Journey to Yorkshire 2017 – Part 2: Scalebar and Stainforth Force

February 03, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Day 1 set the pattern for each of the two full days that we would be here.  English summers can be beautiful, and I truly believe that on a sunny day England can be as beautiful as anywhere in the world, but the weather in England is like a spiteful child and cannot be trusted. 

Mornings started promising and bright, but rain was forecast, late evenings it would clear.  Not exactly waterfall photography friendly weather.  Showers are one thing, but these were going to be HEAVY showers.

On the plus side, plenty of rain filled the rivers, (almost to overflowing), so that avoided the low levels that I found on the Elidir Trail (see blog entries).  On the down side: it was wet, very wet, and with a lot of low cloud.  My poor 70D is not sealed well enough to cope with such constant rain.  Add to this that many of the landscape views would be shrouded in a blanket of grey and totally hidden.   Very sad.  The landscape we had come to see is stunning.  I promise!

England, I love you…but aggghhhh! 

Anyway, being English, we’re used to this kind of problem.  We know we cannot let it stop us enjoying a holiday!  So it didn’t.  It just meant for some creative shots out of car windows in the persistent heavy drizzle cloaked in low cloud, (see part 3 to be posted shortly).

So Day 1 then. 

Up to Settle. Scalebar Force.  I had seen many shots of this beautiful place so I had to include it on my list.  It’s one of the most stunning falls in the country.  The Ingleton Waterfall trail is nearby, but it’s a four-mile circuit.  Four miles and lots of waterfalls and features, it would take me maybe six hours to get around.  No, not this year.  Another time perhaps.

You’ll see that I have only included a link to Google Images for Scalebar, because I didn’t make it. 

Thank you BT!  Yes, British Telecom.  For some unknowable reason, except to their infinite wisdom, the main national provider of communication cables had their Broadband vehicles working on roads all over the county, and many country roads were closed.  Why, why, why???  In summer???  When people visit!  Oppfff, BT ya! 

The road leading out from Settle to Malham passing Scalebar was closed, from both ends.  I assume at the same time.  We tried both.  No access.  Scalebar would be a five or six mile hike, in wind and rain. 

Catrigg Force is also near Settle, but again not on my list due to hiking distance and the weather conditions.  Stainforth Force was closer to the road…and no BT wagon closing it.  Success!

Stainforth Force 2Stainforth Force 2The three sections of Stainforth Force, the River Ribble, North Yorkshire

Stainforth Force on the River Ribble: f/8 - 5sec - 15mm - ISO100

The River Ribble, (what a lovely name), was raging.  The deluge of the previous days and the heavy intermittent showers of the morning had it full to the brim.  Some online official images show it as a fairly low flow, but today it was roaring.  The falls are in three close stages, the bottom dropping some two or three feet into an almost black, narrow gorge.

It’s impossible to get a head on shot of this waterfall without drone or drowning.  I don’t have the former, and certainly didn’t fancy the later.  I got as close to the edge as I would dare, (NB for my wife: don’t worry, not that close). 

The rain had stopped.  Barely even spitting now. The sky was cloudy so no sunlight burning out the highlights in a silky long exposure.  As always, I framed up a composition without filters first at normal shutter speed, to check framing.  Then took several shots at different shutter speeds to see the effect on the water.  It was hard to capture the scale of the fall from this angle.  Further back, trees and the craggy rocks would block the view.   I settled on a panorama of three images to get as much of a view as I could, see above, using manual settings to ensure the exposure didn’t change.

The bottom section was the most aggressive plunge down into the river, the middle section has some interesting abstract patterns in the flow, but the top section has more details in its side channels and almost horseshoe shape.  I moved up closer to focus on this part.

Middle section: f/11 - 3.2sec - 50mm - ISO 100 

Top section: f/16 - 6sec - 38mm - ISO 100

You know, I think I am obsessed with water!  My star sign? Nope, I’m not a water sign, not that I believe in that anyway…and no, I wasn’t dropped in a river as a kid, (at least, my parents never mentioned that I was…).  I find waterfalls mesmerizing, indeed water generally.  Check my Flickr feed, and it seems like 70% of my shots feature water in some way, even my shots of flowers often have rain on them.  Thanks to the UK weather again! 

I framed up a few more shots to get details of this upper section.  I could photograph it for hours.  Wow it was a loud river that day! 

Ok, just about done.  A couple more shots needed.  Looking upriver from the force you can see the old stone bridge of the single track lane leading from the main road to the village of Lower Stainforth.  The lane has a great name: ‘Dog Hill Brow’!

Could I get a shot of the falls, the Ribble and the Bridge?  It would have to be HDR, or at least blending images.  The grey clouds were very bright compared to darkness of the forest on the bank.  Framed up, Little Stopper on plus a polarizer to take the glare off the wet stone in the foreground, I bracketed for 3 shots covering almost 4 stops; it should be enough.  Indeed, it was, just enough to keep some detail in the cloud and water, yet allow for the shadows in the trees.

Stainforth Force 1Stainforth Force 1Stainforth Force, top section, on the River Ribble, looking towards the bridge on Dog Hill Brow, North Yorkshire

Stainforth Force (top section), The River Ribble, and the bridge on Dog Hill Brow:

3 shots Lightroom HDR f/8 - 1-3.2-10sec - 24mm - ISO 100

Thank you weather (and BT), you behaved enough for me to get this waterfall, all done I packed up my gear and headed back to the car. 

The drive up to the Ribblesdale Viaduct would have been gorgeous, if the hills of Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough were not shrouded in low cloud.  It rained hard, frequently!  There was no point stopping the car for views.  If the low cloud would clear a bit, there would be some beautiful atmospheric monos.  Not a chance.  The weather was set in!

Would I be able to photograph the majestic Ribblesdale viaduct)  Would I be able to SEE the viaduct?  Part 3, next week!

Has the weather (or telecoms engineers) ever done something similar to you?

Share your experience with a comment or two!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.


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