Jul 29 2012

Walk 52: Short & (S)Weet

A fallen tree next to the River Aire

route: Calton & The Weets from Airton
Date: 29th july 2012
distance: 7.7 miles
ascent: 1116 feet
time: 4 hrs 00 mins
walkers: Dave, Holly, Izzy, Leanne, Sandra & Simon

Our first walk after Trailtrekker had been a relaxed affair, but one which was very satisfying in many ways. Just to be out and about was great and the fact we were back in the swing of things fantastic. Today we were returning to the Yorkshire Dales for a little stroll from Airton. We had intended Kirkby Malham to be our start/finish point but changed our minds as we saw a perfect parking spot in Airton. We jumped out of the car, put on our boots and readied ourselves for what was going to be a walk of around 7.5 miles.

After one of the local residents informed us there was likely to be farm vehicles coming through, we moved the car slightly and then set off to cross the river and head up towards Calton trig point. The forecast was for mixed weather with the best of it being early, so we hoped we could get a few miles under our belts before the weather turned nasty. In truth, we managed about 150 yards…

It was the source of great amusement that Beaky had forgotten his waterproof coat and L’Autobus found it especially funny, but no more than 5 minutes later, the sun was out again. A lot of damage can be done in a five minute down pour but fortunately we were under trees for most of that and Beaky got away fairly lightly, for now at least.

As we climbed gently towards the track that would lead us away from civilisation we spotted a nice house on the right, complete with patio furniture and we commented on how nice it must be to sit there on a nice day and take in the glorious views that were on offer. As much as I don’t like bad mouthing my home town, it beats the suburbs of Leeds.

Shortly after this we left the road and began to climb a little more on a track that we could follow all the way to The Weets, but before we could even think about this we had a detour. We veered right and dropped down into a little gulley complete with stream which posed no problems at all. We climbed the gate that spanned the gap in the wall and began the final little climb up to the lowest of all 54 trigs on our Dales list.

The top was a bit bland and being low didn’t offer extensive views although they were still pretty good. We chose not to stay long as it was too early for a sandwich and there was also the threat of rain coming later in the morning. We took our pictures and soon headed back to the gap in the wall and the little stream which I crossed again, to be greeted by Izzy growling at me. I have no idea why and when I got close she stopped and let me stroke her before she was itching to get moving again.

From here to our second trig it was uphill for about 2 miles, but fortunately it was the kind of uphill you don’t even realise is uphill. It was such a slight incline that we didn’t stop once to refill our lungs, stopping only to open gates or tie boot laces. L’Autobus didn’t need to form and we all walked up in one group although the line did stretch out from time to time.

The weather was holding off and we were now approaching The Weets and then it turned. The rain started coming down but it wasn’t big drops it was drizzle and I got the impression it would blow over so I chose not to stick on my water proof, in fact I didn’t even put my fleece on. Sure enough a few minutes later it had blown over and we reached our second trig point of the day and this time out came the sarnies. As we refuelled it did become a little chilly now we were stood still so I stuck my fleece on and we took the team shots. As we left I realised that I hadn’t had my customary picture with Wu Tang so as it was such a long way back (obviously not really) we had the picture with the trig in the distance.

With the high point of the walk behind us we began to descend towards the River Aire which we would then follow back to Airton. For the first few hundred yards we would retrace our steps before taking a footpath that would lead us across Hanlith Moor towards Hanlith. Things soon started to get a bit wet underfoot which Izzy seemed to love as she bounded around on a long lead jumping from bog to bog. I looked at my GPS and it showed we were slightly off the path but we were quite content to carry on as there didn’t seem to be much difference between path and non-path.

Then things got a bit wetter and muddier as we continued into the corner of the field even though we knew of a path. We made our way around a fence and towards another corner where we came across a big bull stood there looking through a gate at some cows.

We made sure the dog was on a tight lead and made our way quickly and quietly past and into some long grass. Every so often there was a pool of water under foot and we had to be careful not to lose a boot. Each person took it in turns at the front and once they were across a particularly tricky section of bog the others would follow. At one such place I decided I would make my own way but unfortunately I ended up shin deep in horrible, smelly, bog water much to the amusement of all but Holly seemed to find it especially funny! No more than a couple of hundred yards after this we reached a gate to Windy Pike Lane that would take us to Hanlith. As we reached this gate we turned to look back up the path that we should have been on and it was a clear, well-trodden path that cut through the tall grass. Had we followed it from entering the field we would have avoided the mud and the bull and more importantly my boots wouldn’t be swimming with bog water. As always we had a chuckle then carried on whilst discussing the previous half an hour.

The track continued downwards with the occasional small uphill section that are unavoidable due to the terrain, even though L’Autobus seem to blame me for them. The weather continued to hold off even though all around us we could see rain lashing down on the surrounding area although Malham Cove looked clear. We reached some cows and they were all stood up which was a good sign, right?

Wrong! The heavens suddenly opened as we reached the first few houses in Hanlith and we saw a couple of horses head for the shelter of a large tree, and we soon joined them. Beaky, Holly and Izzy were a little way in front by now so I don’t know where they sheltered but myself, Wu Tang and Ramblo spent 10 minutes under the tree and I fed each of the horses an apple which they crunched in no time.

The rain stopped and we said goodbye to the horses and set off after our lead group which we soon found waiting for us near a for sale sign. The name of the property had caught their eye and they had been waiting for us to catch up so they could point it out. Badger Hill looked very nice and had a badger weathervane but as much as we discussed chipping in to buy it and use it as a base for more Dales exploration the asking price is about £1.7 million which is just outside our price range.

Just after Badger Hill we joined the Pennine Way and followed it back alongside the River Aire back to Airton. This section had been part of our Trailtrekker walk and my mind flashed back to those two days at the end of May. It seemed so long ago but also it seemed so fresh in the memory. I guess when you undertake such a big thing as that you do tend to remember it clearly but then I am pretty fortunate in that I can recall most of our walks in great detail should I ever feel the need to recount them in my head. For now I wasn’;t bothered about the past, I simply wanted to enjoy the remaining mile and a bit of the walk we were here to do.

Once again Beaky, Holly and Izzy had opened up a gap on the rest of us and we took thing s nice and steady. I could see they shortened up the lead and brought Izzy under closer control as they walked towards a small group of horses who didn’t seem at all bothered by her presence. If anything they were more interested in us and one followed us as we walked by.

No sooner had we said goodbye to the horses we were saying hello to a field full of cows and this made me a little nervous.

As I mentioned in my previous report we have hardly encountered any cows until we started bringing a dog and now we had a field full. We made sure we had full control of the dog before walking calmly through the field and things seemed to be going well, until we neared the exit and another couple were walking two black Labradors in the other direction. We watched as one cow turned then another before a third followed suit to front up to these two dogs. The owners carried on and I had no idea if they knew the danger they could possibly be in. They seemed chirpy enough as they passed us and said hello before continuing on leaving us to pass by the cows they had made edgy.

We managed to leave the field behind without incident and after the two labbies had gone the cows settled a bit. I don’t know if they don’t like certain types of dogs or the fact they were a big bigger than Izzy but they didn’t seem to be as interested in her and that suited us. In the next field there were more cows but fortunately they were towards the other side and the only animals we saw were a handful of sheep who were using low branches of trees as a scratching post.

Over the next wall we could just about make out the bridge we had crossed earlier in the day as we chuckled about Beaky’s lack of water proofs. It turns out that other than a few minutes he didn’t need them as once again the weather had been pretty kind to us. It was great to be back in the Dales and fantastic to spend time doing what we enjoy. I am more than happy to end up shin deep in bog every time we come out if future walks are as enjoyable as this. The Lakes and the Peak District are beautiful of that there is no doubt, but I am a Yorkshireman and I am yet to find somewhere as beautiful as the Yorkshire Dales.

Sir Edmund


Leave a comment