Gripes and grikes

Having griped so recently about the way in which some paths in upland areas are being paved* - I did at least manage a rueful smile after a near mishap on a rather different sort of pavement while running over Ingleborough the other day. Limestone pavement that is - the deep irregular grikes requiring real concentration to pass across at any kind of pace.
Looking across to Pen-y-ghent from the steep climb above Gaping Gill. On reaching the summit I was rewarded with a few moments of warm sunshine...
...and sat for a short while looking out over the Howgills to the north, before dropping steeply at first and then along the more gently angled descent towards Horton in Ribblesdale. It is a good path to run, retaining technical interest while still allowing for a fast pace. No doubt this too will disappear beneath the regular monotony of square slabs before long.
And crossing the limestone pavement - a feature for which The Dales is rightly famous there being less than 3,000 ha remaining in the UK and much of it here. In fact, less than 3% of the UK's limestone pavements have escaped damage according to the Wildlife Trusts, the greater percentage of damage being caused by quarrying to supply featured stone for garden rockeries. How ironic that we have removed so much natural limestone pavement in recent years, destroying a unique habitat, and are now intent on flying in huge quantities of stone flags, quite literally to cover our tracks.

*I would qualify this by saying that on the whole, I support the various initiatives that exist to repair paths, prevent erosion and protect the fragile landscapes of our upland regions. Yet I cannot help but wonder at the size and nature of certain 'repair' work - large flags (300kg each) of approx 1m in width, laid two abreast for instance - a tarmac pavement would hardly be more intrusive but would generate all kinds of protest and rightly so... Then there is the tendency to lay these slabs following the contour on less steeply sloping ground, which when wet or icy simply forces people onto the more secure heather and peat to either side... I have seen examples of both on recently constructed paths in The Dales. Equally the nature of certain repair work in The Lakes is lamentable - paths so wide they are visible from remarkable heights and which are completely out of keeping with their surroundings. There are good examples too - the steep track which leads up the southern flank of Liathach in the Highlands springs to mind. Barely visible until you are actually upon it, it blends superbly into the fell side, does an excellent job of protecting against erosion on a popular route and remains as just as tiring to ascend as ever. Which is exactly how it should be.

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