Posts Tagged ‘2015’

Puddles, sheep and Fire

January 10, 2016

What did the grandchildren enjoy at Christmas? I’m sure they enjoyed opening presents and eating things, but they also liked getting out. We live along a rutted track and it was a young child’s delight for the rain had filled the holes with water – just right for playing in.

image002There’s the trio of little splashers. They love it!

It’s sometimes hard to know if the youngsters enjoy going to see sheep in the field. They appear interested, though, with Granny there to keep an eye on things.


But very popular was the bonfire grandad lit to dispose of a mountain of ripped wrapping paper. It was quite wild weather and so much heat and light were generated. It really was quite exhilarating.


At first it was just Grandad but others came to enjoy the spectacle.


Sadly, but not unexpectedly, it did very little towards burning away the garden waste that we hoped to convert to ash. And no wonder for whilst our weather was nothing like what the poor folk in the North of England have had to c0pe with, everything was still very wet.

These photos were all taken by my son.

A highlight of 2015

December 31, 2015

Back in August we attended a wedding. It was absolutely lovely. The bride and groom were friends who lived in our village. These were friends who are about the age of our children. They chose the church as their wedding venue which couldn’t have been more convenient as their house is just outside the churchyard. The service was lovely and fitted the lifestyle of the couple. There was folk singing and the floral decorations had all been picked at a wild flower nursery. They were just great.

I was able to do a bit of bell ringing at the end before joining in the outside goings on as photos were taken. I could leave the ringing to my friends and colleagues.

image002 I’m avoiding images of the wedding people. They may not want them on a blog. But here are some of the flowers in the church.



The reception was at our wonderful Community Hall. In August weather we were able to enjoy some outside games – boules, quoits etc. as the first meal was prepared. This was a cream tea and, again, avoiding people entirely, here is what was set out in the hall.


Nothing was new. The couple and their friends and relations had been purchasing cheap pretty cups and saucers from charity shops. I believe the bride might have made the cake stands from some of these purchases.

Floral decorations – from the wild flower nursery were enhanced with cut out butterfly shapes.


Again, charity shop maps were used for them. It really was delightful.

In the evening there was a ceilidh band to dance to and a buffet. I have always enjoyed that kind of dancing and that kind of music. If you didn’t dance it wasn’t so loud that chatting was impossible. In fact, like the rest of the day it was lovely.

It felt like a real community event.



December 28, 2015

Being a farmer in Swaledale was always going to be hard work for man but sometimes it was hard work for horses as well. Let’s imagine a farm at Muker. It’s a beautiful place and absolutely idyllic in Swaledale. It’s an ideal place to keep a few dairy cows and to make some butter.

Now Muker is about 250 metres above sea level. If a farmer had butter to sell he’d have to take it to Hawes Market. It’s a journey of about 12 miles and when you get to Hawes you’d be about 250 metres above sea level. But Hawes is in Wensleydale and between Muker and Hawes there are mountains which rise up to 526 metres above sea level – that’s a road height.

Hill climbing with a load was and is definitely hard work for a horse but farmers reckoned that if they had unsold butter at Hawes Market, rather than haul it all the way back to Muker they’d dangle it on a rope in the cool dark limestone caverns that descend vertically from those hills. There were convenient places close by the road which served this purpose – and the butter would still be fine the following week when the farmer returned to Hawes Market. He could haul up his butter and it was all downhill (almost) to Hawes. The area became known as The Butter Tubs which is often shortened to one word – Buttertubs.

If you’ve heard the name it may be because the 2014 Tour de France cycle race came to Yorkshire and used Buttertubs pass as one of the hill climbs.

We went over Buttertubs in our car in 2014. It was thick mist and we were actually unable to see where the old farmer storage chasms were. We had better luck earlier this year.

And here are these deep grykes as these gaps are called, that constitute the Buttertubs.

image001We both read the information boards.



This is not a safe area for the unwary. It would be all too easy to fall.


The view towards Swaledale and Muker


These grykes are deep. The notice board which we read offers a diagrammatic explanation.


Westbury – Diesel Heaven

December 14, 2015

I’m not that regular at travelling by train. Although I can hear trains from my home, I have no local station and that means journeys always have to start by car. Once in the car, why bother with a train!

But recently, as a treat, my wife and I took the train from Westbury to Weymouth which gave me a few minutes on Westbury station to admire some of the diesel locos I happened to see.

Let’s start with this row.

image002This is a line of class 70 locos operated by Colas Rail. Class 70s are quite new. The first appeared in the UK in 2009/10 but these examples arrived in 2014. Do they not have work to do?

Nearby was another Colas operated loco – a much older class 60.


The first of these locos appeared in 1989 which means these locos are in the region of 25 years old.

A class 59 appeared hauling an enormous (and I presume empty) stone train towards the Mendip quarries.


The train had a change of driver at this point. You can see the train of wagons trailing away and off screen to the right. I don’t know how long such trains can be in the UK, but when the train restarted after its crew change it took a mighty long time to pass us.

This particular old thing dates from 1985.

But pride of place in my brief spell of diesel spotting has to go to the class 08 shunter.


This looks like something from a past age these days and indeed such locos are truly venerable. Of course, they look the part with that con rod linking the wheels. They keep alive the arm movement kids used to make to be steam locos. This one still sports the colours of EWS even though, like the 59 above, it is now operated by DB.

The 08s have their origins with locos built in 1945, although this design was introduced in 1952 and locos of the type were built in large numbers up until 1962. So even if this is at the newer end of this, we are still looking at a loco more than 50 years old. In fact this loco was built in 1960 so is 55 years old.

I will add that there were class 66 diesels to be seen as well, but not in easy to photograph locations.

Our train arrived. It was an utterly filthy (on the outside) class 150 unit. The windows were so thick with grime it was all but impossible to see out. The rebranded Great Western Railway ought to do better than that. We customers, on a line down to Weymouth, surely deserve to be able to see the lovely countryside we travel through.



December 11, 2015

I can often enjoy the lesser known places more than those that attract tourists in hordes. If I consider two Cumbria towns which are about 9 miles apart in a straight line, I have a personal preference for the lesser known (and smaller) of the two. Kendal is well known as the gateway to the lakes (and also for mint cake). It’s a thriving, bustling place and has plenty of attractive sites and buildings. But I much prefer the quieter, smaller Sedbergh.

image002 For the most part the streets are ordinary enough but actually, the shops are interesting and not those you find in every big town.

Where else, for example, could you buy these?


No, I don’t know what they are either, but I didthink they looked delightful.

As in many Cumbrian towns and villages, you move just off the main road to find building beauty.


Buildings like these just seem to harmonise with the landscape.

Sedbergh has plenty of surrounding landscape!


I do like it when shopkeepers make an effort – like this one on Finkle Street.


Some fine sheep peer out of the upstairs windows.

Yes, Sedbergh is a lovely little town – and it has the essentials. You can buy things you need there as well as plenty of less essential items.



Arten Gill

November 22, 2015

The railway line between Ribblehead and Dent is dramatic in scenery and engineering. What is the case, in my eyes, is that the Victorian railway engineering actually enhances the natural beauty of the area.

Ribblehead Viaduct is well known and I have featured that on this blog. Soon after northbound trains cross the viaduct they plunge into Blea Moor Tunnel – well over a mile and a half long. Once through that there are a couple more significant viaducts before England’s highest station at Dent is reached. One of the viaducts is over Arten Gill.

This is Arten Gill viaduct as seen from near Dent Station. It is in a remote location, but once Arten Gill was a veritable hive of industry.


Having left this good view point, I realised a freight train was about to cross the viaduct so I found another, less good viewpoint and snapped.


Having had these glimpses, I had to take a closer look.


Now that is glorious. It is taller than Ribble
head and the confined location probably makes it look taller still. And here’s my wife as we start to get up close to the viaduct.


Yes, it is a fine view down Arten Gill.


The viaduct is made of the local stone which is called Dent marble but is actually a form of limestone.


This time we were lucky enough to see a passenger train cross the viaduct.


What a lovely, lonely location. Building the viaduct there almost beggars belief.


November 19, 2015

In the past we had travelled on the Settle and Carlisle railway between Ribblehead and Carlisle – it had been two trips. On the most recent holiday in that area we thought we’d complete the journey – and do the most exciting bit for a second time by travelling from Dent – England’s highest station, over the Ribblehead Viaduct and down to Settle. We could take a look at this little town before returning.

We arrived in Settle and watched our train head off to complete its journey to Leeds.

The Friends of the Settle and Carlisle Railway do a fantastic job supporting owners and operators and making sure stations are kept in good order.

But private enterprise does its bit too. Just outside the station there is an old water tank which stored much needed water for steam locos. It has been converted into a home with heritage extras added.



Settle is a pleasant market town and it was market day.


This building houses a rather quirky museum.


As you’d expect, Settle is in glorious surroundings.


Back on the station for our return, we found ‘The Friends’ even provide entertainment by having bird feeders.


Niches in the station wall have unexpected characters to amuse children of all ages.


These little extras make the travelling experience so much more delightful.

The toposcope up Flinter Gill

November 14, 2015

I like toposcopes and am pleased to have picked up an English name for them. I have tended to give them their French name of ‘table d’orientation’.

On a recent holiday we clambered (a stony footpath, not a mountain climb) up Flinter Gill from Dent. On a convenient knoll near the top, a toposcope had been erected. It gave the distances to mountain peaks along with their heights.

We’d have liked better weather, but you take what you get in mid-October.

image002There it is – a neat stone built little structure with a metal plate marked with the places fixed on top.



It just needs a person looking at it.


A comfortable seat?

November 12, 2015

The other day, as my wife and I ate our lunch, we were entertained by a chap going back and forth, along the ridge of the downs. He was hanging under a parachute and had a large motor driven propeller strapped to his back. We were best part a mile away, but he genuinely looked relaxed and comfortable.

image002He seemed to have very good control over things, being able to go up or down, left or right. At this point he had come off the high ridge and was taking a look at the autumn sown crop which is beginning to peep through the soil. Let’s zoom in.


Soon, he was back up over the ridge.


It’s those crossed legs that make him look so relaxed.


He brought his ‘kite’ down very close to this large motor home vehicle so I suspect it was his.

We enjoyed the entertainment. Thanks!

Another of life’s milestones

November 10, 2015

No, I’m not talking about age or achievements. I haven’t ticked anything off a bucket list which I don’t have anyway. I’m talking about a lump of stone by the side of the road telling you how far you are from somewhere.

I believe that turnpike trusts – people allowed to charge for the use of roads, had to erect milestones which were, as the name implies, one mile apart. They imparted, and still do, useful information to the walker, cyclist or horse rider, but maybe not to the motorist of today who zaps past them far too fast to glean any information.

Some, perhaps, are less useful than others. Here’s a case in point.


It is beautifully kept and in a lovely location. It is reasonable to assume we are just one mile from S. But I’d guess not many readers of this will know or guess where S is. There are, by the way, to my observed knowledge, similar stones with S2, S3, S4 and S5.

Well, these stones would be little use to an extra-terrestrial visitor, who dropped in but there again, it may not offer much help to such a visitor if it had the full name of the place which is Sedbergh.

Sedbergh is a lovely little town in Cumbria. It also counts as a Yorkshire Dales town. You’d be pleased to be one mile from the place for that’s only a short distance away and it is well worth a visit.