Feb 20 2010

Walk 2: Seating Arrangement

Snow covered peat hags on Rogan’s Seat

route: rogan’s seat from keld
date: 20th february 2010
distance: 7.7 miles
ascent: 1,699 feet
time: 4 hrs 30 mins
walkers: carol, dave, leanne, roger, ryan, sandra & simon

I was a little unsure as we set off for Keld as the previous days weather forecast had predicted snow for higher parts of the Dales. After looking at the map it was obvious that to get to our chosen starting point we would have to use some smaller roads and I didn’t know if they were clear. In any case we had made a contingency plan earlier in the week. We would see how far we could get and if we ran into dangerous road conditions we would turn round and head home. Fortunately the roads were clear and we arrived at Keld about half past nine. We found the little farm yard / car park which was equipped with toilets and the like and began to get ready. As the 10am start time approached we still hadn’t seen sight of Roger and being that we were in a fairly remote part of the Dales we didn’t have a phone signal to contact him. Even if we did there was no guarantee he would, so there was no point in worrying and I think that is one of the charms of being out and about. I like the fact that the hustle and bustle of city life is left behind for another time. At ten past ten, with us about to set off (due to Simon & Sandra having evening arrangements and not the fact we wanted to leave them behind) Roger and Ryan arrived.

We asked someone to take a team shot for us before we set off walking and maybe he had far too much to drink the night before or it may have been a big gust of wind at that moment but the pic was a little blurred. We weren’t here to take pictures though, we were here to walk. Our second walk in fact, and one that would again encounter snowy conditions. We left Keld after picking up the sign for the Pennine Way and crossing the River Swale at Kisdon Force. We then followed the footpath up the side of the valley towards Crackpot Hall, where we paused for a break and a quick check of the map, just to make sure we were still going the right way.

Confidence in directions comes with time and as I had yet to prove my leadership skills to the girls they were doubtful of every twist and turn. Satisfied that we were indeed still on the right path we continued through a gate and into Swinner Gill.

As we approached the old Swinner Gill lead mine we encountered a pile of scree and a treacherous little traverse across it

Myself and Beaky went across and began to help the rest over, but Carol and Ryan didn’t like the look of it, and after a bit of hesitating they decided to go up and over. This little detour started off fine, but they soon realised that they would have to come down the same stuff which caused a moments panic, but eventually the event passed without incident.

We crossed over the little bridge and covered the 100 yards or so to an old derelict mine building before having a ten minute break.

After regrouping we headed up the small icy path, taking great care with our footsteps on the slippery rocks and frozen ground. The last thing any of us wanted was to injure ourselves, especially so early into our challenge. I felt just as excited as I did on the first walk the previous weekend. The snow gave the whole experience a totally different feel and one that I would recommend. Yes it added an element of danger but then in this day and age of molly coddling and wrapping everything and everyone in cotton wool, it felt great to be doing something more adventurous. That said, I didn’t want to fall and be told off by my mum! As we reached the higher ground we left the narrow paths behind and continued onto a wider and more shallow path. From this point on the snow went from being intermittent to being thick on the ground and that brought its own challenges. According to the printed route we had been supplied there should be some sort of track to follow but under a foot or more of snow that wasn’t so easy. We had a differing of opinion as to which way to go but it was all civilised and we were soon ready to move on. I then remembered I had £300 worth of GPS around my neck and after having a quick look we set off in the correct direction. For anyone without a GPS I recommend them, simply because the maps on screen never get covered in snow, unlike the ground. Once on the track it became quite obvious and I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t find it in the first place. The terrain had levelled out now and we were only just climbing as we passed a sheep pen on our left hand side. The flat ground had meant the pace had increased and as a result Roger and Ryan had tailed off a little, so we decided to wait to prevent them getting too far back.

After we were all back together we continued on past a Coast to Coast signpost before turning almost 90 degrees left to aim for the top. The path was climbing a little steeper now but still nothing of any great note. This small gradient was still enough for Wu Tang to bust some moves and show us how to take the pressure of the back. Apparently this technique is one all walkers should use if the rucksack causes strain to the back. This is especially true if you carry a mammoth back pack like she does.

The track continued onwards with ridge after ridge. There always seemed to be one more little bump to go over and the temperature was much colder up here. With little around we were totally exposed and while the wind wasn’t too strong there was a definite chill in the air. After passing a hut to our left we walked for another 10 mins or so before my GPS said we should be leaving the track to reach the top. We set off and wandered around aimlessly for a while struggling in the snow to see what we were looking for. We picked out what looked the two highest points and decided to check them out. Sure enough we found the stones half buried and we had made it. Rogan’s Seat became our second peak completed and it felt just as good as the previous week.

We took some snaps and spent 10 minutes having our sandwiches before the temperature was just too cold to stay stood still. The path back was a simple one, all we had to do was retrace the exact same route we had used on the way up. Following our own footprints, we headed back down to the hut we had passed earlier before continuing back down into Swinner Gill.

The walk back was an extremely enjoyable one as the route was known and we could soak up the lovely views of Swaledale. That wasn’t the only thing to be seen though as plenty of dead rabbits littered the footpath. Not only that but I managed to find one that had been there a bit longer than the rest.

I also found a bird skull and a couple more rabbits as we passed though the lead mine and back up towards Crackpot Hall. This was only walk two but already I was beginning to get hooked. Yes we had been lucky with the weather again but a bit of rain never bothered me anyway. I could only see the positives to be gained from spending a day in the Dales. What are the negatives? And if there were any, when would they present themselves? I wasn’t about to worry about that just now. We had arrived back at the car park and used the changing facilities to dry off a little before heading to the juicer. I got the feeling that walk number two had been another resounding success. Fantastic scenery and wonderful company had ensured my day had been great. I got the impression that everyone else felt the same way and I was confident that things would only get better!

Sir Edmund


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