I’ve lived up here at Malham Tarn for 17 years. We get some cracking stars. When you’re up here at night, you’ve no street lamps, there’s nothing on horizon, and you’ve all these stars there in your face, so you take notice of them more.
Where this picture’s taken from – it’s just one of those places. When you’re up there, on a nice day, you can see forever. You can see wind turbines going towards Bradford; you can see wind turbines behind Burnley; you can see right the way down to the west coast. If you turn around and look sort of north east-ish you’re looking back up into the Dales: you can see Great Whernside; and if you turn round and look over the hill that’s behind you, you’re looking down Ribblesdale. It’s just a great place to go and have a look.
If we’re going up here, we’ll be checking springs and water supplies. They aren’t actually at the top of the hill, but you’ll walk that extra five minutes up on to top, and have a right nice good look round. The springs are our main water supply, so we have to go up two or three times a year to make sure they’re all right, make sure they’re not blocked up – because if there’s no water, you’ve nothing, have you?
We do grazing monitoring up here, to make sure it’s not being overgrazed. We check on things like heather, and bilberries, and cranberries, and other moorland plants, to see how they’re going. Because they’re nice and tender, sheep will eat a lot of them. It works the other way; if you don’t have enough stock up there, all this grass grows up and smothers them out. You’ve got to have that happy medium – in between.
There’s a National Nature Reserve here, it’s got every designation going for it. It’s got internationally important wetland status – usually you get it for birds, but we got ours for plants and insects. There’s an insect occurs on there somewhere that doesn’t occur anywhere else in Great Britain – a wingless caddis.
I was born and brought up on a farm, but it wasn’t big enough to support more than one family. So I went farming for a dairy farmer for two years. Then I went into the building trade for a bit. Then I got married and worked on a private estate for about five or six years. I’ve been working here just over 24 years. I like the variation. There’s hardly ever two days the same. When you’re farming you hardly met anybody, because you were working with animals all day; private estate you worked by yourself or with whoever was there helping you. When I came here, I started working with all sorts of different people: volunteers, other workmates, people from other properties.
We do all sorts of work with schools. It gets kids out doing something different from what they would do ordinarily. You get some kids out of town, and they’re frightened to death of getting mucky. Taking them out and seeing something different is just brilliant.