Even when you’re feeling warm
The temperature could drop away
Like four seasons in one day
Crowded House – Four Seasons in One Day
Not so much in one day, but in one hour; the amount of time it takes to cross the Yorkshire Dales National Park from Lancaster to Richmond.
Returning from Merseyside today there were numerous warnings of high winds, and as my usual route can be a real problem if blocked by a high-sided vehicle I opted for quieter roads in the hope of avoiding them. It proved a good choice, not just because of the easy journey that ensued, but also because of the scenery I found as a result.
The Yorkshire Dales have many associations; Black Sheep ales, Wallace & Gromit‘s favourite cheese, the opening stages of last year’s Tour de France, Wuthering Heights… and above all outstanding natural beauty.
It wasn’t long before I was welcomed by the imposing sight of Ingleborough, a wonder of geology. Layers of limestone and sandstone erode in distinct layers, while the Millstone Grit that crowns the peak provides protection from further weathering and creates a plateau that was an obvious choice for a hill fort in the Iron Age. Obvious, but exposed. There were ominous clouds overhead too.
Of course the high winds soon moved those on and before long I was experiencing bright sunshine, so as I arrived at the Ribblehead Viaduct I thought I might get out of the car and walk a few yards to get a good angle.
Not such a good idea. The wind was so strong as to whip the glasses of my face and deposit them in a nearby puddle.
The viaduct itself was built by a thousand navvies over a four-year period, and it’s remoteness necessitated that they lived here on the moor in shanty towns. One in ten died during the construction, not from the cold that I was experiencing in the strong gusts, but from smallpox and industrial injuries. The work they left is quite a monument to their endeavour and sacrifice.
It wasn’t long before I reached Hawes, home of Wensleydale cheese and the start of the rain, swiftly becoming sleet and hail. The blue skies were lost and wave upon wave of frozen water passed by en route down the valley. These changeable conditions are a feature of this landscape and one which can be deadly to those caught on the moors without proper clothing and shelter.