Sunday, 8 February 2009

Yorkshire Dales Snow Scenes

Friday 6th Feb was sunny and the snow left from Monday was beautiful. Bill Mitchell and I went for a drive following the River Ribble up from Settle.

A chance to appreciate how we fitted in to the land.

This area was glaciated during the last ice age. Just the tips of the peaks of Pen y hent (left) and Ingleborough and Whernside may have stood up above the ices sheets and glaciers 18,000 years ago.

Some rare arctic-alpine flowers and mosses grow near the summits on the crags.

The natural vegetation in this area from summit to valley bottom should be trees. It is sheep and rabbits that stop them growing now...( and peat in the boggy areas - but there is evidence of trees under some of the peat)

Here is a picture of Horton in Ribblesdale Church, with Pen y Ghent in the background. I once used this view of the church to design a t-shirt for the Pen y ghent Fell race organised by Settle Harriers. Bill showed me an old stained glass window above the brown door - of the severed head of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was murdered in 1170. You learn something new every day. The window may have been brought from Jervaux Abbey

The oldest rock is Silurian rock, sometimes (wrongly I am told) called slate, whereas it should be called greywacke, or locally "Horton flags". The big slabs of "slate" are used for the floor in many houses, for rooves, for cattle troughs, for grave stones, and many other uses. It had been used for Horton church roof at onetime but now it is covered with lead.

Above the slate is the Yoredale Series - sandstone, shale and limestone beds repeating the pattern. Near the summit of Pen y Ghent are some thick beds of limestone, then at the top there is hard millstone grit.

The geology affects the landscape.
The glaciers have affected the landscape.
The mangement - sheep and rabbits affect the landscape (No trees).
And Bill alerted me to a fourth factor: - The quarry men.

Land has been quarried since people came here.

For stone walls
For lime for "burning" in the kilns to make the ground "sweeter"
For building up the Settle Carlisle Railway banks and viaduct
For "slate" for rooves
And more recently for roadstone and for the chemical industry

Finally we visited St Leonard's church in Chapel le Dale, two miles from the viaduct.

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