Sep 18 2010

Walk 18: Yorkshire Tops…. Done!

Whernside from Ribblehead

route: whernside from ribblehead
date: 18th september 2010
distance: 7.7 miles
ascent: 1,553 feet
time: 4 hrs 40 mins
walkers: dave, graham, jane, leanne, lucy, roger, sandra and simo

And so the day had arrived. Today would be the day that five of the Rambling Badgers would complete the Yorkshire tops tick list. Those five would be myself, Wu Tang, Beaky, Ramblo and last but by no means least, Sherpa G-String. It had been a long year in one sense but not in another. I had enjoyed everything we had experienced before today. Sure some walks were better than others, and some days I was happier than others but overall it had been a fantastic experience and an achievement I can’t honestly say I thought I would ever do. We parked up in the layby opposite the path that would take us beyond the viaduct and up to Whernside. The day was overcast with the threat of rain very much in the air but at this stage of the year we had seen it all.

We set of on our journey with our target hidden by low lying cloud but the weather did seem to be clearing slightly and we were hopeful of a good day.

As anyone who has done the Three Peaks of Yorkshire challenge will know the path runs alongside the viaduct before climbing slightly and turning to run parallel to the Settle to Carlisle railway line. As we made our way along this section the weather continued to improve and Ingleborough was clearing behind us, and though the day was young, it looked like things would be going our way.

We passed Blea Moor signal box and received a slight fright from two dogs that barked as soon as they saw us and stopped as soon as we were out of sight. This section of the walk is really easy and there must be around a mile to cover from the Ribblehead Viaduct to the little aquaduct that carries a little beck over the railway line, all of which is virtually flat. We reached the aquaduct where we could see the track below as it disappeared into Blea Moor tunnel. From here the path climbs a little and we had Force Gill away to our left.

The path continued to climb and in places became a lot steeper than anything else we had encountered so far today. There has been a lot of work put in to lay purpose built paths and steps into the hillside to stop the erosion and also to help as certain areas were quite wet. From here it would be one long pull up to the summit but nothing too technical. At least we were now on the map and we knew exactly how far we had to go to reach the top of peak number forty although it looked a bit further than that!.

I continued on my way walking and chatting with Roger as we followed Beaky slightly in front on us. Graham had decided to wait for the girls who were gossiping away a little way behind us. I had climbed Whernside about 5 times before for one reason or another but it was at this point where I realised that all the walking we had done this year had made a considerable difference to my overall fitness and strength. Normally I would have stopped numerous times by now and would be struggling up, stopping every 20 or 30 yards. Today however I would only stop twice from the aquaduct to the top and I was extremely pleased with my efforts. We were now on the about to join the long ridge that eventually takes you up to the top and the top would disappear from view for a while, Ingleborough could still be seen in the distance and I was glad that we weren’t going on to do that today.

Once on the ridge it is a fairly simple walk along the spine of Whernside as it climbs gradually before the path takes you along the top. I had now done it, all forty Yorkshire tops were ticked of my list at least it would be when I went through the little gap in the wall and touched the trig point.

I was now stood on top of Yorkshire and it felt good. As I mentioned a little while back I have been here before a fair few years back but today felt different, special almost. What seemed like a crazy idea at the start of the year was now reality and I enjoyed the moment with Beaky and Roger. The sun was out and once again the weather had decided to work with us. We looked around as we waited for the others and we had fantastic views of all the surrounding peaks, many of which brought back memories of our earlier exploits. We could see the Howgill Fells which we had visited twice.

The Ribblehead Viaduct was clearly visible below us and behind that in the distance sat Pen-y-ghent. It isn’t hard to see why the three peaks is such a tough walk when you see how far away from each other they are.

To the south we could see Park Fell (under 2000ft and therefore not on our list), Simon Fell and Ingleborough (the third of the three peaks)

North East of us we could see Great Knoutberry Hill and Arten Gill Viaduct that looked so small sat in front of it. It seemed like an age ago that we climbed that in the snow.

As I continued to soak up the glorious views the rest of the team arrived and we could all share the experience and point out various surrounding landmarks.

With our last climb of the challenge done we relaxed and cracked out our sandwiches as we continued to enjoy the view from our lofty perch. As we were celebrating an achievement Wu tang went into my bag a produced a bottle of fizz which she then struggled to open. After a little help from Sherpa we were all given a glass and we celebrated in style!

With the bubbles all gone and the weather closing in slightly we decided that enough was enough and we began our descent.

Once we came off the fell side we rested up for ten minutes as we waited for a couple of the team who were more cautious on the steep walk down.

From here we had a good view back up to the summit and I tried to soak up as much of the atmosphere as I could so I would be able to remember the feeling for life. That was quite difficult as with everyone in high spirits the banter was flying and nobody was safe from a bit of leg pulling. I suppose that will be the defining memory I can keep. As soon as we set off again we took the bridleway signposted to Winterscales and made our way across the green fields.

Roughly twenty minutes later we had had reached a little farm at Ivescar and I decided it was a good place to regroup and waited for the others. From here there was a lovely view of Ingleborough, as to be honest, it seems like there is from most places in the Yorkshire Dales.

We walked though the farm and crossed a couple of stiles and with every field crossed we were closer to the viaduct and the end of another marvellous walk.

Gunnerfleet Farm was the next port of call as we continued to close in on the giant structure. We were soon walking under it to join the path we used first thing this morning.

Once we had crossed under it we had a look at the monument dedicated to those that built it back it the 1870’s It must have been some project to build something this big back then. As we rejoined the path for the last 100 yards or so we had one last glance towards Ingleborough which could be seen through the giant arches.

Within minutes of taking that picture i was stood back at the car and the whole challenge was done. There was no doubting that it felt good but a little scary at the same time as I had enjoyed this year so much I didn’t want it to end. The feeling with the rest of the troops is that they would be more than happy to carry on with the walking so they were thrilled (or maybe not) when I instantly told them about the 54 trig points in the Yorkshire Dales we could tick off. Now wasn’t the time for future challenges though, now was the time for beer, so we walked up to The Station and enjoyed a drink. We only stayed for one though as all those who qualified (a top secret selection method only known to myself and those that actually made the cut), were having a meal and some drinks later that evening to celebrate in style. Me being me (not sure who else I could be) I turned up that night with a 4 page quiz sheet for each member and little prizes to thank them for making this year such a special one. I never thought that I would see it through when I started, and certainly never expected there to be five of us to complete all forty tops. I would like to say a big thank you to anyone who joined me on any of the walks and I hope to see you again soon. It doesn’t end here, this is just the beginning…

Sir Edmund


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