Mar 13 2010

Walk 3: Knout Better To Do

Arten Gill Viaduct

route: great knoutberry from dent station
date: 13th march 2010
distance: 6.9 miles
ascent: 1,593 feet
time: 3 hrs 30 mins
walkers: dave, graham, jane, katie, leanne, roger, sandra & simon

There was a slightly different feel to the journey as we made our way to Dent Station for our third walk. Having never walked in the snow until recently I had now found myself liking it, and was a bit disappointed that it seemed to be melting. As we turned off the A65 at Ingleton and passed Ingleborough, the top was still covered but the lower slopes were clear. It was the same with Whernside as we drove past the Ribblehead viaduct, before turning left down towards Dent. We followed this smaller road for a while before spotting the sign post for Dent Station (not actually in Dent), and as we headed up the steep twisty road, I thought it would be a nasty climb to walk up. Not that that bothered me though as we had now arrived in the little car park (of sorts) at Dent Station and began preparing for our third peak. Wu Tang and Ramblo needed the loo and went off in search of some toilets on the platform. Not finding any, they took it in turns to keep watch as the other squatted behind a small waiting room on the far platform. G and Beaky were less discreet and simply found a fence to go against. Once we had all our bodily needs taken care of, we posed for the team shot before heading off.

We left the car park and turned right heading up Coal Road, which eventually leads to Garsdale Head. I had earlier noticed a sign at the bottom of the hill saying the road was closed due to it being impassable higher up, but we would be off roading long before we got to that point. Within seconds of starting we had a nice view overlooking Dent Station, which is the highest main line station in England at 1150ft. I like to know little details like that as I feel it adds something to the whole experience.

To say this was our third walk and we were in mid March, I had been surprised by how lovely the weather is early in the year. I don’t think I had really appreciated those crisp mornings earlier in life. I guess the only time I would notice it, was each Sunday morning when the pitch was frozen and it meant I could lie in and sleep off Saturday nights beer. As we left the station behind we gradually climbed the snow lined road, and as the sun shone down on us, it looked more and more like we were in for another fine day.

After a short while we had reached the point where we would leave the road and follow a snow covered footpath, before turning up towards the top of Great Knoutberry Hill. The climb was gradual and I decided to open my legs up a bit (I mean pick up the pace and not spreading them, as that wouldn’t get me very far, although it may have created some nice star fish) and push on with things. We were making good progress as we skirted around the lower half of our peak. Looking down to our right we could make out the Sportsmans Inn at Cow Dub, which stood out being the only white building amost a cluster of stone ones. We carried on for a while longer, not realising we had actually overshot the path we were looking for by about 10 minutes. With the realisation something wasn’t quite as it should be, we hastily gathered and whipped out the maps for a quick check. The crack (probably more accurate if you remove the r) navigation team deduced where we had gone wrong, and we turned around and retraced our steps. We soon came upon a large congregation of walkers that must have appeared out of nowhere, as earlier we appeared to have the countryside to ourselves. Maybe we had overshot by a bit longer than 10 minutes? This group of slightly more elderly walkers were dishing out the cakes and having a cup of tea to go with it. All very civilised, but not for us. We were now in the habit of only eating when at the top, which is ridiculous, but it is what we did never the less. We asked one of the nice ladies to take a team shot, then, having reached the point of the final climb, we made our way up the hillside towards our goal.

The shortish but sharpish climb didn’t take too long but I had to pause a couple of times for breath on the way up. The snow was deep in places, and about half way up I placed my foot down, only for it to sink deep into what must have been a hole, and for me to end up flat on my face. L’Autobus loved the fact that I had a face full of snow and cackled to themselves. I got up, dusted myself down and carried on, smiling to myself whilst trying to convince myself I could have prevented it and that I only let it happen to joke around, cue second face full of snow, followed by more cackling. Another quick planned breather rather than one where I peeled myself out of the snow and we were at the top.

We posed for some pictures around the trig point that was more than half covered by the snow, and then made our way towards the little shelter for a lunch break.

Sat on the other side of the shelter was a couple from Horsforth, and with most of us being Leeds residents, it seemed a weird coincidence that they were from not only the same city, but a nearby suburb. I guess if we lived in Bolton or Newcastle the feeling wouldn’t be the same. That would also apply if they were from Liverpool or Sheffield. As it was, it seemed like a big coincidence at the time. Wu Tang budged them up a fraction and chatted with them as she had her lunch. The rest of us had to make do with a bracing wind as we tried to hide behind each other.

Now I may be built more appropriately for these colder temperatures than some of the Badgers due to my own padding, but it was freezing at the top, and after we shoved down some food we quickly made tracks. I don’t know why we insist on eating at the coldest spot on each walk. I guess it may have a lot to do with the views, or the fact it feels like the goal has been reached once we make the summit. Either way I made a mental note to myself, that next time we could always have a bite to eat anywhere else if it was more suitable. As we headed down the slopes towards Arten Gill Lane, the temperature noticeably rose with each 100ft of descent or so. The going was reasonable and being that it was downhill I was in my element. We continued, chatting away as we went, then suddenly G disappeared up to his knee in bog. It was one of the most despicable types of bog a walker can encounter, the hidden kind, as you are walking along on the snow one minute then knee deep the next. Fortunately, I was there with the camera to capture it. I have become pretty adept at being in the right place at the right time, to record any misfortune on film.

Shortly after this, and still with a smile on my face, we reached Arten Gill Lane, which would be our route for the next mile or so as we continued to descend.

The sight of the viaduct in the distance was a lovely one and sights such as this make walking even more enjoyable for me, although I guess that would be true for everyone. We slowly made our way towards the viaduct, laughing and joking as we went, as the path varied from being snow covered or icy, to clear, decent track.

As we approached the viaduct it seemed massive. I loved the fact that because it was in a valley the arches were of differing size. The pillars near the edge were small compared to the tall pillars that were need for the middle. We paused here for a while, as some people took pictures and others enjoyed any refreshments they desired. After 15 minutes or so we continued underneath the viaduct and down the last few hundred yards of the lane towards Stonehouse Farm. The dog that was sprawled out on the wall certainly seemed to be happy with itself as it soaked up the sun, as we joined up with the road that would lead us back in the direction of Dent Station. The road ran alongside what I believe is the early parts of the River Dee and was flat and easy walking. The feeling of achievement that I had on the previous two walks wasn’t there in the same way. Maybe I was becoming used to it, or maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t finished yet but I definitely felt different in some way. That doesn’t mean to say I wasn’t enjoying it, it just felt like it had all been a little too easy to feel truly satisfied with myself. We neared the Sportsmans Inn and after contemplating calling in for a swifty, it was decided that wouldn’t be a good idea as nobody would want to leave!

We followed the river for a little while longer before reaching a bridge that took us over it and to a road sign. I had twigged further back down the road and had tried to put the thought out of my mind, but I could do so no longer. The sign clearly said Dent Station ¾ mile and the climb I chuckled at when in the car earlier was now a reality. We all huffed and puffed up it in our own time, with many of us grumbling about how much fun this wasn’t.

With a decent chunk of the newly named “hill of death” behind us we were on the final stretch and spirits were still good. As we walked ever closer to the finish we had a lovely view back towards the viaduct and the surrounding area.

After only three and a half hours we had finished our walk and peak number three was in the bag. It had been different to the other two. I think it seemed like it was easier and not so much of a climb because we started higher up. The end climb certainly wasn’t easy and I had found the sense of achievement I wasn’t quite sure about earlier. I think for me this must come with feeling knackered and pushing on. It wasn’t like these were major walks but everyone has to start somewhere don’t they? After changing in the car park we headed off to the pub and stumbled across the “kettles for heads”. We didn’t know it until I checked my camera later, but The Sportsmans Inn would be the birth place of this phenomenon. A couple of pints and a handful of nuts later I climbed into the back seat of the car for the journey home. This walk hadn’t excited me as the previous two but I felt more at home today. It is hard to explain but I felt like the initial bedroom lust stage was over and now I was happy to stay in and rent a movie. It wasn’t a brief fling I was having, it was the start of a long lasting relationship!

Sir Edmund


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