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New geology website! Dalesrocks.org.uk

Looking up Chapel-le-Dale from above Thornton Force just before sunset in late November. The Devensian ice moved from left to right across the picture, scouring the valley deeper and removing the cover of the limestone benches on each side. Credit: Stephen Oldfield
Looking up Chapel-le-Dale from above Thornton Force just before sunset in late November. The Devensian ice moved from left to right across the picture, scouring the valley deeper and removing the cover of the limestone benches on each side.  Credit:   Stephen Oldfield

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Bainbridge, 23 November, 2018

A Lancashire Primary School headteacher has helped produce a beautifully written and illustrated website on the geology of the Ingleborough Dales area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, in a project made possible by National Lottery players.  

Stephen Oldfield – who describes Ingleborough as “the most interesting mountain in Britain” – has provided the words and most of the photos for Dalesrocks.org.uk.

The website uses creative descriptions such as “Gritty Flat Caps” and “Rocky Sandwiches” to tell the story of what is known as Limestone Country.  It has an interactive map of all the geological sites described. as well as suggested walks.

Specially commissioned work by the illustrator, Elizabeth Pickett, also features, along with drawings of imagined ancient landscapes by Richard Bell and John Sibbick. (Examples here, here and here.)

Mr Oldfield, 49, who teaches at St John’s Stonefold CE Primary School in Accrington, said:  “The whole landscape means more when you know how it was formed. It becomes a story that you can walk in – and that is especially evident on Ingleborough.  

“On Ingleborough you can trace the journey of water from the cap to the bottom, through the caves and through all the bands of rock.  It is the most interesting mountain in Britain.”

He spent eight months of evenings and weekends writing the content for the website – but had already done the “spade work” after 40 years of visiting the area and carrying out specialist research:

“I used to spend every single minute of my time in the Three Peaks. It became an obsession from the age of 7 when I visited Weathercote cave in Chapel-le-Dale. I used to camp with my dad on land owned by one of his friends, Stanley Bargh.  Ingleborough was a Mount Everest to me,” he said.

Dalesrocks.org.uk is rich in descriptions, images and references.  Of Thornton Force near Ingleton, it says: “Intrepid explorers […will…] no doubt wonder at the sheer insignificance of their own measly lifespan in this place of wonder.  Touch the boulder bed with your thumb and stretch your fingers to touch the overlying Great Scar Limestone – and you are covering a time gap of some 170 million years.”

Trow Gill, which is on the path from Clapham to the top of Ingleborough, is described as follows: “The impressive gorge numbs the senses like the main water-feature of some ambitious giant’s garden – only with the supply dramatically cut off.”  

The Dalesrocks.org.uk project was managed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and funded by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) through Stories in Stone. This four-year programme of community, conservation and heritage projects was developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, led by YDMT, and is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Debbie Boswell, Stories in Stone project officer at YDMT, said: “This is a really exciting, attractive and easy to use website which offers a real element of discovery. It explains the local geology well and interprets the striking landforms that we all see around the area on a daily basis and often take for granted.”

Karen Griffiths, Interpretation Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, who commissioned Mr Oldfield and also helped design and write the website, said:  “The Yorkshire Dales National Park was designated in 1954 in large part due to its stunning geology. Dalesrocks.org.uk has been created to help people explore and learn more about this special part of the Yorkshire Dales.  

“Stephen Oldfield’s enthusiasm for the Ingleborough area shines through. Visit the website and you’ll be sure to want to explore the area again and again, seeing it with new eyes.”

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