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A pleasant potter to Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

A pleasant potter to Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.


Postby trailmasher » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:37 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Pen-y-ghent, Plover Hill

Date walked: 18/04/2017

Time taken: 3.56

Distance: 16.1 km

Ascent: 593m

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Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Ever since I had taken Jim onto a snow covered Wild Boar Fell a few weeks ago he had threatened to accompany me to Horton in Ribblesdale to climb the fine hill of Pen-y-ghent, a hill that he has climbed eight times before in the past few years, and today that threat became a reality as we once again drove through the beautiful spring decorated Mallerstang Valley for my first visit to said hill and now to be, Jim's ninth. This time though for Jim there is a sting in the tale as he has usually done the climb to the summit and then returned via the Pennine Way, although today he is going to man up and join me to walk the extra mile or so to grab the next hill to the north that goes by the name of Plover Hill.

Not knowing the area I set off from home with a pocketful of coin for the expected car parking fee of which I had heard was quite a large amount in Horton in Ribbledale, but the advantage of being with someone who knows the area became apparent when Jim advised me to park on the main road just west of the bridge over the River Ribble, and more importantly with The Crown nary a cock stride on the other side of the bridge. A perfect parking spot, free and near the pub, well done Jim and not bad for a Lancashire lad, nearly makes a Yorkshire man proud of your abilities to save money.

It had been a glorious start to the day right from the off early this morning with a temperature of 0°c, frost lying on the ground and car but accompanied with glorious sunshine that soon sorted out it out. As we arrived at Horton it was now 7°c and promised to get a lot warmer as the day went on and proved the weather forecasters right.

We were soon booted up and away walking along the B6479 across the bridge to follow the road for a good few metres, past the café where one clocks in when embarking on the 3 Peaks walk and then continued on towards Horton Bridge. Signs of spring are everywhere, trees and bushes bursting into leaf and bloom with the hedge rows showing more white blossom than leaves, gardens full of colour, birds of all denominations singing there little hearts out whilst clumps of roadside daffodils brightened up the passage of vehicle and pedestrian alike.
1 - Pen-y-ghent in spring.JPG
Pen-y-ghent in spring.

Before we reached Horton Bridge and the church we took a short cut along a narrow lane and through a small gate to turn left and then right to walk across a narrow footbridge across a small beck that had a couple of cottages sat on its bank. To say it was so near the main road I found it a quite idyllic and peaceful place and although the larger trees were not yet fully leafed it was in a way an attractive place. Probably get bitten alive by midges in summer.

Leaving my favourite place of the moment we continued along the road towards Brackenbottom from where we passed through a gate to now pick up the path proper to Pen-y-ghent and beyond. As we passed through the gate and onto the path I looked aghast at it and now fully believed the information board that is in the car park toilets stating that 100,000 people get themselves onto Pen-y-ghent each year. Today it is dry and firm underfoot but I reckon that after rain that this would be like one long sticky pudding to be walking along. I'm surely glad that it's dry today.
4 - The start of the climb begins at Brackenbottom.JPG
The start of the climb begins at Brackenbottom.

6 - Looking back to Brackenbottom.JPG
Looking back to Brackenbottom.

The path follows the wall through a couple of fields to soon reach Brackenbottom Scar and as its name indicates is where the limestone scars or ridges begin to block what has been up to now a straight forward and obstacle free walk up the gently rising ground.

The limestone scars give no problems as they quite easy to clamber up or walk around but they do break up the stride and now that we have caught up with a few other walkers who were dawdling on the limestone steps it was quicker for Jim and I to do the walk around. There are only three such 'steps', the second one being the highest but still quick and easy to negotiate providing there is none of the British cultural habit of queuing.
11 - Another limestone scar.JPG
Another limestone scar.

Jim's walking well and has been from the start, striding out in good style and as he has longer legs than me I had a job keeping up with him without bursting into a sprint and that I do not want to do with me being the younger, and I could really do without the taunts of ageism coming into the conversation.

In between the limestone scars the walking is good and now on grass with Pen-y-ghent looming ever larger in front of us and from where we were there was no indication of the way up the front of the crags that adorn its south end.
12 - Pen-y-ghent behind the limestone outcrop.JPG
Pen-y-ghent behind the limestone outcrop.

Once past the third 'step' the path is now a well laid stoned up track, about a metre wide and hard packed that soon leads onto the start of the paved path that has been constructed from the old Lancashire and Yorkshire wool and cotton mills stone flagged floors, a path that now begins to rise nicely up the fellside and would take us all the way to the first of the two scrambles.

As we have climbed the views have opened up with the massive white scar of Horton Limestone Quarry to the west and the more attractive profiles of Ingleborough and Whernside sitting behind it.
16 - The view back to Ingleborough and Whernside.JPG
The view back to Ingleborough and Whernside.

South is along Ribbledale, and east there is Fountains Fell and Darnbrook Fell whilst to the north there is only the south ridge of Pen-y-ghent to be seen getting ever larger with every step that we take forward. Just before we reached the first of the rocky scrambles…
17 - Pen-y-ghent and the stairway to heaven.JPG
Pen-y-ghent and the stairway to heaven.

we stopped for a breather and looking back now noticed how many that there was coming up behind us, it was like a near continuous stream of walkers of all ages with nearly as many young children as adults.
18 - Jim making his way up.JPG
Jim making his way up.

The youngsters always amaze me with their energy; little legs over long miles never seem to bother them. One young lad who looked about 8 years old left the path and went straight up the fellside, 'for an adventure' and left me wishing that I had his legs.

We've now got to the bottom of the first short rocky scramble…
19 - Now for a mild scramble.JPG
Now for a mild scramble.

that presents no problems as we reached the top to continue along a short rock 'pavement' that itself runs into a more or less level section of path that allows a second respite before tackling the next climb. This next part of the path makes its way through the edge of the boulder field…
21 - Boulder field before the 2nd scramble.JPG
Boulder field before the 2nd scramble.

and is quite rough and loose but as it turns the corner at the base of the crag it is now rock that leads up to the next scramble that is a little steeper and longer than the first one. The sun was beating down and it's warm work despite the cool breeze as we made our way steadily up the rock face that is comprised of good rock but with some rather large steps that required an extra handhold to assist in pulling ourselves up them.
24 - And it gets steeper and rougher.JPG
And it gets steeper and rougher.

Jims' got wonky knees and was finding it a bit hard to bend them enough to negotiate one or two of the deeper steps and upon asking him if he wanted another rest or a hand up I promptly got the Lancashire glare and a few derogatory remarks about my Yorkshire heritage. I couldn't help but urge him on by reminding him of the past histories and scores of Y versus L whilst also assassinating some of the unfounded tales of 'Lancashire has done this, and Lancashire was the best for this or that'. He also supports Manchester City even though he was born on the wrong side of the fence and despite the fact that his granddad was one of the founding members of the original Manchester United Football Club. How's that for a family pedigree?

Once we had got over this last scramble area we had a breather before climbing the few remaining stone laid steps that lead up the long and gentle old mill floor flagged path that heads directly to the summit trig column.
27 - The summit is now in sight.JPG
The summit is now in sight.

Stretched out way below us was the view across Ribblesdale, Brackenbottom Scar, and Overdale whilst to the east we could just about look down on Fountains Fell and Darnbrook Fell. Just now we seem to have left everyone behind, or maybe they've all passed us without being noticed but as we walk along the gently rising path the summit is depressingly thronged with other walkers. I don't mean to appear selfish but I do like a quiet summit.
30 - A view northeast from Pen-y-ghent top.JPG
A view northeast from Pen-y-ghent top.

There were people sitting about having refreshments, some just enjoying the views, others walking about trying to find the best viewpoint with others coming and going in a continuous stream first touching the trig column and then passing through the wall to descend by way of the Pennine Way. Nobody as yet has set off for Plover Hill that sits large and rounded away to the north of us. I took a few photos and then we settled down for a well earned break of a sandwich for me and a peanut and honey energy bar for Jim all swilled down with the regulation drink of coffee.

As we sat enjoying the sun and scenery the clouds started to sneak in making the cool breeze seem even colder but it's time to move on so bags packed we now set off for Plover Hill after passing through the wall stile to get to the west side of the wall. The majority of walkers mentioned earlier are heading for the Pennine Way whilst there were only five of us walking north, us, another pair of blokes, and a solo figure in the distance that was just about to climb the wall stile. The clouds were by now beating the sun into submission with just a few sunny patches allowing us to cast a shadow along the rough moorland grass. The wind had got up a bit and it was now a lot colder endorsed by the fact that one of the nearby walkers stopped to don an extra layer and also by the fact that there was ice on the ground that was now quite firm despite the wetness of the ground in the low area between the two hills. We could only presume that the shadow from the high wall prevented the sun reaching and thawing out the ground properly just yet.
37 - The wet hollow between Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.JPG
The wet hollow between Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

There is a path that meanders down and around the worst of the wet areas but we were glad of the cold hardened ground that made it a much more pleasant walk through than if it had been raining or the ground thawed out. Even so, as we started to climb back up we had to move away from the wall as the ground had got a lot wetter with quite large and bare areas of soft and slippery peat. The incline is quite user friendly but the work arounds the bad areas made for slow going until we got very near the top of the hill.
41 - A bit to go yet for solid ground.JPG
A bit to go yet for solid ground.

44 - Looking back to Pen-y-ghent.JPG
Looking back to Pen-y-ghent.

Plover Hill is an uninspiring large and domed shaped mass covered in rough, brown moorland grass that has nothing to excite one with apart from the high dry stone wall that runs across the top. The small summit cairn of stones lies on the opposite side to where we were with no means of getting to it apart from climbing the wall that looks fairly unstable and in a fair state of collapse in many places with the wall full of loose and sagging wrinkles of stone that is slowly being drawn into the ground. We thought that we may have missed a stile in the wall or some other means of access to get to the cairn so we walked back to the cross wall and ladder stile but could see none in either the summit wall or the one running back south.

So it's over the wall we must go if the cairn is to be reached and that is what we did with care being taken as the wall tops are very loose. From the cairn there is only a decent view east and north as the top is that big and really makes one wonder if it is really a requirement or worth the effort to climb the wall to reach the 689 metre summit when the other side of the wall is only a metre less in height at 678 metres.
49 - A view northeast from Plover Hill towards Birks and  Buckden Pike.JPG
A view northeast from Plover Hill towards Birks and Buckden Pike.

I also realise that the summit couldn't technically be 'bagged' if the wall wasn't scaled but I also wonder how many have claimed it and not gone over the wall. If you are one of those Hewitt baggers that didn't I don't blame you one bit for not getting to the cairn. In fact if you stood on the wall for a look over you would have been higher than the summit cairn.

Right, that's job done and it's time to move on and make tracks for home as the wall is climbed back over and we set off to take the very visible path that leads from the ladder stile downhill to Foxup Moor and the track that goes by the name of 'A Pennine Journey' not to be confused with the Pennine Way that we will link up with later on in the walk. The first part of this path is over grass and a narrow stone covered path as we got lower down.
50 - The path down to Foxup Moor and the Foxup Road.JPG
The path down to Foxup Moor and the Foxup Road.

After a few minutes of walking along this path we came to the escarpment of Pen-y-ghent Side, an escarpment that runs almost the full length of the west and north faces of both Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill and requires a steep descent along an exposed but well paved path of rough stones from where a slip and a fall onto the rocks below may well prove fatal.
52 - The view southwest across Horton Moor.JPG
The view southwest across Horton Moor.

As Jim and I descended we could hear the comments of the other two walkers about the nature of the path at this point.

It was fairly slow going down this part of the path but as we reached the bottom of the paved way the going was once more over grass and remained so until we reached the PJ track without any untoward incident.

Once on our way again we soon came across a fingerpost pointing the way to 'Plover Hill ¾ Ml' but apart from the makings of a path by the marker post there was no sign of a path running across the fellside the only one being the one that we had just come down.

After we had walked on a few metres it was decided that we stop for a short break by Jim throwing his bag on the floor and dragging out his flask, and as seniority took precedence he commandeered the only rock in sight for a seat leaving me to park up on the soft but damp moss.
55 - What, another brew Jim.JPG
What, another brew Jim.

All we had to do now was follow the green lane all the way back to the Pennine Way and crossroads where the Yorkshire Three Peaks Trail is also marked on the 4 way fingerpost.
64 - North, east, south, or west.JPG
North, east, south, or west.

The Pennine Journey track is good enough and although a bit rough in places at least it was dry underfoot. There is a slab footbridge over Swarth Gill Sike - not as we needed it as the Sike was dry - one of two that we passed by as we walked across Horton Moor.
58 - Footbridge across Swarth Gill Sike.JPG
Footbridge across Swarth Gill Sike.

The bulk of Pen-y-ghent was towering over us to our left with the unmistakable shapes of the ever present Ingleborough and Whernside over to the west with the large expanse of the moor and Green Hackeber Hill over to our right. On we walked covering the ground fairly fast to soon arrive at Hull Pot that famous massive hole in the ground into which one small beck that we saw disappeared underground well before the actual hole itself.

Hull Pot is enormous, elongated in shape and deep, deep enough not to want to fall into it. The floor is covered in gravel and cobbles that have been washed in by the waters of Hull Pot Beck after rain. There is also a fair amount of greenery inside growing in the gravelly bottom and on some of the higher rocks. The walls are of grey limestone and the depth of it reminds one of how long that this land must have been under some ancient sea for so much limestone to be formed before it was violently thrust up into what we now see today. I walked all the way around it walking across the dry limestone bed of Hull Pot Beck until I could see a small hole in its eastern end where I presumed the water ran down from its fall from the beck after rain.
62 - Hull Pot.JPG
Hull Pot.

We met a chap there who was off on a 16 day holiday to the Everest Base Camp climbing 8,000 feet over 38 miles of walking, lucky man.

It now wasn't far to the crossroads where we met more people coming and going from and to Pen-y-ghent via the Pennine Way. With still a fair way to go we passed through the gate and onto the well stoned up track that would take us all the way back to Horton in Ribblesdale.

There was no sign of the sun now but it's warm now that we are off the top and striding out again. On our left the long ridge of Pen-y-ghent remains in sight looking magnificent as towers over the surrounding moors and fells with a foreground of limestone scars adding to the attractiveness of the scene.
65 - A last look at Pen-y-ghent.JPG
A last look at Pen-y-ghent.

As we descended down the track the surrounding countryside was a delight to be amongst with green fields full of lambs springing about and plants beginning to come into their own and a good view along Ribblesdale completing the scene in front of us.

All that remains now is to get the bags and boots off and make a visit to enhance the prosperity of the local economy by saying "Hello" to the man in charge of The Crown where two pints of Black Sheep was ordered and consumed post haste.

This has been a good day out and although I usually walk by myself it's been good to walk with Jim again as the banter is good with nary a break in the conversation. Of course the weather helps when out walking and today has been a good walking day, a day when Jim and I - like so many before us - have once again put the world to rights and Jim has sworn to 'fix the country once and for all' when he becomes Prime Minister.

I suppose that I will hear more on our next outing.
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trailmasher
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Re: A pleasant potter to Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

Postby nigheandonn » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:55 am

It's nice to see what Plover Hill actually looks like - I found the highest ground I could see on a day when you could see nothing at all, and claimed the summit on the grounds that everything was so flat I'd probably had my knees above it! (I may well go back, but I don't feel very guilty.)
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Re: A pleasant potter to Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:52 am

Did virtually the same walk a few years ago with added bog and clag. The bogs between the summits were seriously bad that day and yes we clambered over the wall. It will make Plover Hill seriously hard to get to if they ever re-build that wall properly. Hopefully they'll build a stone stile if they ever get around to it.
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Re: A pleasant potter to Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:18 pm

nigheandonn wrote:It's nice to see what Plover Hill actually looks like - I found the highest ground I could see on a day when you could see nothing at all, and claimed the summit on the grounds that everything was so flat I'd probably had my knees above it! (I may well go back, but I don't feel very guilty.)


Aye nigheandonn, there's nowt spectacular about this hill :? :roll: and looking at the size of the cairn your knees were definitely above it :lol: :lol: If it hadn't been for the cairn I wouldn't have known where the highest point was, even if it was at the highest point :crazy: so no need to feel guilty at all :wink:

Thanks for your comments and reading. :D
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trailmasher
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Re: A pleasant potter to Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:22 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Did virtually the same walk a few years ago with added bog and clag. The bogs between the summits were seriously bad that day and yes we clambered over the wall. It will make Plover Hill seriously hard to get to if they ever re-build that wall properly. Hopefully they'll build a stone stile if they ever get around to it.


I wouldn't like to try it in or after rain JK as I'll bet it is a mess then :roll: :roll: and for so popular a hill, like you, I wonder why there is no proper access to the cairn :? :?
Thanks for your comments :D
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trailmasher
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