The last rays of sunlight slant through the clouds and shadows begin to lengthen as evening falls over the impressive weather-worn limestone outcrops above Stainforth.
The unspoilt view seems to typify the romantic vision of the Yorkshire Dales. Stainforth, which derives its name from the Saxon for ‘stoney ford’, is situated to the east of the River Ribble with Little Stainforth close by.
The village sits in the shadow of Stainforth Scar, which is about two miles north of Settle and about three miles south of Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
For many years, Little Stainforth was the home to a building affectionately known as ‘The Hut’. It was sold some years ago but used to be an outward bound centre owned by Batley High School for Boys and was used for geography field trips. It still stands.
Using it as a base, groups of boys would venture out to conduct all manner of tests on the surrounding landscape, including ‘infiltration tests’ on different kinds of soil and experiments to determine the speed of the river water.
It is oft said of small villages in the Dales that by the time you realise you have driven into them, you are already driving out but perhaps that is part of their charm.
Out on the hills, where the weather can change in the blink of an eye, time seems to move at a glacial pace - the limestone outcrops, for which the area is known, have been a feature of this landscape for millennia. Cracked and worn by chill winds and gusting storms, scientists believe they once formed the bed of an ancient, shallow sea.
It’s heartening to think that here at least is a land unmolested by the constant melodrama which seems to be a feature of city life, where nothing remains the same for long. Old stone walls crawl across an undulating landscape, their stones grey and covered in hardy lichens, while great trees, which no doubt found purchase and shelter among their rocks as saplings, loom like giants. Even the roads are forced to follow the contours of this sceptered land, beautiful in splendid isolation.
Technical details: Nikon D4 camera, Nikkor 80-200 lens, 1/500th sec @ f9. ISO 400.
Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Words: Neil Hudson