Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Buckden Pike (aborted) 27/08/18

6.3 miles, from Kettlewell, via Top Mere Road, Cam Pasture, Starbotton Cam Road,
 Tor Dike, Hunters Sleets, Top Mere Top, Buckden Pike, Buckden Rake, Buckden, and 
  Starbotton. Park Rash, and Cam Gill Road.

The weather projections for Bank Holiday Monday morning look a whole lot more favourable than those we had for Sunday, suggesting that the worst of the lingering rain should be done before 9am, and as I've got my camera working again and all my clothes dried, with a potential six and half hour window to use before the last #874 bus runs back to Leeds, it makes total sense to tilt again at Buckden Pike and hang the consequences of a dozen extra miles walked when I still need to return to work on Tuesday. So rise for breakfast at 8.45am, again eating as much food as Zarina will put in front of me to sustain another trip out, feeling teased by the suggestions of blue skies and sunshine breaking through the light clouds as I watch an early starter walk up the ascent up to Gate Cote Scar across the valley, but as I make plans to leave an hour later, the weather looks a whole lot less favourable, and I'm already mentally revising my plans as my hosts agree to allow me to leave my bag containing my clothes and ancient laptop at the tearoom to collect on the way back. Step out at 10am, cursing the fact that Upper Wharfedale never seems to bring the weather that you'd like to have, striking back along Middle Lane again as I choose to get the long ascent up to 500m altitude done early, rather than retracing steps up the main road back to Starbotton, stepping past the Village store again and walking up the north side of Kettlewell Beck, past the various cottages and farmsteads to the former village school at the bottom of Cam Gill Road. The ascent here starts in earnest, and even before we've risen above the tree cover, the drizzle has shifted to a steady rain, and I'll pause overlooking the village to look to the north west to see if the weather shows any sign of relenting, which it doesn't and so we get fully waterproofed up again as we hit the slippery limestone-clad track of Top Mere Road, wondering aloud if we're getting yesterday's weather back, returning for a bonus downpour or two over Wharfedale again. The steepest stretch of the days' ascending is the rise to 350m, the regular 150m ascent from the river valley being something of a West Riding tradition, and looking back down the valley as we go gives a distinctly shifting view of the weather as the cloud level changes with nearly every look, sometimes revealing Barden Moor all the way down the valley, and at other times offering nothing further away than all the marquees around Kilnsey, and hopes for high land progress feel stymied once I get sight over to Great Whernside, with cloud shrouding it above the 600m contour.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Great Whernside 26/08/18

10.1 miles, from Kettlewell, via Hag Dike, Great Whernside, Stone Top Head, Blackfell Top, 
 Black Dike, Hunters Sleets, Top Mere Top, Buckden Pike, Buckden Rake, Buckden, 
  Tor Dike, Starbotton Cam Road, and Starbotton.

As it's August Bank Holiday at the end of one of the hottest summers in the last few decades, it's entirely natural that the weather projection isn't looking good, and it looks like a complete circuit of the two 700+m fells around Kettlewell is unlikely to be completed before foul weather takes the day over, so after a decent night's kip I rise at 8am, the only early starter in the B'n'B so Zarina can host me with a three and a half course breakfast, which will hopefully be enough to fortify me for the whole day, and against whatever it might throw at me. I'm not quite prepared for winter weather but waterproof and gloves ought to protect me against the coming rain and wind, which are already underway when I depart at 9.10am, hopeful that I might get well on over the high grounds before the weather worsens around midday, wandering off up Middle Lane to the corner by the Village Store and crossing over Kettlewell Beck by the King's Head Inn and pressing east up Scabbate Gate, among the many cottages that grew up here thanks to the boom in the Lead mining industry in the 19th century, surpassing the textiles and farming industries that preceded it, and it's the sort of Yorkshire village that I love most, until you realise just how far from the wider world you really are up here. Which makes it ideal for the adventurous type, which we are being this weekend, following the road as it turns to a rough track leading up to the campsite at the bottom of Dowber Gill, where we pick the bridleway as our ascent route up to Great Whernside, which still sits away hidden from view above the village, and as we rise aside the neighbouring valley of Cam Gill Beck, we gain a fresh perspective over the side valleys that cannot be seen from the main body of Wharfedale. The road up to Coverdale can be traced as we rise above the tree cover and press on up well built track until we hit the 350m contour and split from our north-western trajectory to hairpin back and trace a broadly twisting path across the high pasture that leads back towards Dawber Gill, giving us evolving views back down Wharfedale and across to Firth Fell, to Buskden Pike and its companion Top Mere Top to the north, and finally up to the top 200m of Great Whernside, a summit strip that is over a mile long, and thus I'm not entirely certain that we can see the actual summit cairn from here.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Skipton to Kettlewell 25/08/18

14.8 miles, via Tarn Moor, Scale House, Rylstone, Cracoe, Swinden Quarry, Threshfield, 
 Kirk Bank, Kilnsey, and Skirfare Bridge.

August Bank Holiday weekend arrives, at long last, or rather suddenly as the month already hits its last week, and even if the weather projection for much of it is not looking too great, I'm still going to take my long weekend away in Kettlewell to face down its pair of 700+m neighbours as I've had this trip planned since May and have already paid half of the costs of my room and board, and most probably won't be seeing that money again if I chose to stay home and rest up instead of walking. So stuff my life into two bags, rather than the largest single one, as wearing them slung fore and aft offers more comfortable weight distribution, despite me looking like I'm primed to attend Leeds Fest instead, and set out late-ish as Northern Trains and the RMT are still at loggerheads, meaning that I don't get to my jump off point in Skipton until 10.40am, with my sights set on Upper Wharfedale, which immediately feels like a long way away as the extra weight of my holiday bag is soon felt. Skipton station being offset to the town's south-west means that finding routes north will always follow familiar pavements, and that's the case today as we hammer out along Broughton Road past the mill conversions as far as the canal bridge before turning up Coach Street to pass among the old wharf-side building before crossing the Springs Branch and heading uphill among the town's car parks to meet Gargrave Road, and the route up the sealed off rat run of St Stephen's Close. Suburbia butts up against hidden terraces along here, where the RC church also hides concealed, where a last look over the town is gained before we slip downhill to the leafy passage of the B6265 Grassington Road, which will be our companion as we press away from Airedale, rising out of the walled in section below the trees and on past the smart range of suburbia that has never quite grown to fill all the fields above the town, where we gain sight of the Barden Moor fringe before we lose our footway and have to make a passage over the A59 Skipton Bypass. It's going to be road walking for such a large chunk of today, so it's nice to briefly get a detour onto an off-road trek over Tarn Moor up as far as the Craven Heifer Inn, a path seen before as long ago as 2012, meeting the pub and having the three high crags on the southern edge of the moor announce themselves as we press on, along with Sharp Haw and Rough Haw arriving on our horizon to the west. The road walk thus starts in earnest as we rise and fall with the lane as Eller Beck flows south towards the town beyond the adjacent fields, as we enter the Yorkshire Dales National Park with the traffic level looking like it might prove more challenging than on my escapade along the A65 in April, pressing on in the shadow of Crookrise Crag as we pass Bog Wood and None Go Bye farm, and the West Riding roadsign indicating that we are only two miles out on the Skipton & Cracoe turnpike.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Rumination: Pause and Take a Deep Breath

The Following is for Reference Only.

Every walking season so far has had its disappointing months, like September 2017 or June 2015, when plans don't seem to come together and it all ends up feeling rather disjointed, or the stamina drops and illness knock the stuffing out of you to leave all you best intentions scattered like so many Autumnal leaves, and I'd thought that after the delays brought on by weather and general unwellness back in March and April, this year might look to much plainer sailing through the Spring and Summer. That has been largely the case, as the plans have gone on without interruption since Spring sprung in April, doing the usual trick of filling every available day with activity and not taking time out despite promising myself that I will take time out to rest and be sociable, like I do every year, but as August came around we hit the point in the year where the wheels start to spin and impetus feels like its lost. After three successful months of treks around Wharfedale and Nidderdale, my plan to take a detour into the Upper Washburn has become something of a millstone as after missing out on the planned trip two weeks ago, and failing to get it done this weekend, means that I won't get it walked until I've had both my breaks away, meaning that all my scheming for phase three of the High Season won't get started until the middle of September at the earliest. Having plotted out six trips in and around the vicinity of Malhamdale leaves me with the frustration that despite being in only Mid August and still having three months of walking season left, I'm left with a rapidly diminishing number of weekends to use before I run out of viable days, and I learned in both 2012 and 2014 that having multi-week plans still loitering on the schedule in September and October forces you into activity when you might be starting to lose the motivation with the cooling and shortening days. Having taken last weekend out for a trip over to visit My Sister also leaves me feeling rather frustrated, as has again taken so long for us to get together when I'm always promising that we will be more sociable and put together some proper walking schemes for each season, as I'd forgotten how much I enjoy her company, and that of her family, as it's nice to be able to hit some paths that I wouldn't see in ordinary circumstances and shoot the breeze with someone who can fire a conversation for hours regardless of the topic.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Bollington to Lyme Park 11/08/18

7.5 miles, via Kerridge, White Nancy, Oakenbank, Hedge Row, Gausie Brow, Brink Brow, 
 Sponds Hill, Park Moor, and Knightslow Wood. 

As it's taken me until August to get myself over to Lancashire, allowing My Sister to complete her year's course of teacher training without interruption, it looks like the plans that I'd conceived for this season for walking with her are probably going to come to nought, like finally tackling the Witton Weavers Way, the green route into Manchester, or decamping her whole family for a day in the Wirral Country Park. Especially as I'm travelling without a plan and after a Friday evening of getting food at Grub in Manchester (a deeply hipster-ish establishment in the shadow of the former Mayfield station) and hitting the local brews once back in Egerton, getting an early start onto any path seems unlikely, but My Sister has a plan to let Dr G and the girls have an outing to Lyme Park, while we hit the edge of the Cheshire hills, not the part of the county that I had planned for my first visit to it, but a very satisfactory substitute nonetheless. So for the first time in a while we set out for a trek into the deeply unknown, as all I know is that we will be somewhere to the south of Stockport down the A6 and that we'll be in the rough and wrinkled part of the county that you always forget to acknowledge when tripping across the Cheshire Plain, and just to add to the mystery we'll be going without a map, as My Sis trusts the OS app on her phone to get us to our destination through terrain that is mostly alien to her too. Thus we start from Bollington, one of those Cheshire town that's much smarter than you might expect, the last bastion of Northern expensiveness before the hills take over on the eastern edge of the county, and we are dropped off at the top of the terrace on Princess Street as we get a bit lost trying to find the carpark on the site of the former goods yard by the side of the Middlewood Way the former MS&LR-NSR joint railway between Marple and Macclesfield. We get going at 11.05am, hopeful at getting this trip down in three hours so the rest of the family doesn't get bored in our absence, getting underway properly once we've hit Grimshaw Lane in the shadow of Adelphi Mill and risen to pass under the Macclesfield canal as it takes the Cheshire Canal Ring off to the south of the county, soon landing ourselves in the suburban quarter of the town as the day looks to bring more warmth that wasn't wholly expected. Letting My Sister and the OS app navigate us, we take a turn among the terraces that must have once lived for the silk and quarrying industries, and are now surely beyond the price range of anyone desiring such a cottage, following Jackson Lane past the Hollin Hall hotel complex and into the village-let of Kerridge, all looking pleasantly Sandstone-y clustered around the Bulls Head inn, with the turn onto Redway Lane revealing the wooded and sharply rising north end of Kerridge Hill, our first target for the day, looming ahead of us.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Otley to Burley via Swinsty Dam 05/08/18

16.5 miles, via Wharfemeadows Park, Farnley Park, Leathley, Stainburn Bank, 
 Napes Hill, Lindley Moor, Stainburn Forest, Little Alms Cliff, Sandwith Moor, Bland Hill, 
  Swinsty Dam, Timble, Low Hall, Askwith Moor, Askwith, and Burley stones.

There's no bonus round of walking for the last Sunday of my first Summer break because it's actually raining, putting a temporary brake on the 2018 heatwave for a short while at least, but the plan I'd hatched for it is carried forward to the next weekend, as after finally getting a copy of this year's Dalesbus timetable I'd discovered that the #821 Nidderdale Rambler could take me to Fewston or Blubberhouses and give me a window large enough to walk the circuit of the top half of the Washburn valley, a plan I've had on the slate for over two years now. So we aim for that as August comes around, setting out on the bus from Morley in what feels like good time, but it transpires that the journey plans that the WYMetro site gave me were damn lies as the necessary X84 isn't running and the scheme to ride the #821 dies before I can even board my second bus, and even though I could make the #874 to Upper Wharfedale, I only have the E297 map with me and thus am compelled to make a trek from Otley. Thus it's fortunate that I have the bones of a trail that I'd considered last year in my mind, travelling among the paths that were left unseen on my many treks across the Washburn area as I aimed to Harrogate and Nidderdale, and so when we arrive at Otley's bus stand at 10.10am, I set out with some idea of where I'm going to go, but with no idea at all of how far it might be or how long it might take, so for once we go onwards as close to trekking without a plan as we've ever really done. So northwards, after a fashion, via Crossgate and Boroughgate, past the empty market place and on to Clapgate, passing the Black Horse, the Stew and Oyster in the old Grammar School, and the solicitors office called Savage Crangel, then on between the spired pair of RC and URC establishments before making our crossing of the Wharfe via Otley Bridge. Tacking eastwards from here takes us into Wharfemeadows Park, and trying to trace paths not walked last year, which takes us along in front of the picturesque riverside terrace, around the back of the bowls club and former lido and then from Farnley Road side down to the riverbank to spot the redeveloped mill site and the fish elevating mechanism by the weir. The we can meet the dog and child exercisers who are using the riverside path that leads below the playing fields and out into the vast and recently harvested fields of Farnley Park, where the house hides well up the hillside, obscured by the rolls of the landscape and the fact that it's further away than you think, seeing the crowd thin down as we press east and downstream, watching the lump of Rombalds Moor recede and smelling air thick with the scent of Balsam as the vanishing clouds suggest we are in for another very warm day indeed.