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Mar 30 2013

Walk 62 – There Before You Knowe It

There Before You Knowe

Looking back towards Malham Tarn from Knowe Fell

route: knowe fell from malham tarn
Date: 30th march 2013
distance: 6.8 miles
ascent: 1037 feet
time: 3 hrs 40 mins
walkers: darren, dave, helen & simon


After a nice little walk the day before I was looking forward to something a little more meaty today. The plan was simple, L’Autobus and Snail would stay at the lodge and do some baking, while Beaky, Daz, Helen and I would tackle Knowe Fell. We had a leisurely breakfast before each of us went through our gear to make sure we had what we needed for the day ahead. It was about half nine when we said goodbye to those staying put, jumped in the car, and set off for the start point, Malham Tarn. As we neared the tarn the amount of snow was considerable, and the small roads became really tight after the snow plough or a tractor had cleared just enough room for one car. One such road was meant to be our route for the first mile or more, but we decided that we didn’t fancy that as we had nowhere to go should a car come the other way. A quick chat between myself and Beaky whilst looking at the map was enough for us to choose a new plan. We took the team shot, Helen dropped some money for parking in the honesty box, then we were on our way…
62nd Walk 162nd Walk 2The new route brought back memories of our mammoth Trailtrekker walk last May, as we skirted the edge of the tarn before heading up to Malham Tarn House. It was the third time myself and Beaky had walked this section in the last year and the weather conditions couldn’t have been more different on each occasion. Today was a clear crisp day and one that I consider perfect for walking. As we followed the footpath close to the edge of the tarn we had the craggy front of Great Close Hill in front of us and it looked wonderful. I was sure that today was going to offer us plenty of fantastic sights if we were willing to put the effort in, as I was already under the impression it would be hard going later on.
62nd Walk 362nd Walk 462nd Walk 5As anyone who has walked this route knows, the path follows the tarn and then begins to climb gradually towards the house, which meant we had a nice start to the day but at the same time making us work a little. In normal conditions it wouldn’t really be a challenge but the snow underfoot meant things were a little harder on the legs than would otherwise be the case. It didn’t slow us too much though and within no time we had reached the house and took five minutes to take on water and gaze down over the shimmering water below. Whilst stood here I had flash back to both our previous visits as we had stopped at the same point on each occasion. My defining memory from either walk, was sharing a pork, cheese & pickle pie with Sherpa G-String and it tasting as nice as anything I have ever tasted. Either that, or Beaky nipping off into the woods for a quick pit stop. It’s fair to say this place holds a few memories and none of them are too exciting.
62nd Walk 6For the next few hundred yards we would head downhill slightly, still following the Pennine Way as we had for all our route so far. Soon we came across the finger post pointing to Tennant Gill which is the route we took on Trailtrekker, but today we would carry on down the track ahead, through some farm buildings and then out on to the road.
62nd Walk 762nd Walk 8Had we turned right, the road would eventually lead us to Arncliffe, but we turned left and only really needed to go a hundred yards past the stone wall heading up the hillside. Once we had gone beyond this we began the climb up to the trig point. It became apparent almost immediately that this was going to be an eye opener for various reasons. We had probably only climbed 100ft and already the temperature had dropped noticeably. Not only that but the gradient was much steeper than anything we had done for a long while. On top of that, the underfoot conditions were fluctuating between, the horrible tufty grass, deep snow and limestone pavement, none of which gave us total confidence in staying upright. One thing that it was though, was fun! It felt great to be doing something that pushes you a little and I knew, that this climb was going to challenge me but one thing I can always guarantee, is that any suffering on the way up, is always worth it when stood at the top
62nd Walk 1062nd Walk 11After the initial drag upwards the terrain levelled off, but it didn’t mean it was easier as we were confronted with vast amount of limestone to cross. We had the choice of using it as stepping stones to avoid the snow, or avoiding it altogether and taking your chances with the snow. Initial I copied Daz, who was just ahead of me and we walked on the snow, but it was giving way too often and we ended up using the stones to plot a route across the snow. I looked away to my right and could see Fountains Fell sat there waiting for us. The question was, would we be up to the challenge?
62nd Walk 1262nd Walk 13Ahead of us we could see another climb, which we believed, and hoped, would take us to the top. After a quick chat, we decided to have a sandwich now, rather than wait until we were exposed higher up.

Darren & Helen

Darren & Helen

The temperature was cold, but still ok and I found a small patch of grass to sit on while we ate. It may not have felt too cold when moving, but after 10 minutes of being stationary it was a different story and we were anxious to get moving once again. Only a few minutes after setting off we were confronted by a wall that ran directly across our path. Fortunately snow drifts meant we could walk up and step over the fence that ran alongside.
62nd Walk 15With everybody else safely over it was my turn to cross, and I did so with a little caution. I am aware that I am heavier than everybody else so the fact they have crossed without the snow giving way doesn’t ensure me safe passage. I walked up the drift and stepped over the wall into the foot wide gap between the wall and the fence without a problem. As I went to step over the fence I felt the snow start to give way beneath me and as one of my legs was already over I didn’t want to end up being torn to shreds by the barbed wire that ran along the top. All I could do was throw myself forward in order to make sure I ended up on the other side of the fence, and in doing so I landed in a heap in the snow and slid down the drift before coming to a stop.
62nd Walk 16Helen must have thought playing around in the snow was a good idea as she decided she would throw her arms out and fall forwards, which she did. The only problem being that snow there wasn’t soft fluffy white stuff, it was semi frozen and hard, which being totally honest was quite funny, for us at least.
62nd Walk 17The slow but steady approach was serving us well as we continued to make progress further and further up the slope. As ever, it is simply a case of not thinking too far ahead and tackling each dozen yards at a time. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like I am getting very far, but when I turn to look back, we have often covered a reasonable distance. I think in the early days of the Badgers I would be worried about how fast I was going or that Beaky has disappeared off into the distance, but we all finish together and I always get there (with one notable exception) so I don’t worry at all anymore. By now I could almost see along the ridge to Fountains Fell which meant we were nearly there. As I looked further right Buckden Pike could be seen poking above Birks Fell and to the right of the Great Whernside could be seen too.

The ridge to Fountains Fell

The ridge to Fountains Fell

The flat top of Buckden Pike seen behind Birks Fell, and Great Whernside to the right of shot

The flat top of Buckden Pike seen behind Birks Fell, and Great Whernside to the right of shot

By now we could sense the top, and the large pile of stones we had been aiming at since our sandwiches were now in touching distance. As we reached them the trig point was visible and we made our way across to join two people who had beaten us to it. I must admit I was surprised to see anybody else up here as I wouldn’t have thought it would be appealing enough, but if we wanted to be here, why wouldn’t anybody else?

Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen y Ghent from Knowe Fell

Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen y Ghent from Knowe Fell

There is no glossing over the fact that it was cold at the top and we didn’t want to hang around too long. We had a decision to make and we all agreed the next course of action. It had been suggested earlier, that once on the ridge, we would follow it along to Fountains Fell before using the Pennine Way to return to the car. That was all well and good in theory, but as we stood here with the wind blowing directly from Fountains Fell we changed our minds. It would have been nearly 2 miles directly into the wind and over snow that gave no guarantees of supporting you, so the decision to head back was in my humble opinion, a wise one. We could have gone on as we all had a lot more in the tank, but it was going to put hours on the walk and I didn’t want to get to a point where we started to regret going on. If that happened it would turn an enjoyable adventure into something we would end up disliking. With us all in agreement, we crossed the wall and headed south towards the road.
62nd Walk 21We had dismissed the route along the road on the way up due to lack of space should cars come along, but when it was that or head back the way we had reached the top, the road won. The descent wasn’t simple though and on numerous occasions I disappeared up to my knee in snow. It wasn’t just me either as ever minute or so Helen seemed to do the same.
62nd Walk 2262nd Walk 23As we descended a little further we crossed a wall and finally we were able to place our boots directly onto grass which was a nice feeling. Ahead of us we could see the road and we knew that meant a nice flat surface to walk on too. The snow had drifted up against the wall to our left and had in places melted away to create a wave like effect against the wall. As we passed one such area we were horrified to find three tiny lambs all huddled together I can only assume to stay warm. It was unfortunately too late and we then saw another two next to each other, followed by two more. It was heart breaking to see the little things but I suppose it goes on all the time. As upsetting as it was, I do think I found it a little worse than I would have done prior to become a father myself. I won’t go into any more details, but all of us were touched by what we saw, even though we had seen it before.
62nd Walk 24It was weird to be walking on a sound surface again and all of us felt like our legs were playing tricks on us. I recall this happening on our walk to Cave Hill in similar circumstances. Gradually that feeling wore off and then we were back to plodding along the road, which wasn’t the most exciting, but it was getting the job done. We found a gateway and used it to have another quick sandwich break.
62nd Walk 25After finishing our sandwiches, we had the simple task of a mile, maybe a fraction more along the road. In truth I didn’t really enjoy this bit as I felt a little queasy so I was looking forward to getting back to the car. I felt sick just before we set off, and whilst I felt ok when moving, I did feel sick when we stopped. Along the way it was nice to see animals that didn’t seem too bothered by the recent conditions.
62nd Walk 2662nd Walk 2762nd Walk 28The final few yards were completed and we made our way for a drink in Malham before heading back to the lodge. When we arrived back L’Autobus had made a lovely looking cake along with some Cadbury’s Cream Egg brownies which we would no doubt sample later. Next came the moment we had been looking forward to for most of the day as we jumped in the hot tub to discuss our earlier walk. There was no doubt today had been very enjoyable and a walk I will remember fondly, but it was looking likely that Knowe Fell would be my last walking our this Easter break. I had agreed with Wu Tang that I would stay at the lodge as she joined the others in tackling Pendle Hill in the morning. I was happy with that though, as in the 3 months since Snail came along, I had not really had to miss any walks. Yes we had walked a little less often, and yes the walks had been shorter in order to get home quicker, but I had still been the one to go. Tomorrow I wouldn’t be Sir Edmund Badger, I would simply be daddy.

Sir Edmund

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