Mar 06 2011

Walk 24: Moor Haste, Less Speed

Looking back to Conistone Moor trig point

route: Conistone Moor from Kettlewell
Date: 6th march 2011
distance: 7.7 miles
ascent: 1,209 feet
time: 3 hrs 40 mins
walkers: Carol, Dave, Graham, Leanne, Roger, Ryan & Simon

I awoke as usual to the sound of Ennio Morricone’s famous “The Good The Bad & The Ugly” music and hit the snooze button. We hadn’t done a Sunday walk in a while and after a couple more taps on the snooze button I had to get up as time was pushing on. I felt a whole lot better than I did eight days ago when I woke still drunk but I did feel a bit lazy today. Sunday’s for the last few months had been lazy days of breakfast and the papers not up and off to the Yorkshire Dales. I wonder if the body clock knows the difference between Saturday and Sunday mornings? It didn’t make much difference if my body knew the difference or not, it would soon be in Kettlewell preparing for another adventure.

We started our very first walk from Kettlewell on Valentine’s Day 2010 and it was a nice feeling to return to the same car park and think back nearly 13 months. That day the tops were thick of snow but today we had clear skies although it did feel a little chilly, but not too cold I couldn’t wear my shorts. We began using the same route as we did that day before we left the village behind to follow the bridleway we would tread for the next two miles or so.

As with most of the walks we do there was a stiff climb almost immediately, meaning the legs were soon pumping as we continued to climb out towards the open fell side. I don’t know if our previous walks meant we were fitter now or if the current group of walks were considerably easier than last year’s but we stopped a lot less often as we followed the clear track as it snaked onwards and upwards.

I kept checking my GPS and relating that to Roger’s Ordinance Survey map as the path on my screen was slightly away to our left and wasn’t the same as the visual track we could see in front of us. One thing I have learnt is just because you can see a clear or well walked route doesn’t mean that is actually the route you should take. I fell for that trap on our visit to New Pasture Edge earlier this year and ended up crawling through a gap in a wall meant for sheep! As I was confident we were on top of things we continued on for a while safe in the knowledge that the footpath was just to the other side of the wall to our left. A short distance further on gave us the perfect opportunity to cross the wall and we used the gate to conveniently join the footpath. We were soon back on track although in all honesty we were never lost. That is something else I have picked up over the last year, there is a big difference between being slightly off track but being in control to being totally lost. Fortunately we have never got into too much trouble and long may that continue.

Now we were on the footpath there were stiles and signposts every so often and as the path levelled out we had just about done the climbing as we reached an old disused mine. We regrouped once again and the Sherpa pointed out the sign warning of dangerous mine shafts. I often wonder how dangerous these actually are? Would it be possible to just disappear 100ft down or something crazy like that? I didn’t have the answers so I closely followed my trusty Sherpa, and if he should do such a thing I would simply avoid that area! We crossed the small area of spoil heaps and were then presented with a slightly squelchy section of moorland.

As we came out of the other side we were confronted by a wall which I knew the trig point was just on the other side of. I checked with my GPS and peered between a low section and there it was, stood proudly in the sunshine. From here I also had a great view of Kilnsey Crag and the village sat below Kilnsey Moor.

A few short strides away was a stile that we climbed over before we made the very short walk to the trig and another completed goal. We sat, had a snack and took in the wonderful views that we were lucky enough to have. Some days you reach the top only to be faced with a wall of mist but not today. The views were extensive and impressive as we soaked up the sun for twenty minutes or so whilst Wu Tang dished out her homemade shortbread. This was a nice place to visit and I could see myself coming here again in future as it is an area I haven’t explored extensively. We left the trig behind and made our way down towards the Dales Way which we would follow back to Kettlewell.

We walked by a small wooded area as we aimed for Bycliffe Road, which was a small track taking us down towards the junction of the Dales Way and the top of Conistone Dib. The road turned into a track and as we approached we noticed some wonderful limestone scars to our right and some others to our left.

From here we could clearly see the mast that stands on Wassa Hill. We had seen this earlier in the year on a previous walk (Pastures New) and I often feel that seeing the same land mark on different walks helps you to piece the whole area together in your mind and work out how things link together and maybe it helps with potential new routes. We had now joined the Dales Way and the gentle walk back to the pub. The underfoot conditions were perfect for walking with short green grass cushioning each step and we made our way alongside the numerous scars up to our right.

We continued along the clearly defined route under clear skies and a sun that was getting hotter and hotter by the minute. I think I enjoyed this section of path as much as any other I have walked over the last 13 months, it was near perfect in every way. To our left we could see down towards the River Wharfe and up to our right there were little crags and scars, thrown in a few sheep and the odd pheasant running around and it was pretty nice.

Even the moles were busy around here but the day was far too bright to have any chance of seeing one of those!

A little further along our route and we came to a stile/gate. Roger and Ryan had become a little detached so we waited for them as we weren’t in any rush. As I stood on top of the stone steps leading over the wall I could see Kettlewell off in the distance and had a closer view of Kilnsey Crag.

Once we were all back together we set off once again as we made our way towards another small wooded area in front of us. Roger told us this section would be nice but I didn’t realise it would be quite as nice as this. I suppose lots of it is luck, in the sense that the scenery may not change but the weather makes or breaks the day in some instances. If we had been covered in mist and drizzle the walk wouldn’t have been as nice because we wouldn’t have had any of the wonderful views we had today. Maybe that is a good reason to go back and visit some of the areas we walked in bad conditions, but that wasn’t an issue today, so I wasn’t going to think too hard about anything other than what I could see all around me.

As we reached the trees we went through a gate and joined Highgate Leys lane which was a track that would take us down to the road below. As we made our way down we were confronted by a tractor coming the other way with a roll of hay on the back. Alongside it was an enthusiastic sheep dog who was no doubt excited to be going up to round a few of his woolly white friends up. The farmer waved as he passed us and shortly after we had made the road and were now only a short distance from the finish.

We followed the road back to our starting point at a leisurely pace, stopping only once when a cry of car filtered its way down the chain so we all moved to the side of the road to let it pass before we carried on and in no time we were back.

We took off our boots and made our way to our pub of choice for a well earned drink. Our spirits were high after another fantastic excursion and we thoroughly enjoyed our after walk beverages. We had discussed on the way round that some of these low level walks were much more picturesque than lots of the bigger peaks we did last year. Maybe that was true or maybe the mind forgets just how beautiful some of the places we visited were. What can’t be questioned is the fact that everybody had thoroughly enjoyed today and days like this are what make me want to go walking more often. If only I could predict those 6 lucky numbers….

Sir Edmund


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