2011 Dales High Way Walk, England

May 7.... Shap to Sedburgh

I have just finished nine days of walking about the Lake District and have selected the Dales High Way to finish off my "grand walkabout" of the lakes and dales. I will be skipping the "last" day of the DHW from Newbiggin to Appleby and will jump onto DHW just west of Newbiggin.
I am using A Dales High Way guide book by the Grogans, walking north to south.

After a B&B breakfast in Shap, I went to Tebay by bus, then walked 4 ½ miles over to Bowderdale, near Newbiggin, to pick up the Dales High Way. From Tebay, I followed a lane running just south of and parallel to the A685 and crossed several farm pastures. At Bowderdale, just before the bridge over the beck, I turned sharply south on a bridleway that doubles as the Dales High Way. I’ll follow the Dales High Way all the way to Ilkley and forgo the last day to Saltaire.

Long Greenway From Bowderdale Onto West Fell

I passed by a sheep ranch and stopped to talk with the rancher riding his big wheel quad buggy like a wild west cowboy. He was curious and wanted to talk about my walk. Through the last gate and I’m up on the fells following a greenway all the way over the Howgills. Its a gradual climb on a ridge to the summit of West Fell at 542 m, then another climb to Hazelgill Knott. I met two cyclist screaming down the Knott having a great time, interrupting my meditative state. Incredibly, I’ll meet them again tomorrow. Its deering-do out here with all the mud hags.

Grain Gill From Hazelgill Knot

Looking Back On Long Ridge Approach To The Calf

Weather was overcast and started a slow rain so I put on the Duck’s Back. I’m on a high ridge that turns southwest, climbing more as I top a couple more summits. I could look back and see my path all the way back to West Fell. 

I met a couple with their young son walking back and forth. They were searching for a path (found on the internet) to Cautley Spout, supposedly the highest waterfall in England. I tried to help find it with my maps but no luck. The spout is not far but is straight down the mountain and no discernible path to it. The mother was apparently worried but the father seemed capable so I left them and headed for the trig point on The Calf at 676 m. 

Then a huge black cloud swooped in with harder rain and virtually no visibility. It was practically a total blackout. I worried about the threesome and hope they have the sense to abandon their quixotic effort and follow me. There are several offshoots of the path but my compass kept me in the right direction until I passed the tarn and the main path became obvious beneath my feet.

The Phantom Trig Point On The Calf

Finally I saw a phantom of a pyramid rising out of the dark fog as I almost bumped into it. I was able to take a photo and move on, still worried about the family left behind. As I walked further, the fog cleared a little but the wind became ferocious. Challenges were one after another in these Howgills.  I’ve been checking my compass every few minutes to make sure I’m going the right way. Mist cleared enough to see around me but the wind was too strong to enjoy it. Regardless, the hills were truly magnificent. Wainwright called them “a herd of sleeping elephants”. It was still quite a long, tiring walk down to Sedburgh. I didn’t get there until 4 pm.

Sedburgh From On High

I was scheduled to call Cathryn today but the venerable red telephone booth next to the museum didn’t work. I found a newer working one next to the information center and called my sweetie for another long chat.

I walked the kilometer to Holmcroft B&B - very nice, reminds me of Brookfield. A pot of tea, shower and off to the Dalesman for a pint of Black Sheep. Their menu didn’t grab me so I walked down to a relatively new restaurant called DUO. A friendly place, I got grilled cod and a glass of white wine from South Africa. Something different than my usual pub fare. Stopped at the co-op for chocolate chip cookies, went back to my room and devoured them. Like I said, something different tonight.
May 8.... Sedburgh to Ribbleshead

DHW leaves Sedburgh by the southeast corner of town, over New Bridge and up past several farms onto Frostrow Fell and Long Moor while skirting Holebeck Gill. This route is northeast of the Dales Way and at a considerably higher elevation. Oh drats, my camera card is full and I can’t get it to reverse through past photos to erase the expendable ones. I’ll have to work on it later.
As I descend towards Barth Bridge, I stopped to chat with the old farmer at Lunds Farm, a lively and curious sort of fellow although hobbled by a lame leg. Coming into Dent, I passed fields of campers acting like its another bank holiday weekend. Dent is such a picturesque little village, too bad my camera was acting up. Leaving Dent, I joined the Dales Way to Bridge End, then started a long trek on a rocky path gradually ascending onto the moors. The weather is calmer than yesterday but, as I approach Wold End there are low hanging clouds over Whernside which looms beside me. Since Sedburgh, this route has been waymarked as the Craven Way, an old packhorse route very important in olden days. Whernside has been looming on my right ever since leaving Sedburgh, getting closer and closer.

Wow, here they come whizzing off Wold End, the two cyclists I met in the Howgills yesterday, today with a third buddy. So fast they can’t stop but gave me a big wave. They are definitely having a good week. I know my son would love to be riding with them.

Descending from Wold End, I come to the Carlisle-Settle Railroad and Blea Moor Siding with its beautifully restored signal box and, a little further on, the iconic 24 arch Ribbleshead Viaduct. I wandered under the viaduct, rubbing my hands over the stone arches, marveling at their artistry and engineering and contemplating the enormous amount of human energy and suffering expended. Oh how I wish my camera was on duty.

Its only a short walk to the Station Inn where they were expecting me. I arrived at 3:30, had two cups of tea, a coffee and a shower, then down to the bar for a pint of Hobgoblin ale. I make a point of getting well rehydrated after the days walk.  Friendly and talkative barkeep and patrons, everyone seems to be here for day walks. One guy has a Helms Deep teeshirt. He got it from a friend who was on movie location in New Zealand. It's a famous movie, but if you don’t know what movie it is, I can’t help you.

Later, I have a vegetable lasagna, salad and pint of Old Peculiar, then tuck in for the night. This is the second time I have been here. The food is not as good as last time but they still have a superior selection of real ales. There is something about the Station Inn - I really like this place and would go out of my way to stay again.
May 9....Ribbleshead to Settle

Breakfast is not served until 8:30, a policy not appreciated by walkers. I went down early for cereal and met a walker couple doing the same. We all grouse about the late breakfast time. When the English breakfast comes, it is huge with two each of sausage and bacon all sourced locally, good enough to take some for lunch. I guess this makes up for a mediocre dinner. After paying my tab, I’m gone by 9:15.

As I approached Ingleborough, I had to decide whether to climb it or go around it on the alternative route. The sky was chancy with clouds hanging overhead so, remembering the Howgills, I opted for the alternate route. This led me over several pastures, then a track passing by a private area filled with pot holes and caverns in the limestone escarpment. Pothole and cave explorers can register at a farmhouse to get permission to explore. Further on, I passed under limestone scars and climbed up on them to see the pavement formations, stones jump out everywhere. I crossed the Three Peaks track and debated whether to take it toward Ingleborough to intersect with the DHW path descending from Ingleborough but decided not. Ingleborough still has clouds hovering over it but the summit is clear. I could kick myself for not climbing it.  When would I ever get such a good chance again?

Next, I came to the main DHW path but didn’t recognize it thinking the intersection was further ahead. I soon realized my error and turned back onto the correct path. The problem was the many paths here and my trying to follow the guidebook backwards. If I turned around and walked backwards, it would all make sense. This problem will crop up again today at Wharf village, two miles further, where I turned into the village too soon and couldn’t find where to continue. Finally I went to the far end of the village where the landmarks were all too clear. If coming from the south as the guidebook is written, it would be impossible to go wrong.

After Wharf, the next village is Feizor, a surprisingly lovely little place with an outdoor tea room and a B&B. Here the DHW turns east to pass by Smearset Scar towards Stainforth. After passing over more limestone pavement, I diverted from the eastward path to Little Stainforth and turn southeast, downhill, on faint farm tracks to emerge on the road just south of Stackhouse. This cuts out most of the walk along the River Ribble and saves a bit of time. I was suddenly anxious to get to Settle so I have time to explore. 

A few steps along the road and I turneded onto the Ribble Way leading to the river, then over the big bridge into Settle. I was only a half mile from Giggleswick - I love that word - made famous by Bill Bryson. Whitefriers B&B is just down the street near the Shambles, or marketplace.

I arrived at Whitefriers about 4 pm, a very old two story house with a beautiful lounge. I have a small room but nice. After a pot of tea and shower, I’m out to explore the town, very old and interesting buildings. I landed at the Golden Lion and had seafood pasta w/watercress and a pint of Thwaites Nutty Brown. Talked to an Irishman who has been here 40 years. He didn’t seem to remember much about Ireland, but like most Irishmen he loves country western music and likes to spend a lot of time in the pub, being sociable, you know.

I finally sorted out the problem with my camera and will now have photos for the rest of the walk. How I hated to miss taking photos of the Ribblesdale Viaduct, so close too.

May 10.... Settle to Malham

I had a little different breakfast today, homemade muslei (wonderful), a fruit salad, poached eggs, kippers and toast. Today (Tuesday) is market day in Settle, booths set up around the marketplace. I salivated over the cheese display, breads and sweets. The sights delayed my departure until 9:30. This will be a short, restful day so I’m in no hurry.

Morning Market In Settle

Sweets Booth In The Market

Cheese Booth In The Market - Breads Behind

Steeply up on the fells, I passed a photo shoot, probably for a TV ad, of a cyclist having a grand time on the fells. The sky is a bit cloudy but, looking back, the sun highlights my walk of yesterday from Smearset Scar.

South Of Settle Looking North Toward Smearset Scar

A Trio of Curious Fellows On The Fells

I was heading due east, passing by the peaks of Warrendale Knotts and the cliffs of Attermire Scar, physically impressive but a mostly gray color that lessens the effect, almost blending into a gray sky.  I noticed a couple behind me, slowly gaining ground.

Warrendale Knotts

The Wooley Mammoth Lives

As I passed above Stockdale Farm, I stopped for a short rest and water. They caught up, we chat and they noticed my DHW guidebook. She says “we wrote it”. The are none other than Chris and Tony Grogan, the DHW guidebook authors. I introduced myself and they know of my walk from the walkers forum. Meanwhile, it started raining and we put on rain gear. We chatted and walked awhile together to Landscar where they circled back to Settle, just out for a day’s walk. It was a pleasure to get to know them.

Chris and Tony Grogan With Faithful Friend

Gregg and Chris

The DHW path to Malham Cove led over a limestone path, then through Watlowes, an unusually narrow, steep and rocky valley just west of the Pennine Way path. I loved it.

Limestone Walkway On The DHW

Looking Down Watlowes Toward Malham Cove

I arrived at Malham Cove and inserted my self into the crowd, then tried to get away from the crowd by spending time on the northeast side of Malham Cove, high up on the cliff, watching the Peregrine falcons swoop around. One seemed to be nesting and fought off another bird. There were a few bird watchers, their big lens cameras were out clicking. There was rain earlier, then the sun was in and out. Tucked in a limestone cleft, I had a lunch of banana, sausage and cookie. Lots of people are out here climbing about. One couple had a plastic bag blow away - I thought he was going to go over the cliff chasing it.

Malham Cove From Top Of Eastern Cliff

Overlooking Malhamdale

I walked across the famous limestone pavement and passed a student group on an outing to study the geology of this glaciated area. Down the 260 ft stone staircase to the valley where I saw a climbing group going up sheer walls. Following Malham Beck into the village, I arrived at Beck Hall B&B at about 1330, a great place to have a half-rest day.

Glaciated Limestone Pavement On Top Of Malham Cove

I had a pleasant walk around the village, then a stop at Lister Arms for a pint of Thwaites Bomber. I sat at the outside table and talked with a retired man with two Jack Russells. He is local and comes here often. I returned to Beck's Hall for awhile to clean up, then over to the Buck Inn for a dinner of Lamb Yorkshire Pudding and T. Taylor’s Landlords Ale. I ended the day at Beck's Hall reading in the comfortable B&B lounge in front of a roaring wood fire. This place is more like lodge than B&B.

Beck's Hall B&B In Malham

Buck Inn In Malham

May 11.... Malham to Skipton
Another breakfast of smoked salmon and eggs, a break from sausage and bacon. Talked with two guys walking the Pennine Way, a Brit and an Australian from Perth. I left with an apple and banana for lunch.

Off by 8:50 and walked the 1½ miles to Janet’s Foss. Foss is the old Norse word for waterfall, Janet means the local fairy queen who typically lives in a cave behind the falls. Its a wonderful, hidden, intimate spot, boulders surrounding the pool, water from the falls streaming over the rocks surrounding the pool and into the beck threading through trees. The trail along the beck is lined with wild garlic giving off a heady smell, its stems a pungent taste. This is a very feminine place, almost erotic.

Trail To Janet's Foss Featuring Wild Garlic

Janet's Foss featuring A Meditative Solitude

A half mile off the DHW brought me to Gordale Scar, a narrow, rough cleft in towering limestone walls with two waterfalls, a magnificent sight revealed suddenly as I turn a corner. The visual effect is truly stunning, more so because the earth colors of the rock walls are enhanced by wetness from rain. Gordale Scar has a decidedly masculine quality. This place and Janet’s Foss are so different, yet fit together so well as a single site to be visited less than a mile apart. Not to be missed!

First Look At Gordale Scar

Closer Look Of Waterfalls At Gordale Scar

From Gordale it was an unpleasant trudge up a narrow, steep tarmac road to a turnoff onto the short track to Weets Top. At the summit is a standing stone. I turn around and half hidden behind a stone wall is the trig point, the true summit at 414 m. I don't know the story behind the standing stone but its quite elegant.

Standing Stone On Weets Top

There is a long track across the moor, a popular bike trail, several pass me, to Moore Lane which leads into Hetton. This part of the walk is best spent in meditation, nuff said. I passed the Angel Inn in Hetton which seems like a good place to overnight if you want to vary your day distances.

Out of Hetton, I cross pastures and follow the beck to Flasby where the DHW turns east to climb up Sharp Haw to meet another trig point. This is a nice little climb with some boggy areas to maneuver across. From the trig point, there are good views of Skipton to the south and Gargrave to the west.

Approaching Trig Point On Sharp Haw

Overlooking Skipton

It's a gentle tedious descent to Tarn House Farm, across the motorway, then over pastures,  through a golf course and up and down a hill to the edge of Skipton city center.

Entering Skipton The Back Way

It's rather a shock to climb over the stone wall stile to suddenly be within two blocks of High Street, the center of town with grand government buildings and a variety of store fronts. To add chaos for a lonely walker, today was market day with numerous vender booths lining High Street on both sides. I always enjoy the market days, even if I don’t buy anything.

I went to the Unicorn Hotel, dumped my backpack, and made my scheduled phone call to Cathryn. I stopped at the library for a half hour of internet time - must keep communicating with demanding friends and relatives - stopped at the market for snacks, and back to the hotel to clean up. The room is large, a huge bed, good amenities, with a definate hotel feeling. Faucet water is labeled Not For Drinking - they supply bottled water in room.

The strange thing about Skipton is an apparent dearth of B&Bs within the town - even the list from the TIC only show them in outlying places. What is a walker to do? Perhaps more research is in order.

I found the Wooley Sheep pub only a block from the hotel. Its a little different from most pubs in that a waitress seats you at a table and takes your order, more upscale than a scruffy walker expects. I had a pint of Timothy Taylor Bitters and a crab linguini dish with watercress sprinkled on top. Both were excellent and I love having the pungent watercress with the pasta, a new presentation for me since the Golden Lion in Settle. Is this a regional foodie tradition or is it something sweeping Britain, from France perhaps?

May 12.... Skipton to Ilkley

Today is my last day of walking. Instead of going to the start of the DHW at Saltaire, I am stopping in Ilkley to catch the train into Leeds where I will meet a fellow walker for a couple of pints, stay the night and take an early train into Kings Cross and the tube to Heathrow for the flight to San Francisco.

To start the day, I had a continental breakfast of orange juice, cereal, toast and coffee. It was a long walk out of town on Short Bank Road, through trees up over the quarries to begin a long straight trek across the moor on “Rombalds Way” or the Roman Road. It's seven miles to Addingham. I decided to take the alternate DHW route through town instead of the bypass route. My previous time in Addingham was on the Dales Way which also bypassed town center, so I thought it was time to see what it looked like. I was not disappointed - a very nice looking main street with fine old buildings and a pub that made me want to stay awhile, particularly since it was advertising Jazz Night.

Pub In Addingham - Jazz On Wednesday

I turned out of town to cross the motorway to Addingham Moorside, then uphill onto Addingham High Moor. On Moorside, I met three different groups of people walking the Dales High Way; a group of four, 50 to 60 years old, another group of four, 60 to 70 years old, and a couple about 75 years old walking it for their second time. Everyone was having a great time, in high spirits, loving every mile.

Climbing Up To Addingham High Moor

Climbing up to the High Moor, I saw a strange sight perched on a high rock ledge. Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it an antenna calling to aliens in outer space? On reaching the ridge top, I saw it was a sculpture of an animal or large bird made of heavy wire or willow wood. Later, I found out it is called the “Hound of Windgate Nick”. No one seems to know who made it or put it there. I have no idea what Windgate Nick is, perhaps the crag it sits on.

The "Hound Of Windgate Nick" On The Addingham Crags

Noonstone On The Addingham Escarpment

It's a long walk along the high escarpment with wonderful views, but cloudy and rainy weather limit photo opportunities. Passed by a huge glacial boulder called the Noon Stone, then an iron fence around a boulder called the Swastika Stone for its ancient markings. I don’t know if it's the Swastika curse but, after passing the stone, I felt a twinge in my right knee which had me limping for the next few hours. 

Just past the reservoir, I cut down to a gate that leads into Ilkley by way of Panorama Ave, passing Darwin Garden on the way to the train station. I could have stayed on the moor path for another ¾ mile before dropping onto Panorama Ave but the avenue was lined with interesting houses if you like that sort of thing. Todays walk of 11 ½ mi took 5 hrs, a bit longer than expected. The train dropped me in Leeds by 3 pm.

I just want to mention how well the guide book served me. Details and directions were outstanding, once I got used to walking "backwards". I am anxious now to try it in the "right" direction. Hats off to Chris and Tony for an excellent job.

Leeds Kirkgate Market

I cleaned up at the Novotel and walked (just a slight limp now) to Kirkgate Market and the Corn Palace, sightseeing down Briggate St and back to the hotel in time to meet a fellow walker who I got to know on the walkers forum. We had a lively chat, shared walk experiences and several pints of ale at the Victorian Pub and left it with the idea of trying to arrange a day’s walk together next year. I had a quick bite to eat and went back to the hotel to take advantage of my luxurious room and get ready for the train to London and my flight to San Francisco.

No comments:

Post a Comment