OUT on my end of the week paddle on the Leeds and Liverpool canal last week, there was the remains of a couple of signal crayfish on the bank.

I’m guessing, or hoping, they had been eaten by an otter - unless anyone can advise me otherwise? a mink perhaps, I don’t think a stoat would get into the water, but I could be wrong, stoats do seem to be the most versatile and brave of hunters. Not so long ago I saw one go for a cockerel next to the canal - so very quick and determined.

A quick look at the Canal and River Trust website tells me the Signal Crayfish are not very nice. Originally from America, they are muscling in on our own, more docile crayfish, burrow away in the canal bank and most disturbingly, have a nasty sounding fungal disease called ‘crayfish plague’.

“Found throughout England, these 15cm-long beasts are aggressive, breed faster than the native species, and damage banks with their burrowing,” says the waterways charity.

“In high densities, signal crayfish burrow into banks, causing extensive damage, while eating most of the plants and small animals within the watercourse.

Their population has been thriving since they were brought to England as a fashionable seafood. This was unfortunate for our more docile white-clawed crayfish native to Britain.

“Our native crayfish have been depleting in numbers over the last 30 years as a result, and are now a protected species.

The American signal also carries a fungal disease called ‘crayfish plague’, which is harmful to our native species, and can be spread by wet footwear and equipment.”

So, there you have it, not very nice at all, and I really wouldn’t want to eat one, fashionable or not; and I wish I’d known about crayfish plague before I’d picked up the remains and had a good look.

KETTLEWELL churchyard, which has just been named the best in North Yorkshire, is a tranquil place enjoyed not only by parishioners but visitors, said the judges from the CPRE, The Countryside Charity.

It is also a haven for wildlife, including spotted flycatchers, as those who know about birds will have noticed in our feature of last week.

One of the parent birds, pictured here in a box at the churchyard was identified by Roger Nelson, a regular contributor of pictures of wildlife and country scenes for our ‘picture of the week’ slot.

Roger tells me he has never seen a spotted flycatcher in the UK later than September 17. He adds: “They used to be reasonably common, but have become much less so in recent years. I had one nest in my guttering a couple of years ago, but jay/magpie/jackdaw got its eggs.”

He tells me one looked like it might nest at his house this year, but changed its mind and flew off. Which reminds me of when I was a child, and opening the window and knocking off a housemartin’s nest by mistake, they never came back either.

THE group formerly known as Grassington and District Embroider’s Guild now has a new name - Grassington Textile Arts Group.

The group has been going for more than 30 years and its members share a love of all kinds of textile arts, including embroidery, both traditional and contemporary, felt making, knitting, weaving and lace-making - in fact anything to do with textiles and creativity.

Chris Mitchell, chair of the group, tells me: “We are delighted to have resumed our meetings in Wharfedale Rugby Club, Threshfield, and meet on the first and third Wednesdays each month, from 10am till 3.30pm.”

It will be a nice change for the members, who continued to meet during the coronavirus lockdowns by Zoom.

“We have a great time listening to speakers, enjoying workshops, and generally sharing what we create,” says Chris.

“We are a friendly lot where everyone is very welcome, whether a newcomer or an ‘old hand’”

For more information, search: Grassingtontextileartsgroup.blogspot.com - or facebook or instagram.

IN just under two weeks’ time, people will step out for a very special walk under the stars to celebrate the lives of loved ones and raise vital funds for their local hospice.

Starlight Hike – Worth Valley, sponsored by Stirk Lambert and Co Accountants, will see people come together for a 10k walk on Saturday October 9 in support of Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope.

Walkers will board the Starlight Express train at Oxenhope Railway Station and will be transported to the start of the walk. This will be followed by a 10k route around the surrounding villages of the hospice, with the opportunity to pass through the tranquil hospice grounds including a trip through Starlight Avenue - an area of quiet reflection.

Hayley Ibbotson, senior community fundraiser at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, said: “The funds raised will enable our doctors, nurses and staff to continue to provide compassionate and expert care and help us fill someone’s last days with love.”

Sign up now for Starlight Hike – Worth Valley at sueryder.org/manorlandshike

You can contact the Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice fundraising team with any queries by emailing manorlands.fundraising@sueryder.org or calling 01535 640430.

Standard entry tickets are £18 for adults and £9 for under 16s.

WHAT with all the hoo-ha going on about Skipton Market and the pros and cons of closing the High Street to traffic, it was interesting to read it was also the subject of debate 50 years ago.

In September 1971 the Craven Herald reported how it had been suggested that the High Street be closed for the Saturday market.

A Mr Tosney, speaking at the road safety committee meeting of Skipton Urban Council made the suggestion, although he evidently thought it destined for failure.

He realised it would be asking for a miracle, but miracles had been known to happen.

The meeting heard that planners had in mind the pedestrianisation of the town centre for some time, but that there were not enough roads to take away the traffic and that a decision was awaited on a bypass for Cavendish Street.

OVER in Settle, a public meeting of parishioners at the town hall agreed that the parish council should buy Castleberg and its surroundings, but first to inquire of cost and to find out what its then owners, West Riding County Council, was prepared to do with regard to walls and fencing.

The crag and parcel of land which surrounds it, was first offered to the parish council in 1949 but was turned down because of maintenance costs. It was bought by the county council in 1966.

IDEAL weather, excellent support and an imaginative as well as traditonal programme of events ensured the success of the 101st Bentham Agricultural Show in September, 1971.

The show had moved to its new site between High Bentham and Low Bentham after the old site was felt to be ‘too exposed’.

There were 1,793 entries, 257 less than in 1970, the most marked drop was in poultry, pigeons and eggs. That however was mainly due to the fact that the poultry section had bee suspended because of fowl pest. The cattle entries were double those in 1970 and the show broke financially even. with gate receipts of £326 up on the previous year.