Saturday, 10 May 2014

Here be Dragons - Yorkshire Dales

Bunting flutters from the lamp-posts in the little stations, paint trim 

in red and cream. Cream flags and red dragons. We start to talk 

about dragons. Saint George of course, though I have never 

reconciled myself to his dragon slaying.

Saint Serf too, according to legend, as well as miracle worker was a 

slayer of dragons with his pastoral staff (and a founder of churches 

in Scotland) in an area of Pictdom at the time, presumably when 

there were dragons at large. Odd thing though, born in the Levant, 

a pope in Rome for a few years, then he came to Scotland. One can 

only wonder why.

The dragon - which is really a wyvern
The bunting was put up to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 

saving of the Settle to Carlisle railway line. You can see the 

Midland Railway coat of arms below [photograph credit – chevin]

And you can find out more about wyverns here

The Settle-Carlisle line was marked for closure in 1989, but

popular protests succeeded in keeping it open. The stations are

tidy, painted, well looked after, some of them have been turned 

into upmarket holiday accommodation, and the one at Ribblehead 

houses a small museum.

There's a gathering of people, all holding cameras, in the field 

opposite, when we alight at Ribblehead. Apparently the first goods 

train of the year (they don't run in winter, perhaps because of the 

uncertainty of the weather) is about to leave the station, and the 

keen train enthusiasts are out ready to catch this momentous event 

on film. We did not know this, but just happen to arrive there only 

a few minutes before the goods train moves slowly out of the

siding, with its long cargo of logs.

It then stops, and reverses. We ask the museum attendant why. 

That, she says, camera slung round her neck, is what I'm wondering.

We don't linger to discover the reason why because I can't wait to 

start walking along the path that leads past the Ribblehead viaduct 

and goes on into the hills.

Ribblehead Viaduct

Another view of the viaduct, slightly bent and distorted, and with 

one arch missing. Flawed and imperfect, but not an outright lie, it 

has merely bent the truth a little...


The path follows the railway for a couple of miles then crosses 

over the tracks on a walled path. Next to it the river too, is carried 

over the tracks on its own little aqueduct. 

The river seems to like its artificial bed with its carefully aligned 

rectangular cobbles stepped into layers to lower the water level 

gradually before it returns to its natural bed. The railway tracks the 

aqueduct crosses over, can just be seen in the background, 

bordered by trees.

Looking back over the valley.

The next day is hard because it has been a long time since I've

walked very far carrying a backpack. I have toothache, my feet 

soon hurt and my backpack feels very heavy though I thought I 

was carrying the absolute minimum (except for bringing 3 books 

when clearly one would do! And as it turned out I read hardly 

anything, certainly after that first day I was so tired I didn't even 

read before falling asleep).


Two or three miles brings us to the Dales Way. A little further on  

we see the Dentdale viaduct 

and stop for lunch beside the river that runs underneath it.

3 bridges, the old pedestrian one, the mighty foot of one of the arches of the viaduct, and beyond it, the road bridge

It may not be clear in the picture below, but the trunk of this tree 

emerges from the near river bank and grows horizontally across to 

the other bank. The branches grow vertically out of the horizontal 


Close to the old bridge, used by people on foot

and horse drawn carts -

next to the railway viaduct

and the road bridge just beyond it -

a willow tree grows on the river bank

The tree trunk is horizontal

perhaps in imitation of the bridges -

its imitation being praise - 

or perhaps it was the other bank that drew it on -

its straight, unswerving love


The trail then mostly follows the river. 

The Arten Gill viaduct in the distance

At last, the village of Dent comes into sight. 

The cherry tree beside the church in Dent.

The church was built to praise God's glory.

The cherry tree praises, glories.