Sunday, 15 July 2018

Burnsall to Darley 14/07/18

14.1 miles, via Hartlington, Appletreewick, Skyreholme, Forest Road, Pock Stones Moor, 
 Hoodstorth Lane, Stone House Crossroads, Thornthwaite, Carr Lodge, and Darley Beck. 

The Summer weather may have wavered a bit in the last week, but the temperature still managed to peak at 30C at work, and I feel heartened that the heat hasn't beaten me down and I still want to walk as another bright Saturday comes around, getting in another late start, which surely helps matters, as the Dalesbus penetrates even further into Wharfedale for our third trip over the moors to Nidderdale, arriving at Burnsall at 11..15am, which gives us a pretty clear window of 5 and a half hours to complete today's trip. So we need to start off quickly, away from the many people using this corner as their focus point for a day's tripping, setting off across the Wharfe over the justifiably famous Burnsall bridge and setting off up the lane above the riverside pasture that the Dales Way crosses, immediately getting us into virgin territory as we establish a new perimeter to my walking field, looking back to admire the rising flank of Burnsall Fell as it looms over the village and river, creating a unique sort of setting for the village that retreats behind us. There's ancient field terraces and boundaries to admire in the limestone fields by this road, all looking distinctly parched as our heatwave continues, so all the shade we get is welcome as we approach the hamlet of Hartlington as our first port of call, not that it amounts to more than a loose collection of cottages and farms at an elevated remove from the river, soon in our wake as we pass on over Hartlington Bridge on Barben Beck, which forms a large and well hidden valley coming down from Grimwith reservoir to the north. Past the Woodhouse farm, we move below the steeply looming Kail Hill and move up closer to the river, and on above the vast plots of Masons Campsite, which seems to be full to bursting even though the summer holidays have still not started, and I regard the folks in their tents in much the same way as they would me as I press on past Low Hall and the Craven Arms pub to get our first good view of the looming masses of Barden Fell, with the crags of Simon's Seat prominent on the northern face. Soon enough, we run into Appletreewick, which is as quaint and lovely as it's name suggest it ought to be, rising up among the many cottages from the New Inn and Mock Beggar hall at the bottom to St John the Baptist's church and High Hall at the top, and a real place to aspire to dwell if it wasn't for the fact that it only gets three days of bus services each week, and then on past the isolated village hall and back into the countryside, looking up to Barden Fell again, and spotting the Nidd Aqueduct hiding in the trees as it skirts its way around the flank of Carncliff Top.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Bolton Abbey to Birstwith 07/07/18

14.3 miles, via Cavendish Pavilion, Bolton Park, Hammerthorn Gate, Hazlewood Moor, 
 Rocking Hall, Rocking Moor, Thrusscross Reservoir, Hanging Moor, RAF Menwith Hill, 
  High Birstwith, and Swarcliffe Top.

It's a bit early in the Summer to start complaining about the heat, but two weeks into a national heatwave, and after two months of having barely functional AC at work, it's all starting to get a bit much for me, but I'm determined to keep my focus on, as getting out and about on the moors will involve less exposure to high temperatures than going through my regular daily routine, and anyway, I have far more interest in doing my own thing than much of the rest of the nation, who are getting themselves all excited by England being in the last eight of the World Cup. So we ride to Wharfedale again, on a Dalesbus that is much less busy than last week's, happy to see some cloud in the sky as we go, alighting at Bolton Abbey at a shade before 11am, only a mile north of where we last travelled from to Nidderdale, but with a complete fresh perspective to take on as we plot another route over the moors, starting out up the driveway to the Bolton Priory ruin and the extent church of St Mary & St Cuthbert. Head on above the dramatic scene of the bowing Wharfe and past the Cavendish memorial fountain to walk down the long driveway to the Riverside car parks, getting a good view up to the way to come on the hillsides beyond the river, and finding that the Bolton Abbey estate is already pretty busy with people as elevenses time lands on the day, though I'll not be visiting the Cavendish pavilion on this occasion either, instead we cross the Wooden bridge among the trippers and cyclists to start our trail to the east. Meet the path up the wooded glade of Stead Dike to reach Bolton Park farm, in the shadow of the looming mass of the South Nab hill, and then hit the rising farm track beyond which will elevate us some 150m up to the moorland edge as the sun beats down, testing my resolve on the early going as the local sheep look on at me as I struggle, but the views that emerge are worth it, over Skipton Moor and Barden Moor, and back to the Priory ruins, and forward to the mass of Hazlewood Moor that is so far unseen. Meet the passage onto the moor at Hammerthorn Gate, above the Nab Hill at 300m up, where we can look back to Addingham High moor and Beamsley Beacon before a gravelled track leads us on into the sea of heather, on a gentle rise before forking left sharply to land us above the moorland valley of Hudson Gill, flowing down to the forests around the Valley of Desolation. Our track evens off a bit at 350m elevation, and we can look north to the company of Barden Fell, with Carncliffe Top, Simon's Seat and Lord's Seat forming the high and rocky features on the horizon, and that's where we were headed this weekend, five years back, on a day equally hot, though we do have sufficient liquid for the journey this time around, as well as enough cloud cover to keep much of the Sun's radiant heat off as we carry on along this shadeless track with the majestic view to its north.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Bolton Bridge to Hampsthwaite 30/06/18

14.2 miles, via Beamsley Hospital, Hazelwood, Kex Gill, Kex Gill Moor, Hall Moor, 
 Blubberhouses, Dangerous Corner, Kettlesing (Head & Bottom), Tang, and Swincliffe.

The weather on walking days in June has certainly been inconsistent, rarely being better than average in terms of heat and temperature, but as the month ends, it seems to have settled into a long sequence of being consistently hot, and so it continues as we reach Phase Two of this High Season's walking plans, having blazed a few fresh trails into the top half of Wharfedale in Phase One, it's now time to start stitching this valley to distant Nidderdale along one of the few local axes so far unexplored in the West Riding. The long days of Summer also allow for late starts and finishes, and we'll being having both of those after riding the crowded Dalesbus all the way from Leeds, and being the only person wanting to alight at the Devonshire Arms at 11.10am, a mere 20 minutes behind schedule, at this most familiar corner of Bolton Bridge, that looks a whole lot brighter than on any of my preceding visits, and steps will be rapidly made away from the pub and teashops on the Bolton Abbey estate with the feeling that I'll pretty much have this walking day to myself. We pass again over the Wharfe via the old Bolton Bridge, noting just how firmly the look of summer has gripped the fields around Red Lion farm and meet the side of the A59 in short order, still mostly closed to traffic after a month, and the red route we will be taking up the passage of Kex Gill, not that its unusual quietness counts for much in the initial climb has a footway for us to pace, in place so local children might be able to walk to the Boyle & Petyt primary school safely. We are soon away from the Wharfe and into the shadow of Beamsley Beacon, rising to our south, following the pavement and bypassed old lane up past Lane Houses farm, Beamsley Hospital again (in much better conditions for photography) and the former Methodist Chapel that is now the Beamsley Project, an accessible holiday property that caters for the disabled, a deeply admirable business that has a grand old setting, among the green fields below the moors. We run past the road to Storiths and lose the footway after a mile to join the lane that runs into Hazlewood, undulating away from the direct course of the A59 and getting some good looks down into the descending Kex Gill as we rise past Laneside Farm, and then drop again at Hill End farm to get back on the main road, which I really could walk in any way I fancied as there is so little traffic that you could choose to pace any part of it. I'll stick with facing the theoretical oncoming traffic as we pass the layby and the clearly twisting path of the old turnpike alignment that has been straightened out by the modern A59, the course we continue along as we rise on the bypass past Summerscales farm, not quite in the crawler lane, but with enough space to avoid the odd boy-racer using the empty road, and the odd police van looking for those stray vehicles that really shouldn't be out here.