Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bluebells


My yearly pilgrimage to Middleton Woods near Ilkley for the bluebells. The weather started off dull and uninspiring but the sun eventually broke through. Even though they are easily accessible from the town, the woods are always pretty quiet and only seem to be used by dog walkers which makes photography quite easy.

Not that I'm complaining ;)


Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Middleton Woods bluebells.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Whinlatter Forest

It must be five years since I last went on this walk and unfortunately it has changed for the worst. The first section hasn't altered one bit, using an old forest road to take you in and around Revlon Moss and this is a joy in any weather. All the way round you have the call of the many species of birds ringing in your ears and the surrounding woodland is quite varied and, in its own way, quite pretty.

It is the second section which has changed beyond belief. They have done massive tree clearances all up the fell sides and have just left the ground to regenerate naturally over years to come. What used to be a lovely seclude valley with a beck and cascades  running through has now turned into an unkempt mess. The impression it left on the friend I was with, who hadn't been to this area before, was far from favourable.

Many years ago, if you were lucky, you could even catch a glance of one of the deer which resided at the head of the valley but I don't think there are any about these days. This is due to the forest now seemingly catering more for cyclist and adventure seekers than for the wildlife that the many people like me, just wanted to enjoy it in peaceful surroundings. Now all you hear is the sound of the people on the Go Ape Adventure Centre up at the Visitor Centre or the many bikers shouting at the tops of their voice to each other as the speed along the plethora of man-made tracks. Maybe its just me who hasn't moved with the times and who is slowly turning in to a grumpy old man, I don't know!

Grizedale Forest has gone the same way as well. The only wooded area which hasn't been developed in some way, shape or form is Dodd Wood, which I think, and hope, is too steep sided for any sort of structure (I'll make an exception for the exquisite cafe).

We still enjoyed our walk but I think that was mainly due to us liking each others company so much. It was certainly not due to the work of the Forestry Commission. Its only saving grace was that all the clearing had been done well away from the road and was hidden from the main Visitor Centre area.

This is the second negative blog I have done in recent weeks, I do hope our natural wild areas are not slowly being eaten up by profiteering.

Revlon Moss

Cycle way

Whinlatter Forest

Revlon Moss

Revlon Moss

Revlon Moss

Male Finch

Cones

Whinlatter clearances

Whinlatter clearances

Whinlatter clearances

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Following The Settle-Carlise Line from Ribblehead to Garsdale.

Another one of those days when all the weather Gods looked down favourably on me. I think cold and crisp describes it perfectly. There was still frost on the ground at Ribblehead which was my first photo stop. Even at such an early hour there were cars aplenty by the viaduct so I headed off up the Hawes road to a limestone scar I found years ago. It's position adds great interest and composition to distant shots of the railway viaduct and Three Peaks plus it isn't too far off the road.

Next stop was the Dent Head Viaduct, a fine structure which carries the Settle-Carlisle railway over the road leading down in to Dentdale. Its a much photographed view with far reaching views of the Dentdale fells. I then turned off the main road leading to Dent village and headed up the side road going over to Garsdale. This passes both Dent and Garsdale Head stations and is known as the Coal Road. There were twenty-five coal pits which formed part of the extensive coal workings and lay on the moorland either side of it. These coal pits were worked by local people, initially to produce domestic fuel, but by the 18th century, the poor quality coal was also being used in lime kilns. Commercial coal mining went on in Garsdale until the 1870s when the Settle-Carlisle railway started bringing in cheaper, higher quality coal from the Lancashire and West Yorkshire coalfields.

My last port of call was Garsdale Head station which used to be called Hawes Junction and I reckon it must be the highest and also wildest station in the UK. The station waiting room was once used for Anglican church services, and the railway turntable had a wall of sleepers built around it to prevent locomotives being spun by strong winds: this happened in 1900. 

The southbound platform features a life-size bronze statue of a Border Collie dog named Ruswarp. Ruswarp belonged to Graham Nuttall, one of the founding members of the group that saved the Settle-Carlisle Railway from closure. The dog had also been featured in the campaign, signing the petition to save the line with a paw-print. Nuttall disappeared while walking in the Welsh Mountains on 20 January 1990. His body was found on 7 April; Ruswarp was still alive after standing guard over his owner's body for 11 weeks. The sculpture by Joel Walker is a memorial to both Graham Nuttall and Ruswarp and was unveiled on 11 April 2009, 20 years after the line was saved from closure.

Thank God the Settle-Carlise line wasn't closed by Michael Portillo when he was transport secretary. British rail had said that the Ribblehead Viaduct needed 12 million pounds spent on it to make it safe but independent engineers later said it could be done for just three million and the work was done and the line and its future was saved.


Little Scar and Ribblehead viaduct

Little Scar and Ribblehead viaduct

Little Scar and Ingleborough

Little Scar

Dent Head Viaduct

Dent Head Viaduct

Looking towards Mallerstang

Looking towards Mallerstang

Iron gate on The Coal Road.

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Garsdale Station

Ruswarp

Sunday, 2 April 2017

A Farewell to The Trossachs


I had a rather disappointing day in The Trossachs last weekend. Talk about not feeling welcome.

I used to park up at two places on the shores of Loch Chon and then go for a wander in the forest with my camera. The first place had been ruined by tree felling and was a right mess and the other place had been turned in to a campsite! At the first spot, I just about managed to park my car and clamber around fallen trees and debris to take a few photos but couldn't even get in to the second spot!

The new campsite is all to do with The Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park's attempt at trying to stop wild camping which they say is becoming a problem on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond from where people used to wild camp and climb Ben Lomond. Their solution is to have purpose built campsites miles away from where they are actually needed. It makes you wonder if they really want visitors at all. The consensus of opinion is that they are using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and various prominent people have come out strongly against it; one being Cameron McNeish. I never see or read about any problems with wild camping in either the Lakes or The Yorkshire Dales so it makes you wonder what the real motivation is behind it.

So my day consisted of driving over 150 miles up to Aberfoyle from Cumbria, popping in the Coop to get some food, then driving a further 10 miles to Stronachlachar on the shore of Loch Katrine and having a coffee before reversing my trip! Needless to say, it will be a long time before I head up that way again which is a shame as I used to really enjoy visiting the place, especially in the bluebell season which will shortly be upon us. All the photos are more or less roadside photos just for the record.

Goodbye Trossachs :(


Loch Ard

Loch Ard

Loch Ard jetty and boathouse

Loch Chon

Loch Chon boathouse

Loch Chon boathouse

Loch Arklet

Loch Arklet

Loch Katrine

Loch Katrine

The Pier Cafe Stronachlachar


The Pier Cafe Stronachlachar

The Pier Cafe Stronachlachar



Wider views at Harlow Carr RHS Garden, Harrogate

Some more photos of my afternoon at Harlow Carr RHS Gardens in Harrogate. The last set were mainly close ups of the flowers whilst this set ...