Jun 06 2010

Walk 10: One Moor Off The List


route: yockenthwaite moor from hubberholme
Date: 6th june 2010
distance: 5.4 miles
ascent: 1,552 feet
time: 3 hrs 30 mins
walkers: dave, john, leanne, sandra & simon

As a rule I don’t have more than 2 beers the night before a walk but this time was an exception. I had been at a bbq at my mum and dad’s the night before so as I woke, I had to check my head and make sure all was intact. The reason I had been there was to see my dad, who had confirmed he would attend this walk. As he isn’t a walker, he spent the evening trying to borrow a rucksack, hat, waterproofs, and other bits and bobs from various family and friends in attendance. At least I know where I get my meticulous preparation skills from. Fortunately, everyone was free from hangovers, and up for the first Sunday walk we had done since the very first excursion back in February. We parked up over the bridge from The George in Hubberholme and were soon on our way.

We walked through the farm and started to climb the gradual path up towards Scar House. Along the way we paused a couple of times to catch a quick breather, but for the most part we kept moving, along the concrete track that snaked upwards and away from the church. Lots of the local wildlife seemed to take an interest in us as we approached Scar House.

We made our way through the little yard and out to the open hillside beyond. No sooner had we done this, than we came across a three pronged signpost. One pointed to Yockenthwaite, another to Cray and the final one pointing back down the track we had walked up to Hubberholme. Knowing we didn’t want any of these, meant the direction we should take was the one without a sign, straight up onto the fell side, but we double checked the map just to be safe. I have learnt my lesson from earlier walks and now prefer to check when in any doubt.

The ground was nice and dry but a bit clumpy in places which meant for reasonably slow going. After half an hour and a couple of toilet breaks, we reached Strans Gill, where we had a drink and regrouped. From here we could see right down the valley to Buckden and all the way down to Kettlewell. I pointed out a few sights to Wu Tang, including Buckden Pike and Birks Fell which we still had to do, and I have to say it is nice when you can recognise some of the surrounding landmarks.

As we climbed through Strans Gill we discovered hundreds of little saplings that had been planted throughout. I haven’t come across this before, and to be honest I don’t know why they would be planted. I didn’t know if it was to knit the ground together as it did look loose in places, although when grown, it would seem a little out of place in the surrounding scenery. Unable to work it out, we continued up and out of the little gill and started the last little bit of the climb. On my map it showed a wall that ran out onto the plateau, but nothing coming off it which seemed a bit weird. We knew we could follow it up before angling off to the trig point at the top. We regrouped once the main climb had been done and set off, as a group towards the end of the wall and the final few hundred yards to the top.

The wall did indeed just stop, as if those who were building it got bored, or maybe the fact that the top of Yockenthwaite Moor is very boggy meant they had to stop there. It doesn’t explain why they didn’t wall off what they had already done, but it gave us a topic of conversation as we entered the bit we were all dreading. I had initially planned this walk for early March but changed the date due to the fact I discovered it is very boggy on top. I chose June as I was hoping the weather would have been dry for a while. We were lucky in that the weather was nice today, and had been for some time. We could only hope that things weren’t too bad. The fence to our right didn’t seem to be getting on too well in staying above ground though which was slightly worrying.

My dad also had a lucky escape as he made his way across an area that began to give way.

This led to Ramblo building a little bridge with a plank of wood she found (at least I don’t think she brought it with her) enabling her, Beaky and Wu Tang to cross a couple of bits safely.

Finally, after a short while bog hopping, we made it to the trig point and sat down for a spot of lunch. The day was a lovely one and the top was peaceful and quiet. We spent half an hour or more, sat chatting and working out what each of the surrounding peaks were. Days like this are what it is all about for me. Some days are pleasant but blustery, on this particular day there was little wind and I was in no hurry to leave. Nice weather, nice scenery and nice company. Eventually we did up and leave, as we began to make our way over the peat hags once again. We had decided against going back the same route we came up, instead, we would head for Raisgill and then follow the river back to Hubberholme. The only thing that caused us any problems was a lone grouse who suddenly decided my dad was too near and flew off, scaring him, and us in the process. Shortly after, we reached the edge of the main summit plateau and started to descend and as we did there were a few little buildings that are so common in the Dales.

As we neared the outer farm wall we picked up a little track that went away to our right. This was the one we had been looking for, and the one that would lead us to our intended footpath along the river. We followed this wall for a bit and we caught a sheep and lamb getting a few minutes shut eye. I took out my camera and the lamb looked up but the sheep was still sound asleep. As we approached, we woke it up, and the little lamb ran behind its mum for protection.

Just after this we came to a house and near this a kissing gate that enabled us to continue on the track. Sat in the kissing gate was a sheep and two lambs which soon ran away as we approached. I can only assume they had been extremely scared before they ran off, because they had left a little surprise, which Wu Tang managed to step right in. From here a short descent down the track took us to a sign post back to Hubberholme.

We took this, not realising at the time that this wasn’t the path along the river. It wasn’t critical as we never tend to be rigid about our routes. We like to be flexible where possible and if in any doubt we put things to the vote. The path we joined took us through Strans Wood, and was pleasant enough as we had the river down to our right. The only thing that was unpleasant was a dead sheep that absolutely stank, but I guess that is part and parcel of the countryside. We continued on and saw a two tone lamb and fortunately I managed to get a picture as it ran off with its pals.

As we left Strans Wood behind the rain started and we put some waterproof tops on. We had been debating just walking faster, as we were almost back to the three pronged signpost and therefore didn’t have too far to go. From Scar House we followed the concrete road back down to Hubberholme and we had completed another very pleasant walk.

We changed and went over the road to The George for a beer. As usual I got the team to guess the distance we had walked, as recorded by my GPS. The guesses were surprisingly high and they all seemed to think it had been a fairly long jaunt. I know my dad was very upset when I told him that it was our shortest walk to date and less than half the distance of some. I think he was fancying a few more walks but did seem to suggest that much further may have pushed him. As I was finding out, stamina can be built up gradually. I was far from fit when we started and I am still far from fit now, but I could tell the walking was getting easier each time. Sure, there were still tough parts, and bits where I was out of breath, but that now took longer to arrive and passed sooner. With each walk I felt stronger and more confident in my ability. The 40 tops challenge was going well and I had no doubt that we could see it through. We left the pub for the drive home and as we crossed the bridge back to the car we spotted a heron perched on a rocked watching for fish. We kept an eye on him for a few minutes as he flew from one place to another and left him to his dinner as we went home for ours. I bet he didn’t go to the pub after his though!

Sir Edmund


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