Sunday, October 27, 2013

Penyghent, Stackhouse and limestone

click photo to enlarge
One of the interesting things about ageing is the perspective that it brings. As a young child I lived in Stackhouse, a small group of houses and a farm that can be barely glimpsed in the trees towards the bottom right of this photograph. Though I was small I got to know the limestone valley side behind where we lived, the cliffs, the beeches, the rowans, the bracken and the sheep that wandered over the rugged landscape. When we moved to live in Settle I continued to walk the area, and I've carried on doing so regularly ever since. As a child, even as a teenager, I wasn't aware that the valley side was slowly changing. But, as the years have passed those small changes have become more obvious.

The bracken has spread, the drystone walls are not as well maintained as they were, the sheep are not almost exclusively Swaledales and are fewer, ash saplings are multiplying in and around the outcropping limestone, and the dew pond is becoming ever more cracked and overgrown with weed. The remains of children's play - dens and the like - are no longer to be seen. Most of these changes must be a consequence of fewer sheep and an increase in the amount of time that farmers are devoting to the core business of producing meat and wool. I haven't seen children on the hills without their parents for decades; a reflection of the concerns of adults and changes in the play of youngsters. Older people can frequently be heard expressing regret at change. However, I think this frequently arises from a selfish yearning for a known past and fear of a different and constantly evolving present and future. I've found myself fascinated by the rise of "scrub" on this part of the "scar" landscape. If it doesn't take over completely the changes that it brings must enrich the wildlife that the land can support.

We recently spent a few days in the place of my upbringing. We experienced quite a bit of rain, not unusual for the area, and something that people settling there on the back of a couple of pleasant summer holidays soon have to come to terms with. However, we did have one unseasonally balmy day when the Ribble valley showed off its colourful trees, the hills could be walked in shirt sleeves and distant Penyghent could be photographed without its obscuring cap of cloud.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 37.1mm (100mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On