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The Lazy Photographer's Guide 02 - The Yorkshire Dales

by Chris Maddock

 

This article is the second of a series of articles covering much of the UK. It is basically a list of locations I have programmed into my GPS Satellite Navigator - most of which I have visited, the rest being places I intend to get to some day. It is not a comprehensive guide to the Dales, only the parts I have been to and photographed - or intend to.

It will not contain any photographs, the intention being simply to provide information about location, access and likely subjects. I have photographs of many of the locations in my Yorkshire Dales gallery at www.f22.org.uk if you want to see what you could see before setting out.

I've called it The Lazy Photographer's Guide since most of the locations are less than half a mile from road access.


Aysgarth Falls
Bolton Abbey
Brimham Rocks
Dent Head Viaduct
East Gill Force
Embsay Crag
Feizor
Fountains Abbey & Studley Deer Park
Gayle Beck Lodge
Grinton Moor
Hardraw Force
Ingleton Waterfalls
Ivelet Bridge

Janet's Foss
Lady Hill
Langstrothdale

Malham Cove
Old Gang Smelt Mill
Ribblehead Viaduct
Stainforth Force
Swaledale
Twistleton Scar
Wain Wath Force
West Burton Fall
West Tanfield
Winskill

 


Aysgarth Falls
GR SE 011 888
Aysgarth Falls, just to the east of Aysgarth in Upper Wensleydale, is a series of waterfalls over which the River Ure flows on its way down Wensleydale. The wide upper fall, High Force, featured in the fight scene with Little John in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

Access - the falls are popular with tourists so parking is limited. The easiest place to park is the pay & display car park at the above grid reference. Turn north off the A684 ½ a mile east of Aysgarth village and head down the (steep) hill to a bridge over the river. Follow the road sharp right at the end of the bridge, up the hill and around a left-hand bend you will find the car park. To reach the falls you must walk back down the road to the left hand (now right hand) bend, where paths lead left to Middle Force and Lower Force. Continue along the road and take the path by the end of the bridge to access High Force.

What to See - the falls themselves, wildlife associated with fast flowing rivers (e.g. dippers) and seasonal colours in the woodland around the falls.


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Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey, the Yorkshire home of the Duke of Devonshire, offers many opportunities for photography.

Access - from the A59, follow the signs to Bolton Abbey along the B6160.
If you only want to see the ruined Priory and the immediate area then the best car park is on the left about ½ mile along at GR SE 071 538. The
footpath to the Priory and river is a little further up the road on the right.
If you want to see more of the river and don't mind more of a walk, then the Cavendish Pavilion car park would be more suitable. Continue up the B6160 for another ½ mile, turning right by the Cavendish Memorial at GR SE 075 545. Follow the road down to the car park at the bottom.

What to see - the River Wharfe, the ruined Priory itself, a wooden bridge over the river near the Priory, stepping stones beside the bridge (if you're there in grockle season, have your camera ready. There's always someone willing to "have a go" and someone's bound to slip) views along the valley in both directions.
Upstream from the Cavendish Pavilion car park is The Strid, a sharp narrowing of the river from its usual 20 plus feet width down to only three or four feet. At this point it is, however very deep and fast flowing with deep undercuts in the rock. Swimming is definitely not recommended, but it can make for good photos.
There are several good woodland walks, with the opportunity to see many different species of bird. When the GPS mob visited in October 2005 a few handfuls of bait at a bothy in the park Plantation rewarded us with several nuthatches (or maybe it was just one greedy nuthatch) coming within a few feet of us to feed.

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Brimham Rocks
GR SE 207 646
A 300 metre high hill in Nidderdale, topped with a vast array of windcarved rocks in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

Access - From the B6165, turn off on the minor road heading North for about a mile and a half. The National Trust (pay & display) car park is signposted on the left.

What to see - as many strangely shaped rocks as you can throw a stone at, up to 40 miles worth of view all round on a good day, moorland wildlife and foliage.

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Dent Head Viaduct
GR SD 777 843
One of the viaducts built as part of the Settle & Carlisle Railway in the late 1800s this little viaduct nestles in a small valley at the head of Dentdale.

The best view is from the road to the southeast of the viaduct, from where you can see down onto it with the fells around Aye Gill Pike in the background. There are a couple of suitable spots where you can pull off the road for a short while. If the place is heaving with people when you get there, it's a good chance that there is a heritage special train due.

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East Gill Force
GR NY 896 011
One of many pretty waterfalls in the Dales, this is where a tributary river joins the River Swale in Upper Swaledale.

Access - turn off the B6270 for Keld. In the village, bear left into a small car park (honesty box charge) at GR NY 892 011. Cross the village "square" and you'll find a footpath leading down beside the river and towards the Pennine Way. After a couple of hundred yards, take the left fork down to the river and bridge. The lower fall is accessible through a gate by the nearside of the bridge whilst the upper fall is across the bridge and a short way up the path on the other side.

What to see - waterfalls, what else did you expect? The lower fall is a series of step falls leading down into the River Swale. It is easy to get down to the edge of the main river and shoot the falls across it. The Upper Fall is a larger single fall, twenty or so feet high. The river flows South so the upper fall would be in rather deep shadow in the morning. It is, therefore, preferable to visit on a dull day (which is better for waterfalls anyway) or later in the day.

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Embsay Crag
A hill outside Embsay, just north of the A59. I haven't yet been there in conditions suitable to make it worth even taking the camera out of the bag, however it does look as if there is potential for some good photos. One that I do want to try sometime if conditions permit would be at sunset. One a still day I reckon there is potential for a nice view across the reservoir to the sunset-lit Embsay Crag itself. There is a footpath leading around the back of the reservoir and up over the crag, which should offer good views east, south and west.

Access - turn off the A59 for Embsay, then follow the minor roads up to the car park beside Embsay Reservoir, GR SD 999 544.

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Feizor
GR SD 789 675
A small hamlet outside Settle, with access to Feizor Nick, a gap in the ridge above, and a reasonable expanse of limestone pavement.

Access - turn off the A65(T) at GR SD 779 674 - if coming from the south it's a tight right-hand turn. Follow the lane up to Feizor itself and park in the hamlet. On foot, follow the road on through Feizor and up the track to the Nick.

What to see - limestone pavements, trees silhouetted against the sky, views to the southwest and northeast into Ribblesdale.

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Fountains Abbey & Studley Deer Park
The Studley Royal estate is situated just outside Ripon and comprises the ruins of Fountains Abbey, a fine example of a Cistercian abbey, the Water Gardens, laid down by John Aislabie in 1718, and the Deer Park, home to over 500 Red, Sika and Fallow deer. The Abbey was a victim of the dissolution of Henry VIII, but the remains were eventually purchased by William Aislabie and restored to form a folly in his father's Water Gardens.

Access - follow the signs from the B6265 west of Ripon, turning off just west of Studley Royal itself. Parking is at the Visitor centre at GR SE 271 687.

What to see - the abbey remains, much of which is standing - including the part-underground cellarium, a fine example of a vaulted ceiling. The River Skell, which actually runs under part of the abbey grounds, the water gardens and the Deer Park. There are some nice views along the landscaped river to the abbey and various other structures in the gardens.

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Gayle Beck Lodge
GR SD 790 813
An old cottage beside the Gayle Beck near Ribblehead.

It's immediately beside the B6255 Hawes-Ribblehead road, about a mile and a half from Ribblehead, on the left if approaching from Hawes. There is a layby beside the building but pull well forward if you don't want your car in your photos ;-)

What to see - the cottage and the river, with Ingleborough on the skyline. Morning will light the cottage whilst evening would give sunset skies with the cottage silhouetted and the sky colour reflected on the river.

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Grinton Moor
The road across the moor is ideal for spotting Red Grouse. It runs between Redmire in lower Wensleydale and Grinton in lower Swaledale.
The car makes an ideal hide as the birds are pretty used to cars and don't treat them as a particular threat as long as the occupants remain within. Before you get on the moor proper, get the camera and lens ready and open the windows on both sides. Drive across the moor slowly, keeping an eye out for other cars so that if you spot a grouse you can stop without inconveniencing other motorists. If there are two of you, it's best if the passenger is in the rear of the car so that both have unhindered access to the windows on both sides.

The grouse can sometimes be quite close to the road, so a good range zoom lens is ideal. When I went over, my 100-400 on a 1.6x crop camera (160-640mm effective field of view) was just about right - although I did keep a 1.4x extender (teleconverter in non-Canon parlance) handy for a quick change.

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Hardraw Force
GR SD 867 912
England's highest single-drop waterfall, Hardraw Force is within the grounds of the Green Dragon Inn, at Hardraw. Access is only by paying at the Green Dragon and walking through the Inn's grounds, about ½ mile. The grid ref above is for the Green Dragon.

Interestingly, the top of the fall is actually man-made. In August 1889, a tremendous flood tore through both Wensleydale and Swaledale almost destroying the Green Dragon and the rest of Hardraw village. When the villagers went to view the waterfall they found that the top had been torn away and the fall was reduced to a slope of mud and debris over which the water trickled. Even in those days the fall was well-known and attracted large numbers of visitors, this loss compounded Hardraw village's physical losses since the village thrived on visitors coming to see the fall. The landowner, Lord Wharncliffe, was having none of that and instructed his estate manager to make repairs. Masons were employed and the fall was restored. The full account is at the Green Dragon website.

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Ingleton Waterfalls
GR SD 693 732
Not really a Lazy Photographer entry this one, since it involves rather more then ½ mile walking, but it is one which I cannot leave out.
The Waterfalls Walk runs up beside the River Twiss from Ingleton, across the hillside under Twistleton Scar End and back into Ingleton down the River Doe, totaling about 4½ miles. You have to pay to access the walk since it is all on private property. However, at £3.50 per adult, £1.50 per child (family tickets also available) with its own car park (GR above) it really isn't bad value at all - especially when you consider the work that must be undertaken to maintain the path, all of which has to be paid for somehow.

The walk starts out on relatively level ground beside the Twiss, at this point just a stony stream flowing through woodland but very picturesque. As you follow the path upstream the path becomes steeper and more broken as it meanders through the gorges which house the three Pecca Falls. The lower fall has a fine viewpoint from a footbridge over the river - but tripods can be a problem if the walk is busy. Above Pecca Falls is a tea hut, which attracts a good range of wild birds - all keen to pose for photographs, or is it to pick up the food that has been put out for them?
Moving on, the path reaches Thornton Force, a rather attractive fall with a decent pool below. It is possible to get out to the other side of the pool if the water level isn't too high, but another good viewpoint is from the path about 100 yards below the fall. Unfortunately, the fall faces west and is on the south side of the scar so shadows can be a problem. Late afternoon light will ease the problem.

Once past Thornton the path joins a track which crosses to the Doe valley under the bottom of Twistleton Scar. If you're feeling energetic, a path leads off on the left up (and I do mean up!) to Twistleton Scar End, where you will find a fine limestone pavement with an assortment of windblown trees.

After passing Twistleton Hall and Beezleys, the path joins the River Doe and follows it down to Ingleton past several more waterfalls.

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Ivelet Bridge
GR SD 933 977
An old packhorse bridge over the Swale in Swaledale with a stony riverbed foreground.

If coming from the west in the B6270 in Swaledale, the turning is a very sharp left about ½ mile before Satron and the bridge is a couple of hundred yards down the lane. There is room to park a couple of cars on the left just before the bridge, the footpath access is just across the road.

Due to high trees either side of the bridge, this location is probably best in morning light, when the bridge and trees are illuminated and the sky beyond isn't too bright. It might also make for an interesting sunset if the sky cooperates, with the bridge and trees in silhouette. In spring/summer, the meadow across which the path runs is full of wild flowers and there is a nice barn for background interest - well, this is Swaledale ;-)

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Janet's Foss
GR SD 911 633
A very attractive little waterfall in woodland near Malham.

Approaching Malham from the south, turn right just after the Visitor Centre and follow Gordale Lane for just over ½ mile. Just after the road crosses the river there is parking on the left, the path to the Foss is about 100 yards back and is signposted. An alternative approach is to make it part of a circular walk taking in Malham Cove and Gordale Scar.

What to see - the Foss itself, set in a nice little pool with access to both sides, Gordale Beck, woodland scenery and wildlife.

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Lady Hill
A nice little hill with a few trees on top, ideal for a winter sunset.

Take the road running to the North of the River Ure in Wensleydale, between Askrigg and Carperby. About ½ mile to the east of Woodhall there is a car park and Nature Reserve at roughly GR SD 985 898. (There is another car park a couple of hundred yards further on but the view of the hill is blocked by a high wall. Elevation is needed so the first car park is better.) The nature reserve is a small meadow between the Eller Beck and the road, at the end of the car park. On the north side of the car park is a gate leading to a bridge over the beck. Cross the beck and follow the path that leads right and slightly north of the beck to a disused quarry, stay below the woodland. At about GR SD 987 898 you will be able to see Lady Hill to the southwest with enough elevation to avoid the high wall beside the road.

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Langstrothdale

Between Yockenthwaite and Deepdale Bridge, the River Wharfe runs over a fine limestone river bed. There are several places to park at around
GR SD 898 793.

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Malham Cove
GR SD 897 640
Malham Cove is a curved wall of limestone, 250 feet high, that used to be a waterfall. Centuries ago, the river cut through the rock behind the cliff face and now flows out at the bottom although there are reports that heavy rain in the 19th century did briefly resurrect the waterfall. The top of the Cove is a fine limestone pavement with a good view to the south, whilst the valley below looking towards the Cove is very picturesque.

Access - about ½ mile from Malham village, access is only by foot. Park at the visitor centre in the village and walk up the Malham Tarn road for a few hundred yards, before taking the footpath to the right. The Cove is about ¼ mile along the path.

What to see - the valley leading up to the Cove, the river, meadows and fields on either side of the path. Since the path runs north-south, light on the Cove can be good at most times of day. If you take the (steep) path up the western side of the Cove you can get the view south from the top, obviously midday is not a good time for this. Access may be restricted (although mainly for climbers who use the cliff for their activities) during spring/summer, as a pair of Peregrine Falcons have taken to nesting in the cliff. The RSPB had a viewpoint in the Cove area in 2005 so this may be available in future years, provided the Peregrines haven't decided to relocate.

If you do climb to the top of the Cove an alternative route back is the footpath over the tops and down via Janet's Foss, possibly diverting to Gordale Scar - a huge collapsed cave with several waterfalls in the resultant gorge.

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Old Gang Smelt Mill
GR NY 974 005
One of many smelting mills which used to extract lead in the northern Swaledale area. Lead mining in the area was started by the Romans and continued until probably the early 20th century. The main mill building has been restored to some extent for safety and preservation reasons, although it is still a ruin.

Access - From the B6270 Swaledale road turn off at Feetham or at Healaugh for Langthwaite. These two roads meet just before Mill Gill (or Old Gang Beck) with ample parking beside the Healaugh road at GR SD 989 998. Cross the river and you will see the path leading up the valley, to the west. The Mill is about a mile along the path.

What to see - very much old industrial landscape nestling within the moorland, with many ruined buildings and spoil heaps. The main mill building has been partially restored, as has the explosives store a few hundred yards upstream and a rather nice packhorse bridge. The valley faces east-west and is deep enough that from late autumn to early spring the light fails on the mill quite early.

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Ribblehead Viaduct
GR SD 759 794 - A fine railway viaduct built to carry the Settle & Carlisle Railway over the head of the Ribble Valley, there are several good viewpoints worth a look, and undoubtedly several more I haven't tried yet;

GR SD 765 792 - park on the car park beside the junction of the B6255 and B6479 roads and walk down the stream for a couple of hundred yards. You can get a good view of the viaduct with the stream in the foreground and Whernside rising behind. There are a couple of road signs by the junction that cannot be avoided without losing the viaduct itself. However, they are not overly obtrusive.

GR SD 760 788 (approx.) - a layby beside the B6255 Ingleton road which offers an excellent view of he viaduct in afternoon light.

Ivescar road - several viewpoints off this road which leaves the B6255 at GR SD 750 781, the last of which is just before the end of the public road at GR SD 748 792.

Leaving the car, both ends of the viaduct are accessible (although not on the railway track, it is still in regular use) Probably the best place to park is in the car park at GR SD 764 791, next door to the Railway Inn pub and bunkhouses, and walk out along the track to the east of the viaduct.

Talking of the pub, it does excellent filled Yorkshire Puddings and keeps both Theakston's and Black Sheep beers - just right for lunch.

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Stainforth Force
GR SD 818 671
A nice waterfall where the River Ribble flows over a limestone bed.

Access - the road past the Force is very narrow, as is the bridge over the river, with limited space to pull off so the best place to park is in the large car park in Stainforth village (GR SD 820 672), right beside the B6479 Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Settle road. Walk back up the road towards Horton for a hundred yards or so, then take the turning on the left. After a couple of hundred yards or so you will reach the bridge (an old packhorse style) with the path to the waterfall on the left just after it.

What to see - the waterfall and river with the bridge in the background, wildlife, seasonal foliage. The river runs almost north-south, so most times of day will be suitable. However, the eastern bank is a steep, wooded hill so very early morning will probably cast a shadow on the river and bridge.

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Swaledale
The classic dales landscape of fields, barns and stone walls, I have several excellent viewpoints that I have found so far;

GR SD 986 967 - this is on the road from the eastern end of Swaledale to Askrigg. Follow the B6270 up Swaledale from Healaugh an turn left over a bridge after about ¾ mile. Bear right at the end of the bridge and head up the hill. When you reach the open moorland at a cattle grid, look to the right and you will see a good view of Swaledale.

GR SD 954 981 - a layby on the B6270 just to the east of Gunnerside. Although the aspect is southern (so the light could be tricky) this spot is just above a fine set of fields, barns and walls in the valley below. In a good summer, the fields are full of buttercups - to the extent that one could be forgiven for thinking they were a crop!

GR SD 907 989 - a wonderful view down Swaledale from just north of Thwaite, there is a layby at this grid ref, maybe 800 yards outside Thwaite itself. Looking over the wall reveals the dale, with a few barns for the middle and foreground, which is good for most times of day except early morning.

GR NY 890 003 - A simple view across the Dale, with a single barn in the middleground with a red painted door. Probably best in afternoon or evening light. Best approached from the North (coming down the Dale from Keld) there is a farm track leading off to the left with room to pull off briefly just before the gate. The barn is immediately to the left.

GR NY 875 013 -a nice little view across the upper dale, with the river and High Bridge upstream to the west, a farm on the hillside and an old lime kiln between the two. Only room for two vehicles to pass, so you can only stop briefly.

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Twistleton Scar
A fine example of a limestone hill directly opposite Ingleborough.

Access - coming from Ribblehead on the B6255 Ingleton road, turn off at Chapel-le-Dale to take the minor road down the northern side of the valley. It's a gated road so if it's raining, take a passenger ;-)
Parking is available on the verge at Twistleton Dale House, GR SD 717 757. It's a semi-Honesty Box charge - put money in box and write down your car registration number. Behind the parking area is the path up the hill.

What to see - limestone crags and pavements, stunted trees on the top, views across the valley to Ingleborough.

An alternative access is to cut off from the Ingleton Waterfalls Walk and join the Scar at the southwestern end.

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Wain Wath Force
GR NY 884 015
An attractive little waterfall in upper Swaledale, right beside the B6270 road to Nateby and Kirkby Stephen. Parking is available right beside the fall.

What to see - the fall itself, the river around it, seasonal foliage, old limestone quarries & kilns.

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West Burton Fall
GR SE 019 867
A very attractive waterfall with a large pool at the base on the outskirts of West Burton village in Wensleydale.

Access - Approaching West Burton from the North (off the A684), follow the one-way system to the main street where there is usually ample parking. Don't follow the sign to the Fall, there is no parking there. Once parked, walk back down the hill and turn right to the fall.

What to see - the fall itself, in a wide cove surrounded by beech trees. Ideal for autumnal colours. The river flows north, so lighting can be tricky. It's best to shoot on a cloudy day and keep the sky out of the frame.

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West Tanfield
GR SE 269 787
Only really a place worth a look whilst passing, there is a lovely view of the house backs and rooves from the bridge where the A6108 Ripon-Masham road crosses the River Ure. Facing west, it's best before mid-afternoon.

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Winskill
GR SD 834 659
A nature reserve featuring limestone grassland and limestone pavements.

Access - leave the B6479 at Langcliffe and head up the hill towards Cowside. At the GR above, there is a cattle grid with a left turn just beyond. Opposite the turning there is an old quarry in which you can park.

What to see - limestone pavements (there is an excellent one opposite the car park and north of the side road, and another beside the side road with a single tree growing in it), grassland and a wide range of wild flowers. The area also offers good views of the surrounding area, including Pen-Y-Ghent.

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All text and photos are copyright © Chris Maddock, 2007