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Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing Day in Wensleydale

addleborough from the newbiggin path

After a bit of a tour of closed County Durham petrol stations, I eventually managed to turn up at  Askrigg parish church where you can park for an honest donation into a broken honesty box. It had money in it, so that just goes to show how honest….

Anyway, the plan was to ramble eastwards for a bit and then go up the hill to bag Woodhall Greets, a heathery bit of grouse moor overlooking Wensleydale and sporting an ancient beacon and bits of grouse-shooting infrastructure. After this, the slightly amended plan (due to wasting time finding petrol) was to have a look at Whitfield Gill Force – mainly for nostalgic reasons in that I once camped here with two Airedale General Hospital student nurses (ah, those were the days…) and I remembered a flat, sylvan pitch at the top of a huge waterfall with a campfire and a warm breeze sifting through the branches…

wensleydale

And so, in me and the dawg heaved our seasonal wobbly fat bellies up the hill out of Askrigg and through the sloppy fields to Newbiggin.  After that, there was a really nice, dry path running parallel to the road along a flat limestone shelf. This gave delightful walking with plenty of sticks for Bruno to run about with and break into lots of little sticks before finding more sticks…..

After another heave up the hill, a similarly easy bridleway apparently goes as far as Castle Bolton (hmm.. could be quite a nice walk, that…) – but we only went a mile or so before another pleasant green lane took us up onto the moor.  These tracks are exceptionally pleasant to walk on, I must say – nice, short turf, dry underfoot, cracking views…

woodhall greets beacon

After poking around the “shooting house”, we followed a couple of lines of grouse butts, descended a bit to avoid superdawg impaling his naughty parts on a fence, and then found the beacon – a large and neat cairn and a ruined beacon hut. The summit is somewhere along one of the lines of butts, so I expect that we walked over it…

We descended by the road for ease and speed (started to go dark by this time, even though it was only half one) – to the sounds of battle in the dale below. It sounded as if the local pheasant population was being reduced by the minute.

the lane...

A lane took us towards the head of Whitfield Gill, but got lost in pastures and, eventually, we had to climb a wall to get down to the paths in the gill. These paths were occupied by gangs of ramblers discussing whether or not to “go high”. I’m not entirely sure what they meant by this but me and the dog went low – on disgustingly slutchy paths down into the depths of Whitfield Gill and back up the other side to find the Force. I was disappointed not to be able to take a pic of the waterfall, cos it’s impressive – but it was pretty dark by this time and the path has fallen away at the top so a good view can’t be had. I inspected our camping spot of all those years ago and it was muddy and covered in wet leaves – and a bit tilted, so it didn’t appear attractive at all. And my route down to the plunge pool at the foot of the fall looked stupidly risky. Whitfield Gill, though, would be beautiful in high summer. I should come back then. Today, it was driech and damp and sloppy.

We slithered our way back to Askrigg, finishing in darkness the twelve hour  post-monsoon drought just ending with sleety rain as I let the dog into the knipemobile.

The map shows the planned walk. I did a bit more wandering about than this..  Its about nine miles.

woodhall greets

4 comments:

James Boulter said...

I think I may have to use the word slutch in my next blog post. I reckon I know the location of your tweet last night Mike. Passed through that way a couple of years ago. It appeared to be a place where tables and chairs go to retire. I highly recommend a walk along Ellerkin Scar, lovely views.

Mike Knipe said...

The hut was certainly full of tables and chairs - and had a berbeque and a stove with a newish chimney - plus a map of the heather burning plan, a November copy of The Sun and some shooter's safety specs. I spotted another one to the east, but didn't visit.
Lorra slutch..

Dawn said...

Looks dreich and a wee bit sloppy weather Mike

chrissiedixie said...

Ah, Wensleydale...