Aug 24 2013

Walk 67 – The Unknown Ramble

Unknown Ramble

route: whernside from ribblehead
Date: 24th august 2013
distance: 8.3 miles
ascent: 1589 feet
time: 4 hrs 25 mins
walkers: abigail, dave, leanne, sandra & simon

For one reason or another we hadn’t been walking for over a month, and as such we decided to plan a last minute walk. The thing was, the weather looked decidedly dodgy all over northern England, and with Snail in tow, we have to be a little more selective with our choices. The usual walk selecting method involves deciding where and when we are going a few weeks prior to the walk and letting all Badgers know. Each one then decides if they fancy it and are available, then simply turn up and the pre-determined start time/point. This walk would be different, as it was mentioned a walk would take place, but the location and meet point wouldn’t be decided until late Friday evening to give us chance to pick the best of the weather. I don’t want us to become fair weather ramblers as we never have been previously, but with a young Badger I don’t feel it is fair to subject her to some of the conditions we quite happily (in some cases) put ourselves through. If Snail doesn’t come, Wu Tang also doesn’t come and she enjoys it as much as I enjoy having her there.

My Friday evening was spent looking at forecasts and trying to see what routes we could possibly do. The Peak District was ruled out as that seemed to be getting the worst of the weather. The Dales forecast wasn’t much better but it did suggest that further west would be slightly better. The Lake District seemed to be not too bad, but without the guarantee of good weather we ruled that out due to a longer drive. So, the Dales it was, and after a quick chat with Wu Tang, Beaky and Ramblo, we decided that the path that leads up to Whernside offered good underfoot conditions which was a plus. On top of this, it also gave us chance to take Snail to visit her Grandad Les who we scattered up there on Father’s Day 2011. I think Wu was secretly pleased we chose to visit her dad, which in turn made me happy too. So with everybody happy, that was that, Whernside here we come…67th Walk 1The day was overcast but dry when we arrived and took the team shot, but for how much longer we had no idea. We set off alongside the viaduct before climbing the few steps and taking the path that runs alongside the train tracks. Anybody who has done the Yorkshire 3 Peaks will be familiar with this route, and our sedate pace meant we were overtaken by a few people tackling peak number two. Where possible I tried to start conversation to see how they were finding it and offer a few small words of encouragement before they pushed on and disappeared slowly into the distance. A few asked us if we were doing all three peaks today, but we had to be honest and say it was just the one today, although we were quick to add we had done all three on numerous occasions.67th Walk 267th Walk 3Snail was enjoying her second visit to the Dales, and was her usual smiley self as we approached the aquaduct that crosses the Settle to Carlisle train line. I only hoped the weather would hold out for the next three or four hours so we could complete our walk. Failing that we had a plan that Wu and Snail would head back for the car should the weather turn nasty, and be accompanied by either Ramblo or myself. For now we just intended to keep moving forward as quickly as we could and take stock of things as and when required.67th Walk 467th Walk 5With us having crossed the train lines we knew the route was about to go upwards, and we began the long drawn out ascent of Yorkshire’s highest peak in earnest. By now more and more people were passing us not that it really bothered us. We just continued doing what we normally do and kept plodding onwards knowing that with each stride we were closer to the summit.67th Walk 6We stopped a little more often than usual with Wu Tang wanting to rest a little more than usual. I was happy to carry her but Wu wanted to be the one to take her and that was fine with me. I was always available should she want to swap. For now I was tasked with carrying the water and snacks for all three of us, along with nappies and baby wipes for one. We tried to coincide our stops with Snail’s requirements but we did stop a little more than usual.67th Walk 7A little further on and we crossed the stile and noticed the new finger post which now says it is 1 and 7/8 of a mile to the summit. It used to say 1 ¾ but it had been a couple of years since we last came past so it may have been changed a while ago. From here the path continued to rise and I found myself torn between the idea of trying to keep up with Beaky who was ahead as usual, or to stay with Wu Tang and Snail. In the end I kind of ended up in between as I continued on but always with one eye behind me. 67th Walk 867th Walk 9Wu Tang asked me how much further we had to go as the weather had closed in even more although it was still dry. I reckoned that we had about half an hour to go to the top and Beaky confirmed that when I asked him the same question. We quickly discussed the possibility of going back but we had come too far to turn around and we pushed onwards with a renewed vigour. The stone walk way turned into a worn path as we reached the wall that runs along the summit ridge. There was only a fraction more climbing to do then we had the ten minute walk along the ridge to the trig point.67th Walk 1067th Walk 1167th Walk 12By now Snail was asleep and this caused Wu a few problems as she had to readjust the sling to allow for the weight being slightly to one side. I kept trying to encourage her forward conscious that we still had a couple of hours before we would be back at the car should the weather turn. The mist had rolled in and none of the surrounding peaks could be seen from the ridge nor from the trig point that we reached a few minutes later67th Walk 13It felt good to be at the high point of Yorkshire once again and even more so because we had Snail with us. She wasn’t aware of much as she continued to sleep totally oblivious to her location and the fact she would surely be the highest 7 ½ month old in Yorkshire, possibly England and maybe even Britain on this particular day. She wouldn’t even know as she continued sleeping as we quickly munched some sandwiches, before I took a few team pictures of some three peakers, and the finally began our descent.67th Walk 1467th Walk 1567th Walk 16It wasn’t until we reached the stone path that the mist cleared as we descended below it. Snail continued to snooze as we made good progress which was only halted by us pulling to one side of the path to allow people coming the other way through. I don’t know if there is an unwritten rule of rambling but certainly I always take the view that those going up take priority of those coming down. A couple of guys waved us through and chuckled that they were glad of a rest but other than that we were always the ones to stop. It was busy too, as we must have passed 200 people who were trying to reach the top of peak number 2. It has to be said some looked better than others, but I have been on both sides of that coin and I never do anything other than encourage people.67th Walk 17A little while on a back on the flat section alongside the railway line the number of people going the other way reduced slightly. I guess most people will have needed to be at this point at least in order to finish in daylight, as a normal walker would have at least another five hours from this point. We on the other hand only hand half an hour or so as we crossed the couple of streams and passed Blea Moor signal box before reaching the viaduct and then then car.67th Walk 18As usual we finished the day off by enjoying a relaxing drink and reflecting on our walk. The one thing I was grateful for was the fact that the day had stayed dry and we hadn’t been caught in the heavy rain or thunderstorms that had been forecast for certain areas of the Dales. Snail had her first Yorkshire top ticked off and I am sure it won’t be the last. For the four more experience Badgers, it had been nice to get back to the countryside and stretch the legs. Next week we would be returning to the Leeds Country Way and while that has been a great walk and very enjoyable, it just isn’t the Yorkshire Dales.

Sir Edmund

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