Posts Tagged ‘November’


March 25, 2016

Oh how we steam enthusiasts used to like it when diesels let down the railway by failing. And back in the 1960s they did, far too often. British Railways seemed to have no sense of direction with the diesels and ordered twenty or so from various manufacturers. Some of them were, frankly, very poor in terms of reliability.

But then things got sorted out and by the 21st century most diesels were very reliable. But it was still possible to grin when things went wrong. And here was a case in point.

This was a dire day back in November 2006. Roads and railways had been hit with floods and problems. One of my work colleagues had managed to get to a station some ten miles from work and I went to pick him up. On crossing the railway  near Pewsey I could see a problem and stopped and took a couple of photos.


There’s no blame to the loco, but its leading bogie had left the rails. Nobody was hurt but on a difficult day it added to the chaos for it meant the main line between London and Exeter was blocked.

The loco is a class 67, bought in principally to operate mail trains, a job they lost when mails forsook the railway to add more clutter to the roads. I think, but am not certain, that this train was spreading some kind of rail adhesion substance.

Another loco of the same type was on the other end of the train and back down the line we can see a tree fallen on the tracks. It had been this with an accompanying heap of earth that derailed that leading bogie.

image004The loco was rerailed later the same day and removed. The track was checked and repaired as needed and reopened the next day.


Aysgarth Falls

January 21, 2015

Today I am returning to our holiday in Yorkshire which was at the end of November last year. We seemed to go in for waterfalls and this included the falls at Aysgarth.

Aysgarth Falls are in Wensleydale which means it is the waters of the River Ure which are tumbling down here. The Ure is quite a big river which means an impressive amount of water makes its way over a sequence of falls. None of the falls are that high and, we gather, in dry seasons the flow reduces to little more than a trickle. But these falls are a tourist honeypot, probably due to good communications – in the past. Even now there is a big carpark (charging big carpark prices) and a visitor centre with associated tea room. But the popularity of the falls probably stems from the adjacent Aysgarth Railway Station which we have already seen on this blog (click here).

We stayed in Carperby and that was no more than a mile away from the falls – a delightful walk through what I call ‘stone country’. We’ve looked at that before as well (click here).

On that occasion we did end up seeing two of the falls at Aysgarth.


Not much height but plenty of water make this impressive.

A couple of other tourists give this some scale.


Being a tourist site, this is laid out with firm paths, steps and safety fences.

You walk a bit further to reach the lowest fall and things get a little less well trodden and just a tad wilder.


You can get close up to the fall here.


Now my unsolved question. Maybe you have an answer. The water looks much like churned up water on the more level sections. Why does it look so brown on the tumble?

These falls were well worth the visit but for us the walk from and back to Carperby was also very lovely.

Having a grouse

January 15, 2015

It was at the end of last November that we spent a week in the Yorkshire Dales. We stayed in Wensleydale but on several occasions we went over the tops and down into Swaledale. Those tops were grouse country.

I suppose they are really there to provide pleasure for the shooting fraternity and a little bit of meat for some. But for me they were just birds of beauty.

I have to confess that these birds hadn’t really crossed my radar before. When we first saw them I had to look up what they were.


This early in the week shot was not particularly good. We didn’t know these birds were to become things seen regularly.


This was a common roadside sight – a grouse – these are female – on a fence post or road side wall.


Now we’ll get to some better shots.

These grouse would pretty happily ignore cars but if you got out and walked you heard them – and a fascinating sound they made – but you didn’t see them.

So we sat in the car to get the close up shots.


This one with the big red eyebrows is the male.



Another fence post female.


Sorry folks. We also found that grouse were on sale in a Leyburn supermarket.


Ribblehead Viaduct

December 27, 2014

The Ribblehead Viaduct is one of many huge engineering structures on the railway between Settle and Carlisle. Let’s deal with history and facts first.

Construction started in 1870 and the viaduct was completed in 1874. 1000 navvies worked on it and three separate shanty towns were formed on Batty Moss which the viaduct crosses. The Ribblehead viaduct is fully a quarter of a mile long and 100 feet above the valley floor at its highest point. That’s roughly equivalent to the height of a 10 storey building. There are 24 arches made of the most readily available material which was the local limestone. The foundations are 25 feet deep. The viaduct is not level. The north end is 13 feet higher than the south end. At least 100 navvies were killed during the construction.

To give an idea of the terrain, travellers on the line pass over the viaduct and very soon plunge into Blea Moor Tunnel. This is a mile and a half long and in places 500 feet below the land’s surface.

But back to the viaduct.

We travelled over it by train and alighted at Ribblehead’s remote station before taking a look from ground level.


There is the viaduct with Blea Moor beyond. You need to remember this is a quarter of a mile long to get an idea of how huge it all is.


You get more idea of its enormity when you see just a part of it.


The youthful River Ribble


The post van approaches. The track leads under the viaduct and to some isolated farms.



The site of the shanty towns is a scheduled monument. It is hard to imagine that there was once an engine shed here as well.


Oh, and a brickworks for the tops of the arches.


My wife provides a bit of scale.


The stone pillars are enormous.

The workers who toiled to get the viaduct opened in 1875 are commemorated alongside those who saved it in 1991.



That’s me by the base of one of the arches.


Underneath the arches!


Trains still cross the viaduct.


I, of course, think this viaduct is magnificent. It is made of the moor it crosses and adds to the scene rather than being a violation. That it was built, back in the 1870s, was surely a mistake. But that it survives is surely even more wonderful.

England’s tallest waterfall

December 18, 2014

Those people who have travelled the world and seen some of the most dramatic falls there are – Niagara, Victoria etc. – may not think much of little Hardraw Force. But I say give it a chance and prepare to enjoy a cascade, dramatic in its own way. Like many falls, it may be better in winter when there has been rain than it would be in a long dry summer. I saw it on 25th November 2014 and there was plenty of water about.

Hardraw Force is privately owned and in the off season the entrance is via the Green Dragon pub in the village of Hardraw.


The sign is entertaining.


So D Mark Thompson is an innkeeper and waterfall provider.

When you step into the pub, you are transported back a couple of generations. It was mid-afternoon but a roaring fire was lit in the small bar area. It’s worth the visit just to experience the pub.

They charge a small fee, but they provide easy footpath access with picnic benches in places. We gather that at times band competitions are held amongst the dramatic scenery.


Having already tumbled the stream – the Hardraw Beck – is in something of a gorge. It is making its way down to the River Ure and Wensleydale. Hardraw is about a mile from Hawes.


And here is the fall.


That single drop of about 90 feet is the longest single drop fall in England. The quantity of water is not huge but even so, the noise it makes as it hits is really quite deafening.

Another photographer wandered into shot and he – an average sort of chap for size – provides scale.


If you can spot him, he’s a tiny blob to the right of the fall.


I thought I ought to get my wife to pose in front of the fall.

She did the same and put me in the spotlight.


You can see and hear a very brief video by clicking here.

Feeding wild boar

December 12, 2014

A little treat we had on a November holiday in Wensleydale, was seeing the wild boar being fed at Castle Bolton. The castle itself was closed for the winter – we knew that – but the luck that can follow us did that day. The pigs in the wood still need feeding and are just as exciting a spectacle whether the castle is open or not.

We had walked around the little village and were returning to the car when I became aware of a pig on the edge of some woodland.


Here’s an extract from my diary.

‘More appeared and started to get very excited. The castle may have been closed but feeding the wild boar still had to go on – one of the attractions of a castle visit. We were in time to witness it on this chill November morning. It was exciting – utter bedlam really. And so hard to get decent photos!’





Other beasts of the wood turned up to enjoy the bounty provided by man.



Dad looked pretty bear like.


Let’s finish with a friendly face, seeking out the pig nuts.


The Stone Country

December 11, 2014

We recently spent a week in Wensleydale – one of the Yorkshire Dales. I think most of the other Dales – Swaledale, Wharfedale, Nidderdale etc are named after the river that flows down them. The river in Wensleydale is the Ure. Wensley is one of several small villages in the dale.

Let’s take a short walk from Carperby, a village on the north side of the dale down towards Aysgarth which is on the river. I have called it the stone country. You’ll see why.

Small fields are divided up with stone walls. Many of them feature stone built sheds like this one which can offer access, or at least shelter, to two fields.


Some of these sheds have fallen into ruins.


The walls, too, tend to fall into disrepair but that makes for bigger field areas more suited to 21st century farming.


Walls, shed and the village of Carperby with not a brick in sight.


Stone walls as far as the eye can see.


The walls, of course, are dry stone – no mortar has been used in their manufacture.


Let’s finish with another shed – such iconic features of this landscape.