Saturday 19 March 2016

Underscar, overscar wandering free -ly to Castle Bolton on Valentines Day

It must be something in our genes - the desire to wander and visit different places. It doesn't matter how we achieve it, either by visiting a town for the shopping experience or a country for a tourist experience, we all do it, looking for new .........

New what though?

It's probably down to our ancestry - our predecessors were nomadic, constantly on the move searching for fresh food sources. Though food is now in the nearest supermarket it doesn't take away the urge to find. It might be new comforts or friends, smells or tastes, sights, sounds or experiences, but we constantly search for more.

And it's our ancestry that inspires us to get to the top of the next hill - where else would you get the best view of the herds to hunt, the places to camp or see where wild barley is growing. We love the sight of a healthy wild landscape because once upon a time our lives depended on it.

That's what I think, anyway. Nowadays, the landscape isn't quite so wild, but it is still beautiful. And this little walk proves it. It's less than 6 miles and only 900ft of up, so not difficult and we chose a glorious Valentine's day to walk it. (See, my guy takes me to all the best places.)

We parked in a layby just at the top of Preston Scar, next to the quarry, and picked up the footpath along the top of Scarlet Wood.   As soon as we emerged from the trees two things hit us.  One was the wind, which was absolutely freezing, and I mean FREEZING! It was painful against any exposed skin, such as our faces. 

And secondly, we were hit by the views.  Quite wonderful.  That's Penhill on the other side of Wensleydale. 
And this is lower Wensleydale opening out before us, you can see Bolton Castle on the right
The ROW turns right just as you reach Redmire Scar, and there are many warnings from the Redmire Quarry company to keep out.  This is probably for safety reasons, since the track runs alongside the quarry one side with Redmire Scar on the other - it's obvious many people ignore the signs.

We got back onto the ROW beneath Low Scar.  It really was a beautiful day, the sky was so blue. 
We then followed East Lane to get to village of Castle Bolton to have lunch in Bolton Castle - a warming bowl of leek and cabbage soup which steamed in the castle cafe despite the wood burner being fully stoked and roaring away. 
After lunch we set off aiming for Redmire and caught sight of a dragon which guards the castle.
Luckily it ignored us, I think it had already caught someone, judging by the leg sticking out of its mouth.

A look back at the castle from the fields.
Our route took us through Redmire, to Wood End Lane and then up towards Preston-under-Scar, crossing the Redmire -Leeming Bar railway. 
The bank above Preston-under-Scar was extremely steep and slippery.  Better in the drier weather no doubt.  The reward is more wonderful views as we got higher.  This is Penhill (again), with Preston-under-Scar just below us.
And then, once at the top of the bank, it was just a short hop back to the car.  

I have to say that this was a wonderful starter walk for our year, we are just testing our fitness levels and we couldn't have picked a better route or weather. Hopefully next weekend will be fine too and we we can test ourselves a little further.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Cautley Spout on Mothers Day

Everyone agrees that Fell Runners really are completely, totally and utterly bonkers!  But luckily we met a few today, and they made the walk so much better.

Cautley Spout consists of a series of falls which tumble one after the other, combining to create the complete 650 ft high cascade waterfall. We've been before and I loved it the first time, so of course I was looking forward to seeing it again.

So today we did our leisurely Sunday morning thing and arrived to park near the Cross Keys Temperance Inn on the A683 at about 10.45.  Once kitted up, we crossed the footbridge over the River Rawthey following the well worn path up to the waterfall.  I loved the colours, rusty brown and the purple grey.

As we reached the base, we met a couple stood admiring this section of the falls.   Being Mothers Day, a fell runner had brought his mum to see Cautley Spout before taking her out for dinner. They weren't going up any further,  but he told us of a different route down from The Calf. The last time we'd gone up, we came down on our bottoms, so we thought it might be an idea to follow his suggestion.
There's a path all the way up the side of the falls, What I'd conveniently forgotten from last time was how steep the climb is.  If I'd remembered, I might have decided I preferred to keep my lungs inside my chest cavity and stayed in bed!

It's  difficult to see all of the falls in one go, here's a look down.

And this is about the longest stretch you can see in one go from the side.  It's the top section, I think it's about 250ft - and quite stunning.
Equally fantastic is the view looking the other way.  That's Cautley Home Beck on it's way to join the River Rawthey below us.  
Patches of snow had started to appear by the time we reached the top of the falls.  We'd chosen to follow Red Gill Beck and the Force Gill Beck up to the The Calf.   We'd come this way last time and loved this section of the route.  This is Red Gill Beck.
We stopped for lunch on Force Gill Beck.
It felt so wild and isolated.  We'd not seen anyone since leaving the top of the waterfall.  It seemed like we were hidden in this wonderful empty little valley. 
The air was cold and still, the only sounds were the bubbly gurgle of the beck and the noise of our breathing.  We didn't want to leave.  But as the sun beamed down it warmed the air enough to wake the midges.  That was incentive enough to move on.

Eventually we reached the super highway path from Calders to The Calf, and once again there were loads of other walkers about.  In only a few minutes, we reached the trig point of The Calf, (676m or 2218ft).  From here you can see Morecombe Bay and right across the Lake District.
The snow covered tops made for pleasing photographs.  I like this one simply because of the curves in the hills and the way the sun plays on it.
Following the earlier advice of the fell runner, we followed the ROW down to the bottom of glacial valley of Bowderdale.  Fortunately,  a few more of the mad fell running society helped us out again. Because fell runners like to use the same routes as they train, they get to know them very well and can follow them even when there is thick snow on the ground as today.
As we were walking down  a couple of runners were coming up and it was their footprints that showed us the way down, otherwise we'd have been scuppered!  We could have used Gizmo, or even a compass to work out where the path was, but fell runners are so much better. Thanks guys, whoever you were.  (In all honesty, I am in awe at how fit these people are.)

Apparently the Howgills are older than both the Lakes or the Dales, and the reason they are so curvy is because they are made of a particularly hard gritstone that wears away evenly, but the valleys are glacial, which is why the sides are so steep.  That explains it all then dunnit!  This is Bowderdale.
Where  Rams Gill meets Bowderdale Beck we turned South to walk updale to Bowderdale Head, the watershed where everything north runs into Bowderdale, and everything south runs into the Cautley Home Beck valley.  From here, you get a final look at Cautley Spout before a steep descent into the valley and back to the car.  6 1/4 miles and somewhere around 1700ft of uppydownyness

And what about a map?  Well......

We'd planned to do the same walk as last time.  But our map of the route we did last time was wrong, because we'd gone the wrong way, so we had to remember where we'd gone wrong, so we could do it again.  And then today we went a different way again, so that we didn't go the way we went last time at all, and our route map showing the new wrong way was wrong again.

But never mind, we found our way home in the end. Click on this link here to read about our last visit to Cautley Spout

Sunday 28 February 2016

Unremarkably the highest peak in the Dales

Me n himself are just getting back into the walking thing. We’ve been out a few times (3), and are beginning to work up the miles and complete some decent walks. (6 miles).  We’re even thinking we might be able to take on the big hills...... Well, some of them. Peter suggested a walk up Blencathra next.   I suggested that the attempt might kill us – so we chose something that needs a little less stamina.

So Whernside it was. The weather forecast for Sunday was good – and we were up at the crack of 8 o’clock, rushed about to be out of the house by 9:30 and managed to make good time and be at the Ribblehead Viaduct a little after 10.15.  (OK........ So we're not very good at mornings.)

As we arrived at the the car park, Ingleborough dominated the area – it was the only snow covered peak around and it looked big and steep and hostile. Whernside, on the other hand rises steadily from the landscape, almost unnoticeable as it grows upwards to overshadow all other Yorkshire Peaks and announce its claim, at 2414 feet, to being the highest summit in the Dales.
And of course, in front of Whernside, we had Ribblehead Viaduct carrying the Settle-Carlise Railway across Batty Moss. A stunning piece of engineering and architecture that brings many, many visitors who come to just look.  It really is amazing.

Our route today didn't involve any steep hillside walking.  It was more of a saunter up a very long slope -  which suited me perfectly. (Considering my level of fitness, saunter isn't quite the word, but it'll do). The descent would be a bit steeper though, so we had our walking sticks with us just in case.

The weather was perfect - a dry day with loads of sun between the patchy cloud.  But boy was it cold!  Trust me, layers are the way to go, and it didn't take long to warm up once we'd set off to join the many other couples and groups all heading the same way.

Our route took us alongside Ribblehead Viaduct, past an old Signalman's cottage and up Blue Clay Ridge, (I like that name).

Here's my favourite picture of the day.  Snow covered Ingleborough with the old Railway Signalman's house in the foreground.  Sadly it looks like there are only a few rusting vehicles in residence to enjoy that view. 
As I said earlier, Ingleborough dominated the landscape - it just looks so good in white.
Next was Force Gill Waterfall. Sadly our path didn't allow for a close up.
We slowly ascended Grain Ings heading for Knoutberry Hill.  Looking back we saw what looked to me like jelly moulds. Peter described them as zits!  Actually, they are the spoil heaps from the excavation of the railway tunnel below.
I loved this view, it just seems to go on forever. But you can't tell from the photograph how cold it is, or how strongly the wind is blowing.  It was hard to hold the camera still!
The photo above is the view on the left as we were walking.  I think I should have taken a picture of the view on my right, if only so I could show you Hag Worm Haw Moss!

The last leg of the walk up takes you along Cable Rake Top Ridge. (My head is twisting the words and wants to say Cake Top. ........  Mmmmmmm Cake!  But I digress.)   The wind was on the ridge hard and absolutely bitter! We were relieved to reach the little walled shelters at the summit.  At least there the tea remained hot in the cup, and gloves could come off long enough to eat a sandwich.

But the views from the summit were well worth the biting cold. The air was so clear that we could see the whole of the Lake District range to the North West, the Howgills to the North, and even Cross Fell, the highest point of the Pennines, could be made out North East  To prove it, here's a photo where you can just see snow topped Scafell Pike and chums in the distance. 
At least, I think it's Scafell Pike.  More learned walkers may tell me otherwise.  Here's the zoomed in view.
And here's another picture of Ingleborough.
 I have so many from this walk - it was like a "Let's go to Whernside and take photo's of Ingleborough" day. You have to admit, it does look imposing - and almost demands you make the attempt to get to the top.  We might just do it too.

Our descent from Whernside summit was down the slope of Scar Top Pasture.  It's reasonably steep, with a rocky path that demands attention all the way down.  So no pictures until we got to the bottom - just wobbly legs.  (Another symptom of our unfitnessness).

So now we're on level(ish) ground and this is not a picture of Ingleborugh - I just loved the white of the limestone rock as it surfaces through the scrubby grass.
Looking back, a reminder of how unexceptional Whernside is. 
Now what's wrong with this picture?  Herdwicks in the Dales!  UnHerd of! 
And now to make up the threesome, here's a picture of Pen y Ghent as we made our way back to the viaduct.  The sun lit it up beautifully.  
And of course Ribblehead (or Batty Moss) Viaduct. 

Last but not least, this plaque just in front of the viaduct.  I think it depicts perfectly how modern technology has worked with the original Victorian architects and builders to restore the Viaduct to it's former glory (all at a cost of £3 million.)

As for the walk? Peter commented that he'd never managed to "do" Whernside in such good weather before.  Not bad for February.

(You can read about a previous walk up HERE

All in all an excellent choice - 8 miles, 1590 ft of ascent and glorious views.
(And our wobbly legs had  recovered by the time we got to the car.)