Some peeps may or may not remember that a visit to the summit of Penyghent is a rite of passage for childer of the knipeclan at, roughly, the age of six or seven or eight. This stems from when my Uncle Eric, late postmaster for the West Riding cotton town of Earby, in the early 1960’s took my brother up the hill and not me. I was quite unchuffed about this at the time and this has caused this rite of passage to develop amongst my own children and, later, grand-children. So far, five junior souls have been up the steep but short side and back down again. Sadly, the two sheep, Reeves and Mortimer, are no longer there. They used to beg scoff from the kids and became almost legendary…
And now, it was Tommy’s turn to go to the Windy Hill. When they start asking if they can “go up the mountain” , it’s usually time to go. Tommy’s main skill at the moment seems to be the production of huge amounts of claggy nostril snot and the ability to get a bit stuck in forests of nettles from which he has to be physically lifted – at arms length….
So we went to Orcaber farm near Austwick and camped the previous night, breakfasting the next morning at Ye Olde Naked Man caafe in Settle (top notch breakfast and service by the way). Just a note about some other camp[sites in the locality – the Stainforth Site and a site near Clapham had no vacancies for single nights that night. But they would have us if we booked for two nights. The got nowt. There’s patches of grass growing where our tents should have been. I really hate this sort of thing. Orcaber Farm got our money and they got bugger-all. Tsk…..
After brekkies we drove up Silverdale to Dale Head for the traditional start to the walk. Here, the drizzle and mizzle was seen to be descending and within minutes of parking the knipemobile on some slippery grass, the landscape disappeared completely in driving clag and the rain set in. We could wait. Or we could go somewhere else. A car full of lively and substantially fed sprogs is a contra-indication to waiting anywhere at all for any length of time and so, we left.
Instead, we went to Attermire and explored the caves and crags they have around there. This provided a full half-day’s muddy and occasionally dark and spidery entertainment. Jubilee Cave is probably the best for a muddy crawl since it provides a through-trip with a bit of a squeeze at the end. And there’s two caves there for the price of just the one. Other discovered caves proved less challenging and Victoria Cave is huge and has dire Elf-And-Safety warnings and barriers to dissuade exploration. Its a bit sad, really.
The weather brightened up for a time and we toyed with the idea of returning to Penyghent, but as the day wore on the cloud-caps returned to the hills and it started to drizzle again. And it was a bit cold. Not the best conditions for a kids’ trip up a hill.
We celebrated with ice-creams from Kirkby Stephen on the way home.
Maybe Tommy will conquer Penyghent next year. We need a plan which has more time in the immediate locality. I understand that camping may be possible at the pub at Helwith Bridge….