Wednesday, 8 April 2015


We began the Easter weekend with our good deed. Our orienteering club was helping the rest of the NW host the prestigeous JK event and we were in charge of the sprint relays on the Friday. Our  role was car park duty which unlike most orienteering events that use muddy fields was a doddle give all the tarmac parking at Lancaster University. Even the weather was on our side and despite dressing for the worst of rain and cold we barely got wet.  After a stress free morning we wandered off for lunch and to chat. It felt a bit wierd being there and deciding not to run but given the winning time on my course it would have been about £1 a minute and neither of us are really sprinters. We had planned a long weekend in the Yorkshire Dales and so set off for Grassington. Half way up the Lune valley the rain got worse but the forecast promised better later. We found a great wild camp spot for the van and waited for the rain to stop. It did and we were able to have an evening stroll along the river, into the village and to inspect the falls at Linton complete with the Archimedes screw HEP scheme.
In the morning it only took minutes to move the van to Threshfield school and meet Nick and Andy. They left one car up at Yarnbury and we all piled into the van once Bob had been reassured that there was a sizable turning space up the the Fleet Moss CP. The three of us were off to recee the Fellsman. Nick and I have done it a number of times but to Andy it was all new.

We talked non stop and Bob was probably relieved to through us out at last on the road high above Oughtershaw. It was chilly and we took a moment or two to put cags, hats and gloves on. Then we were off; down the road to the big chevron sign and onto the trod that only the Fellsman makes.

 It was much drier than I expected and although we took our time and checked our surroundings we made good time across the moor. We discussed kit requirements and food. Andy still fuels on mint cake alone, although in smaller quantities now.

 I was testing out egg mayo wraps again ; if they work for Joss N perhaps they will work for me. Nick and I had slightly different preferred lines and it was interesting to test the variants, especially in the area of the famous blue cup.

Searching for the likely location of the Middle Tongue CP on Yockenthwaite Moor was amusing but we think we know where it is. Certainly we were on the correct trod until 'that area' and afterwards to Hell Gap was pretty straight forward.

It was an easy jog down the lane to Cray which is where I have always been grouped at dusk.

We tested both sides of Cow Close Gill but the north side is definitely faster  and then it was time for wet feet before we hit the main path up Buckden Pike. Bob will not believe me but Andy and I turned round several times here- to check on Nick and to admire the snow on the distant Lakeland Fells.

 I knew the was a chance we might meet him once he had parked in Kettlewell and started his walk. We had time for a photocall at the trig point before setting off to the memorial.

The tricky bit is turning over the wall immediately after the stile near the memorial and then being on easy track all the way to the poorly names Top Mere CP (which is not at Top Mere). Starbotton Road led us across to park Rash and we kept fairly dry feet. This of course changed the minute we crossed the road at started our ascent of Great Whernside.  The slope is such that it is hard to see how a bog can lie over so much of the ground; but it always does. It was a relief to get onto the higher steeper section and drier ground. Apparently ob was close behind here and frustrated that we did not turn and spot him. My phone rang but it was a friend needing directions and not realising I was out running. We stayed on the path just west below the rocks and shelter cairn and reminisced about the year the marshall's tent was hidden in the rocks up near the trig as they sheltered from wind and snow. The decsent off Great Whernside was wet and we had a bit of rough ground getting to the contouring path that would lead us to Clapperstone Gate.

 We spotted that the official map has not printed the trig point here, something I had not noticed before. The end was in sight and almost all was downhill! Nick was suffering with a sore knee and my ribs were only happy on the soft grassy path. Not sure what I have done or how but it would seem like a serious intercostal strain which was probably from climbing last week. Could be a Calderdale Hike high on pain killers. The short nibbled grass on the last stretches were a joy and it was almost a shame to reach Yarnbury. The sun was now out and we had shed waterproof some time ago. Chatting as Nick changed his shoes I lost my concentration and we all climbed into his car. I should have stayed up on the moor as it was my intention to run back to our van in Kettlewell. I felt a bit daft when I realised my mistake at Threshfield but although Andy offered to drive me there I stuck to my plan. It was a lovely afternoon so I ran along the river and then after checking out Conistone Pie I climbed to the Dales Way and jogged north.

I remembered an orienteering event there and also using this section as one of my ultras in the mad 50@50 year. Kilnsey Crag looked impressive but there were no climbers today.

I was tempted to drop to the river path after Scargill House but am glad I didn't because as I entered Kettlewell  Bob arrived from the moor.

We quickly found the ice cream shop and sat in the sun comparing adventures. A great long day with good company at both ends and a nice solitary bit as well.
The plan for Sunday was a trot around Embsay Moor so we had a leisurely drive through Burnsall and on to Barden Tower. Then we found the road was closed. Bugger. A quick check of the map and my memory from Trollers Trot the other week showed we could park at Barden Bridge. We had to wait until the cars disappeared for the night and then had a nice level campsite with the van taking up minimal space as a bonus. I also spotted that the ice cream van was still serving at well after 6pm- hope that is also true tomorrow.

Dawn was misty as we walked up the road past the ruins and the Priests House to gain the track onto the moor. Even though it added a strange loop we agreed to go up to the first reservoir and then double back to the car park we had hoped to use if the road was open.

Signs at the dam sent us round the reservoir and avoiding the fishermen but the brisk walk got our legs turning over.  By the time we got to the road the sun was up and it was clearly going to be warm. I wished I had worn shorts, or at least 3/4. We silently agreed to run the downs and flats but power walk the hills. As we climbed the sky got bluer and the views got better. Apart from a few walkers and a group of mountain bikers, all of whom were going the other way, we seemed to have the moor to ourselves.  Or so I thought. As I peered over the wall to look down to Rylestone there was a huge party of ramblers waiting at a gate.

It was at this point that we realised quite how lucky we were. The whole of Britain to the west was under a thick sea of cloud. An amazing temperature inversion where not even Pendle or the 3Ps poked through the top.

We stopped at the cross and had a bite to eat in the sunshine. We both thought we remembered an old stone cross? but the existing one is concrete from 1995. I need to find out what happened or if our memories are playing tricks.

The path then followed a peaty trod next to the wall passing numerous bouldering sites until we reached the memorial obelisk. We stopped for more food before trotting off round the moor.

 By now you could see some of the Yorkshire tops to the north and certainly the moors to the east. I had a secret cunning plan that if we needed to extend the route we could easily take in Simon's Seat. We soaked in the views and the sun as we completed our tour of the moor and started to head east then south. We came to two big shooting huts- yet they are not on the OS map which only shows old mine workings? It confused us for a couple of minutes but the paths and chimney ruin all made sense?

I explored a trod off east to some rocky outcrops which was fine until the trod turned the wrong way and left  me in thigh deep heather.

I caught up with Bob and we had a wonderful descent on a stony track and then a walled lane all the way down to the valley floor. The fields on the way to Howgill were full of new lambs and all was well until we reached the stepping stones. They were under water and there is now riverside path on the western side. Luckily Bob had his poles and we were able to wade across with nothing worse than wet knickers in the end. It was possibly easier than risking the very slimy looking stepping stones. It was warm and sunny but we had a difference of opinion here. Bob knew the van was only a mile south and announced he was going to change. I was sure the sun would dry me and wanted to go straight up to Simon's Seat.

 We split up. Bob got dry and had an ice cream while I found all the climbers bouldering on the moor. Our texts then confused each other. I ran a lap of the moor exploring every rocky outcrop and then lay in the sun admiring the view.

Still no Bob. I set off down and just before Howgill we met. We walked back up together and had the tops to ourselves as everybody else was leaving.
The woods on each side of the ascent path said private but the tracks were wide and going where we needed to be. We did no harm and emerged onto the moor after the pump houses. A short section across a couple of fields led us the the Dales way by the river. I sprinted just to make sure of my ice cream but there was no need and I was able to buy one for Bob too when he arrived a few minutes later. We sat in the sun as everyone slowly disappeared.  We had not finalised our plans for Monday and were too tired to contemplate anything huge. Neither of us were keen to drive far as it was almost 7pm so we just stayed where we were. The joy of the van!
The mist the next morning was thick! We were in no hurry and had the luxury of a lie in and then a coffee sat reading in bed.

 Even then it was cool when we set off in cag, hat and gloves. The plan was the riverside path south to Bolton Abbey and then to climb est onto the moor and see how far we got. The path on the east of the river was wonderful as it swooped up and down.

The other side which is flatter was much more crowded and was being used for the Easter egg hunt. After the solitude of our path the crowds at the wooden bridge were a shock. we quickly used the toilets and hurried through the mass of parking cars and family tourist groups. Only minutes after the stepping stones we were climbing to Storiths and were alone again. We were still in mist and debated whether it would lift today. As we climbed steadily higher the sun poked through and then we had brilliant blue skies for the rest of the day. The tracks were dry and runnable, although as a recovery day we certainly walked all the ups. I did a little loop out past the weather station to see the shooting house at Rockingstone and then we headed up the wall to Lord's Seat.

I tried exploring but got stuck in heather so soon gave up. After a quick breather on the rocks we decided it was far too early to go back so we explored east along the wall until we reached a green lane that would lead us north and then north west.

 Near Percival Hall we hit tarmac before a path through the campsite led back to the river and the stepping stones of yesterday.

We did not need to cross but were surprised how fast the river level had already dropped. It was an easy stroll back along the river to the van and another ice cream.  What a wonderful weekend with the Yorkshire Dales at their finest.

 It would have
been good to stay but we had loads of washing, wanted to see the boys, had oriewnteering kit to collect and sort before the weekend and needed some rest before the Calderdale Hike. By leaving slightly early we missed all the traffic. Hopefully my ribs will mend by next weekend. They are worst when i lie down and I dont plan to do that during the Calderdale Hike anyway!

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