Jan 22 2011

Walk 20: Pastures New

Kilnsey taken from Conistone

route: new pasture edge trig point from kilnsey
date: 22 January 2011
distance: 7.2 miles
ascent: 1,058 feet
time: 3 hrs 50 mins
walkers: dave, leanne and sandra

Our first walk of 2011 and the lowest turnout so far. It could be that people were just busy, or possibly it was to do with it being the middle of January, maybe and more worryingly, it may be that people are losing interest. Whatever the reason, and I hope it isn’t the later, I was ready to go once again. With the Yorkshire tops finished last year we had new goals to aim for. The 214 Wainwrights were now being looked at, although they wouldn’t be on the agenda often due to the distance we would have to travel. The majority of our walks for early 2011 will be to tick of trig points in the Yorkshire Dales. We had already done some of these as they are found on many of the higher Yorkshire tops. We did North Nab at the back end of last year leaving my tally of 18 of 54 done. Today would be number nineteen and the day was clear but crisp. I may even go as far as to say perfect walking weather (obviously a matter of opinion). We were going to park in the Tennant Arms car park but decided against that and ended up leaving the car in a layby between the pub and the crag.

We had noticed when driving earlier, that the fields were scattered with pheasants. I don’t know if this is typical pheasant season or why they should be so much more noticeable than usual, but they were and each field had two or three strutting round. As we began our walk the field right next to us had a few in.

We walked by Kilnsey Trout Farm on our right hand side although there didn’t seem to be anyone there probably due to the time. Part of the pond we could see was frozen over and we noticed that numerous low branches overhanging the stream next to the road had thick ice on them. Shortly after the farm we took the left turning to Conistone, following the road over the River Wharfe.

After crossing the river, the road to Grassington bent round to the right but we would carry straight on. As we entered Conistone was found we discovered that pheasants don’t just roam the fields, with gardens being suitable for them too, although it did look like he was eyeing up the satellite dish.

We were soon confronted with a fork in the road (track really) and we took the right hand option that led us to a gate. We went through this and we were finally out into the countryside. In front of us we could see that start of Conistone Dib. What at first seemed to be a valley then turned into a narrow gorge which was a delight to walk through.

At one point the walls are only a couple of feet wide and as we were about to go through this section, we noticed a dead rabbit laid at the start of it. It looked recent and we couldn’t tell what had happened to it. It could almost have been as if it had fallen from above as there seemed to be a tiny patch of blood around its head. I thought about moving it to one side but for some reason it didn’t feel right. I am an animal lover and as hard as some of the sights are, nature must take its course. Once through this section the gorge ended and the valley widened slightly. The footpath then curved round to the right and beyond Bull Scar. We noticed a drinking trough had completely frozen, which wasn’t a surprise considering the temperatures we had been having over the last month or two. Ramblo dropped a decent sized stone on it but it hardly made a scratch. I tried with a bit more force and after a few more attempts I managed to break through and remove some of the ice. I stuck a chunk of the ice on the wall to see exactly how thick it was

There weren’t any sheep in these fields so i don’t know exactly what I was helping but it felt like our good deed for the day. We even joked that should we find anyone in distress later on we could carry on safe in the knowledge that we had done our good deed. Obviously we wouldn’t have done should we have encountered anybody, our sense of humour is a bit cruel sometimes that’s all. We carried on before the valley closed in on either side and to exit it we had to climb gradually until we were left with a little scramble up and out onto the top.

From up here we had a decent view of the surrounding area and of the aerial mast that could now be seen on the ridge above the valley we walked through. We had a short breather, checked the map, then headed off along the Dales Way towards Grassington. Soon we came to a stile, and just as it the map showed there was a footpath diagonally to the left while the Dales Way continued straight on. I am sure of this as there were signposts indicating both so even we couldn’t go wrong! We took the left hand path and began to climb slowly as angled across the hill side. Somewhere around here the we lost the footpath and had to make our own plans. We seemed to follow the well worn path but that wasn’t the path anymore and there certainly weren’t stiles or gates to allow us from one field to the next. My GPS told me that the path wasn’t far to our right so we carried on safe in the knowledge we were still on course. After climbing over one wall we decided we would make our way back to the footpath to keep things nice and simple. The ground was frozen underneath with only the top centimetre or so thawed which meant a slippery surface rather than a soft one. The ground had already caused me to slip a couple of times but I managed to keep my footing, until now.

Having picked myself up and dusted myself off we continued on our way at all times looking for ways to cross the wall to our right. In the end we settled for an unconventional but highly successful way.

Once through here we were just about back on track and after a short while we picked up the track that would lead us almost to the trig point. The ground was causing me some more problems but thankfully I managed to stay upright. The track and now turn into a lane with walls either side and in the distance we could see the trig point, we were nearly there.

As we continued down the lane we realised we would have to cross the wall to our left. We were level with the trig according to my GPS and the track was about to curve away and drop downhill. Ramblo said we passed a gate a while back and while the most sensible option would have been to go back and through it, we aren’t always sensible. We climbed the wall right there and after nearly breaking my neck jumping off (it seems high when you are 6ft 4” and you stand up on a 5ft wall) we now had nothing in between us and the trig.

We reached the trig and took our pictures. The view was certainly a good one although it didn’t compare to some we had experienced last year. The temperature had dropped as we got higher and now we were stood around it soon felt cold. We didn’t hang around too long and set off for the pub. We decided to go through the gate on the way out and also made sure I kept a constant eye on my GPS to make sure we stayed on the footpath as we walked by Bare House before continuing on our journey. There had definitely been other paths created by walkers because following the clearly worn routes ended up with us leaving the footpath. I kept an eye on things and we were always in control of the situation and never had a moments worry on the descent. A little further on I looked to my left and spotted a line of sheep that must have just been fed by the farmer. Either that or they were doing the conga!

We reached the Dales Way once again and followed that for a while before we decided that rather than drop down the scramble we climbed earlier, we would cut the corner off and drop down to the footpath and gate lower down. As we went we had a much clearer view of the mast.

From here we dropped back down into Conistone Dib and followed the valley towards the little gorge.

Once we had exited the narrow section we returned to Conistone where things were now up and running. Earlier in the day everywhere was quiet but now the horse trekking centre was open and things were a little busier.

Even a little robin had woken up and was taking in the early afternoon air.

As soon as we had left Conistone we could see Kilnsey Crag in the distance and the pale yellow pub where we would soon reward ourselves (main pic). We crossed back over the bridge and returned to Kilnsey passing the pub so I could get changed in the car. I was the only one who had brought a change of clothing and as I switched my muddy trousers for shorts I certainly attracted the attention of the locals.

We called at the pub as we usually do to treat ourselves to a well earned drink. I was Des today so my drink consisted of a diet coke but you win some you lose some. I don’t mind anyway to be honest. I would happily have a month off the beer if it meant I got to see some of the wonderful places that can be found just a short drive away. I could say for sure that my enthusiasm wasn’t leaving me and L’Autobus said the same thing. It may have been our smallest number to date but we still had the same laugh and achieved everything we set out to do and long may that continue. There is plenty more to be done in 2011…

Sir Edmund


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