Saturday, November 18, 2006

Walking in the Dales

click photo to enlarge
Is there a better landscape for winter walking than upland limestone? The classic "karst" scenery is well-drained, has few surface streams, and, apart from the odd muddy "shake hole", or gateway churned up by the feet of cattle and sheep as they funnel through, the walker can bound along the springy turf almost as well as in summer. I find that, in a given time, I can walk half as far again on limestone compared with, say, a heather moor on gritstone or granite. So, a walk in the the Yorkshire Dales is often a long one!

And so it proved to be on the day we did a walk on the Craven uplands that flank the River Ribble. The low sun on a bright November day lit up the grass and grey stone, and moulded the landscape for us. Dark shadows tracked every drystone wall, and each sheep was followed by its doppelganger. As we passed over stiles and through gates, we came upon distant views of Penyghent and Pendle, and congratulated ourselves that we weren't churning through the wet reeds and bogs of those dark peaks.

I took this photograph early in the walk from a point on Giggleswick Scars near Stackhouse, a small hamlet where I lived at the age of three. Across the valley the village of Langcliffe could be seen nestled on the hillside, above the river and below the higher woods and limestone cliffs, its walled fields enclosing the improved pastures nearer to the settlement. The low sun was throwing long shadows and delineating every feature, emphasising that the buildings, trees and walls were insubstantial and temporary additions to this ancient landscape. Without the effect that these shadows produced I doubt whether I would have taken this photograph. To my mind they make the shot, which I took with a zoom lems at 225mm (35mm equivalent).
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen