Saturday, 10 September 2016

Winskill Stones

Winskill Stones is situated above Stainforth in the Yorkshire Dales and is a 74-acre area of limestone grassland and limestone pavement. Apparently this area was much bigger at one time but vast chunks of the limestone pavement were dug up for landscape gardeners in the 1950s to use as rockery stone. The famous gardener Geoff Hamilton (who appeared on BBC's Gardeners World) campaigned against this and after his death in 1996 the charity Plantlife was able to buy and safeguard the area. Management of the reserve is overseen by an advisory group which includes representatives from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the farming community and local residents. Over 160 different plants have been recorded at Winskill Stones and these include species such as spring sandwort, horseshoe vetch, meadow saxifrage, mossy saxifrage, mountain everlasting and moonwort. Also a number of bird species nest on the reserve including skylark, lapwing and curlew. I could hear the curlews when I was there. 

You also get lovely views to the west where Ingleborough takes centre stage. Pen y ghent can also be seen from the stones but further round to the north. I also notice a fair few erratics in the area which, for those who don't know, are large boulders that have been transported by glaciers and often deposited a considerable distance from their origin. They are of a different composition to the native bedrock which in this case is limestone. Some of the best examples of these is at nearby Norber between Clapham and Austwick. 

Winskill Stones can be included in a lovely circular walk from Settle which also takes in Stainforth Force and Cattrigg Force waterfalls which I can highly recommend.

Tree growing out of limestone

Distant Ingleborough

Winskill Stones and Pen y ghent

Winskill Stones

Winskill Stones

Winskill Stones

Winskill Stones

Limestone close up

Pen y ghent


Limestone pavement and wall

Face in limestone

A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...