A stroll in the Yorkshire Dales
by malky_c » Tue May 15, 2018 11:00 am
Hewitts included on this walk: Darnbrook Fell, Fountains Fell, Gragareth, Great Coum, Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent, Plover Hill, Simon Fell, Whernside
Date walked: 13/05/2018
Time taken: 18.9
Distance: 75.5 km
Ascent: 2830m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Date: 12 and 13/05/2018.
Distance: 41.5km + 34km.
Ascent: 1550m + 1280m.
Time: 9 hours, 40 minutes + 9 hours, 10 minutes.
Weather: Saturday - Warm and grey, Sunday - Hot and sunny. Rain overnight.
Where to this weekend? This would probably be my last overnight trip while based in the NE, but I still had 3 or 4 ideas that I had hoped to find time for before now. Realistically it came down to a visit to the Yorkshire Dales or a traverse of Cross Fell and the other Pennines to the north of it. Cross Fell etc was certainly something I wanted to have done, but to be honest the miles of bog out to the northern outpost of Cold Fell just didn't excite the imagination much. Yorkshire on the other hand had some rocky summits, plenty of interesting limestone scenery and a great train ride to get there. All I had to do was come up with a route that wasn't too long!
Great train ride it might be, but if you want to start walking before noon, you have to leave Sunderland at 5:50am and spend rather a long time sitting around in Carlisle. Still, no faulting the line down through Kirkby Stephen and Dent - one of those spectacularly scenic rail journeys that you don't mind taking ages.
I was off the train at Settle shortly after 11am and quickly found my way out of the town and up onto the hills to the east. Although I was here to go up some hills, I thought I'd see some other sights as well. A pleasant grassy path took me beneath limestone crags and up a small valley which led over towards Malham. While the air was cool, the sun was pretty hot despite lurking behind thin cloud for much of the day.
Ingleborough and Settle
Crossing a road, I made my way towards the western side of Malham Cove, where it was suddenly very busy. And that was just the area on top of the cove, where only the more intrepid visitors were venturing! I have been here once before for an orienteering event, but that was in about 1995 and I didn't get much of a look about.
Malhamdale from above the Cove
Looking down into Malham Cove
Impressive stuff, with climbers out on the overhangs below. Sadly my phone camera didn't really pick them up well - need to get a proper camera again.
Malham Cove from the west
Malham Cove from the east
Although I knew it would add distance on to a long day, I carried on towards Goredale Scar, which I hadn't visited before. This was even busier than Malham Cove, but well worth the diversion. I wasn't sure if there was a way out behind the waterfall, but an easy scramble led into a higher section of the gorge, and a stepped path the rest of the way out. This was clearly putting off about 80% of the visitors!
Hog House Syke
New Close Knotts
Heading into Goredale Scar
Waterfall in Goredale Scar
Looking back down Goredale Scar
Once out the top, more lovely grassy paths led through limestone pavements to Malham Tarn. This was an oasis of calm compared to the last couple of tourist spots, and after passing the NT centre, things got quieter still. I was now on the Pennine Way which I would follow to the summit of Fountains Fell.
South over Malham Tarn
On Fountains Fell I was out of the limestone and grass, and onto more familiar heather moorland. This could have been hard going but the Pennine Way cut gently through it, with no soft surfaces or steep gradients. The actual summit is a short diversion from the Way following a boggier path, and finally more than 5 hours after stepping off the train, I was on my first summit of the day.
East from near the summit of Fountains Fell
Pen-y-Ghent from Fountains Fell
Darnbrook Fell was close by so I decided to pay it a visit. Sadly the Pennine Way didn't go over there, so it was down to some heather bashing and hag hopping (thankfully not too wet) to reach the summit. More heather and grass took me down the slopes to the north, across a road and onto a faint quad track which led up Plover Hill. The track became lost amongst grouse butts and the last climb was quite a heather bash, with some more pleasant boulders closer to the summit.
Summit of Darnbrook Fell
Near the top of Plover Hill
The top itself was unexciting heathery marsh, as was much of the traverse towards Pen-y-Ghent. Shortly before that summit, things became grassier again. The top had a well constructed shelter built into the drystone wall and a couple of people. There was a vaguely interesting light away to the west, but for the most part the weather had dulled down a lot.
Ingleborough from Pen-y-Ghent
A steep descent, complete with short scrambly section (very easy) led to an extensively flagged path, which led eventually down to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. My feet were getting a bit bored by now - no wonder as I had already hit the 20 mile mark on Pen-y-Ghent.
Dropping off the steep south nose of Pen-y-Ghent
Looking back to Pen-y-Ghent
I was briefly tempted to go to the campsite in Horton, which would have allowed me to retire to the pub, but it looked busy and noisy with 3-peakers - there seemed to be a charity event on today.
You have been warned...
Amusingly, the charity event ensured that my last couple of miles to my intended camping spot were the busiest of the day - I must have passed the last 50 people on the challenge!
My intention was to head towards Ingleborough until I passed out of the limestone pavement area and reached some running water on the surface. I was just starting to wonder when it might rain as I reached a meagre stream (it was forecast for the night), when the first drops hit. I pretty much dropped my bag and found a flat area right there and then! The tent was up and my dinner was on before I got too wet, and I retired for a much needed rest. I'm pretty sure I haven't got any taller in the last few years, but I increasingly find my tent too short, and having pitched on a slight incline, my feet were pushing against the bottom, which made my sleeping bag wet. Maybe it's time for a new tent...
Pen-y-Ghent from the limestone pavements above Horton-in-Ribblesdale
I didn't sleep that well, but at least I got a few hours, and the rain appeared to have stopped. It really didn't look great back in the direction of Pen-y-Ghent though.
Up and packed away by 7:50am, I set off towards Ingleborough. Before reaching it, I branched off at a wall crossing and headed up onto the plateau of Simon Fell. Although there was sun overhead on a few occasions, the summit didn't clear, and took a bit of finding in the morning mist.
Nice morning at my camping spot
...but not so nice further east
Will it clear??
Moving onto Ingleborough and another good path, the sky threatened to clear repeatedly but didn't. The summit felt like a proper mountain with plenty of boulders and steep drops about. I didn't hang about though.
Not quite clearing on the final approach to Ingleborough
Summit of Ingleborough
Heading down to Red Gait Head, I passed quite a few people on the way up. Can't say I was expecting that at this time of the morning (shortly after 9am). To make up for the lack of summit views, the walk down past Crina Bottom was one of the nicest areas I had passed through yet, with a babbling stream and some lovely limestone crags to one side.
Crags in Red Gait Head
Ingleborough and Red Gait Head
Following the track towards Ingleton, I could see my next objective coming into view. Gragareth looked less interesting than Ingleborough, but there was plenty of pleasant walking to be done before I reached it.
Gragareth from Fell Lane
Cutting off the track before Ingleton, I passed a large quarry and crossed the River Doe. Further along I took a short diversion to see if I could spot the waterfall of Thornton Force. The top of the gorge looked nice but I didn't detour enough to see the falls properly, mindful of another long day ahead.
Stepping stones over the River Doe
The lower part of the climb up onto Gragareth was through some more lovely limestone scenery, and with Ingleborough now clear and quite some heat from the sun, it felt more like the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca than anything remotely English . Definitely a worthy spot for a first lunch break of the day.
Ingleborough across Kingsdale from Cheese Press Stone
Morcambe Bay from the ascent of Gragareth
The rest of the ascent onto Gragareth was less interesting, being long grass and moorland (although less heather and hags than Fountains Fell yesterday). Still, views of Morcambe Bay opened up nicely, ironically giving me much more extensive views of the west coast than Beinn Damh had the previous weekend. I hadn't really expected to see much of the sea from the middle of North Yorkshire!
Gragareth summit ridge
Ingleborough with Pen-y-Ghent behind
Lake District from Gragareth
In many ways, the Yorkshire Dales are quite similar to the Brecon Beacons in South Wales - a few prominent limestone peaks surrounded by more typical grouse moor and peat hags. I was now back in the moorland zone, with a long, wettish traverse over Green Hill to Great Coum. It probably didn't help that I had printed off some A4 sheets of Landranger map rather than buy a proper one - they had come out at a smaller scale and made the distances look much shorter than they actually were!
Lakes across the shoulder of Calf Top
Ingleborough and Pendle Hill
The ridge to Great Coum
What a flattering photo!
This ridge wasn't overly unpleasant in the nice weather, but it reminded me why I hadn't been able to work up that much enthusiasm for the Northern Pennines. It also caused me to think about the remaining Hewitts I have (which I would potentially like to finish one day), and how around 80% of them are probably like this or worse. There are times when you think 'I'd much rather be sitting on some rocky ridge overlooking Loch Hourn than slopping through this'
Things improved on the final approach to Great Coum with a few boulders to liven up the scenery. I left my bag at the col which made the walking seem easy for a short while, and there was no arguing with the view from the summit - a panorama of Morcambe Bay, the Lake District, the Howgills and Dentdale. That more than made up for the uninteresting trudge over from Gragareth.
Final ascent to Great Coum
Howgills from Great Coum
Across Calf Top to the Lake District
Looking back to Gragareth
Dentdale and the Howgills
Dentdale from Great Coum
A quick return to my bag prompted another stop and a search for some more water - more difficult to find than expected due to the fact that half of the streams run underground. Then it was down to Green Lane where I passed the first person I had seen since the waterfalls this morning.
Whernside was the last big climb of the day. The route from White Shaw Moss is definitely the shortest and easiest way up, but also the least interesting by a mile. However it was reasonable enough, and I soon emerged on the summit ridge where there were people again.
Ribblesdale from Whernside
Greensett Tarn from Whernside
Whernside might be the least interesting of the 3 Peaks, but it's still pleasant enough, with a steepish escarpment on the eastern side and some pleasant pools of water around. As with all of the popular summits, there were flagstones leading most of the way down, as well as footpath signposts with some very spurious distances on them (something I'd noticed quite a lot over the weekend).
Pen-y-Ghent from Whernside
My descent was a bit slower than earlier ones, my knees and feet becoming tired of the long distances. Of interest on the way down was an aqueduct where Force Gill had been diverted over the railway rather than under it, and of course the famous Ribblehead Viaduct.
River crossing over the top of a railway cutting
Fortunately my main objective of the weekend was also nearby...
Finally the pub
I was in at 5pm, with almost 2 hours to go until my train home. Perfect for dinner and a couple of relaxing pints - glad I ordered straight away, as by 6pm the place was heaving with 3 peakers. The barman told me I was limited to 2 glasses of tapwater (no surprise when a pint of coke is £3.60) - you can tell when you're in Yorkshire . Still, the food was good and the pints (of beer) were welcome.
Spent the last few hours thinking about this
Finally a wander over to the station to catch the last train home. While I'm looking forward to some proper hills in the Highlands again, I was glad I made this visit to see the Yorkshire Dales properly, as it might be quite some time before I'm back again.
by johnkaysleftleg » Tue May 15, 2018 12:48 pm
by trailmasher » Tue May 15, 2018 7:36 pm
And £3.60p for a pint of coke
by treehugger » Thu May 17, 2018 10:14 am
How much was a pint of beer?
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- Joined: Mar 14, 2014
by Alteknacker » Wed May 23, 2018 4:54 pm
A great trip down memory lane for me. Did the 3 peaks a couple of times in the 60s, and did a lot of potholing in this area in my teens. And my uncle farmed at Kirby Malham, and I grew up only a few miles away. I've recently been planning to return to the area, and this report reminded me why I love it. It's not the Highlands, but it has it's own attraction (nicely captured in "In Praise of Limestone").
by EmmaKTunskeen » Wed May 23, 2018 6:48 pm
...as long as you're underground...