Digging at the Hagg in 2018

SWAAG, the Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group, recently completed their excavations at the Hagg for this year. SWAAG have been working at the site since 2009, which comprises a Romano-British farmstead. This year the dig took place for two weeks and made a number of interesting discoveries. The excavations are adding a wealth of new information about Romano-British life in the dales. At present our understanding of these sites in the dales generally is rather limited.

Continue reading “Digging at the Hagg in 2018”

Mud pies for grown ups!

This spring, I was tasked with some soil sampling to support a farmer’s agri-environment scheme. As support officer for the Farm Conservation team, this is a straightforward but enjoyable task that allows me to practise the skills I need to progress in my job – talking to farmers, map reading, species and habitat identification, and taking photos in the sunshine! Continue reading “Mud pies for grown ups!”

So quick? The unstoppable spread of ash dieback disease

It started with a chance conversation with a workmate who commutes to our offices in Bainbridge from Sedbergh.   Had I seen the young ash trees dying on the Garsdale road verges?  I confessed I hadn’t.

A week or so later I was driving that way and my eyes were opened.  It was true. All along the Garsdale road there were young ash trees in a bad state.  It was mid-summer, but their branches were bare.  Continue reading “So quick? The unstoppable spread of ash dieback disease”

Dairy Days Training Day: archaeological field surveying

Dairy Days Archaeological Field Survey training day
Tuesday 4th September 2018
Hawes

A really exciting aspect of the HLF-funded Dairy Days project is the archaeological field surveys and excavation we have planned for the coming year.

For our first training day we will be learning to survey and record the enigmatic archaeological features known as stackstands. Read our blog post on ‘Stackstands and stackgarths‘ for background information on these important sites.

Stackstands and field barns near Askrigg

Our Community Heritage Officer Douglas Mitcham has sent us the following short summary of the aims of the day:

This Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority-led one day training event aims to teach local volunteers basic archaeological survey techniques. It forms part of the HLF-funded Dairy Days project, which is currently investigating the heritage of dairying in Wensleydale. The course aim is to equip people with the skills needed to help us survey a number of key dairying sites in the dale. Participants will be given an introduction to the Dairy Days project and the role that archaeological survey will play. The course then comprises five main sessions which will focus on understanding survey, planning and reconnaissance; understanding earthworks; conducting reconnaissance and level 1 survey; undertaking plane table survey; undertaking tape and offset survey. A final open session will give participants the chance to undertake further practice in whatever techniques they wish. The day will conclude with a re-cap on what the course has covered, including forthcoming opportunities to take part in archaeological surveys for the Dairy Days project.

If you would like to join us then contact Douglas Mitcham to book your free place. Lunch will be provided.

Email: douglas.mitcham@yorkshiredales.org.uk
Phone: 01969 652353

My Memorable Working Week

Kate behind the camera, filming the interview

I first thought work experience was a waste of time, an excuse to get the kids out of school for a week. But how wrong I was.

Doing work experience at Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has been one of the most eye-opening and exciting opportunities I have ever had. From Human Resources to Reception, from the Rangers to the Communications teams (which I worked with), everyone is so welcoming and friendly.

Continue reading “My Memorable Working Week”

Trees for the future

My dreams of having a smallholding recently came true when my family took on a few acres of pasture near our home in the Yorkshire Dales. Long-term plans include hens, bee-keeping, an allotment, a couple of donkeys and maybe some pigs – but the thing I wanted to do straight away was plant some native trees and establish an orchard. Continue reading “Trees for the future”

Dairying folklore

We have been doing a little research into the superstitions surrounding dairying after we read this in Marie Hartley & Joan Ingilby’s book ‘Life and Tradition in the Yorkshire Dales‘:

“Mr J. Swales, born 1874, of Low Wood, near Pateley Bridge, remembers a family story of his grandfather, born about 1812, going to Ripon to see a wise woman because the butter would not come, and she gave him some horseshoe nails in a bottle to be buried in the churchyard. Similarly, Margaret Little of Lowlands, Askrigg, Wensleydale, used to put a poker across the top of her stand churn to keep witches away”
Hartley & Ingilby (1997 2nd ed p17)

Continue reading “Dairying folklore”

Yorkshire’s highest mountain needs your help!

Have you ever walked to the top of Yorkshire’s highest hill?

One of Yorkshire's famous Three Peaks, Whernside is suffering from its popularity - and needs your help.
One of Yorkshire’s famous Three Peaks, Whernside is suffering from its popularity – and needs your help.

At 736 metres and offering great views, Whernside is a fantastic walk, and it’s estimated that 80,000 people climb to the summit every year.

Whether you are walking it to enjoy the view, as part of a challenge, or simply to get away from it all, it’s certainly worth the effort.

But popularity comes at a price and the pressure from the boots of vast numbers of walkers is taking its toll on the mountain’s network of paths. The resulting erosion is damaging fragile habitats and creating ever-widening scars on our most iconic landscape. Continue reading “Yorkshire’s highest mountain needs your help!”

Get on the Trail! New family cycle route launched

The final touches have gone in to finish the Swale Trail – our new 12 mile (20km) cycle route along the length of Swaledale – in preparation for its official launch yesterday (Sunday 29 April).

Around 50 invited guests helped us cut the ribbon, including Reeth and Gunnerside School staff and pupils, local businesses, contractors, and the volunteers who worked on it – as well as a group of children who cycled part of the Trail to get there.

Continue reading “Get on the Trail! New family cycle route launched”

Why you should take part in this year’s Cheese Festival

Shepherds Purse Cheese Stall

We are already very excited about the prospect of our 2018 Yorkshire Dales Cheese Festival and this year we want it to be even bigger and better!

There are so many ways to get involved, whether you are local, a visitor or a Yorkshire Dales business.

From Saturday 15 to Sunday 23 September 2018, all across the Yorkshire Dales, we are asking restaurants, cafes, farms and attractions to come together to champion the fantastic range of food that is produced right here on our doorstep. Continue reading “Why you should take part in this year’s Cheese Festival”

Have your say: What needs doing in the National Park?

Muker village

Perhaps more than ever before, there are many challenges facing our National Park as we look ahead over the next five years:

  • Support for our farmers after Brexit
  • Inspiring young people to discover, explore and enhance their environment
  • The illegal persecution of birds of prey
  • Rail haulage of crushed rock from the quarries
  • The provision of fast broadband to our communities
  • New housing and the retention of access to crucial services like primary schools and GPs

Plans for all of these and many, many more are included in the new draft National Park Management Plan 2019-2024. Now is your opportunity to have your say on what’s included and what’s not. Continue reading “Have your say: What needs doing in the National Park?”

Dairy Days Project Launch

We are launching our new Dairy Days project on Tuesday 24 April, 10.30am to 3pm, at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

  • Was your family involved in dairying and have you got memories, photos or stories that you’d like to share?
  • Are you interested in finding out about archaeological sites, old buildings or even going on a dig?
  • Do you have dairying bygones you can tell us about? Come along and see some of the ones we have at the Museum
  • Do you make your own cheese, yoghurt or kefir? Share your favourite recipes, hints and tips
  • Do you run a visitor business selling, making or serving dairy-based food? We’d like to work with you!

Continue reading “Dairy Days Project Launch”

How lovely to see you!

Sheep and their lambs in the Yorkshire Dales

These lambs seen last night in Hawes seem a good hook into this article which was first published in the Yorkshire Post on Sat 17 March 2018:

Right now it’s all cuteness and joy in the hills, but when lambing really gets going in a few weeks’ time few farmers will be able to get by without at least a momentary grumble. When the tiredness kicks in, and the work seems endless, the perennial question will come:  ‘Why do I do this?’ Continue reading “How lovely to see you!”

‘Much More Than Meets The Eye’ – James’ Art Exhibition is a Scratch Card Winner

Wensleydale Barn

My name is James Owen Thomas and I am 16 years old. ‘Much More Than Meets The Eye’ is my exhibition and this is my story.

James Owen Thomas with his collage artwork
James Owen Thomas with his collage artwork

You’ve got to be strong to be different and the way I keep myself strong is through my collage art.

Four years ago a discarded scratch card floating in a puddle of water by the road caught my attention as the sunlight seemed to make its colours glisten.

Continue reading “‘Much More Than Meets The Eye’ – James’ Art Exhibition is a Scratch Card Winner”

We want our birds of prey back

Peregrine in flight at Malham Cove. Credit: Phil Smith.

Never has it been easier to identify the biggest, most important issue for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. No, it is not the impact of empty second homes on community life.  It is the future of upland farming post-Brexit.  Decisions made in the next few years on a new, England-only agricultural policy could shape the landscape of the Dales – and its communities – for the next fifty years.

Continue reading “We want our birds of prey back”

Malham – one of the best places to walk in Britain? The public think so, and I agree.

Family walking across Malham Cove

Malham has been voted one of the best places to walk in the UK and I know exactly why. On ITV’s Britains Favourite Walks, which listed the top 100 trails as voted for by you, the walk around Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove, came a glorious 3rd. Only losing out to two of Britain’s highest mountains. I think that’s a fair reflection of just how special the area is. Continue reading “Malham – one of the best places to walk in Britain? The public think so, and I agree.”

Hear the ‘Voices From The Land’

Cows in a Dales pasture

In my opinion the very essence of the Dales is a field of cows chewing on the August fog. Cows are such peaceful, steady creatures. My fondness for them started in childhood, with my granddad and uncle keeping a herd of thirty on the farm in Upper Wensleydale.

Few mornings would be so cut through with seriousness as those when the farmyard would be sealed off so that the great bull could come out to serve the cows. Few sounds would be so pleasing as the pulsating of the overhead pipes in the shippon at milking time. Few tastes would be so good as the fresh milk. Continue reading “Hear the ‘Voices From The Land’”

The Dales with a Tolkien twist

Hand drawn map of the Yorkshire Dales

A local artist has taken inspiration from Tolkien to produce a “Middle Earth” style map of the Yorkshire Dales.

Dan Bell, of Crook, has been taking maps of places, including the Peak District and the Lake District, and recreating them in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien’s hand-drawn maps published in The Lord of the Rings series. He’s on a mission to draw one for each of our national parks, and he’s already done ours. Continue reading “The Dales with a Tolkien twist”

Down on the Farm

Charcoal burning in the woods

Each year, special ‘Authority Days’ give staff the chance to get involved in practical tasks that help care for the National Park, and to gain a better understanding of other departments’ work at the same time.

This year, the range of important conservation and education jobs included flag laying, path repairs, creating native woodland and a wildlife pond, archaeology test pitting, scrub management and vegetation clearance.

Last Tuesday, I took part in my first Authority Day, so I would love to tell you about what we got up to…

Continue reading “Down on the Farm”

National Parks Week 2017: here’s what you can do in the Dales!

Guided Walk - Threshfield

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate everything wonderful and unique about our UK family of 15 National Parks.

The theme this year is ‘Bringing People Together’ and we’ve got lots going on here in the Dales. Come and see for yourself why the public voted us National Park of the Year (BBC Countryfile Magazine)!

We’ve got six super guided walks to choose from, all led by our knowledgeable and enthusiastic Dales Volunteers:

Continue reading “National Parks Week 2017: here’s what you can do in the Dales!”