8 Moughton Scar

08 Moughton ScarDavid-SharrodDavid Sharrod – Director, Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust

This is taken on top of Moughton Scar; a ridge that runs sort of midway between Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough. Despite being in the middle of one of the most heavily visited and best loved parts of the Dales, not many people know about it.

As you can see, it’s limestone pavement. When you stand up there and look towards Ingleborough it’s almost a lunar landscape; desolate – in the nicest possible way. I genuinely love it up there. I like it in winter when you’ve got snow and ice, but also in late summer when you get the contrast between the heather and the limestone.

I’ve always thought that the best views in high country are actually not from the highest peaks, but from slightly lower ones, whether that’s in the Alps, or the Lake District, or the Dales. So on Moughton you look across to Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough, and you get a sense of their scale.

When I’m up there, I always think that we live on this small, crowded island, but that when you start walking about Northern England you find there’s a lot of nothing, a lot of big open spaces and big skies. And then you get the contrast with the valley, of course. Behind you here is Ribblesdale, which is full of life from the farms, the quarries, and the communities there.

I first came to the Dales on a sixth form field trip to Austwick. It was a magical week, and a week that changed my life. It opened my eyes to the Dales as a fantastic place, but there was also a brilliant teacher who changed my mind about a few things – he persuaded me to go to university for a start. I never dreamed that many years later I’d end up living a few doors away from where we stayed.

That experience comes to mind during discussions about our education and outreach work at the Trust. We talk about whether people need ongoing experiences, and a proper structured introduction to the countryside, but I actually know that bringing somebody out for a day – or if you can a week – can also change somebody’s life. We see that happen all the time.

I’ve worked at the Trust for 15 years now. We have a very wide remit, but also in a way a narrow remit, which is to support the well-being of this area, as simple as that. We started off with a big Millennium Commission grant, to do a landscape project essentially: tree planting, restoring drystone walls, field barns, historic buildings, historic features, wildlife habitats and community buildings. We’ve carried on doing landscape work, but we’ve also diverted into all sorts of other things, because you soon realise that everything in a landscape like this is interconnected.

One of the simple premises of our charity was that 18,000 people live in the Park, but millions of people from all over the world visit here or love it, and if you could just get a pound out of each of them every year you could do a hell of a lot. 48,000 people have donated – much more than a pound each! – and we’re still here after 15 years.

One of our most obvious impacts has been through tree planting. There are many reasons to plant trees: it’s good for wildlife, carbon sequestration, flood control, and the landscape, but above all it’s a mark of confidence in the future. We’ve helped others to plant more than a million trees since 1997. We don’t own land ourselves, but we help to pull the money in, co-ordinate the work, and get trees planted. Our tree dedication scheme is still the main source of our donations.

View 9

9 Calton fields

d12006-caltonRobert-CrispRobert Crisp – Farmer

To be honest I haven’t really got a favourite view as such. I’ve never really thought that much about it. It’s just part of landscape – you take it for granted. I mean, if I go up there tomorrow and there isn’t that view, I would know then, but because it’s there I just accept it. I go up there every day to feed the sheep in spring. I always find it very relaxing because you’re away from everybody; I just find it easy there.

I moved here in 1959 when I was four. My father died when we were in our teens, and me and my brother just kept farming, with my mother at that time. When he died my mother got tenancy. I remember she used to go down to help milk and keep coming back in to get us ready for school. It’s just what happens in farming. It’s a way of life; it’s what we do. We were just 100 acres then. That was quite adequate to make a living off, but you can’t make a living off 100 acres any more. Everyone’s going at a faster pace these days. It’s a bigger scale; you’re pushed more. Supermarkets are controlling prices and you’re playing with quantity. We need supermarkets, but they’ve got a lot of power.

We’re quite fortunate. There were three farms in this village and this is the only one left. They were sold off in bits, and that’s enabled us to expand. A couple of years ago we managed to actually buy the farm. Up until then we were producing milk as well as sheep, but the next generation don’t want to be tied to producing milk; you have to be here twice a day. The next generation have seen there’s more things out there, and we aren’t getting any younger.

I farm with my brother, and I’ve got a daughter who farms – she goes to New Zealand every winter shearing sheep for about four months. We’ve got about 300 acres of that kind of land you can see here, and 300 acres of moorland, and just under 1000 sheep. We run a couple of hundred geld hog lambs, which are last year’s lambs that are coming into flock next year. They go onto moor because all they’ve got to do is grow. We put Swaledale sheep with one lamb onto other moor, then we put Swaledale Pures further up. Breeding stock with twins we keep on the better land. It’s all fairly good land to be honest. It’s quite steep up at the top here, steeper than it looks in this picture.

I don’t find farming side stressful, I find paperwork stressful; there’s so much paperwork with it these days. But I don’t think I’d ever want to do anything else. You’re just free, aren’t you? When you go up there, you’re away from people. You’re up there and it’s yours, and you’re quite privileged really that other people in theory can’t be there.

You can’t ask for a better way of life to be honest. But after saying that there are downsides. There are some days when you’re stuck in a puddle and it’s raining or it’s windy or it’s snowing or whatever, and you think ‘why am I doing this?!’ We do have problems with people too: they do leave gates open and they do bring dogs. It’s quite frustrating when you go up onto moor and see somebody with a dog running about. The sheep naturally run, and when they’re carrying two or three lambs they aren’t meant to run; you do get abortions. Most people don’t understand – they don’t know they’re in lamb. If they see some lambs there they’re more responsible, but it’s more important earlier on.

Each sheep’s an individual. You sort of recognise them. You keep seeing them and you think, ‘oh yeah, that’s the one that did whatever last year’. You do – as farmers put it – ken sheep. They are different in lots of ways – they look different, and they act different. All right, if you’ve got a thousand and there’s one missing, you can’t pinpoint it to ‘it’s that one missing’, but you’ve a fair idea. It is an interesting way of life.

View 10

10 Barden Moor

d12022-barden-moor10-Paul-WilbyPaul Wilby – Headkeeper, Bolton Abbey and Chatsworth Estates

Bolton Abbey is the Yorkshire estate of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire. It covers approximately 30,000 acres in total. 14,000 acres are grouse moor with the River Wharfe running through the middle, creating two almost equal moorland areas east and west of the river.

I was lucky enough to come here to work for the family in 2006. It’s a great family to work for; they’re really interested and they really care about the moor. I’ve been in grousekeeping now for over 40 years – virtually all my working life. I actually come from Essex and the moorland here very much reminds me of the marshes – that wildness and that quiet.

Moorland gamekeeping is about maintaining the habitat in a way that suits grouse, and making sure the moor is there for future generations. It’s about looking after it in a proper manner, without abusing it, or doing anything to damage it.

When asked for my favourite view, I was tempted to say ‘wherever I happen to be looking any time I’m at work’; this is an outstandingly beautiful part of North Yorkshire. The view I have chosen is one from the lunch hut on Thorpe Fell, looking straight down the valley to Strid Wood and Beamsley Beacon on the horizon. You can see the moor’s been worked for generations – that’s part of its interest. The chimney of the old Onion Hill colliery in the foreground is a monument to all those who worked there. Coal was sledged down to Thorpe village and then taken to Grassington to be used for smelting lead in, I think, the 1700s.

When I was here in the early ‘70s, this area was partly covered by hundreds of acres of bracken. Its condition now is testament to the determination of the family and staff and the scale of the conservation project they’ve undertaken.

You can just see black parts here, where we’ve burnt strips of heather. The patterns created by heather burning are so important for the health of the moor and its wildlife. What we’re trying to produce is a mosaic of everything from freshly burnt to long heather, so that the grouse have got nesting cover, shelter, and food in various shapes and forms. We burn it because when it gets old it loses nutritional value – it gets leggy and not very palatable. You also want short heather, and bare ground for the chicks to get out on to dry. One advantage of this is that all the waders like the short heather and the burns too, so you get the curlews and golden plovers coming up to nest, which adds to the diversity of the wildlife. Ideally you want lots of small burns. Grouse are territorial. If they can see each other they’ll fight and defend their territory, so the more broken up the ground is the more territories you can have, and that way we can maximize stock levels.

When you’re up here, you get the wider panoramic view that takes in Simon’s Seat on the left all the way round to Halton Heights on the right. It’s a view I never tire of looking at. It’s a good place just to stand and enjoy, whether on a spring day with the grouse and curlew calling, in the summer with the heavy scent and colour of the heather, or a still clear cold autumn day. I enjoy being up there in all weathers, just thinking ‘this is where I belong’.

sew-n-print review

I don’t normally review products, but when you get terrible service, you feel you need some comeback, so here goes!

I ordered some vinyl text for my exhibition from sew-n-print based on a recommendation from a gallery. Their website is pretty awful, but I entered my text and submitted the order. The texts arrived quite quickly and I checked the first one I unravelled and it looked fine. Rather than get them all out, I mistakenly assumed that as one was OK, the rest would also be fine – big mistake!

A week or so later when I was setting up the exhibition, I got them all out to see where they would be best placed and disaster, I had got a Friday afternoon job done by someone who couldn’t spell! There were letters missing from words, misalignments and changes in the punctuation. Fortunately there were a few which were correct, so I put up three texts and left it at that.

Not how you spell "landscape"!

Not how you spell “landscape”!



Additional spaces

Additional spaces

On returning home, I sent an email and photographs to sew-n-print explaining what had happened. A few weeks later, I had had no response. I tried ringing and got no reply, emailed again, sent the vinyl’s back by recorded delivery, wrote to them again, then finally submitted a small claims case against them. Unfortunately I think I messed up the small claims court form, so didn’t get anywhere with that either!

Hey ho, I will just have to console myself with adding this review to my website, hope Google picks it up and hope it deters other people from using such a shoddy company!

Saturday 18 May 2013 – Buckden

Introduction to Landscape Photography (to coincide with my Working the View main exhibition) – run through the National Trust events program.

Cray Gill10am–4pm – Full day photography workshop with local landscape photographers, Mark Butler and Jim Round. Concentrating on how to improve the composition of your images, with a light touch coverage of the technical aspects of photography, whilst also discovering some of the beautiful and tucked away corners of Wharfedale. Bring your own camera, a tripod if you have one (a limited number are available to borrow), and a packed lunch. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear. Meet at Buckden car park. £50. Booking essential – maximum 10 people. Tel: 01729 830416. Email: malhamtarn@nationaltrust.org.uk

Saturday 21 September 2013 – Buckden

Introduction to Landscape Photography (to coincide with my Working the View main exhibition) – run through the National Trust events program.

Lane out of Buckden10am–4pm – Full day photography workshop with local landscape photographers, Mark Butler and Jim Round. Concentrating on how to improve the composition of your images, with a light touch coverage of the technical aspects of photography, whilst also discovering some of the beautiful and tucked away corners of Wharfedale. Bring your own camera, a tripod if you have one (a limited number are available to borrow), and a packed lunch. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear. Meet at Buckden car park. £50. Booking essential – maximum 10 people. Tel: 01729 830416. Email: malhamtarn@nationaltrust.org.uk

Buckden workshop preparation


Today I met up with Jim Round to scout out the locations for the photography workshop we are running in Buckden on Saturday 19 May.

It was a perfect day for it, fluffy white clouds and sunshine as we walked around the more open areas, with occasional clouds obscuring the sun when we were by the waterfalls. We were there more to plan than take photographs, but both took the opportunity to try a few shots of one of the waterfalls:

The workshop will, weather permitting, include one of the image locations from my “Working the View” project:


Lets hope the weather is as kind to us on the day of the workshop.

The Laziness of Man

I am lazy, and I suspect I share this trait with the majority of people reading this. How many times have you woken up to a glorious day, only to think “I can’t be bothered to go out for a walk / photography trip / etc.”? Like others, I manage to push past that lethargy most of the time and get out in the fresh air and have a fantastic time. What baffles me is that I never regret it, yet I still have that same reluctance next time around.

With photography it’s a harder thing to overcome. As photographers, we all know that the “golden hour” is when we should all be out and about with our cameras. The results all prove that it is well worth the effort. Yet, how many of us get out at this time more than a handful of times in a year, if that?

For me, additional motivation was required, which came when I said that I was going to produce a book (“Working the View”). If you need to get 40 superb photographs in a year, then you can no longer ignore the fact that you need to get out early and late in the day, even in summer when dawn is before 4am. OK, so maybe I waited until it was after 5am, but that’s still early when you have to haul yourself out of bed and drive at least half an hour to where you want to photograph.

Were the results worth it? You bet they were. Not only were the photographs successful, but the whole experience of being out and about at that time, watching the colour seep into the landscape, the mist rise, the shafts of sunlight burst through. I’ll be out at dawn every day from now on, if only I can get out of my warm bed………………..