Icy clints and grykes at Mougton Scar

On Boxing Day we usually set off up the Dales to walk off Christmas Day.  This year I particularly wanted to go to Moughton Scar where there is a disused whetstone quarry and spectacular limestone pavements.  We set off from Horton In Ribblesdale, having parked near the station on the very scenic Settle Carlisle railway.

The drive up was rather edgy as the last few miles from Helwith Bridge follows the neautralised start of the Three Peaks Cyclo X race that I’ve competed in several times in the past:

Anyway, yesterday it was only our car to negotiate the S-bend in Horton, not 600 odd other cyclist.

Penyghent dominates Horton and looked particularly magnificent in the snow.

Up on top the limestone pavements worn into clints (limestone blocks separated by grykes (the long crevices between them).  This can be treacherous for  the walker, and even worse in snow.  I couldn’t help wondering why people do this type of silly thing that not only spoils the landscape, but could also mislead people into the middle of the clints and grykes thinking they are following waymarks:

All those sitting up stones have been manhandled into that position.

The pavement supports an endangered shrub which manages to survive in this very harsh environment, but is being propagated to increase its chances of survival

We got an unusual view of Ingleborough on the top

Then eventually we arrived at the edge of Crummackdale

We descended to the Whetstone Spring, which I was surprised to find unfrozen, but full of the beautiful whetstones for which it was once quarried:

I collected half a dozen suitable blanks  and then we retired to the ruined quarryman’s cottage for lunch

What a view there was:

That drystone wall, looks to me to have slipped down in parts, pushed by the scree, they are usually built in reasonably straight lines.

All in all a good walk in the snow

Acknowledgements: Robin Wood for alerting me to the existence of these whetstones, and Dan for his post of a similar (longer, warmer) walk.

Salmon beats turkey into a cocked hat

We don’t always have turkey for our Christmas dinner, and this year we enjoyed salmon with ginger and currents en croute. My wife Jane put it all together and Naomi my daughter did some fancy decoration with a nautical theme (don’t miss the fishes swimming around the edges).  While we did have tins large enough to take the parcel comfortably in the oven, we didn’t have a serving dish big or flat enough.  “What about that big chopping board with the bread board ends?” I thought aloud, “Oh yes converted that into the top for the mobile gas ring quite some years ago.” (That’s another story).  Only one thing for it – out into the fridge garage and knock up a serving board from whatever was kicking around.  What I found was a nice bit of ash I’d slabbed up year before last, and which had been a potential swing seat, then possibly a stool seat, then a practice for pyrography as Jane had to decorate with a name a stool with an ash slab top.  It is currently planned to be brackets for an overmantle pole for airing clothes by the diningroom stove.  So preserving the bracket drawings on the obverse I cleaned it up and even worked a couple of finger tip rebates at the ends.  It set off the salmon nicely – what a team effort!

The Veritas Christmas tree

This one’s for you Sean Hellman 🙂

Well how does one mount one’s free Christmas tree? I was considering some chainsaw plunge cuts in a log, bucket of bricks, lean it up in the corner, when as if in a dream I remembered my one and a half-inch Veritas tenon cutter. Yes, the base of the tree (a cut-off) looked just a bit more than the appropriate diameter (I was careful not to have to repeat that measurement to myself). A silver birch log of sturdy dimensions had been lying near the front door for longer than it should have been – kill two birds with one stone eh? So into the fridge garage to retrieve that excellent Canadian device for making tenons of a certain size. I also handily have a Scotch eye auger of a similar diameter. So I ho. I ho. it’s off to work I went.

Here comes the tenon:

And hey presto! One tree sitting firmly in its log:

Deck those halls!

At this time of year I go down onto the Leeds Liverpool canal bank to do what I call a Christmas treat for the trees growing there.  Yesterday the canal was severely frozen, and seems load bearing.  It also had a fantastical finish to the ice:

I’ve no idea how this came about but I think it’s a combination of the very low temperatures and hoar-frost, think I’ll make it a Christmas header:

I walked along the bank as the sun was falling to the horizon, the ice looked spectacular:

Anyways, what I was looking for was this:

I am well aware that ivy does not parasitize its host trees and that it provides shelter for birds and insects, but I have also seen trees fallen over from the extra loading heavy growth can add:

And I do somehow feel sorry for trees wrapped up like this:

So that’s how I justify the decking of the halls at home:

We like a bit of greenery at Christmas

A happy and peaceful time to you all and best wishes for a prosperous (but not so much that it spoils the fun) New Year.

Death to the tarpaulin

Broke up on Tuesday lunchtime and so I’m busy at home rather than in the woods.  I’ve been thinking about a log store for some time, including grand plans for a timber-framed building.  However, procrastination can only fight pragmatism for so long and so a smaller idea has now come to fruition:

£27 of fencing lumber and a few pieces of pinewood for the looms at the ends and a dry place for logs, even levelled floor off the ground, and they call me the bodger!  It even opens for loading up:

I can now see how many logs I have rather than guessing from the size of the lump under the tarp, which used to turn on the security light if it flapped in the wind.  My brother gave me a hand and told me I should put a mouse trap inside the store like the mean old man who resented the mice eating the bark off his logs and trapped ’em.

Well we’re past the Winter Solstice now and as my brother said, “The days are getting longer by a cock’s stride everyday now.”  But by no means out of the woods as far as the unBritish cold snap is concerned, I delivered some logs Up ‘Dales last Tuesday and here the roads are a bit tricky still in parts:

I must say that, although there are many inconveniences associated with this cold weather, it does make the countryside look very beautiful:

These are a couple of sycamores near Gargrave, the shape of the tree is so much clearer without leaves.  If you click on the image and look at the larger version (only just discovered how to do this, doh!) you can see ‘rakes’ in the field in front of the trees.  These are old arable terraces from days long gone by, these fields are just cattle pasture now, the days of growing oats and cereals went long ago with a brief revival during WW II.

Eating in a snow covered pasture can not be fun, I often wonder what sheep feel about this awful weather:


In the tracks of Sir Titus Salt

It was a snowy start to the morning, even the Lion’s outside Victoria Hall in Saltaire looked rather cold.

We set up our stall:

And then we could sit back and enjoy the building with its sprung dancing floor and amazing plaster work ceiling:

The Hall was built by Sir Titus Salt who built the biggest factory in the world of its time (1853) in the Italianate style along with an accompanying village with all conveniences, church, park etc.  Titus built the mill, in which expensive cloth was made from Alpaca and Donskoi wool, away from the centre of Bradford in which conditions such as the following prevailed, as described by a writer on The Bradford Observer of 16th October 1845 concerning the living conditions of the city’s poverty-stricken inhabitants:

“In the course of last week I have visited some of the most filthy and wretched abodes that the mind of man can conceive, in which misery of the lowest description was personified. In a portion of this town called The Leys, there are scores of wretched hovels, unfurnished and unventilated, damp, filthy in the extreme and surrounded by stagnant pools of human excrement and every thing offensive and disgusting to “sight and smell”. No sewers, no drainage, no ventilation. Nothing to be seen but squalid wretchedness on every side, and the features of the inmates show a perfect and unmistakable index of their condition; all this is to be seen in the center of this wealthy emporium of the worsted trade.”

And people think they’re hard done by today!  Hurrah for Sir Titus!  The mill is now a cultural hub and the whole architecture of the mill and village preserved for posterity.