Thursday, July 18, 2013

Froth, waterfalls and wild swimming

click photo to enlarge
Recently, as our walk took us past the waterfall that is Scaleber Force near Settle, I took a few shots of Stockdale Beck as it cascaded down the rock face. Strong sunlight didn't help when it came to getting the sort of shot I wanted, and the small offering today is the best of the very few photographs that I took. I'd gone down the sides of the ravine alone and my wife stayed at the top on a handily sited bench. While she was there a van stopped on the nearby road and some people came to ask her if she knew of anywhere nearby for "wild swimming". She mentioned Stainforth Force and they said that was their next destination.

When she recounted that conversation I was transported back to my childhood swimming in the River Ribble at Settle. We never called it wild swimming then; it was just swimming plain and simple. Since there was no purpose-built covered pool in the small market town (there is now) many local children, myself included, taught themselves to swim in the rock pools and deeper stretches of the river. We had a number of favourite spots. Probably the most popular for younger children was the stretch between the weir and the stone-built road bridge. Older kids preferred the longer, uninterrupted and more secluded stretch above the weir, downstream from Shed Mill which was called "six foot" in reference to its alleged depth at this point. A third location that attracted younger children was the deeper area of water below Queen's Rock near King's Mill.

As chance would have it we later walked past this stretch of rapids that marks the point where one of the Craven Faults crosses the river. Looking down from the footbridge I noticed an accumulation of froth - probably natural though perhaps partly man-made - and I seized the opportunity for my second photograph of this subject. My first shot, which I posted on the blog, was taken at the previously mentioned Stainforth Force. The example at Queen's Rock attracted me for the way that the rocks interacted with the froth to make a pattern quite different from the one in my earlier shot.

None of the areas I mention above where I used to swim would be suitable for the "wild" swimmers of today. On the other hand, I'm not so sure the dark and deep waters of Stainforth Force are either.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 23.8mm (64mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/1250
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On