Saturday, September 12, 2009

Penyghent and walking

click photo to enlarge
I've just spent a few days in the small Yorkshire Dales market town of Settle, the place in which I grew up. From the town you can look north and see, five or six miles away, the peak called Penyghent, one of the "Three Peaks". This mountain, along with Ingleborough and Whernside form a trio of summits that constitute a well-known walk. Moreover, the side of Penyghent that faces down the valley of the Ribble to Settle, also has a track that forms part of the long-distance footpath called "The Pennine Way" - named after the range of hills and mountains that the 267 mile trail follows.

Each time I go to Settle I gaze at Penyghent to see if the Pennine Way path is visible, and each year the scar that it makes grows more obvious. When I was young an enclosure-period drystone wall climbing up the slope and cliffs was all that the naked eye could see from where I lived. But, by the late 1960s, the track was succumbing to the erosion of thousands of booted feet and it was becoming ever more clear. Today it is an irregular gash many tens of yards wide in places. Repair work by the National Parks authority has not mitigated the disfigurement. I remember, in my 20s, someone asking where I came from. When I replied Settle, the person said, "Oh, you'll have done the Three Peaks Walk then". My response, that I wouldn't do that walk because of the damage it does to the area, was seen as odd, even offensive. But, it's a view I still hold today. The Three Peaks Walk, and the Pennine Way, seem to be undertaken by people who regard walking as a challenge rather than an exploration, or a literal and metaphorical path to greater understanding and appreciation of a landscape. Their physical and psychological needs seem to be superior to the needs of the environment in which they pursue their hobby, and the effect is there for all to see.

The photograph above was taken on a walk over Giggleswick Scars. The shadows of the clouds and the beautiful autumn light and colour gave the scene an attractive quality that I tried to capture. The track that so offends me, mercifully, isn't visible in this shot and this light!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On