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  • Kent in Photographs by Bryan Phillips

    We have the power

    Power down, Port Richborough and Pegwell. (Kent in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    Richborough in Kent is well-known for a number of reasons. One of these is its link to history and the Roman invasion. A large site of a Roman fort was discovered many years ago and it shows the evidence of underfloor heating along with structures that would have made a significant impact on anyone seeing the stronghold. Now run by English Heritage the fort still holds its magic with the feeling of treading on the very ground those Romans did so long ago.

    Another less well known location, now confined to history is Richborough power station. Our power in the UK is generated by a number of facilities across the country and until a few years ago, Richborough added to this, providing a well needed balance to the southern end of the chain. Now that there are the undersea cable links to France and other providers, the older power stations are no longer required. Richborough was therefore demolished but the site remains as an interconnection across the National Grid.

    The demolition was the subject of a local competition to select someone to push the button to start the process. This was won by a schoolboy but as the project was delayed he was left waiting for a while until he could claim his prize. The demolition of the towers was quite a talking point locally but the transformation of the site into a green energy supply link was enough for the clearance to be concluded. The image from Kent in Photographs shows a view before the demolition took place.

    Wetland habitat, Pegwell Bay. (Kent in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    On the doorstep of the towers is Pegwell Bay, a coastal nature reserve. It is a peaceful haven and great spot for bird watching as well as hosting picnic sites and leisure walks for anyone visiting. It is a great example of nature reclaiming its land as the area was a former hovercraft landing site and once abandoned, the greenery returned and with the mudflats and saltmarsh being rich in potential food, many wading birds can be seen at various times throughout the year. Several artefacts from the recent past can still be found such as steps, bollards and cats eyes but the basic transformation is relatively complete. It is said to have been visited by Vincent Van Gogh who remarked "The ground we walked on was completely covered with large grey stones, chalk and shells...the sea, as calm as a pond, reflecting the delicate grey sky."

    Pegwell is also the place where invaders have landed over centuries. Romans, Vikings and Christians are amongst the most notable latterly St Augustine in AD597 bringing Christianity to Britain for the first time. St Augustine also has a commemoration not far from the site in the form of a cross somewhat off the beaten track now with modern road incursions. Finally the area is able to show in its geology some of the history with ammonites found in the chalk which were alive some 80 million years ago, the area being at that time very much under water.

    All the above are very much available for locals and travellers alike and within easy reach for anyone around the south east coast of Kent.

    Bryan Phillips's new book Kent in Photographs is available for purchase now.

  • 50 Gems of Cheshire by Mike Appleton

    The History & Heritage of the Most Iconic Places

    50 Gems in Cheshire is my third contribution to Amberley’s ‘Gems’ series and you’d think I’d have got the hang of it by now.

    50 Gems of the Yorkshire Dales was a jewel filled quest in a national park I knew like the back of my hand while although 50 Gems of Derbyshire took me to a different part of the country, I felt comfortable in the chocolate box villages and on the fells.

    Cheshire seemed an obvious port of call; being minutes from my home in Lancashire and relatively well known in terms of attractions and places to visit.

    Jodrell Bank… check… Sandbach… check… simple.

    Yet, this proved to be one the hardest projects I have undertaken because the county itself is a bit of an anomaly!

    Its current boundary covers roughly more than 900 square miles but historically was a lot larger. It took in the Wirral and stretched across to Black Hill, which is now in the Peak District and near Yorkshire.

    It also travelled as far down as Crewe and skirted along the Welsh border.

    Then, even though it is relatively flat, it has three distinct ‘tops’: the aforementioned Black Hill, which is the highest point in the historic county, but now effectively on the border between the borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire and High Peak in Derbyshire – yes, it’s a Cheshire hill, in the Peak District near West Yorkshire! – Shutlingsloe and Shining Tor.

    Alderley Edge Mines take you underground as does Hack Green Nuclear Bunker. Stalybridge, near Stockport, is as far removed from Ness Botanic Gardens as you can get, as is Newton-Le-Willows, part of Merseyside, from the likes of Nantwich and Crewe.

    Then you could include Flintshire, which is now part of North Wales.

    How could I not include all these gems and thus stick to a modern 900 square mile restriction? In the end it was a relatively easy decision to take – but then I had to whittle the Gems down to 50!

    So old boundary, new boundary, there’s plenty of places to discover and the gems are designed to be visited in clusters. For instance, the Lovell Quinta Arboretum is a stunning collection of trees in the late Sir Bernard Lovell’s garden, the famous physicist and radio astronomer. It is a stone’s throw from Jodrell Bank and located in Swettenham, which is beautiful village in its own right. Delamere Forest has Hatchmere Lake as its neighbour while Parkgate and Ness can be visited in an afternoon.

    Here I present five of my favourites; I hope you enjoy them!

    Lovell Quinta Arboretum - Sir Bernard Lovell's 'reflection' pond. (50 Gems of Cheshire, Amberley Publishing)

    Lovell Quinta Arboretum

    Sir Bernard Lovell created this fantastic arboretum in the grounds of the house he bought in 1948. His vision was to collect a variety of trees and shrubs from around the world, based on the four volumes of W. J. Bean’s Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles and establish them in this quiet part of Cheshire.

    It was very much a personal project – he was meticulous in keeping records, hand-drawn plans and a card index for each plant – and was at the heart of developing it as the years progressed.

    As an astronomy pioneer, that level of detail is more than reflected in his arboretum and his home village, from the creation of the reflection pond to the avenues and areas that symbolised major events in his life. In 1996, the site passed into the watch of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust and is now with the Tatton Garden Society and the capable hands of Rhoderic Taylor, the curator.

    He looks after close to 2,400 plants, some of which are ‘champion’ trees, and others of international significance and importance. This is an amazing site with a varied and interesting collection. There is an honesty box in a prominent position, with a suggested entry fee of £2.50 per person, but to be honest, the walk is worth a lot more.

    Hack Green - A vast array of monitoring equiptment, as well as nuclear weapons. (50 Gems of Cheshire, Amberley Publishing)

    Hack Green Nuclear Bunker

    Sometimes a gem stays with you for a long time. I’ve been fascinated with the history of the Cold War and particularly the aftermath of an attack ever since I discovered a Royal Observer Corps Post while researching another of the 50 Gems series. It opened up a whole new area of underground discoveries for this speleologist and reflection of the world I was growing up in when I was a lot younger.

    Visiting Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker married those two interests together and brought with it a sense of poignancy, empathy and terror I never expected. This was a site of preparation for a nuclear attack, an operational Cold War base, the foundation of civil defence in the region and a reminder of how far we’ve come since the threats of that period.

    Starting in the canteen, you tour around the base and get to see what life would have been like at Hack Green. Your tour includes where nuclear fallout would have been tracked by top scientists, communications and BBC broadcast centres, Home Office briefing and conference rooms and their still operational radio equipment, a ROC Post, bunk rooms, the actual equipment Thatcher used to signal the attacking of the Belgrano in the Falklands conflict and a whole lot more.

    It is incredible, stark, frightening and weirdly reassuring. The fact that the government had all this in place in the event of an attack, to make sure survivors had the best chance of living, is pretty sobering. The team at Hack Green have created something that is educational and entertaining, non-political and utterly fascinating.

    At the top of Black Hill. (50 Gems of Cheshire, Amberley Publishing)

    Black Hill

    Reaching 1,909 feet, Black Hill isn’t a particularly majestic ‘mountain’ or somewhere that would be high on many peak bagger’s lists, but it retains a certain charm as well as being a real oddity.

    But the views on the way up to the summit are amazing on a clear day and getting to that point is relatively straightforward – from the A635 and along the well-paved Pennine Way, if you’re inclined to take that route.

    Its location makes it important too as I mentioned above!  It got its ‘bleak’ name because it was once covered in deep black bogs; exposed peat stripped back due to 150 years of pollution and wild fires.

    The difference between that description and the present day couldn’t be more contrasting as significant conservation efforts have taken place.

    Remedial work started on the 46-hectare site in 2003, aided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, before the Moors for the Future MoorLIFE project came to the fore. They spread 50 million sphagnum fragments on the moorland to reintroduce sphagnum moss, a key peat-building moss. They also planted bog cotton and bilberry, and these are evident as you reach the summit.

    Gawsworth. (50 Gems of Cheshire, Amberley Publishing)

    Gawsworth

    You only have to see the pictures here to understand what a beautiful village Gawsworth is.

    It’s peaceful, tranquil and its church is flanked by two pools, making it the most idyllic venue for a place of worship.

     

     

     

     

    Parkgate is an important salt marsh and has great views. (50 Gems of Cheshire, Amberley Publishing)

    Parkgate

    For everything Cheshire has to offer, the last thing you would expect to find is a coastal resort.

    Parkgate was an important port towards the end of the seventeenth century, serving as a leaving point for Ireland. Originally, ships docked further in stream at Chester but as the River Dee silted, alternative disembarkation points were needed.

    The first was built at Burton but as the river became less navigable, a location was found just outside the boundary of Neston’s hunting park. Parkgate was that ‘post’ and it became a bustling hub with ships anchored in the main channel – passengers and goods transferred by tender. It retained that status until 1815 before the majority of trade with Ireland passed through Liverpool.

    The area is managed by the RSPB, who purchased it from British Steel in 1979. Hen Harrier, Merlin, Skylark, Redshanks and Short-Eared Owls all call it home – with even more arriving when tides flush out mammals and insects.

    Taking a walk along the Parade is like stepping back in time. The site of the Old Customs House, once a starting point for donkey rides, provides a host of information, while on the opposite side of the road is Mostyn House School from 1855, the Ship pub and places to buy local seafood and the resort’s famous ice cream.

     

    Mike Appleton's new book 50 Gems of Cheshire is available for purchase now.

  • A149 Landmarks by Edward Couzens-Lake

    An Alternative Road Trip

    Castle Rising Castle, Castle Rising. Twelfth-century medieval fortification once owned by Queen Isabella of France. (c. Nigel Nudds, A149 Landmarks, Amberley Publishing)

    The road trip.

    Romance on the road. You, your car, the open road. A discovery waiting to happen, revelations that lie over the crest of the next hill.

    Jack Kerouac wrote of his own road trip as he travelled across the United States from east to west by bus, car and, when the latter two options weren’t available, via his own well-worn feet.

    If only we souls that hunger for adventure and the opportunity to spend every day driving into the sunset had the time and money for such an extravagance.

    But you don’t have to cross the Atlantic in order to hit the open road and, in doing so, find yourself.

    There are plenty of options to do so in England.

    England is a nation rich in road history. There are journeys to be made here and tales to tell that can be done over a weekend and on a budget.

    You can be your very own Jack Kerouac.

    St Mary's Church, Snettisham. (c. Nigel Nudds, A149 Landmarks, Amberley Publishing)

    Take the Peddars Way in Norfolk for example. It’s a 46-mile-long remnant of an old Roman road that some have suggested was ancient even before their sandalled feet first marched along its route. Then there’s Watling Street, the name given to the route travelled by the ancient Britons between Canterbury and St Albans. Another timeless route is the Icknield Way which links Norfolk to Wiltshire, following, as it does, high ground that includes the chalk escarpment that makes up the Berkshire Downs and Chiltern Hills.

    The sacred journey is as part of us as the air we breathe and countless atoms that make up our curious and ever exploring bodies. We are never still, we can never tarry a while at a given point A when our very being demands that we then seek out points B, C, D and many more beyond that.

    We cannot stand still. To take a journey is in our nature; it is at the core of our very essence.

    There is a romance to travel and a romance for the open road. Walt Whitman wrote of how he would, “…inhale great draughts of space; the east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine” in his poem The Song Of The Open Road.

    He knew. He felt it.

    And so have I. Always.

     

     

    Old Hunstanton Lighthouse and Ruins of St Edmund's Shapel, Hunstanton. (c. Nigel Nudds, A149 Landmarks, Amberley Publishing)

    The open road that beguiled me from an early age is a sinuous one that winds its way along the North Norfolk coast from Kings Lynn to Great Yarmouth. It is only 85 miles long, yet, for me, is one full of magic and wonder; of history ancient and modern and, above all, one that always leaves you wanting just a little bit more. A memorable journey indeed, one that will forever tempt you to keep going, on and on, negotiating its narrow straits, admiring abundant pretty villages and numerous views just so you can carry on turning the page in order to see what comes next.

    To the people that have long lived in the area, it is referred to, simply, as ‘The coast road’ whilst, to the suits and bland planners of Highways, it is referred to as the A149.

    Fetch a map. Let your eyes rest upon the very top of Norfolk, that stretch of coast where, if you travel due north from any of its wide-open beaches, you won’t hit landfall again until the frigid shores of the Arctic appear on the horizon.

    A wintry blast of cold air in the Arctic and one encountered in Norfolk are pretty much the same thing.

    Atop that part of the coast, the A149 wends its not particularly hurried way from one end of the county to another. We’ll travel it in a west to east direction, starting in King’s Lynn, formally Bishop’s Lynn but given the greater and grander title after it was ceded to the King from Bishop and Church in 1537.

    Harbour, Brancaster Staithe. Popular harbour with the sailing fraternity that also sustains a local fishing industry. (c. Nigel Nudds, A149 Landmarks, Amberley Publishing)

    A port that was once a member of the Hanseatic League and comparable, in importance, to Hamburg, Stockholm and Danzig.

    Where can we call upon the way?

    How about an ancient castle that once saw Isabella, the ‘she-wolf’ of France live within its mighty keep. Or via the railway station that once regarded European royal families and heads of state as regular visitors. Failing that, how about the lonely beach where a timber circle, as significant and ancient as Stonehenge was recently exposed and explored or maybe the nondescript meadow that was once home to a Roman fort, one which gives, according to those who know, “unparalleled insights” into the lives of Roman communities in Britain.

    “Unparalleled insights”. And in a nation that boasts of fine Roman settlements towns and cities as London, Bath and Winchester.

    All to be found on this one stretch of road. And all within the first twenty miles or so of its journey.

    You want more?

    Pier, Cromer. Grade II listed seaside pier. (c. Simon Moston, A149 Landmarks, Amberley Publishing)

    A landmark that was bequeathed by the last great ice sheet to cover this country. A church whose mighty 180-foot tower collapsed as the result of some over zealous bell ringing. Another church whose construction was abandoned due to the demands ladelled upon stone masons in the seventeenth century and which wasn’t completed until some 300 years later.

    Or the village that gave its name to one of the most famous cloths in the world, a distant home to the very finest weavers of Flanders came to call their own.

    All of the above. And so much more. A journey that takes the curious traveller through times and places a ’plenty that have made their mark on national or even world history. And all compressed into 85 miles of highway, a journey of discovery that Kerouac would have been proud to make.

    You can’t yet wear its t-shirt. But you can at least read the book. Be like Whitman. Travel this road and make both its east and its west you own.

    Explore. And prepare for delights.

    Edward Couzens-Lake's book A149 Landmarks is available for purchase now.

  • Cumbria in Photographs by Steve Pipe

    Cumbria through the seasons

    Each year Cumbria sees in excess of 15 million visitors and many of them come between Easter and October, which is a shame as Cumbria is a county of year round beauty. This ever changing beauty is something I tried to show in my Cumbria in Photographs book; capturing the colours and the activities is less of a challenge than capturing the atmosphere and feeling of the changing seasons; here are a few of my favourite seasonal moments which I think show the county at its finest.

    Spring

    Rhododendrons at Wastwater. (Cumbria in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    For me spring is a season of colour, especially if we’ve had a particularly long winter, and the rhododendrons at Wastwater really show that off. I remember taking that shot; it was a beautiful spring day, crisp and clear with a gentle warmth from the sun. Taking the perfect picture often involves a lot of hanging around so it’s nice when the weather warms up and makes things a little more comfortable. Even the small things like taking your time over lunch rather than hiding behind a tree or a rock for shelter and wolfing something down before your hands go numb, make a big difference.

    The county is awash with snowdrops, crocuses and bluebells but surely it’s our daffodils which are most famous, thanks to Mr Wordsworth. They were really late flowering this year due to the Beast from the East bringing some late snows and the daffodils photo was the very last one I took for the book, just a few days before the deadline. I kept visiting to check on their progress and wasn’t sure they’d be out in time, but thankfully they just made it.

    Summer

    Kelly Hall Tarn. (Cumbria in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    The challenge in summer can be escaping the crowds and finding a little peace and quiet and there are a few excellent “off the beaten track” sites in the book. Devoke Water and Kelly Hall Tarn are both usually pretty quiet, as are the fells to the south of Haweswater where you can often wander around all day and only see a few other people.

    If crowds are your thing then there are plenty of events on throughout the summer months where you can enjoy some of the more traditional aspects of life in the county. Many of the shows began as farming meets which, in the years before the phone and digital communication, played a vital role in local life. They are usually well advertised locally and are definitely worth a visit. As well as an increasing number of modern athletics events you’ll also be able to see local wrestling and hound trailing – both events are unique to the county.

    Autumn

    The Milky Way over Castlerigg Stone Circle. (Cumbria in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    As the nights draw in the county begins to glow with the glorious colours of autumn. The leaves on the trees turn through various shades of reds, golds and browns and the fells follow suit as the bracken dies back. Autumn is a great time to enjoy the dark skies above the county too; we have low levels of light pollution and, when the weather is clear, it’s easy to spot the arm of the Milky Way arcing high overhead.

    Autumn is also the best season to spot an inversion – when the clouds stay in the valleys leaving the fell tops clear. Although many inversions are gone by lunchtime some can last for several days so, as was the case with the Windermere inversion in the book. There’s nothing quite like hiking or driving up a hillside through thick fog then suddenly emerging into crisp clear sunshine, especially when you’ve got a full flask of hot tea and a rucksack full of sandwiches.

     

    Winter

    Flying over Ullswater. (Cumbria in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    The county is pretty much empty though the winter months. Many of the villages with high numbers of holiday homes become ghost towns and there’s no problem finding parking in even the most popular of spots. Although Cumbrian winters can be harsh, they can also be incredibly beautiful – though it’s best to make sure you’re well layered up with plenty of thermals. Crunching through the snow on top of a high fell is a wonderful experience, but only if you’re properly kitted out.

    One time when you’ll find plenty of people on the high fells is Remembrance Sunday when people gather at the war memorials dotted around the Lake District summits. The most well attended event is on top of Great Gable where, whatever the weather, several hundred people gather for a short service of remembrance.

    Last year I was lucky enough to enjoy a ride in a Gyrocopter which allowed me to take a couple of aerial shots for the book. It was a fantastic experience but perishing cold; I’d definitely do it again, but perhaps in the summer next time.

    Steve Pipe's new book Cumbria in Photographs is available for purchase now.

  • Lancashire in Photographs by Jon Sparks

    Summit of Clougha Pike (Lancashire in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    It’s often said that modern cameras have made photography easier. I can’t deny that the odds of consistently getting an image that’s in focus and correctly exposed are very much better than they were when I began my own photographic journey, before ‘digital imaging’ was even thought of. But ‘in focus and correctly exposed’ is not enough; it is not, and never has been, the be-all and end-all of photography. Landscape photography, for example, is not merely about making a record of a place but capturing how the photographer felt about that place.

    In fact, whether you’re shooting idyllic landscapes or hard-hitting news images, all the skill and all the equipment in the world count for very little unless you’re in the right place at the right time. And, yes, that’s another cliché, but it’s still true, and I hope the images in Lancashire in Photos show that I’ve managed to live up to it.

    Of course there’s an advantage for me in photographing Lancashire. I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’ve explored it in many different ways. When this book came on the horizon, I already had an extensive stock of images covering most of Lancashire, and I also had a pretty clear idea of places I wanted to visit, or revisit, for new pictures.

    Train and Arnside Tower from Silerdale Moss (Lancashire in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    However, I haven’t always had the advantage of playing at home. Other assignments have taken me to places I’m far less familiar with, and with strictly limited time to work in too. In those circumstances, there’s always a temptation to head straight for standard views and locations that you’ve already seen in other photographers’ work. Commercially, that’s sometimes a necessity, but from a personal perspective I tend to wonder what the point is. Photography for me is about capturing my own view of places, not reproducing someone else’s. And the ideal way to find my own view is to explore on my own, at a slow pace, and with a willingness to take a random turn because it looks interesting.

    In my view, landscape photography means being part of the landscape. It means engaging with it in some way, whether it’s walking, rock-climbing or cycling (on road- or mountain-bike). All of these have the great advantage of being slow; you move through the landscape at a pace that lets you take in details and allows all the senses to engage. Photography may be a visual medium, but it’s still underpinned by what you hear and feel and smell and taste.

    Working in my own backyard also means I’ve visited certain locations many times. I’ve trodden the summit of Clougha Pike at least three hundred times, and apart from the very early days I’ve always carried a camera, even if photography hasn't always been the first thing on my mind. When it comes to being in the right place at the right time, familiarity with the place certainly helps you figure out what might be the right time.

    Fireworks and train, Lancaster (Lancashire in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    Sometimes this means that I can head out with a pretty clear idea in my head of image(s) I hope will materialise. The image of a train and Arnside Tower had been in my mind for some time, and this hazy evening with the sun sinking behind and creating a semi-silhouette effect was just what I’d been looking for (maybe a steam train would be even more picturesque, but it would be a lot less typical).

    But you always have to be open to other possibilities too; while waiting for a train to appear, I noticed the backlighting on the moss crowning the wall right in front of me, which became the very next image in the book. The two were taken almost exactly five minutes apart.

    A train figures in my next example too, though this time it was a bonus, rather than central to my original plan. Shooting fireworks displays like this one over Lancaster Castle definitely requires preparation (and a good tripod), and because each exposure lasts a minute or more you can only shoot a limited number during the 15 or 20 minutes of the average show. I’d scouted the location beforehand, so I knew the railway line ran through the middle distance, but I couldn’t guarantee that there’d be a Pendolino pulling out of Lancaster station during the display. Once I saw it start to move, however, I had to keep the shutter open until its headlights had travelled right through the frame; fortunately this meshed perfectly with a 60-second exposure.

    War Memorial, Slaidburn (Lancashire in Photographs, Amberley Publishing)

    Then there are the shots that weren’t planned at all, like the image of the war memorial in Slaidburn. I was heading for a walk over the hills to Clitheroe but as the bus passed through the village I noticed the light making an already poignant memorial even more so. Fortunately, the bus-stop was only around the corner, and the first thing I did after disembarking was to jog back up the street to get the shot.

    Planning and spontaneity have to coexist, then, as they did with the image of Lytham that graces the cover of the book. I’d gone expecting to shoot images of the windmill and the old lifeboat station from almost exactly the opposite direction, bathed in late-autumn evening sunlight. However, you can plan for many things but clouds will always do their own thing – and even as they were threatening to frustrate my original intentions I saw the potential for a completely different shot. The first requirement for a landscape photographer – any photographer – is keeping your eyes open.

    Jon Sparks new book Lancashire in Photographs is available for purchase now.

  • Defining a Gem in the Yorkshire Dales by Mike Appleton

    “Defining a ‘gem’ is as much down to personal choice, affiliation and affection as it is to conform to a set checklist of what beauty or a landmark should be.”

    That's the opening line from my new book 50 Gems of the Yorkshire Dales published by Amberley. The tome seeks to discover some of the best places the area has to offer; being distinctive, historical, picturesque, geologically fascinating and above all personal.

    Identifying a 'gem' is something I thought would be easy. As my introduction says: “We can all identify an icon, a symbol, an area of outstanding natural scenery; in fact we do it every day in the choices we make”. Holidays are often based around lakes, mountains and ravines; drives and cycles in the country end up in fantastic pubs or cafes; we can all name a stunning vista from our childhood.”

    The Dales is my gem and I have been able to transform that love into narration and the ability to use the knowledge I’ve gained, foot by foot, step by step, in language.

    Surprisingly though, that adoration was tested to the full when I was asked to photograph, capture and name 50 of the best places in the Yorkshire Dales. Quite simply, for an area that has so much natural beauty, how can you choose one particular ‘sight’ over another? How can you rank a gem? In a time of bucket lists and must dos, how do you choose the ‘big’ numbers, the scenery that everyone must see? What happens if the smaller fells, a rock in an odd place or setting should be on the sheet too?

    In the end I had to make a choice as I wanted the gems to be as personal as possible. They needed to connect me to a landscape I know and love so much. They are my 50 and as a result there had to be a certain amount of trade-off to make sure I drafted a list I could be happy with.

    They also had tick the boxes – I hate that phrase – of what Amberley does best. Local, Historical, Geographical and Accessible. I think I achieved that.

    Here are some of my favourites:

    Yorkshire - Ease Gill

    1. Ease Gill, near Casterton

    It takes a hardy (if somewhat mad) soul to go underground through the multitude of passages that honeycomb the Dales, but the rewards are immense.

    Ease Gill is part of the Three Counties System, the longest and most complex cave system in Britain, and lies below the Casterton, Leck and Ireby Fells around the 2,057ft Gragareth. So much so that nearly 90km of passage has been found to date – with discoveries continuing all the time.

    Cavers don't have it all to themselves: you can enjoy what's happening above the surface too. Simply follow the beck from its full flow, right through to where it disappears underground and then into spectacular gorges.

    Its remote location means it is very rarely visited. It's serene, colourful at all times of the year, and the perfect place to reflect.

     

    Yorkshire - Semerwater

    2. Semerwater

    Semerwater, near Bainbridge, is the second largest natural lake in Yorkshire after Malham Tarn – and legend has it that it was once the site of a prosperous city in the Dales.

    The story goes that an old man came to the city in search of food and drink. He knocked on each door, being rebuked every time, before he found a welcoming ‘hovel’ where a poor couple pitied and took him in.

    After enjoying the couple’s hospitality, the old man turned to face the town and said: “Semerwater rise! Semerwater sink! And swallow the town, all save this house, Where they gave me meat and drink." Immediately, the waters of the lake rose up and flooded the area drowning all of its citizens, except for the couple who took him in.

    Today the lake is rarely busy, usually glass-like and great for the many birds that visit its shores.

     

    Yorkshire - Ingleborough

    3. Cheese Press Stones, near Ingleton

    Take the path to the Turbary Road from Ingleton to experience this eerie scenery at its finest. You climb into an area of dense limestone, boulders and pavement, before the going is fairly flat and grass-like with Gragareth stretching ahead. Here, in this superb setting – in the stunning Kingsdale – are the Cheese Press Stones.

    These stones were more than likely left stranded in this location by ice movement in the Ice Age. Since then, unlike the limestone which is nearby, they have been shaped and smoothed by the elements, not contorted or cracked.

    The view from here across the Dales is equally as impressive.

     

    Yorkshire - Gunnerside4. Gunnerside

    Long before farming and tourism became the dominant way of making a living in the Dales, heavy industry shaped some of the countryside we visit today.

    Take a walk around Gunnerside – particularly Gunnerside Gill – and the impact of this activity, albeit hundreds of years ago, is there for all to see. This picturesque dale, Swaledale, was the site of a major lead mining enterprise.

    The valley still contains much of its industrial past with dammed streams and old workings dotted around the gill. Sure, it sounds a bit bleak – but in a strange way it adds a certain charm to some of the best countryside the Dales has to offer.

     

    5. Some little-known pubs...

    Yorkshire and pubs go together – and after a walk there are several you can enjoy. My favourites are:

     

    Yorkshire - WoolpackThe Falcon Inn, Arncliffe

    The original Woolpack in long running soap Emmerdale. It’s the way it serves its beer that is the real gem.

    The ale of choice, Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker, is poured from a jug to a glass. It’s the traditional way of serving beer which keeps the ale at room temperature and ensures its great condition.

     

     

     

    The George and Dragon, Dent

    The tap house for Dent Brewery! Say no more!

    Station Inn, Ribblehead

    Remote and in the shadow of Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside, this pub offers breathtaking scenery and great ale!

     

    Yorkshire - 9781445645605

    Mike Appleton's book 50 Gems of the Yorkshire Dales is available for purchase now.

    To find out more go to mascarandmedia.com

    All photos by Mike Appleton.

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