The forecast for today was for a frosty morning and a sunny day with light winds.
As I poked my head through the curtains, I could see a rain-lashed Crook. I let the cat in. He was soaked and was muttering something darkly about the Met Office. The TV this morning announced weather warnings for heavy rain in NE England. I drove to Wharfedale through several deep dubs of water. It was till chucking it down as I set off on the walk.
The intitial probings went badly. It soon became apparent that any bare rock was as slippery as buggery. Only those deeply involved in buggery will appreciate just how slippery this can be – or so I’ve been told.
The route goes up to an impasse at a waterfall, backtracks a bit and then leaps up a little gully and along an exposed ledge for a bit. It does this twice.
The scramble that rejected me
Me and Superdawg got to the gully, which Bruno attacked with gusto and , promptly slithered off and almost tumbled down the hill. A second attempt went bravely wrong in a similar way. A third attempt, with me halfway up the gully for a push up the bum nearly had me off as well. A retreat was called.
We climbed Buckden Pike by an old trackway – then a path up to Buckden Gavel Mine – a hole I’d been in a couple of times many years ago and involving such fun as igniting snowdrifts with carbide and demanding three pints of bitter in the Buck Inn two minutes before closing time, whilst covered from head to toe in orange mud. (This wasn’t me by the way)
We achieved the summit of Buckden Pike. It were right foggy on the top and quite sloppy. The old path from the top used to cross the wall and head South for a War memorial. This has now been diverted and a new path with new stiles handrails the West side of the wall which, despite being pretty boggy is much easier than it is on the other side of the wall.
Buckden Pike sloppy summit
We got to the Polish War memorial. The tale of how this came about is given here http://www.buckdenpike.co.uk/ Its well worth a read, but , basically a WW2 bomber crewed by Polish airmen came to grief at this spot in a blizzard. There were initially two survivors, one of whom crawled through the blizzard with a broken leg and a head injury to the inn at Cray, following the footprints of a fox. The second survivor succumbed to the blizzard. The memorial was built by the survivor and a service is held there by Keighley ATC and scouts and cubs and so on from Airedale. A bronze fox is mounted to commemorate the role of that animal. Read the website, though – its very moving stuff.
The memorial and the help and funding from local people and the annual service reflect well on local people and local yoof in particular.
After a short visit to the memorial (missed the service by about an hour) – I wanted to bag the subsidiary top called Tor Mere Top (appears in the Bridge list) and also go down to Starbotton by the bridleway over Knuckle Pasture. With a bit of navigational shenanigans, I managed both. The path contours around the head of a great corrie and has been engineered long ago to service lead mines on the hillside. the mining here is very old and there are lines of bell pits as well as the usual spoil heaps and levels.
On the way, I came to Tor Dyke – an ancient Brigantian anti-Roman defence, and on top of a mound which is probably artificial (being a qualified archeologist – I’ve see many episodes of Timeteam and quite a lot of Blackadder) – I found a large stone with some carvings on it. These were what appeared to be a number 8, and cross and a circle with a dot in the middle. I wonder what they mean?
From Starbotton, we just followed the Dales Way back to Buckden.
12 miles and 2000 feet of climbing and, it eventually brightened up. I only actually fell over once, but in a fairly spectacular and very muddy kind of way. Some owd yows (translation = sheep), held up cards with numbers on. I got 9.6 for style, but only 3.2 for dignified recovery due to blasphemy and the use of horrible but unusual swear words, some of whoch are probably physically impossible for all except skilled ballet dancers. Bruno just laughed.
It was my birthday today as well. I got two cards. This is one more than last year, so I'm obviously starting to become more popular. The last time the wife sent me one was three years ago. I suspect that the magic has gone.....