Jan 29 2011

Walk 21: Short Sharp Shock!

A distant Watt Crag photographed from Sharp Haw

route: Sharpah trig point from Gargrave
Date: 29th January 2011
distance: 6.9 miles
ascent: 1,030 feet
time: 3 hrs 5 mins
walkers: Dave, Graham, Leanne, Roger & Sandra

This was meant to be the first walk of 2011 taking place on 2nd January, hence the walk title. Unfortunately I was struck down with the dreaded “man flu” or something even worse over New Year so the walk had to be postponed. We began this year’s walking last weekend although the turnout was only three and I was unsure if this walk would be any better. In fact it was looking like just myself and Leanne at one point, but the change from Sunday to Saturday enable a few more to come along and the team was back in business. We parked up in Gargrave and after a quick check of the temperature reading we were a little reluctant to get out.

In truth the temperature was fine once we were ready and once we started moving it wasn’t an issue at all. We walked over the Leeds – Liverpool canal (not technically true as we walked over the bridge) and towards Flasby. We followed the road for a short while and we soon had a glimpse of roughly where we were going.

After continuing along the road for a short while we took a footpath signposted to our right which led us around some trees then into a field. We crossed this before climbing up slightly then following another sign off to our right and this led us out to a little row of cottages. One of them had a big chairlift outside in the front garden which seemed a bit weird but without knowing the circumstances who are we to judge. It certainly gave us something to debate as we came to a little farm. We had three options here and when in doubt choose the middle one, especially when you know it is the correct path to take. We followed this for a while as the gradient increased slightly but nothing too serious. We then entered a field with a slight dip in the middle. We were on one side and a herd of bulls were on the other. They seemed youngish and they certainly weren’t bothered with us, so we hurried along just in case they changed their minds.

Having left the bulls behind we continued to climb slowly and leaving the various clumps of trees behind we now had more of an open feel to the walk. We could see Rough Haw in front of us and away to our right we could see Sharp Haw although we couldn’t yet see the trig point. The day was a lovely one and the sun was shining brightly in a sky that hardly had a cloud in it. The temperature helped keep the ground solid and that was a blessing as on numerous occasion we got the feel that it would have been wet and muddy if not. Graham and Roger had one lucky escape and they stepped into something that hadn’t quite frozen over but thankfully they managed to step out without dirtying the boots too much. After a short pause to take on water we made our way towards the trig that we could now see poking out above the ridge.

The top was lovely. There wasn’t anything to it really as it sloped away on all side leaving a very small flat area.When we stopped we felt the temperature drop a little but not as much as we would have done had there been any wind. It was still and that meant for a gorgeous day. From here we could see our starting point of Gargrave as well as a small message that was hidden under a rock on the trig base.

We weren’t alone on the top, there was a fell runner there too. I asked him if he would mind taking a picture of us all and he said bye and ran off. At first I put it down to plain rudeness but he was to return and he didn’t seem that way. As he left there was another guy approaching using the same path we did and we decided to wait and ask him to take a picture. He did indeed take one and as he did the fell runner came back round after doing a small loop. This time he stopped for a bit and chatted. It must have been a misunderstanding but either way I wasn’t going to chase after him. With our pictures taken we made ready for the off. We were advise by our fellow walker to take a different route back, and liking to sample different things we took his advice.

The route took us through High Wood and through an area we were reliably informed would be full of rhododendrons in bloom come late April. Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience that but it was lovely to be walking through some scenic countryside. I mentioned to G and Roger that these smaller walks offered just as much if not more to some of the bigger peaks we did last year. The sense of achievement isn’t the same but you feel at one with the countryside doing these whereas the vast expanses on the larger peaks can feel a bit open and the bland. On these small routes there is always something to see and somewhere to explore.

As we neared the exit from the wood there was a memorial bench which L’Autobus utilised and had a fantastic view over towards Pendle Hill. Our friendly walker from the top caught us as we chatted and he stayed with us for five minutes before he went on his way, with us following at a respectful distance. After leaving the woods behind we came to a kissing gate and once through there we found ourselves in a field and followed the track as it arced towards a gate on the far side.

From here we followed the farm road for a while trying to convince each other touch the electric fence. Nobody touched it although we did discover that three of us had done in our youth. We came out at the same junction of three paths we had been at earlier. The different route back meant we came out on what would have been the right hand path earlier. We walked by the cottages and the chair lift. In the garden was a large dog and we wondered if that was the reason for the lift. It didn’t look very energetic as it laid there in the sun. We followed the paths we had walked earlier back up and out onto the road before following that back to Gargrave.

As we crossed the bridge the canal was still frozen apart from a little patch near the bridge and there were two ducks enjoying the limited swimming area they had.

Within minutes of leaving the canal we were back at the car and ready for the pub. The nice early start and a easy walk meant it was still only 11.20am but pubs are open at that time so off we went. We ordered our drinks and chatted about the various challenges that lie ahead. The main focus was our Herriot Way excursion we have planned later in the year. We had to make sure that by then we had significant fitness built up. Towards the end of last year’s Yorkshire tops challenge we were all feeling strong but in the four months since some of that has gone. We needed to build up stamina and that meant the walks would have to increase in difficulty. I just hope none of the team read this before we go walking in a couple of weeks!

Sir Edmund


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