Posts Tagged ‘Yorkshire’

Fountains Abbey

June 16, 2016

This post is inspired by my 2016 railway poster calendar. The photo for June is of Fountains Abbey.


This image was produced by Graham Petrie for the London and North Eastern Railway and was in use from 1923 – 47.

It is of course a lovely image.

I visited Fountains Abbey and the surrounding Studley Royal area of Yorkshire back in 1998. This would have been one of the last holidays before I went digital for photography. We didn’t make the ruins look anything like so romantic.

image004Some old cloisters, though, I thought lovely.


But I think I was most pleased to come across a pair of whooper swansimage007For those who think, ‘these are just swans’ let me assert they certainly are not. They are bigger (I think) than the normal mute swan we see and have distinctive yellow and black beaks and those very dark legs. They are magnificent beasts.

Yorkshire – Knaresborough

March 16, 2016

Once again we look at my railway poster art calendar. This time, for March, it is a scene in Knaresborough, Yorkshire.


Jack Merriott was the artist and this was produced in 1954.

The River Nidd flows under a handsome railway viaduct which has a steam hauled goods train passing over it. The train and loco are not clearly defined but the river is awash with pleasure vessels with a lady shading under a parasol, relaxing on a punt taking centre stage. Picnics and tea rooms abound by the river side. It looks idyllic and charming.

My visit to Knaresborough was way back in 1998 – almost twenty years ago. The scene I snapped then is much as shown in the poster – with handsome viaduct over the River Nidd. But we were there just before Easter and there were no pleasure boats on the water. But I was lucky enough to get a train crossing the viaduct.image004

Sadly, no steam train for me but a rather nondescript diesel train adds to the scene.


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.



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 Knaresborough Cobbler

March 13, 2015

Knaresborough is a town in North Yorkshire although once upon a time it was in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

It is quite close to Harrogate, the highly regarded spa town. But for my money (such as it is) Knaresborough has real attractions.

When we visited in my last year as a film (rather than digital) cameraman in 1997 we came upon this cobbler.


This has been mounted up for entry into our local show at some point – probably in 1998.

I fell in love with this place. I was so reminded of my grandfather’s shop back in the early 1950s.

The shop, in truth was aimed to a degree at tourists. Grandfather’s shop which was actually in a spas town – Tunbridge Wells – would never have done that.

Our Knaresborough Cobbler has clearly adopted a sort of period dress code to go with his undoubtedly period style shop.

Having gone in because it looked so lovely, we had to purchase something, although I don’t think he’d have minded had we not. Our cobbler made key fobs from scraps of leather and I was able to choose one with my initial on it. After many years in my pocket it does look a bit tired now, but it is still going strong.


I’m glad to have a souvenir of this visit, but I do wonder how that cobbler and his shop fare now.

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 to Appleby

January 2, 2015

My life in Tickets

Ribblehead and Appleby are stations on the famous line often referred to as The Settle to Carlisle line. We rode this part of it as a holiday treat for me. Well let’s face it. I am unashamedly a railway enthusiast.

We could have ridden more of the line – we could have continued from Appleby to Carlisle for our return journey was on the same train. But I do like to vary what I do and we decided we’d take a look at Appleby in Westmoreland – a place we didn’t know at all.

Let’s start with the tickets – just standard rail tickets issued by the conductor on the train.


It’s a thirty mile each way journey. I thought the fare of just under a tenner was not bad for 60 miles.

There’s nothing special about the trains. This mixed bag of three carriages is like those you can see all over the country running services on non-electrified routes. Here it is arriving at Ribblehead.


Ribblehead station was probably originally built for railway purposes. It serves no community at all. It didn’t survive the Beeching cuts. It was closed but is now open again. No doubt walkers use it in the summer. We were the only passengers to make use of it for this train.

Modern trains are air conditioned and have no windows you can open to poke a camera through. It makes photography hard. But almost straight out of the station we passed over the Ribblehead Viaduct.


There is almost nothing but beautiful, bleak landscape to be seen. But almost immediately that vanishes as we plunge into Blea Moor Tunnel – a mile and a half long and 500 feet below the surface of Whernside.

We pass over Dent Head viaduct.


Dent station is, if anything, even more remote than Ribblehead. It is beautifully kept.

At Garsdale we notice the statue of Ruswarp an utterly faithful dog with such a sad tale.


You can read about it on a BBC Cumbria page by clicking here.

Garsdale is another isolated station. Soon we reach the River Eden and it is basically all downhill from there.

The valley looks more fertile and more inhabited than the wilder lands above it.


This is Kirkby Stephen Station. From the map we see there is a real village of this name less than a mile away.


As we approach Appleby the scenery continues to get greener and lusher.


We arrive at our destination.


A great little journey and so, of course, was the return.

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.


December 19, 2014

Settle and Carlisle (1)

This is a post about a railway line but keep looking for I shall say very little about things technical. Trains will feature only as adjuncts. Above all, the stretch of line I travelled is utterly beautiful.

As a personal opinion, I should say it was a line that should never have been built. It was designed as a third competing route for traffic between England and Scotland. It traversed incredibly difficult areas and served parts of England which, then and now are totally devoid of population.

But let’s be glad it was built and let’s be glad that such locals as there were fought long and hard against plans for closure and in the end, 25 or so years ago, they achieved a wonderful victory and the line was saved. Remote stations were rebuilt and reopened. These days the line seems vibrant and is wonderfully friendly. On one journey on ordinary service trains we got a feel that staff love their line and they have every right to.

Travelling on some of the line was a birthday treat for me. We decided to board the train at Ribblehead.


Ribblehead is famed for its viaduct. Thirty years ago it was said to be crumbling away and beyond hope of repair. The protestors were able to rubbish figures. It was repaired and still carries heavy trains. And it still crumbles. The local limestone it is made of is like that. You’ll forgive me if I think the viaduct complements the scenery rather than violates it

One thing you’ll note is a complete lack of housing although there is a station house, a pub and a cottage or two.


This is the station. There’s a logging siding on the right and I guess this is why, when the station re-opened the down platform was moved a bit up the line. You’ll note, I hope, that the station is spotless. In fact it has the feel of a station on a heritage line, but this is actually a main line with suitably fast trains.

There’s a railway milepost on the wall of the station.


We are 247 and a quarter miles from London.

Lovely scenery – and a complete absence of houses – surrounds the station.


An old station barrow has been converted into a garden.


I love the waiting room windows.


From the station entrance you can see the viaduct, The Station Inn and some three storey cottages.


Our very ordinary train arrives.


We are taking a journey to Appleby.