Fresh Page

cloudsTHE START OF THE NEW YEAR feels like opening a new sketchbook; a fresh white page to fill with whatever takes my interest.

My Dalesman nature diary for JanuaryDalesman January issueThis year I’m going to be focussing on the Yorkshire Dales because I’ve just started writing the nature diary for the Yorkshire Dalesman magazine. My new feature gets a mention on the Dalesman website;

‘Wild Yorkshire
Richard Bell hits the ground running as he gets ready to watch wildlife in the new year’

That sums up the way I feel today.

This new monthly column is all the excuse that I need to explore a National Park that Barbara and I tend to ignore. If we’ve got only a day we tend to head for the Peak National Park, if we’ve got a few days we zoom through the Dales on our way to the Lake District National Park or we head for our favourite stretch of coast where the North Yorks Moors National Park meets the sea.
male goosanderIt’s one of those New Year’s days which make you feel as if a new chapter is opening. It’s bright, cool and breezy. We don’t seem to have seen much sun over the Christmas period or any that we had, I missed.

The river isn’t in flood but it is lapping around the trunks of the willows that grow on a low silty bank by the bridge. A male Goosander, looking as freshly painted as a decoy duck, dives amongst them.


There’s some soft but insistent tapping on the patio windows. The cock Pheasant is back. I can’t tell whether he’s pecking at his own reflection or picking little fragments of spent sunflower seeds from the glass.

pheasant, great tit and blackbird

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi Richard,
    A belated Happy New Year and Congratulations on securing a column in the “Dalesman”!
    I used to see the Dalesman in the newsagents here in Australia but I can’t recall seeing it for some time. Hopefully I will be able to track down a copy of the January 2013 edition.
    Best regards,

    1. Happy New Year Roman and hope that you’re well clear of the bush fires. Thank you, I’m enjoying the new challenge and on our first research trip who should Barbara and I bump into during a our lunch break in Helmsley but celebrated Yorkshire author and dramatist Alan Bennett. I didn’t tell him what I did for a living but he must have somehow guessed what my specialist subject is because, as he walked away he asked ‘Do you know where there’s a good cafe?’.

      1. By coincidence I just read, and very much enjoyed, Alan Bennett’s autobiographical account of his childhood “Telling Tales”. Having listened to him deliver his monologues I could hear his very distinctive voice in my head as I read, it was almost as though he was reading to me. Regarding your specialist subject you sound like a man after my own heart, perhaps there is a market for a “Yorkshire Dales Good Cafe Guide”?

        1. I’m going to have to go easy on the good Yorkshire cafes as, after a walk over the moors and a visit to one of our favourites, the Bank View cafe at Langsett, I discovered I’d put on 2 pounds, almost a whole kilogram!

  2. Hi Richard
    My Mum stopped getting the Dales magazine as she complained it was full of adverts! but I shall buy it myself now and then pass it on to her after I I have read it.
    My sincere congratulations for getting to write a column for the Dales my suprise is, why on earth didn’t they ask you years ago?!!
    best wishes

    1. I was intending to get up into the Dales to do a few days research this month. If only I had a 4 x 4!
      I’ve subscribed for my mum too so I hope Dalesman are seeing a surge in sales.

  3. my grandad cuthbert 99 year old yorkshire miner keeps telling me i should make a bob or two by selling all his old coppies of the dalesman.

    He was 14 when he first worked in the mines with 300 pit ponies. Another world ago. i wonder if their is any one who wants his well kept collection. Any ideas would be much apreciated

    1. I’m researching our family history at the moment and having a first hand account of life nearly a century ago is a real asset. Hope you get all this written down! Not sure whether there is a market for old Dalesmans, or should that be Dalesmen, I’d guess that some issues are really hard to get hold of, so you never know. Perhaps it would be worth a small ad in the magazine.

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