Monday, June 11, 2007

This Land Is Our Land

Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales, is a picture postcard pretty village, pensioners kitted out in all the latest cycling gear congregated enjoying the sunshine, pride of place was a couple on a tandem. The village is also a centre for caving and potholing, the Cave Rescue Organisation does some sterling work rescuing people and animals. There has been a large increase in the number of sheep rescued, as well as the seven ducks. In their leaflet they list some of the rescues, one involved a woman with her young son, ‘stranded in dense fog on the edge of a cliff having left their compass and map in the car…’ They are very discreet just listing (M) or (F) and the age of the person rescued, no mention of the town or occupation.

We headed off up Clapdale Drive passing a huge lake with ornamental trees planted around it. There was a 50p charge but no real harassment to pay. The landscape changes to steep rocky sides with people practising rock climbing, hanging like limpets to the sheer face.

We broke out on the moor by Gaping Gill with its 110-metre drop. When we reached the summit of Ingleborough you can still see the outlines of the fort that the Celts built to try and escape from the Romans. It was a beautiful day and we could see across to the Ribblehead Viaduct, for hundreds of years the pack horses transported goods, with the coming of the railways the shops were full of old harnesses and the knacker’s yards with horses, a way of life gone in a moment.

At Ingleton the walk up the falls has been fenced off and there is a £4 charge supposedly “for maintenance” and “insurance”, I was reassured in the Tourist Information that it was a “local family” that owned it. No matter there, come on, £4 someone is making a killing. There were plenty of posters with ‘Private Land’ plastered on trees, I was waiting for someone with a green Barbour jacket and double bore shotgun to shout, ‘Keep Orf My Land’.

I was going to launch a ‘This Land Is Our Land” protest but I was low on numbers. The mass trespass at Kinder Scout in the 1930s opened up vast tracts of land. What has the Rambler’s Association done about this? Are they too busy selling Fair Isle Sweaters, expensive walking boots and those poles where people pretend they are skiing on dry land?

Next target is the Three Peaks – Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside – but I’ll need some serious training for that.


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