Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Long Walks - Sharp Haw and Barden Fell 22 Miles

There's been a short hiatus or gap during which I've done three walks - but as I'm setting off on the TGO Challenge quite shortly, there's not time or the will to write anything about the first two - BUT, the series concerning Long Walks (Important Capitals here) -, so, I will leave readers with this one. Note that I will not be blogging or tweeting or otherwise using social media in any way during the next 2 weeks whilst me and The Lad attempt to walk across Scotland though the Bumpy Bit. This is not because I have any deep philosophical objection, it's just that both my so-called smart phone and me are utterly incompetent in this respect. 
This walk kills two birds with one stone in that it participates in the Long Walks thingy (22 miles, see...?) and it's also a reccy for a walk I'm leading on 1 June on the occasion of the Crook and Weardale bus trip to Skipton during which some shopping and some post-walk boozing are quite  likely I shouldn't wonder.

 So me, Li Yang, Diane and David left Cracoe at about half past eight on Sunday and wandered through green pastures to Rylstone and then down the Dales High Way to Flasby, over Sharp Haw and via the golf course and into Skipton, where large crowds had gathered to watch some cyclists cycle past. (It was the Tour de Yorkshire aka Le Tour de Yorkshire. N'est pas...  Mon Oncle est sous la table avec la soeur de ma tante.

We waited for the imminent arrival of the bikes for a whole hour, being passed by multiple police motorbikes - it seems that each cyclist has three police motorbikes. Or, maybe the cops are just having a bit of a jolly hurtling around the Dales for a change. Many were friendly and squirted their nee-nahs at the local kids and/or waved. Anyway, anti-climax having passed, we progressed on to the delights of Barden Moor.

Barden Moor, by it's Western edge has several delights for the walker, but none for the walker with a dog because dogs are not allowed up here, which is why LTD stayed home with a box of bonios and meerkats on the tellybox. to keep him from boredom and tearing up tissues into tiny little pieces.

The first of these is Crookrise Crag  - A long line of rocks and slabs providing lots of gritty fun for rock climbers and cracking views for climbers and walkers. This eventually passes and the walker traverses a bit of moorland liberally decorated with unfeasibly big boulders to emerge above a waterfall, which the Ordnance Survey called "Waterfall Gill" but which, traditionally is actually called "Waterfoot Gill"

 Next is Rylstone Cross - a war memorial for the Parish re-erected in stone in  1995 after the original wooden cross rotted away. Various mindless eejits and brainless prunes, with no respect for their dead and wounded great-grandads have decorated the plaque with felt-tip graffiti. FFS. Had they any appreciation of the massive casualties suffered by the 2 Craven battalions of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment and the other units mentioned on the memorials and the aftermath suffered by the survivors and their families, they might not have scribbled their puerile bollix in such a way.
And then, there's Cracoe War Memorial - an obelisk  a mile or so further on with the initials of the local dead carved into the stones and the names and units provided on a plaque. Happily, this is mostly unreachable by scum with felt tips, although they did leave their lucozade bottles and little yoghurt tubs around as memorials to their visits. (Yoghurt is not a medicine by the way - just a tip, there.....)

At last a descent to Thorpe is made and a final killer hill (for twenty-mile legs) through more green pastures and a bit of road took us back to the cars which were exactly where we'd left them.
The Crook Ramblers route is the first half into Skipton. It's very nice, quite pretty and so on....  but the best bit is Barden Fell. Crook Ramblers won't be seeing Barden Fell other than from below.
Further Long Walks will be happening over the summer.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Scrambling and Chocolate - Langdale Pikes

It' the school holidays in the East Midlands, but up in Pieland the lollipop peeps were out this morning. I was a bit relieved about this since it meant that the Lake District wouldn't be quite as busy as it had been during the bank holiday when , by all reports, it went a bit mad.

I was charged with providing some entertainment and exercise for two of the grandchildren currently on temporary lodging at Pietowers and, looking for something mildly scrambly but not specially dangerous, I chose Crinkle Crags and the climbers traverse on Bowfell. This, I thought, would provide a modicum of thrill, a bunch of health-giving and closely arranged contours and a quiet following night when they'd be too tired to fight (like wot brothers do)

However, on entering the National Trust car park, we were faced with a car parking charge of eight (yes, folks that's EIGHT) whole pounds sterling and a limited option of how to pay - cash only, in fact for non-members. So, instead, we went to the New Dungeon Gill car park which was only a fiver, AND the ticket provided a 10% discount off meals in the pub afterwards. This was Much More Like It,

The most striking view from the NDG car park is of the Langdale Pikes and not Crinkle Crags which is a long way over there -------> and in the haze. So, we decided to have a walk around the Langdales.
Our first objective was Angle Tarn where many moons ago, me and daughter #1 spent an entertaining night wild camping, searching for monsters and feeding the little fishes in the tarn on the debris from our dehydrated spag boll. I think #1 daughter was probably 5 or 6 or something.
Next up was an unsuccessful search in the scree beneath Pavey Ark for a howff which I'd found, probably fifty years ago, but could never find again. (A howff is an informal bivi place - this one is underground beneath some large boulders - I suppose that it's possible that the boulders have moved - hopefully not with anybody inside. That would be a really bad dream, innit?

 So, we bashed our way up Pavey Ark, then over to Thunacar Knott, back to Harrison Stickle, some intervening knobbles, Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle and Martcrag Moor (the least impressive of our bag)  Any rocky bits on the way were climbed on and we descended Stake Pass for a paddle in Stake Beck.

All those contours and craggy parts took it's toll on the once energetic and enthusiastic sproglings and the last couple of kilometres were marked by enquiries as to how far there was to go. There was a brief period of celebration at the NDG and the childer slept the eighty mile drive back to Pietowers. Happily, neither are permanently broken and would probably do it again.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Short Walks - Bewick Hill

Because the distance of the walk is not important - it's what you do with the walk. This one was necessarily fairly short - about 4 miles, in fact, and took roughly the same number of hours. A substantial amount of this time was spent lazing in the sun having lunch and chatting. This, I submit, is a Useful Thing To dD. LTD spent much of the same time in dreamy snoozy snory land. This is also a useful thing to do. This is time well spent. This is not a competition. There are no prizes. These hills, on a benign day like this,  allow you to breathe and think and empty the niggles from the mind.

Having neglected Dawn for some time in favour of some pre-TGO backpacking trips and some stupidly long walks (all very enjoyable - I'm not complaining) - it was time to catch up, not only because  I've bought a tent off Dawn for my next TGO challenge and I owed her some spondoolies, but also, that, well, it was just time to catch up. So we caught up a bit and made some tentative plans.

 The route choice was mine - a couple of Tumps to bag and 700 feet or so of contours. The hills turned out to be rather lovely - Harehope Hill - easy with short grass and a view and Bewick Hill with heather and a very large and impressive hill-fort plus some World War 2 pill-boxes in very good condition. On the way up, Dawn noticed some cup and ring markings and we investigated these further on the way down. Cup ad ring carvings are very very old and quite mysterious - that is to say that nobody knows why people made such an effort to make the circles and cups - and that the rock is quite hard so these would have taken some effort.

In the middle bit, we just laid in the heather in the warm sunshine with a skylark larking about nearby and a bumble bee or too and, on close inspection, some ladybirds.

This is all enjoyable stuff. It's all very well hurtling about the countryside in a bid to complete a huuuuuuge route before Something Happens, but sometimes, often, it's a really good idea to relax a bit and soak up whatever there is to be soaked up. You have to, just, chill, man.....  catch some rays, watch a ladybird wander about on your left Scarpa, have a chat, eat cheese and snooze...... and make some plans. And then go home and tell your Mum all about what happened.

More fax an info about Old Bewick hillfort is here (click the word "here") (over there, not here)

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Long Walks - Yorkshire Three Peaks

This walk was yet another of Li Yang's ideas. The date for this has chopped and changed due to snowstorms, bad colds, diphtheria, measles,  the election of comedy heads of state in various countries and has been juggled with another Long walk intended as part of a reccy for Crook and Weardale Ramblers at Skipton, but extended over some rather cracking moorland edges so as to get back to where the cars are parked.

All of this is highly irrelevant, obviously and, to quote said comedy politicians when avoiding a difficult (i.e. embarrassing) question - ".... what is important..."  is that as well as the usual Diane and David, we also had Marie and Michael, but no LTD cos I thought  this was too far for him.

 Everybody in this group walks faster than me and is more cheerful, better looking, has more money and a enjoys wider selection of friends than even me or  Lucky The Dog. This is a tragedy, obviously.

I have some history with this particular walk, though,  having done it half a dozen times before, failed at least twice and, taken individually, according to my walks log, the total number of ascents of the three hills adds up to 101 times, not including searches in the 1980's which didn't quite get to the top of anything.

I expect that this not only shows a lack of imagination concerning which hill to climb, but also indicates that by now, I ought to know my way around the area, and it seems likely that this is the reason why the rest of the group seemed to think I was the leader, even though I was miles at the back most of the time. Maybe they just wanted somebody to blame if at some point we'd been forced to resort to a taxi. 

 I should point out, though, that navigating the Three Peaks route is very very easy, apart, maybe, from finding the right way off the top of Ingleborough in the fog, which, historically, is where many people go wrong. It's not surprising, really, because it is a bit confusing.

We had no problems at all , apart from some minor trips. The group battered their way around the route, braving fierce winds and stupidly low wind-chill factors, specially on Whernside, finishing in 10 hours and 40 minutes which is not a record of any kind, but is the quickest I could have done it anyway. I suspect that some of my companions could have been quite a bit quicker.

My last visit to this route was in July 1982, so it's a long time ago and, I have to say, that since then the walk has been Pennine-Way-I-fied. That is to say that it has been diverted around boggy bits, sloppy bits, and bits where the path turned into a deep and scary gully and it has also been signposted at most crucial points and, best, or worst of all, has been provided with a hard surface, mainly Lancashire mill slabs or made into a road, just a bit under width for a land rover. This is fairly hard on the feet and would have ruined LTD's delicate paws. (As I explained to him on my return to Pietowers. Luckily I was already covered for tetanus...)

Thus, it has been civilised and , as far as brainwork is concerned, it's easy. It's still a long way, though, and the contours add up to a lot of ascent, and descents, parts of which are tricky having been "improved" with boulders or cobbles in an apparent random and uneven distribution.
There's a tea van and a pub at Ribblehead, a barn selling tea and all kinds of scoff at Philpin Farm, quite close to the pub at Chapel-le-Dale.  My advice is that success may well depend on staying out of the pubs... 
Coming up in the Long Walks series, in early May, is a little trundle starting at Cracoe, heading into Skipton on the Dales High Way and returning via the moorland edges of Crookrise, Rylstone Fell and Cracoe Fell.  Just 20 miles, unless we get lost, in which case it might be 15 .... or.. er  25...  Lucky is not allowed on this one either because it's the Duke of Devonshire's open access land.