Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sheep, Penyghent and rain

click photo to enlarge
 Anyone who knows the Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales (Ingleborough, Penyghent and Whernside) usually has a favourite. And most people, when asked, name Ingleborough as the one they like best. It features in countless photographs and there's a lot to like about that particular mountain. It has a great flat-topped profile against the sky, the result of the differential erosion of the rocks in the Yoredale strata. Its location next to the Chapel Beck valley gives it a looming mass that is quite awe inspiring. And the limestone on and around Ingleborough is very prominent, adding to its rugged appeal. Then there's the Iron Age hill fort on its summit and the very accessible caves and potholes on its flanks. Whernside is usually placed third in this beauty contest. It is a lump of a peak, a whaleback that is difficult to pick out from some angles, and it doesn't have the characteristic profile that the other two share. Its proximity to Ribblehead railway viaduct is a plus, but its comparative anonymity is reflected in the much smaller number of photographs that it attracts.

However, my favourite is Penyghent. Why? Well, I could see it easily daily from Settle when I was growing up in that market town: I had to go on to the hills to view Ingleborough and Whernside. I noticed its changing moods and colours through each season. I walked to it and up it on a few occasions, and in later years climbed it with my family more than I did the other two. Then there's the clinching argument that means I could choose no other - in primary school I was in the "house" named Penyghent Blues! We competed against Ingleborough Yellows, Whernside Greens, and Pendle Reds (named after the Three Peaks and a Lancashire peak, all visible from in or around Settle).

It was only in later years that I learned that Penyghent is Celtic for "hill of winds", and that it is a monadnock (also known as inselberg) that stood above the glaciers that flowed round it in the recent Ice Age. In fact I know more about that mountain than I do about the sheep in the foreground of this photograph. They are a breed that is a more common sight in the Yorkshire Dales following the foot and mouth sheep culls of 2001. It must be one of the types listed on this informative website. But which one? I really can't decide.

I took my photograph from above Little Stainforth about half way through a walk that took in Giggleswick Scars and the valley of the River Ribble. Descending from the limestone near Smearsett Scar we were glad to see the rain enveloping the mountain rather than us!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On