21 Kilnsey Trout Farm


21-anthony-robertsAnthony Roberts – Landowner

My great-grandfather bought the Kilnsey Estate. He sadly never lived long enough to move here. My grandfather also died young, and so my father inherited it aged about eight. So it’s been in the family since the beginning of the 20th Century. It was about 5-6,000 acres. Now I farm about 1,000 acres.

We started the trout farm here in 1978. It was just a tiny little raceway right at the top of the site. A raceway is where you farm your trout, it’s essentially a pen where the water comes in one end and goes out the other. There was nothing else here on the site, except the old generating house. We discovered the quality of the water was ideal for producing trout, so we started selling to the public. The old generating house became our farm shop. We used to sell half a dozen trout in a plastic bag – they weren’t even gutted in those days. And then we grew slowly, and we eventually built this farm shop and restaurant, selling locally-sourced foods. Now we produce about 35 tonnes of rainbow trout a year.

This particular area was just a field when we started. I tell the story about when I was still farming and I got an agricultural drainage grant because it was always a very boggy field. We tried to get the field better drained, but it didn’t work. Our next idea was to excavate these two lakes out and open it up as a fishery. So we did all that – it was a huge job – and it worked very well really. Of all the water which comes through the trout farm, the majority of it feeds into the lake.

It’s become a very popular spot for people to stop and take photos of the crag. It is part of the Turner Trail – Turner used to do a lot of painting in this area. He was commissioned to do a picture of the crag. No-one’s ever discovered whether he actually completed it, but he did sketches of it – that’s the only evidence they’ve got.

The crag was formed during the Ice Age. It’s very unusual because it has this overhang at the top. Of course it’s a Mecca for climbers. Some of these are ‘free climbers’ who use no ropes or pitons at all. Apparently they have to complete it in less than 20 minutes, because after 20 minutes your grip goes. My father once had a sheepdog that fell from the top to the bottom, and we thought, ‘well that’s it’, but it got to the bottom, shook itself and ran off!

Just out of sight on the right is the show field that goes right down to Conistone Bridge. We have our annual show there in late August or early September. It gets an attendance of about 14,000 people a year. I suppose the three main features are a drystone walling competition, trotting races on the show field in the evening, and the crag race. They race up the side of the crag, back along the top, and they come down the chimney, through the trees and then out at the bottom there – that’s one of the most hazardous and arduous fell races there is.

I’ve lived here all my life, and I just love the landscape. I think the older you get the more you appreciate it. I mean you go up on the hills where some of the views you get are fantastic, and you wouldn’t get them anywhere else in the world. We have a lot of very nice people living up here; the communities are great, and the old farmers are tremendous characters.

I suppose everyone likes to think you leave a little bit of a legacy – like the lakes we’ve made – but when you’re standing up there on the hills it makes you realise how transitory we are as human beings, when you compare how long all this has been here in the past, and how long it’s hopefully going to be here in the future. I think part of your brief is to look after it and hand it onto the next person who will responsibly do the same thing.

22 Dawn mist from Conistone Pie


22-geoff-garrettGeoff Garrett – Senior Trees and Woodlands Officer, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

If anyone says ‘show me the Dales’ – this is the place to go. It’s a view from Conistone Pie, which is quite a landmark as you go up the dale. The best way to get there is to walk up the valley from Conistone. Because you’re walking up the valley, the view’s not apparent to you until you get to the top. If you get the right day, it is an enormous view. Here, you’re looking into the heart of the Dales, north towards Kettlewell.

I chose it because it’s got Wharfedale on one side, and Littondale on the other side. They’re both different types of dales, but both very special in terms of woodlands. They also reflect some of the work the Trees and Woodlands Team is trying to do to create woodlands and to protect our important existing woodlands.

On the Wharfedale side, you can see how these woodlands run with the contour. You’ve got a river in the bottom, you’ve got enclosed land, followed by woodland, followed by upper allotments, followed by moorlands. That is repeated in a very distinctive fashion all up Wharfedale.

Littondale is quite an open dale. It’s not that well covered by trees on the south side, but we’ve done an awful lot of planting on the other side to connect up a lot of the ancient, semi-natural woodlands that are there; they’re the jewels in the woodland crown.

Compared to the national average, the tree coverage here is very low. If you take the conifer plantations out, it’s only about 2%. Conifer isn’t natural here. Really we’re famous for hanging ash woodlands. The way the limestone comes to the surface creates a very alkaline soil, which ash love.

This whole area, apart from maybe some of the very tops, would have been covered in woodland – we’re talking a long, long time ago. People came here wanting to do farming, then we had the iron smelting, the lime production. That all required wood of some description, whether that’s charcoal, or white coal, or just ordinary wood to burn and build with – so they took wood away. The important ancient semi-natural woods that we have now are the woods that humans have left.

The average size of a woodland in the National Park is two hectares, which is tiny really. A two hectare woodland is quite vulnerable. If you were to create another woodland next to it, another one next to that, and connect that to another existing woodland, then that creates a whole woodland, which could be ten hectares in size, which gives it a much more robust feeling. It can deal with pressures on its habitat, on the environment. The pressures have been grazing in the past, but climate change now is turning into quite an issue.

I think it’s agreed that climate change is happening, the question is what do we do about it? What do we, as advisers to people who own these woodlands, suggest happens? All you can do is say it’s almost certain there’s going to be a change, and we need to provide woodlands which are more robust. It’s really about trying to create a framework for whatever happens, to help woodlands be more adaptable.

A thousand hectares of new native woodland has been planted over the last ten years or so – you’ve got to be proud of that sort of thing. The National Park Authority really didn’t do it by themselves though – they had an awful lot of partners helping to fund it and do it.

I think with a lot of people there’s a fundamentally good feeling about walking into a woodland, whether you’re a city person, or wherever you come from. Maybe it makes you feel happier, or more able to cope with life, or more peaceful, but I do get a positive feeling when I walk into a woodland. Other people might get it when they stand on top of a moorland on a summer’s day.

23 Askrigg and Addlebrough


23-allen-kirkbrideAllen Kirkbride – Farmer

I grew up on this farm. Going back when I was younger it was actually three different farms, it’s now just one. I probably took it for granted that I’d farm – I didn’t have a great desire to do a lot else and farming’s sort of bred into you, I think.

Our land goes as far as the church, so all this land in the foreground is mine. This field at the front here is called the Giant’s Cradle because of its shape. It’s grazed by cows in the summer. The ones a bit further off are meadow land and are made into hay and silage. Come the spring they can be very colourful with quite a lot of wildflowers in them. I just like the area and how every field’s different; there are no flat fields, they’re all small hills.

What’s dominant to Askrigg, wherever you take a picture from, is Addlebrough in the background. It’s not very high, but it stands out and just makes the perfect view across.

We’re forever drystone walling. There are bits dropping sort of continually. But these walls have been there 120/150 years, so they’ve done well. It’s just a matter of keeping them there and keeping them tidy. The walls are great in lambing time, because a sheep with young lambs can get behind a wall if the weather’s not at its best; they can get out of the wind and it keeps them dry.

That’s Askrigg just on the left. You can’t really see it from a lot of places – it’s in a little valley and very well hidden. Going back, Askrigg is a little bit like Reeth; it’s always been a working village. Years ago, while they used to have the lead mines on the moors, the lead miners would each have two or three fields; they’d keep a few animals and work in the mines at the same time. That’s why round the village there are a lot of small fields.

I do quite a lot in the community. I’m chairman of the Parish Council and various other things. The voting population of the village is 450, so it’s only small, but it’s quite an industrious village – there’s always something going on.

My grandparents rented the farm originally. They were cattle dealers. My father did a bit of that, but we went more into the farming and the milk. We milk the cows, but we also bottle all our own milk; we pasteurise and separate it and we retail in Wensleydale and upper Swaledale. We deliver milk to the shops in Reeth and Muker, and some B&Bs in between; then we’ll go down as far as West Burton, and up to Hawes. So we go through some really scenic little villages on our round. Going back a lot of years, every farmer would milk their cows and sell the milk around the village – it’s quite a rarity now.

What I like about this type of farming particularly is that the seasons are all so different, and the views are different. Every day with the way the weather and the seasons are – it’s changing all the time. And no matter where you go in the upper dales you have a marvellous view. If you like scenery then there’s no better place to be than in the Dales.

24 View into Coverdale


24-gary-verityGary Verity – Chief Executive, Welcome to Yorkshire and Sheep Farmer

For me, this is me coming home, along the road out of Middleham up to the Gallops. When you look around you get a contrast of different scenery straight away. You’ve got Pinker’s Pond down to one side of you; you’ve got these big hills in the distance; you’ve got Braithwaite Hall there. You’re entering Coverdale. You’re entering the National Park, which of course is a special place to many of us.

This picture gives the impression it’s quite flat, but you are entering a proper glacial valley. Each of the dales has their own distinctive shape, determined by the kind of glacier that was in there: so Swaledale with that narrow V-shape; Wensleydale with that huge U-shape. Coverdale’s something in between. It’s less well known than the other dales, and is less commercialised if you will, but it’s just as beautiful as any of the dales. It was known as the artists’ dale because of the light; Turner painted in Coverdale a lot.

We’re looking towards the farm that has been my home for 20 years now. I’ve spent more years living here than anywhere else in my life. Although some people say it’s very remote, it’s not actually remote. Everything’s relative; this is just a few more minutes away from metropolises.

We used to have quite a big flock of sheep, relatively speaking. My wife died three years ago so I now rent quite a bit of the land out, but I still have enough sheep to keep me busy. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I always had a love of animals, which the James Herriot books helped cement. I think there are probably two things you would want to do as a Yorkshire man if you could: one is to play cricket for the county, the other is to have sheep in Yorkshire. I’ve been lucky enough to do one of those. Next year I start as President of the Scarborough cricket festival, but my cricket-playing days are probably not really going to happen now.

The sheep soon bring you back down to earth. They are not interested in what you’ve done in your corporate life; not interested in who you’ve had meetings with or how the meetings have gone. They’re completely classless, and they will stand on your foot regardless of how successful a week, day, month, year you think you’ve had. The farm is where I can maintain my sanity.

I think as a farmer you’ve always got that awareness of your fragility and your reliance upon the weather and the landscape and the elements, and the respect you need to have for them. So I’ve always had that – I hope.

I’ve been the Chief Executive at Welcome to Yorkshire since September 2008. I lead this team, and hopefully help corral and cajole and inspire them to do the great work that they do. We look to grow the Yorkshire economy, primarily through tourism, but not exclusively. I like the variation of the job. We meet so many great people from different businesses from all across Yorkshire. I get to travel around the great county of Yorkshire. We get to do wonderful projects like bringing the start of the Tour de France to Yorkshire.

It’s not a difficult ask is it? If you ask a Yorkshire man does he want to be responsible for marketing Yorkshire, and salesman chief for Yorkshire? It’s one of the greatest honours you could be offered.

We’re very lucky in Yorkshire – we’ve three National Parks and they’re all different and very distinctive. We have three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty too, and they’re all distinctive. We have a stunning coastline. All of those things added together mean that we are very blessed. You can see why people call it God’s own county.

There’s atmosphere when you’re in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Whatever time of year, whatever time of day, there’s always something very special there. I think it’s very spiritual. There’s an authenticity about it – you know you’re in a very real place.

25 Booze ruin


25-miles-johnsonMiles Johnson – Countryside Archaeological Adviser, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

This is one of my favourite views, coming down off Booze Fell on a walk that I’ve done quite often. I like the mix; it’s very scenic but there’s a lot of industry in there. Booze is a fabulous name. It’s alleged to have an old English origin, but I wonder if it might be a corruption of Boose or Bouse, which is a term that’s used for lead ore.

Arkengarthdale is one of the most historically industrialised parts of the National Park. Most people don’t think of it as an industrialised landscape at all, but it’s as industrial as places like the Nottinghamshire coal fields, or some of the slate mining landscapes in Wales. There was large scale intense lead mining over much of the higher ground. The bit at the top of the photo is Fremington Edge. The pink colour is the colour of the waste materials from the ore processing. That big gulley is entirely manmade; it’s called Fell End Hush. Hushing is a way of mining; a kind of open casting. Originally there might have been lines of mine shafts down there, but after a while going down in little shafts becomes impractical, and it’s actually easier to open cast. They used torrents of water to wash away all of the top soil. If you had enough water you could actually use it to help move rock. Eventually, over hundreds of years, this huge scar through the landscape formed.

The really intensive mining was happening in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it was going on for a long time before that, probably back into the medieval period, possibly during the Roman period. In the 1880s the mines here were undercut by foreign imports of lead. Overnight the industry almost stopped, and the population effectively halved in places like Swaledale and Arkengarthdale, which is why buildings like the one you can see here became redundant.

People have different views of dereliction in the landscape. Being an archaeologist I quite like it, but to other people it could be really unsightly. To me it’s fascinating – we’ve got hundreds of years of history, and an amazing amount of labour embodied in the landscape, but to other people it’s just industrial waste.

It’s a great shot, but it’s not quite so revealing in terms of field patterns. They’re very topographically determined, because you’ve got quite limited land that’s any good. The villages tend to be located near the good ground. There’s no arable farming here now, but there would have been tonnes of it in medieval times. You can still see terraces near some villages, which were cultivated for planting, and ridge and furrow patterns in some of the fields.

There’s an awful lot of prehistory in the area. On top of Fremington Edge there are things called ring cairns, which are about 20 or 30 foot across. They’re kind of slight, just a ring of stones. Somewhere in the middle of them, underground, there’ll be a hole with a cremation urn. They’re basically the predecessor of barrows (burial mounds). These would be from the Early Bronze Age.

I provide advice to farmers, land managers, land owners and organisations on how to look after archaeological features in the landscape: how to manage them well, or manage them better, and how to avoid damaging them. It involves making decisions about what you value about the past. We’re interested in managing anything that’s basically redundant and has some historic interest, from really obscure stuff – like ancient tree remains at the base of the peat that will go back 8,000 years – to things as recent as the Second World War. It’s about finding ways to keep the past surviving wherever we can, and to do that in a way that accepts that people have to make a living, and manage a landscape. It’s very much a balancing act.