31 Valley of Desolation waterfall


31-roy-lingardRoy Lingard – Head Forester, Bolton Abbey and Chatsworth Estates

The reason I love this place is that you can go and stand by the waterfall and you can’t see any of the modern landscape. You can go down there and imagine yourself back in a sort of a wild wood – it’s all nice gnarled, old trees. It’s just fantastic. The Valley of Desolation got its name after a storm in 1836. It devastated the area, hence the name; before that it was called Posforth Gill I think.

Apart from it being a beautiful place, I was asked to plant the area in 1996/1997. We wanted to try to restore some of the ancient woodlands that have been lost over many centuries, and the trees are also shelter for farm stock as well.

At that time everyone was harping on about the traditional Dales landscape, which is a complete myth. The landscape of stone barns, stone walls, open areas, a farmed hay meadow landscape, only started to evolve in about the 1750s. If you go back to 8 – 5,000BC it would all have been mostly wooded. I did quite a lot of research on how the landscape’s evolved since the last Ice Age, and I thought it would be a good idea to plant the different phases of woodland development since the last Ice Age.

I wanted to make an educational walk. The area we’ve planted is along a very linear route: from Bolton Abbey village straight through the Valley of Desolation, you pass two waterfalls, and then go onto the moors. It’s also interesting geologically. So as well as the individual tree evolution, we’ve done a trail that illustrates how the Ice Age shaped the landscape. We’ve planted different areas: starting off at the Arctic tundra phase; then through the Boreal phase and Atlantic phase; we’ve got an area showing the woodland as it might have been today if we hadn’t chopped it all down; and an area with native-type woodland. It’s a long term project and it’s still evolving. My intention is to have the whole story from Arctic tundra through to modern forestry, and to explode this myth that the Dales landscape has always been as it is now and always should be.

I’m Head Forester for Bolton Abbey and Chatsworth Estates and keep an overview of both estates. We’ve got a commercial woodland here where we sell timber. We’ve also got areas of continuous cover, like Strid Wood, which are managed primarily for conservation. It’s quite a varied and interesting job. I’ve been here 28/29 years now. I started off as a woodman, and then I got sent to college part time over a five year period. I took over from my predecessor here about 16 years ago.

We are starting to plant more woodlands in the UK, which is overdue, but we still need to plant a lot more. It’s a resource from my point of view – over 80% of our timber needs are imported from abroad. We’re too reliant on imports. We’ve got a really good tree growing climate here and we could do a lot more. I think it would be nice to get some of our woodlands back to where they used to be, for habitat reasons, conservation reasons, but also for economic requirements.

You’ve got to think in decades in forestry, even centuries. In Strid Wood we’re planning what we want the woodland to be like in 200 years time. The beauty of working on a private estate is that we think on a long term landscape level. We all think of ourselves as stewards now for the next generation, and we’re taking over from previous ones. We’ve got forest records going back to 1810, so you’ve got that continuity. You get the whole picture and you can put these long term things in place. It’s not a job where you can go for three or four years and then move on; it’s a way of life that you embrace or you don’t.

32 Dentdale from Spice Gill


32-kev-milburnKevin Milburn – Farmer

This is taken from Spice Gill Allotment, where the sheep go in the summer. I like that view because when I’m up there feeding sheep, no matter how bad a day or nice a day it is, the viaducts are always stood there. I often think how much work and effort went into making them. I think everybody nowadays is in such a big rush; life goes by too fast. Sometimes I think you have to make time just to take it in.

I farm about 400 sheep and I’ve got 20 cows now. You try and better yourself every year, you try and get your stock better. It keeps us busy. We do a lot of drystone walling in the dale too, for farmers.

I’ve always walled. I just picked it up from my dad. It’s the kind of thing you just have to learn for yourself to a certain degree – the more you do the better you get at it. It’s not something you can really read out of a book. You have to keep going and doing bits, and then you get shouted at a few times when it’s not right. It’s a seasonal kind of thing – you don’t want to be walling when it’s right wintery and horrible. It’s more a summertime job.

We can get some bad weather, that’s why we try to keep all our inland walls up. A lot get left to go down, which is a shame. We try to keep ours up, and replant our hedges. A lot of folk just cut their hedges, but you cut them for so long and then they just die out in the bottom, and then lambs start walking through. With a good hedge, your stock shouldn’t be able to get through. And with proper good hedges, little lambs go in and nibble out bits of leaves – that’s nourishment for them as well.

You’re in the heart of sheep farming up here. I grew up five miles down the road. My dad was a builder, but we’ve always had a few sheep. I always knew I wanted to work outside. I’ve been farming round here for about ten years now.

I like it in the autumn, because everything’s looking at its best. This year’s been a struggle getting fodder, but usually you’ve got all your fodder there, ready for winter. It’s busy in autumn, because you’re rudding the tups, and you want your different colours for your different weeks in lambing time. Every day we’re going round all our tups marking the chests. So say if we louse on the 5th November the sheep will be due on the 1st April. We usually start with yellow; so all your yellow-bummed sheep are due the first week, and so on with the different colours. Then the sheep go up onto this high ground, and we feed them through to the middle of March. Usually January time we have them scanned, see how many lambs they’re having. Come March you bring them down off the hills, and set them up into the different colours. Lambing time’s busy: April into May. The ewes with one lamb go back onto the hills, and the ewes with two lambs stop down in the pastures – they need a bit better grass. Middle of May when the ewes come up onto the top fields, our meadows get cleared, ready for growing your crops – silo and hay. We usually harvest the end of June/July. Then all the sheep are clipped end of July. Then usually in August we take all the lambs off. They get sold about September/October time. And then you start all over again.

I’m probably at the point where I wouldn’t want to get any bigger. I enjoy working for other farms – we do a lot of helping each other out: I’ll go and clip for one of my mates, and then they’ll come and help me clip – it works like that. If I got much bigger I wouldn’t have time to go and help my other friends. And then it gets a bit lonely. You can have a long winter sometimes; when you’re not dealing with folk all the time, they can be long days. So I like to work alongside folk.

33 Ingleborough in winter


33-carl-lisCarl Lis – Chair of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

It’s a dramatic landscape here. When you’re driving you can see Ingleborough from a long way away. In the summer, some of the views you get of it, with a bit of cloud or whatever, are just beautiful. I saw it every single day when I was working in the quarry. I used to go and have a walk on the lower slopes, to get away from the desk. Ingleborough to me is the most beautiful of the Three Peaks. It’s iconic. You get different views from different areas, and it’s a beautiful backdrop.

It’s not just about Ingleborough, though, it’s the setting of Ingleborough. I chose this view because of where I live, and the countryside that I live within, and because it reminds me of the community that I live within. The community is the lifeblood of the area. People are always open and welcoming. If you have a Yorkshire friend, you really have a terrific friend.

The quarry’s not far away from this image. It’s a gritstone quarry. The stone’s quite rare. It’s an intrusion into what’s basically a limestone area. Its qualities are best described as a stone that wears quite slowly and presents a rough surface in the top matrix of a road’s surface, that provides grip to a car’s tyres. There are so few deposits in this country that exhibit these qualities.

I finished my working career as a quarry manager. I started out as an apprentice electrician, and then moved up through the ranks in quarrying. The job of quarry manager in Ingleton came up. I applied for it and got it, and moved up here. I retired five or six years ago now, but I still feel some affinity with the people who work within it. There’s a good deal of skill in what they do, and they’ve worked a large slice of their life creating and nurturing that skill. It isn’t just a question of going in with explosive and blasting it out and selling it; it’s creating a product that can achieve the benefits in terms of road safety that I mentioned earlier.

When I worked at the quarry, I gradually started dealing with the National Park, and realised that it was an organisation that I really felt at home with. The world of quarrying was traditionally one of confrontation – constant confrontation between environmentalists and the quarrying companies. I think it’s fair to say that the attitude’s changed now. Certainly I felt that consultation was always better than confrontation.

I became a Member of the National Park Authority when I was a quarry manager, which was unusual to say the least. I’ve been the Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, with a year’s break, since 2004. I have to say that I have never worked for an organisation where as many people are so dedicated to what they do. Being Chairman has been simply the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done in my life, by a considerable margin, because of the quality of the people that I have come into contact with. There are so many high points, far too many to single out one. Although when you see that school children from Horton-in-Ribblesdale have worked with schoolchildren from Keighley to build a wall on the top of Pen-y-Ghent, or we’ve created some more accessible footpath, it can make you feel so proud. That sense of achievement when you see people walking, enjoying the countryside and appreciating this unique landscape that we call the Yorkshire Dales – yes, that’s simply great. That’s what we are all about.

34 View over Ravenseat


34-amanda-owenAmanda Owen – Shepherdess, Ravenseat Farm

This is the view from the top of our allotment looking back onto Ravenseat, and away and beyond. I think it’s a really special view because it’s timeless; there’s no hint at all of the modern world. You can go up there and sit – as we often do when we’re feeding the sheep – and you think to yourself you’re doing the same job as our ancestors would have done. You feel a bit of a connection really, with times past.

If you go back to 1520 there were a lot of people living here – there was a lot more going on. People would go out and stay with the sheep and move them from place to place. That’s why, dotted around our farm, we have 42 barns and little buildings.

All these fields and all these places have names. Everything’s there for a reason, and that’s what I like. I’m always telling the children all the names of the places because there’s some wonderful names. As you go out onto the road end, you’ve got Ashgill, Knoutberry, Coldbergh Edge, you’ve got Whamp, you’ve got White Spots. If you get a map nowadays it just says how many hectares – it doesn’t tell you the names; you lose the connection of where it is.

I like the fact that when you get a hill farm the hefted sheep come with it, because these sheep have lived here since time began, they know the place. On Birkdale Common, which we are looking across to, you have rights to run a certain number of sheep, but there are no boundaries. Other people’s sheep also run up there, but yours stay in their place. Some do stray, but basically they know where they live; they’re what they call ‘hefted’, each has a heaf mark. So we’ll get the gimmer lambs – the females – in off Ravenseat and we’ll put a red mark over the middle of the back, or the shoulder, or the loin, which tells us which part it lives on. It then goes back with its mother and it learns its patch; then it has its lamb and it teaches that.

So you see when Foot and Mouth came and a third of our flock were killed, everyone said ‘well why don’t you just buy some more sheep?’ You can’t, because how will they know where they live? It’s inbred in them, a bit like a homing pigeon – they have their patch. We’ve just had to breed back up. It’s taken until now to get back to where we were.

Me and my husband were both townies: I’m from Huddersfield, he’s from Doncaster. Clive moved up here as a child and got the farming bug; he followed the local farmers about and knew he wanted to farm. Eventually he got himself a field and a few animals, it grew from there, and he ended up getting a tenancy on Ravenseat.

I watched too much All Creatures Great and Small on the television. I watched it and thought, ‘ah, that is just wonderful – I want to be a shepherdess’. Can you imagine what happens when you tell your careers teacher that?! I got as much experience as I could – I went all over the place: lambing at one place, dipping at another, clipping, and basically learning as I went along. I did what I needed to do: walling, even working on a saw bench once, just whatever was required.

I was living in a caravan for a while, working on different farms, milking cows and shepherding. The fellow I was milking cows for asked me to pick up a tup for him. I came here, to Ravenseat, in the dark, and I thought ‘oh my god where have I come to?!’ And there was Clive, all on his own. We got the tup loaded into the trailer and then he rang me all week until I agreed to a date, and now here I am, all those years later. It does feel strange that in a roundabout kind of a way, from sitting as a child in Huddersfield and watching James Herriot on the television, I’ve come to here where the Herriot series was filmed. I feel that I have done a full circle.

35 Mallerstang Edge ruin


35-annie-hamilton-gibneyAnnie Hamilton-Gibney – Community Archaeology Project Development Officer

I think these views take over a little bit of your heart and soul. This is looking from an archaeological site – a roof slate quarry site on Mallerstang Edge – across the valley where I live, to Wild Boar Fell, one of the distinctive mountains that fascinates me.

This site isn’t one of the ones that I’ve discovered in the valley, but I like it because it’s enigmatic. I can’t find any written evidence about it, so there are all these questions that haven’t got answers. That’s one of the things about being an archaeologist, you’re always reading the landscape; it’s like a big detective story where you’re trying to put together the pieces. Sometimes you can find historical records that help with those pieces, but most of the time you’re looking at sites that nobody knows about, and trying to work out what people were doing there.

When this site was recorded, many years ago, it was marked down as a slate quarry, but the geology isn’t actually slate. I think they were quarrying roofing flags, which is where the confusion has arisen. In days gone by, when they didn’t have vehicles, the quarry workers would have taken their horses and carts up there and worked away for the week, then come home, probably to Kirkby Stephen or down to Outhgill in Mallerstang at the weekends. When you go up there, there’s a little village of workmen’s huts, which would have been a home from home for them.

I’m a pre-historian, so my favourite sites, especially the ones I’ve found in the valley, are prehistoric; all you’ve got to go on is what you can read in the landscape. Over the years I’ve become an amateur geologist as well as a professional archaeologist. You need to be able to read what’s geologically natural in the landscape and then be able to identify the manmade or the man-altered features, and then work out reasons for those alterations.

My most notable find in Mallerstang is a Neolithic enclosure, just to the right of this view. I’d found a lot of flint tools in the valley, which are evidence of prehistoric people living, working and trading here. I knew there were no recorded prehistoric monuments in the area, so I went looking in all the obvious places, and there it was, a ‘causewayed-type’ enclosure, sitting on the hilltop. It’s not very distinctive, and it’s not at all photogenic! It’s one of those features that’s been hiding in plain sight for nearly 6,000 years. These enclosures are signs of people from the first farming communities meeting together. In Mallerstang, we don’t have a Parish Council, we have a parish meeting and I have the dubious privilege of being the Chair. To be Mallerstang’s Chair and then to have found the first ever place where the parish ‘meetings’ started all those thousands of years ago, that was a really special moment. It’s lovely to have put it on the record.

That exploration is part of human nature. People go to the moon, or the bottom of the sea, or wherever, without realising that there are sites on our own doorstep that are undiscovered that can be explored. I first set foot in this valley when I was ten years old. I’ve always loved living here, even before I studied archaeology. But having grown up and roamed around these fells for donkeys’ years, it’s surprised me that I couldn’t see what I was looking at for so long. Studying archaeology is like having a veil lifted: suddenly you’re looking at an entirely different landscape. Once your eyes have been opened you can’t ever just go for a walk and enjoy the view, because you’re always questioning what you’re looking at, you’re always trying to work out what people have done there before. You look at the landscape in a completely different light.