher, -51 per cent; yellow wagtail, -49 per cent; whinchat, -43 per cent; nightingale, -41 per cent; spotted flycatcher, -38 per cent; and cuckoo, -37 per cent.

See the RSPB website and the previous posting.

13 October 2009

Fair policing for Cautley

Residents of Cautley, near Sedbergh, are appealing for better Transit site for Appleby Horse Fair at Cote Moor, north of Cautley policing in the run-up to next year's Appleby Horse Fair. They have arranged a meeting with Cumbria Chief Constable Craig Mackey in November hoping to resolve problems arising from temporary encampments for travellers in the area.

This year's fair was hailed as a success by organisers and Gypsy representatives, following the introduction of new regulations and a Multi Agency Strategic Co-Ordinating Group to oversee the event. Strict licensing regimes governed street trading and caravan sites, with access to the traditional Fair Hill site blocked until the start of the fair.

However, the new regime at Appleby led to greater pressure at the transit camps south of the Eden Valley, such as the one at Cote Moor, north of Cautley.

John Challoner, who set up a neighbourhood forum as a sounding board for residents in the area of Cautley, said: “We sympathise with the travellers because they are all being bundled together and they are living up the road in Cautley for weeks and it’s very unsanitary and unpleasant for them.

“We want better designated areas for caravans so they are not just crammed together in one little corner and they can graze their horses.”

“But our sympathies also go out to the police because they have to deal with large numbers of people and to the local residents because it is going on their doorstep.”

Local MP Tim Farron said Cumbria Constabulary had done a ‘brilliant’ job of policing the Eden district during the annual event but said the southern district past Cautley had been almost entirely ‘lawless’.

He said: “Cumbria Constabulary has taken the view that this is an Appleby problem but it affects villages all the way up the roads to Appleby.

“When the travellers get to Eden they can’t move any further than Cautley. There were plenty of police in Eden but only about two officers on Cautley road.”

The number of Gypsy and Traveller visitors this year was around 20 per cent down on 2008, with around 1,500 caravans at Appleby and around 1,500 horses sold.

See the official Appleby Horse Fair site here. See Previous posting here.

3 October 2009

September 2009

Ingleton Folk Weekend

Ingleton Folk Weekend - “One of the best small folk festivals” - kicks off on Friday October 2nd for the weekend, and most of it is free. 

A tough audience faces the Comic Song contestants at the Hill innThe McCalmans headline the main concert on Saturday and on Friday night the Festival Ceilidh features Mooncoyn and Curragh Sons. But the festival is best known for the many free gigs and impromptu sessions around the pubs, clubs and cafes of Ingleton, with events as far afield as the Station Inn at Ribblehead and the Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale.

On his Radio 2 Blog last year, Mike Harding said “There are lots of folk festivals that I go to in the course of the year: some of them big, some of them massive, some of them middling and some of them small. Being a friend of Snow White's myself…, I've long held that small is both beautiful and more interesting (think of it: Arthur Askey, Janette Krankie, Mussolini). One of the best small festivals is Ingleton Folk Weekend. 

“Ingleton, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, suffered really badly under Foot and Mouth and, as part of the regeneration that went on after that disaster, it hosted its own folk festival. It was only supposed to be a one-off event, but it proved so popular that it's gone on ever since. 

“Like all great festivals the pubs are the core of the weekend with great (and free) music coming out of every bar and orifice.” 

The Hill Inn is the setting for the much loved Comic Song Competition on Sunday afternoon where competitors face a tough audience (see photo). There are also free workshops on singing, dancing and musicianship for adults and kids throughout the weekend. 

See the Ingleton Folk Weekend website here.

24 September 2009

Dales Way celebrates its 40th birthday

Bright September sunshine greeted 35 members and friends of the Dales Way Association on Saturday as they completed the final leg of the celebrated long distance walk, marking its 40th anniversary.

Walkers head down to Lake Windermere at the end of the Dales Way 40th anniversary

Walkers head down to Lake Windermere (above). Dales Way Association footpath officer Alex McManus and chairman Colin Speakman relax (below). 

Dales Way Association footpath officer Alex McManus and chairman Colin Speakman relax

The 80-mile walk across the Yorkshire Dales, from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere, was first walked 40 years ago, when 120 people met up in Ilkley to cover the first leg. Amongst those was Association chairman Colin Speakman, who surveyed the original route and wrote the first guide to the Dales Way in 1970. He led Saturday’s walk. Another of the original walkers was Shirley who was also there on Saturday, aged 80, finishing the walk in style.

In 1967 Colin Speakman and Tom Wilcock of the West Riding Ramblers first put forward their plans for the route to local government officials. Colin explains; “Sadly the old Countryside Commission were lukewarm about the idea as they had their own plans for a long defunct proposed Pennine Way – Lake District link across the northern Howgill Fells, and our idea, serving villages and towns where people could actually stay overnight and spend money in pubs and cafes, was studiously ignored.

“So we decided on People Power. We, as ramblers, would create the Dales Way, not the office-bound bureaucrats and we’d get the route known to walkers, publish a guide book, organise walks along it, raise its profile so that sooner or later it would be recognised as a major popular route.”

The Dales Way has never received recognition as an official National Trail, yet it remains one of the most popular long distance walks in the country. Thousands of walkers set out each year to follow its gentle riverside route through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales and on into Lakeland. For many it is the first long distance walk they ever undertake.

In 1991 the Dales Way Association was formed to support and maintain the route and now has over 500 members. The importance of the Dales Way is also now officially recognised.

“Resources are now being spent on the route which is seen by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and other local authorities such as Bradford and Cumbria County Council as a prime example of green tourism development, encouraging people to walk, offering major physical and mental health benefits in so doing, but also bringing real benefit to the rural economy as people spend money on food and accommodation.”

See the Dales Way Association website and the West Riding Ramblers.

13 September 2009

Sedbergh launch for new High Way Companion

A Dales High Way Companion is launched later this month at the A Dales High Way CompanionSedbergh Festival of Books and Drama. The new book, an illustrated guide and companion to the walk, complements the original Route Guide which was published last year.

“The first book was designed to be a very practical, useful guide to the route,” said co-author Tony Grogan. “It’s pocket sized and contains mainly strip maps. However, we always wanted to produce a book which delved deeper into the more interesting aspects of the geology, history, culture and wildlife you’re likely to see along the way. This is that book.”

“The Route Guide has proved very popular with walkers,” said Chris Grogan, “but this is the book that you read in the pub at the end of a long day’s walking, or pull out when you stop for a break. We’re really proud of this. We aren’t experts in geology, archaeology or botany, but we’ve had a lot of help from people who are. The book also contains some really stunning images by a number of professional and amateur photographers and we’re very grateful to them all. We hope this book will add to the enjoyment of the walk and help people get the most from it.”

Chris and Tony will be joining Mark Richards, author of the Cicerone Lakeland Fellranger series, at the Sedbergh Festival. Mark said “I will be looking at how we perceive the fells, what they mean to us, where we love to be and then, how we can repay the fells for the joy they bring into our lives.”

This is the fifth Annual Festival hosted by Sedbergh, which was recognised as England’s official Book Town in 2006. The book will go on sale officially after the Sedbergh event.

“On a Shank’s Pony”, Sunday, 20 September, 2 pm, People’s Hall, Sedbergh, £4.00. More details on the Sedbergh Festival of Books and Drama website.

You can also catch the Saltaire launch of A Dales High Way Companion at Saltaire Bookshop, Monday 14 September, 6.30 pm, £2.50.

7 September 2009

August 2009

Take a virtual 3-D Tour of A Dales High Way

You can now follow the entire route of A Dales High Way without passing Gordale Bridge on the Google Earth 3-D fly-bystepping out of the front door, courtesy of Google Earth and publishers Skyware Press.

Using Google's free earth mapping software and a simple link to the Skyware Tour, it is possible to fly along the entire 90 mile route in stunning 3-D detail in just 20 minutes.

"We first showed the Google Earth fly-by as part of our presentation on the launch of the route at last year's Saltaire Festival, and it proved very popular" said author Chris Grogan. "So we decided to make it available to anyone who could access the website. It's great fun, and gives you some idea of what to expect on the walk itself."

Google Earth was released in 2005, after Google bought Keyhole Inc., the company that created it. Google Earth has already proved a huge hit with walkers. It combines detailed aerial photographs covering the entire globe with an accurate 3-dimensional model of the terrain to produce a very realistic representation of the landscape. Skyware's Tour maps points along the route and combines varied camera angles to produce a compelling fly-by experience.

"It's free and very simple to download," said Chris. "It only takes a couple of minutes, and as well as the tour you can use it to look at the terrain at any particular spot in detail."

See How to take the Tour here

30 August 2009

Boathouse rises from the ashes

Saltaire's historic Boathouse has reopened following a £500,000 The new Boathouse Inn at Saltairerefurbishment by owners Punch Taverns.

The new-look, extended pub and restaurant is run by Jas Bhatt, who also co-owns Don't Tell Titus on Victoria Road. The contemporary design retains most of the original features, but the new open frontage and wide, full-length windows indicate a more relaxed approach from conservation officers in the World Heritage Site.

Originally built by Titus Salt in 1871 as part of Roberts Park, the Boathouse changed from a tea shop to a restaurant in the early 1980s and eventually busted Salt's "no alcohol" rule in 1997 when it was granted a pub licence. The Boathouse closed last year and suffered fire damage from two arson attacks.

"After the fires, the pub was literally a shell, so it's an absolute delight to see the finished site" said Jas Bhatt.

"The changes are incredible. The interior and exterior have been completely refurbished in a traditional but contemporary style. There's a brand new central bar, an extension for the new kitchen and sliding doors to make the best of the view of the river Aire."

The speedy renovation comes alongside a £4.5 million scheme to restore Roberts Park to its former glory, expected to be completed next Easter.

Unfortunately this means that the park will not be available as a venue for this year's Festival, which runs from the 10th - 20th September.

See the Saltaire Festival website and the new Boathouse Inn

22 August 2009

Friends gather to support Three Peaks

The famous Three Peaks area of the Yorkshire Dales is to gain an organised Friends network. The launch event is Horton Church & Pen-y-ghent scheduled for August 21st when groups of walkers will meet to climb one of the peaks, Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough or Whernside, before gathering at the Station Inn in Ribblehead.

The first member of the Friends will be Calendar Girl Angela Baker, whose husband John worked for the Dales National Park Authority and initiated the original Three Peaks Project in the 1980's.

Over 250,000 people visit the area each year. Many come to take on the Three Peaks challenge, a gruelling 24 mile hike round all 3 mountains. The traditional starting point is the Pen-y-ghent café in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, where between 1968 and 2000 over 200,000 people clocked in before departing it's doors to take on the walk.

In 1987 a study of the path network in the area by the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology found that it was the most severely eroded in the UK. In the following years the National Park's Three Peaks Project worked to provide sustainable routes and allow the damaged surrounding land to recover. The original project ended in 2004 but a new project was initiated last October.

Steve Hastie, the Park's Three Peaks Manager, said: "The launch of the Friends group is a very important step in the development of the project because it will provide a mechanism for long-term support by people who feel a real affinity for the area."

Details of the event can be obtained by contacting: threepeaksproject@yorkshiredales.org.uk

Details of the Three Peaks challenge can be found on the Long Distance Walkers Association website.

11 August 2009

July 2009

Rain adds authenticity to viaduct walk

Heavy rain lent a certain authenticity to the experience of walking A group cross Ribblehead Viaductacross Ribblehead Viaduct. This was how those navvies who toiled, 130 years ago, to build it must have often felt.

But the rain didn't dampen spirits as an army of volunteers co-ordinated around 3000 walkers across the quarter mile long viaduct with cheerful efficiency.

Hundreds of cars were marshalled into fields at Horton-in-Ribblesdale and visitors were dispatched in a fleet of coaches that made the round trip to Ribblehead station in a non-stop circuit. The event was by ticket only, allowing arriving visitors to be staggered throughout the day. No-one had long to wait as they lined up on Ribblehead's station platform before embarking on the rainswept journey across the viaduct in groups of 50 or so. Free cagoules were available for those not quite prepared for conditions in this remote region.

After dropping from the northern end, a team of guides were on hand to lead a well informed tour of the former shanty towns and work areas beneath the arches at the foot of Blea Moor. With plenty of food and drink available and canvas shelters, visitors were well looked after.

Network Rail and the Settle-Carlisle Development Trust had agreed to repeat the successful walk of 2007, but on a larger scale, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the line's reprieve from the threat of closure. Jo Kaye, Network Rail’s route director said: “This year is an important anniversary in the history of the line, which is why we have decided to open the viaduct to the public for one last time."

Proceeds from the event will go to the Settle-Carlisle Railway Trust.

See previous posting

26 July 2009

Fears raised over cattle attacks

A number of recent events have raised concerns about the safety of A young calf is inquisitive and its mother is alert behindwalkers in fields with cattle.

On Sunday, 21 June 2009 vet Liz Crowsley was killed when she was trampled by a herd of cows whilst walking her two dogs on a stretch of the Pennine Way, near Hawes. The dogs were on short leads and it is thought she was trying to protect them after the cattle became aggressive. The dogs were found unharmed.

On 10 May 2003 Shirley McKaskie suffered serious injuries whilst walking her dog near her home at Greystoke in the Eden valley. She was trampled by a herd of cows with young calves and rescued by the farmer who heard the disturbance. On Monday, July 6th this year a court awarded Mrs McKaskie interim damages of £250,000. The farmer is expected to appeal, but insurers are likely to issue new guidelines to farmers as a result.

In a recent report the Health & Safety Executive said: "Between April 1996 and March 2006, 46 incidents involving cattle and members of the public were investigated by HSE across Britain. Seven resulted in death. Almost all these incidents were in fields and enclosed areas. Many other incidents are not reported to, nor investigated by, HSE. The two most common factors in these incidents are cows with calves and walkers with dogs."

The National Farmers Union spokeswoman Rachael Gilbanks said: "We don't want people to be unduly alarmed. Tens of thousands of people are out walking in the Yorkshire Dales in the summer without any incident at all and it is important people don't think the countryside is off-limits or be particularly afraid when out walking.

"However, while cattle are normally very docile every now and again they might decide that they are not happy with a situation. That is potentially heightened when they have got young calves and it is heightened when a walker has dogs present."

The Dales National Park offers this advice on Suckler cows and calves: "If you are walking with a dog, then it is worth taking extra care around cows and calves. Cattle are naturally inquisitive. If they approach, walk slowly with your dog at heel. If you feel threatened, let go of your dog - it can run faster than cattle and escape. Make sure you always walk round cows with calves, as walking between them can be seen as a threat. If in doubt do not enter the field."

Not all incidents however, involve walkers with dogs. In early June this year Graham Dugdale, a well known author of walk guides and a feature writer for the Lancaster Guardian, was trampled by a herd of cows with young calves near Holme, south of Kendal. He said; "I tried to move around them and they in turn moved away. Unfortunately, a calf walked towards me which precipitated a stampede in which I was bundled to the ground. It was terrifying. I thought, if I don't get out of this situation I am going to get trampled to death". Graham was fortunate to escape with bruising and torn knee ligaments.

Ramblers chief Tom Franklin said "As with any working environment there are certain risks, and it is untenable to remove all those risks from our surroundings. However, the incidents of people being attacked by cattle are few and far between, thankfully."

Unless it's winter or early spring, walkers on A Dales High Way are likely to come across cattle, particularly in the Eden Valley. These are quite well walked tracks, though, and the cattle are generally used to walkers. If you should feel troubled, however, there are plenty of relatively quiet country roads nearby which provide a safe alternative.

See also The Ramblers advice, the Health & Safety Executive Information sheet for farmers and read reports on each incident: Liz Crowsley, Shirley McKaskie and Graham Dugdale.

19 July 2009

Last chance for viaduct walk 

A rare opportunity to walk across the famous Ribblehead Viaduct on Sunday July 26th has led to a Steam train crosses Ribblehead Viaduct flood of applications. Already a third of the available time slots have been booked up.

Essential engineering works mean the line is closed to rail traffic between July 10th and 27th. The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line have taken advantage of the closure to organise the walk as part of the 20th anniversary of the line's reprieve from the threat of closure.

In July 2007 a similar event took place, with 2000 people taking what was believed to be a once in a lifetime chance to walk across the viaduct. One participant took the opportunity mid way across to propose to his fiancé – she accepted. The event was organised by the Friends and Railtrack, and hosted by musician Mike Harding, who said: “This is the line that refused to die, and quite rightly, because it’s part of the heritage of this country and is probably as important in its own way as York Minister.”

The event on the 26th has been divided into six one-hour slots to allow the maximum number to take part. Already the 11.30-12.30 and 12.30-1.30 slots are fully booked.

The event will be officially launched by actor Tom Brown, who plays Carl King in ITV’s Emmerdale. Tickets cost £15 and can be booked online or by downloading an application form. 

See information about the event and book tickets here

10 July 2009

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