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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Great Knoutberry Station to Station

ruswarp the dog

First of all, here’s a health warning, or, I should say, a tissue warning. This blog contains material which some people might find upsetting. Have some tissues ready.

Message to the vulnerable - You know who you are. Be sensible. Don’t read the last section of this blog post if your mum is about to arrive, or you have an important job interview in the next hour or so. You don’t want to arrive looking like you’ve just been blubbering. Here’s a clue: see that dog in the pic above. Its about that dog. Its quite sad.

I did tell you!

Anyway, this is another post in the series containing fascinating details about how to climb the Yorkshire dales 2000 foot tops. Its also uses the Settle-Carlisle railway line to make a linear walk instead of a circular one, or one that looks like a vegetable …. I thought that using the train was such a good idea, I might well do some more Station to Station walks on the Settle to Carlisle line.

dent station

So, after negotiating a scarily white-coloured A66, we finally slithered into the car park at Garsdale station, where we mooched about for a bit looking at the statue of a dog (Did I mention how upsetting this is by the way?)

The signalman cam out of his signal box and signalled to me. “The train’s on time” he says. We have a conversation across the tracks. He discovers my plan to get the train to Dent and walk back again. “Nice” he says…”And you’ll probably be getting off before the conductor has managed to collect your fare….”

The train comes. I get on. I pay the conductor. He gives me a ticket. Bruno doesn’t like it. The train stops. I get off. I am at Dent Station.

My dad once had a ticket for Dent station from Chatham. Around 1944ish he had a 24 hour pass from the Royal navy and got the train to Skipton, using his ticket for Dent. This was a scam to avoid buying train tickets. I’m not certain how the scam worked. Unfortunately, he fell asleep somewhere South of Leeds and woke up in Ribblesdale, being dumped on Dent station late at night. He caught the milk train back in the morning, but his leave was at an end, so he went on to Chatham. With a new ticket.

Luckily, I managed to stay awake for the five minute journey.

dentdale from the bridleway

We got off and walked up the road towards Garsdale, turning off on a drifted-over bridleway with expansive views from Penyghent to Scafell Pike. This bridleway is worth walking on if you do nothing else. Its brill, man….

whernside and ingleborough from the bridleway

After a while, the sun got stronger and my beard froze, so I was hot and cold all at the same time. We turned off the track and climbed up to the summit of Great Knoutberry – using our new skills of following the hard snow next to the wall and ignoring the peat hags and tussocks. At the top, a chap from Lincolnshire was having his lunch. We discussed tents and sleeping bags and the degree to which our respective offspring liked hillwalking, or not.

following a snow drift

I continued by following the wall which forms the Yorkshire/Cumbria County boundary. This passes dangerously over the fiercely frozen Widdale fell tarn.

widdale fell tarn frozen

I was going to follow the boundary for quite a long way, but it dawned on me that it was leading me away from my parked car and not towards it, so, I turned left and did the follow-a-patch-of-snow thing across a couple of miles of peaty haggy moory stuff back to the road to Garsdale, which was under several feet of snow at this point.

wild boar fell from widdale fell

This road, incidentally is know as the Coal road. The reason may seem obvious until you consider that it links two railway stations together. What’s the point of taking the coal off the train and carrying it over the fell and putting it back on a train again – I wondered. Then I thought that maybe the pits around the sides of the road were actually coal mines. Ah yes, that’s it.

Its also called “Galloway gate” or the “Galloway Road” This is perhaps just a bit older than the Coal road name and refers to Galloway cattle which were driven on high level routes from Scotland to the meat-hungry industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire. It was, in fact, turning the protein of the protein-rich North into silver and thus into carbohydrates (ie bread)

coal road aka galloway gate

We arrived in due course back at the car.

We did 8 miles and 1250 feet of uphill. The snow is still very hard. Its not too late to go and walk on it. Do it now. Gwan… do it now.

dent to garsdale

And now.

A space.

Compose yourselves.

About this dog…..

The dog is, or, I should say, was, called “Ruswarp” This, apparently, is pronounced “Russup”

Ruswarp belonged to a chap called Graham Nuttall. Graham and Ruswarp were instrumental in keeping the Settle-Carlisle railway line open. Indeed, Ruswarp’s paw print appears on the petition. He was a familiar attender at meetings. the campaign was successful.

Shortly after the line was saved, Graham and Ruswarp went hillwalking in Wales. Graham disappeared in the Welsh hills on 20th January 1990. His body was found on 7 April 1990, some eleven winter weeks later and Ruswarp was still in attendance. He was in a bad shape, though and lived just long enough to witness Graham’s funeral. He was a quiet dog, but when the coffin passed through the crematorium curtains, it’s said that he let out a baleful howl.

Hot sweet tea and a fag, I think…..

But what of Great Knoutberry? – Easy peasy, a bit rough in parts. Cracking views, though. It doesn’t really lend itself to long walks, somehow. The train line is very useful and adds interest.

Sniff… I’m still thinking about that dog……


James Boulter said...

Ahh the Settle Carlisle railway, most of my hiking used to be around that way until I learnt to drive 3 years ago. I nearly got the train up that way again from Nottingham when it was really snowy, but realised I would have had to remortgage the house to pay for it. I then remembered that to return on a Sunday afternoon I would probably have to stand from Leeds to Nottm for two hours, wet and muddy. Arn't trains fun?

mike knipe said...

To get cheap train travel, James, you have to buy your ticket a few weeks in advance - none of this going on a whim business. Or, alternatively, if you are an old fart, they'll almost give you tickets. I'm not quite old enough for that, though.
We'll just have to wait, I suppose....

Martin Rye said...

I am thinking less about that dog and more that there look some good wildcamp spots in some of those photos. Settle to Carlisle over the moors and the train back to the car would be a good few days of walking.

mike knipe said...

Its funny you should mention that, Martin - I have staretd working out a route, as it happens, but it does tend to lose the hills a bit. It might be better to finish somewhere in the Pennines which has a bus service to carlisle - eg Brampton....

Martin Rye said...

It has often been one walk I have wondered about working out a route for. My main goal up there is a circuit of the Edan Valley following the tops along the Pennines, Dales and over along by High Street on the Lakes tops. Start and finish at Penrith. Army range is the problem. Timing it to go through the range as to keep as close to the edge as possible is the key. Biggest hoarse shoe walk in England I think. Got inspired to this one in the green Dragon on the Pennine way many years ago over a pint, heck it might have been two and some wine as well. Think back and recall that three dimension map on the wall with the whole of the North west shown, There it was - one big old valley which needed me to walk around it looking down into the valley now and then.

mike knipe said...

It would be a cracking walk, that one. Avoiding Warcop would spoil the line, too, so, you would have to go on a none-firing day and get over it that day - although if you stuck to Mickle Fell itself, you might just.... There wouldnt be any other obstacles...