Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Samson's Toe and Catrigg Force
Contrasting Wonders of Ribblesdale

I visited Settle on Bank Holiday Monday - my favourite town in England - mainly to delve through the classic old volumes at the book fair, but, like all outdoor types, I couldn't resist a wander onto the inevitable limestone.  It is possible to drive from Langcliffe village, just outside the town, and take the steep road towards Malham.  A short distance up is a parking spot near the Winskill Stones nature reserve - and there is this lovely view towards Winskill Farm, Smearsett Scar and Ingleborough.

It's worth a trip up the lane just to see this: a massive erratic boulder of Silurian origin known as Samson's Toe. (SD833662)  Like the famous erratics of Norber, if has been plucked from the lower levels of the Dale where older rocks are exposed, probably from the area around Horton-in-Ribblesdale to the north, and ceremoniously dumped on this plateau by the melting ice, some 12,000 years ago.  The limestone has been eroded around it to leave it balanced on a wide pedestal.

From this angle - Samson's Toe is more like a munching Pac-Man.  The wide yawning gap is where weathering has caused two 'corns' to break away from the toe onto the grassland just below.

The corns can be seen well in this picture, on the left.

Emily and Jed measure up for size.

Which do you prefer - a black and white toe ...... ?

.... or a colour toe?

A great view of the massive boulder seated on its pedestal of Great Scar Limestone, with a lovely colour contrast.  

A fine view across to Penyghent.  Many of the pavements of Winskill were systematically destroyed as recently as the 1980s for garden rockeries and industry. Thankfully, this shameful practice has now been made illegal.  The landscape is recovering, but we can never get back what we have destroyed.  We have a lot to answer for.

Another stunning view across to Lower Winskill, with the prominent ridges of Smearsett Scar and Pot Scar (see my Scars of Feizor post from July) and the inevitable Ingleborough on the right.

Nearby is the beautiful double waterfall of Catrigg Force, hidden in its own enchanted glen, said to be haunted by a Boggart.  It is tricky to photograph on a sunny day, so this picture shows only the bottom half to avoid the glare.  Catrigg Force has been formed along the step of the North Craven Fault.

It is possible, with care, to stand on a limestone pedestal above for a great view down the force.  This was the favourite place of the composer Edward Elgar.  He would relax here when visiting his friend, Dr. Buck, in Settle.  Why wasn't there a Catrigg concerto?

Standing in the stream below - Catrigg Force is seen in all its glory - as perfect a mixture of woodland and water as you could ever witness.

These two features can be combined in much longer walks, but when you have only half a day to spare and want to see Settle as well as some of its lovely limestone, you can't beat this little stroll.  Enjoy it.

Stephen x

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