Saturday, 5 January 2019

Yorkshire Dales Trip. Great Whernside. 704 metres, 2,310 feet. Buckden Pike. 702 metres.

                                                 ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
A weekend club trip in late November down to the Yorkshire Dales saw us stop at Penrith first, seen above, and the wonderful 'little chippy' where they serve the most amazing Cumberland Sausage suppers. ( the mighty Cumberland- the King of sausage folk, which makes a standard jumbo sausage look like a human pinkie by comparison, size for size, on the same plate.) The last time I visited the Yorkshire Dales, many years ago, and munched down a mighty Cumberland without it putting up a struggle, it was another club trip in November and we were camping near Horton in Ribblesdale. During the night, either through a rain shower or heavy dew the tents got soaked then froze solid to the ground creating sparkling flysheets that stood up by themselves even after the pegs and poles had been removed. In the morning it was around minus 5 below but bright, sunny, and clear.
This time the club had booked a hut in Buckden, a small village directly under Buckden Pike and as I always like visiting new areas, especially down in England, I was keen to go. When you book months in advance however it's just down to pot luck what the weather will bring. On this occasion it was mild and moist- not raining but thick hill mist settled over the 1000 foot high mark with no indication that it would shift or climb higher. A view of Kirk Gill Moor and Birks Fell area here.
The hut we were in was a good one, no camping this time, so we got a lift down to Kettlewell, a larger village a few km away and set off from there. Our intention was to do a full circuit of Great Whernside and Buckden Pike, two of the hill giants of the area, then return to the hut on foot straight off the last peak. Hut arrival above.
The village of Kettlewell. I have seen loads of photos of the Yorkshire Dales in sunny conditions in spring and summer and in famous films like The Railway Children, shown recently at Christmas here, and filmed not too far away. Lush green fields, bright flower meadows everywhere, abundant heat, wall to wall sunshine, and dry stream beds. No doubt it was like that during the UK's long lasting summer heatwave but by the time we arrived it was more like 'Bleak House'.... or 'Happy Valley', a police TV drama about drugs, depression, suicide and crime filmed in Hebden Bridge, which is not that far away. ( Hebden Bridge now is actually a fairly trendy, gentrified place full of tourists, independent shops and artist groups but it's a former mill town so it did go into decline for a period after they shut- like a smaller version of cotton and fabric mill hub Paisley, in Scotland. Fortunately for Hebden Bridge, the various old buildings, scattered around in a wooded valley looked picturesque and was rescued from terminal decline due to this fact and its Yorkshire Dales, golden bubble location. It's not that far away from the Bronte Sisters House, The Parsonage, which is already a major tourist draw on the same road through the dales from the south.
I was just glad it wasn't raining, although damp, and it was still an interesting place to visit although it seemed to be in shut down mode this late in the season. The last time we were down here we had gone under the mountains with experienced caving friends, crawling and walking for several km of darkness, caverns, wormholes, and tunnels into the extensive limestone cave systems for six or seven hours each day so we had hardly seen sunshine then either, or much daylight, that trip. Although winter it was not as cold as we expected once below ground level. One of the best adventures of my life as caving to that standard is a rare event with hired ladders, ropes, and serious equipment for major drops in height  through dancing waterfalls and surreal streams roaring far underground.
On this occasion little splashes of colour here and there still lingered on however. John and Craig walking towards the hills.
A fox door knocker. Hunting seems to be a theme in the Yorkshire Dales, harking back to a more heavily wooded, wilder past- Yorkshire was once part of the Danelaw, a large chunk of Britain settled by Norse/Vikings from Denmark and other Scandinavian groups looking for new lands. Which is why today, in this present era, we all speak English mostly, but have different outlooks and mentality shaped by our origins, values and beliefs. It was just largely feelings before but now backed up by accurate DNA testing.

Yorkshire husband waving a piece of paper in vindication. "See!  I always told you Elizabeth- these buggers are different from us here." (wife (78 percent Irish, waving her own slip)- "I want a divorce! we're incompatible now! I always knew it!")
Red berries. a popular choice in this area in gardens for a late colour burst.
Then we were off up the hills- my companions being John, Craig and Doris. I marveled here at how green and grassy the paths looked given that the Yorkshire Dales are a popular walking venue whereas many of Scotland's paths are getting completely trashed due to wet weather and visitor numbers, even in the local parks- which is presumably why fat bikes have been developed, allowing riders to stay upright in the mud.
All too soon however we reached the mist line.
Hag Dyke Hostel, at 1,500 foot high. Originally a remote upland farmhouse but now accommodation for self catering Scout and Guide groups plus others who wish to use it to access this area, reached by a land rover track. Only with booked permission of course.
As well as bagging hills John was also geocaching on behalf of his wife Gail- both committed enthusiasts of this apparently highly addictive sport of finding little hidden objects in holes- as driven as any drug junkie or Munro bagger. (I know the signs- I've been that gleaming eyed Gollum in search of my precious prize.)
Up here I had to retract my earlier statement that Yorkshire appeared to be all grassy delightful paths around the hills. Although still not raining it was very wet underfoot with miles of bog trotting between summits. Thankfully only ankle to knee deep in places rather than the waist deep mud holes on The Cheviot, which I sampled a while ago. (Waist deep there and still going down before I grabbed the edge of the seemingly bottomless pit of mud.)
As it was too cold to hang around Craig and Doris headed off after the first summit of Great Whernside while John and I hunted for caches in the mist.
The Polish memorial to an aircraft crash near the summit, not uncommon in mountain areas in poor conditions. A lonely spot.

The summit of Buckden Pike. It shows how cold it was up here when this little iceberg was sitting in water yet not melting. Probably just around the freezing level as pockets of old snow still lingered in the deeper hollows and north facing slopes. Obviously it can be minus 15 below but on a sunny, windless day its fairly pleasant, even at night if you keep moving or find shelter. Change that to 2 degrees above freezing but add soaking rain, sleet and strong summit winds and it's a harder proposition to survive a night up here. After visiting some of the vast exposed summits on the long distance Pennine Way which travels along the high spine of Northern England I have full respect for anyone completing it. Very little shelter exists on the ridges and summits so it would be a real challenge in bad weather despite being under the 3000 foot mark. And a lot of bog bashing in that 266 odd miles (or 430 km.) as well.
After 6km of bog bashing ourselves we reached Buckden Pike just as darkness was appearing. Head torches out we had about an hours descent in fading light then total darkness, John still hunting diligently for caches. I meanwhile was starting to enjoy myself again and this was the trip I remembered how much I love night walking. The 6 km between summits I had grumbled about how bad it was but now I was in my element again and much warmer out the wind. Happy in the 'night garden'.
I even stayed out an extra half hour to explore the village and surroundings at night.

This is another group that should be better known by now. Been a fan of these two for many years.  Genuine original artists making music are still out there but seem to be marginalized, and in the shadows much more, barely scraping a living at it through live touring. Any album and singles sales are much diminished compared to pre-internet levels. It is what it is though. Great back catalogue of original songs, fine harmony singing and intricate guitar melodies are usually a feature of this duo. Hopefully every plug helps to spread the word, however small. Gutted when Alisha's Attic broke up, another fantastic close harmony UK duo, after three great albums worth of original catchy material. Much harder to last these days and reach iconic status without a strong music industry promoting you and those that do survive are often not the most talented or best examples of original sparkling entertainment... going by recent trends.



Carol said...

Hmmm - not sure there is more hunting in the Yorks Dales than other areas - probably less than down south. But, if there is, it's a manifestation of the fact that hunting is a 'class issue', not a countryside issue as claimed. Many middle classes have bought their way into the Yorkshire Dales from the cities and think they should hunt. Most country folk don't bother - we like wildlife on the whole...

Yorkshire was always bleak - especially the hills. Funnily enough, I did Great Whernside with my club last New Year's Day (in similar weather).

One part of The Railway Children was filmed at our local (when I lived there anyway) railway junction - the part where the tree slides down the embankment. I'm surprised you can't see us brats lingering in the background watching!

Andy said...

We head up to Yorkshire the weekend before Xmas every year and the weather always seems grey and gloomy. Been a long while since I was in this part though. I climbed Buckden Pike once, in a blizzard, after a four-pint lunchtime session, an epic day!

blueskyscotland said...

Might have just been Buckden Carol but I did see other references to hunting around the area which surprised me with the sealed off fields and the largely treeless upper moors that I didn't think would harbour much in the way of large four footed wildlife expect in past times. Maybe Buckden being deer related in its origins when sheltering woodlands were commonplace.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
Probably age related but it's ages/years since I had a night in a pub. Drinking just makes me fall asleep now and I grudge paying money when I'm not around to enjoy the full effects.
Any time in the past when I had a rare liquid lunch before a hill it always seemed twice as hard and long. Never did it very often, even when young, for that reason.

Linda W. said...

What a cute village! Lovely photos of your hike.

Anabel Marsh said...

Shame It was so murky: Yorkshire not looking its best.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
It did look nice around that area. More to come.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I was just glad it wasn't raining as I hate walking in the rain over hills. Utterly miserable if you are out for hours. I have waded and paddled in small boats into winter huts and bothies during extensive flooding in past years, which was at least exciting and adventurous, so a bit of mist was an improvement on other trips. Winter meets are always an adventure.

Rosemary said...

Your description of camping near Horton in Ribblesdale sounds like my worst nightmare - when young I could cope but not now. The hut in Buckden looks much more appropriate. I can cope with being out in the cold during the day, but at night time comfort is paramount.

Kay G. said...

Looks like you will have to go back to Scotland for your blue skies!
I fell in love with Yorkshire back in the 80's when I read the books by James Herriot. I loved his stories. They seem to be out of fashion these days which is a pity because they are quite good. I am not into geocaching myself but I know that people enjoy it. As long as they don't tramp over the wildflowers here, I don't mind them doing it!