The Dales Countryside Museum has published six new Voices From The Dales podcasts starring people from the mountainous heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, as part of the ‘Wild Ingleborough’ nature recovery project.
Podcast characters include Muslim hikers, a builder, a farmer, an access campaigner, a guide known as the ‘Dales Dipper’, and the man at the helm of England’s most remote signalbox.
They share their personal stories and visions for the landscape across six 15-minute Voices From The Dales episodes, presented from the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve by oral historian Anna Greenwood and Andrew Fagg, from the nearby town of Hawes.
Commissioned by Wild Ingleborough, the podcasts have been produced as part of a wider community arts project called ‘Our Ingleborough’, which culminates this week with a festival at venues in Ribblehead, Clapham, Ingleton and Settle.
The Ingleborough area covers around 100 square kilometres of the Craven district of North Yorkshire, known by some as the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
Voices From The Dales is available on all podcast platforms.
Wild Ingleborough lead, Jono Leadley, said: “As part of nature’s recovery, it’s vital that we listen to the voices of local people and their visions for future. This series of podcasts highlights the importance of Ingleborough for people, nature and livelihoods and the complex demands placed on our natural environment”.
Oral Historian Anna Greenwood, from Nidderdale, said: “The beauty of oral history is that it capture’s people’s thoughts, beliefs and perceptions in their own words and using their own expressions. It brings us closer to each other and expands our understanding in ways that written history cannot.
“What I realised from meeting the people who contributed to these podcasts is how varied their use, enjoyment and understanding of the land is.”
Kevin Frea, who is Member Champion for Promoting Understanding at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, which runs the Dales Countryside Museum, said: “Our mission is to share the stories of the people and places of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Wild Ingleborough’s contribution to the Voices From The Dales podcasts fulfils that mission beautifully.
“In the podcasts farmer John Dawson makes a powerful demand: ‘We must be heard’. Many, many people and organisations have a care for the Ingleborough area of the National Park and it is our pleasure to promote the voices of those who know it best.”
- Voices From The Dales episode. 9, ‘Our Ingleborough pt.1’: Farming
Ingleborough is mostly a farmed landscape and in Part One, commoner and dairyman John Dawson explains hill farming practices. ‘Our mark is a red arse,’ he says, referring to his sheep, before developing the argument that ‘everything is fine as long as you walk hand in hand with nature’.
- Voices From The Dales ep. 10, ‘Our Ingleborough pt.2’: Ribblesdale
Ribblesdale is the main valley in the Ingleborough area and is renowned for its quarries. In Part Two, local farmer and former quarryman Winston White reflects honestly on his career. ‘If they had the chance they’d knock your house down and crush that up as well,’ he says. Ribblesdale has also become home to printmaker Hester Cox. She has become so well known for using natural materials in her work that she receives unusual gifts. ‘People give me little boxes with dead birds in,’ she says.
- Voices From The Dales ep. 11, ‘Our Ingleborough pt.3’: Recreation
Thousands of people, often from the towns and cities of Lancashire and West Yorkshire, travel each week to the Ingleborough area for recreation. In Part Three, hear two men from a Muslim hikers group. Group leader Sham Ali proudly declares that he is from ‘Bradford, born and bred as a Yorkshireman,’ while teacher Tariq Shiraz shares his admiration for the way people try to keep the area free from litter. ‘People walk with bin liners,’ he says. Also in Part Three, Anna Greenwood goes for a dip with Les Peebles. ‘It quite clearly puts me into the present moment,’ says the all-year-round outdoor swimmer known as the ‘Dales Dipper’.
- Voices From The Dales ep. 12, ‘Our Ingleborough pt.4’: Campaigners
People have visions for the future of Ingleborough. For many, the hope is that it will become a wilder, even more species-rich environment. In Part Four, hear how Rachel Benson, who runs a bunk barn, has been making the vision a reality. ‘Now it is very flowery,’ she says of a restored hay meadow. Also hear the voice of an activist, Amy-Jane Beer. ‘It’s my place to go out to roam at will,’ she says.
- Voices From The Dales ep. 13, ‘Our Ingleborough pt.5’: Caving
Ingleborough is limestone – or karst – country. It is world famous for its caves. Part Five features Avelina Wright from the local Cave Rescue Organisation. ‘We don’t only pull humans out of holes,’ she says. Such was the pull of the caves for Lincolnshire woman Leann Rennie, she upped sticks and moved to the area. ‘There’s everything here that adventurous people like,’ she says. Her husband, Tam Rennie, also speaks of caving, while also giving an insight into his day job as signalman at Blea Moor on the Settle-Carlisle railway. ‘You don’t have to talk to anyone, it’s just bells,’ he says, glorying in the isolation.
- Voices From The Dales ep. 14, ‘Our Ingleborough pt.6’: Classic Oral History
In Part Six, hear children from nearby Settle Primary School interview their grandparents. 93 year old Edna Thornton, from the village of Austwick to the south of Ingleborough mountain, remembers the days when the milkman delivered milk directly into a jug on her doorstep each morning. Two granddads from Settle are asked about the changes they have seen in the natural environment. Meanwhile builder Kevin Woods, who from his home looks at Ingleborough’s peak, reflects on a lifetime of restoring traditional buildings in a way which doesn’t rob birds of their nest sites. ‘We’ll do owt we can for nature,’ he says.