Apr 17 2011

Walk 27: Beam Me Up

Bolton Abbey

route: Beamsley Beacon from Bolton Abbey
Date: 17th april 2011
distance: 7.1 miles
height: 1,420 ft
time: 3 hrs 40 mins
walkers: Dave, Karen, Leanne, Sandra & Simon

Today was the final prep walk for our Herriot Way adventure and while I wouldn’t say I was going through the motions, I did have one eye on that longer walk. Last week we had done a thirteen mile walk to make sure we had some distance training and today it was more a case of keeping the legs ticking over before next weekend. We arrived at the main car park at Bolton Abbey 10 minutes late after a brief issue whilst buying a sandwich in the garage and the resulting meal deal price that wasn’t applied. I won’t go into that anymore, but Beaky, Ramblo and Karen, a new recruit, were sat waiting for us as we paid the £6 parking fee and began to get ready. The day was another glorious one and everything was set for a lovely few hours of walking.

We left the car park and followed the road for a hundred yards or so before going through the gate in the wall and dropping down towards the river. We could see the path continue the other side of the bridge and to our left we could see the abbey bathed in sunshine.

We reached the River Wharfe and the famous stepping stones that cross it and the bridge that runs alongside it. It was mentioned that the stones had featured that week on the ITV program The Dales narrated by Ade Edmondson and that it used to be the only way across the river. The girls decided to use the new method and took the bridge. Myself and Beaky decided that the stones were for us and began to stride out confidently.

About a third of the way across I stopped and turned for a picture but as I turned back my legs felt like lead. Beaky continued moving forward deliberately as I stood still. I tried to take a step forward but my balance felt shaky and I felt like I could end up in the waste deep water. I tried again but for some reason I was having a mental block and couldn’t do go any further.

At this point I made the only decision that I felt I could make at the time and that was to go back and over the bridge. I shuffled round slowly on the stone I was perched on before striding off and normal walking pace. It was a weird feeling and i couldn’t understand why I could walk off but couldn’t go on. It certainly brought a few giggles to the others and I had to suffer a bit of teasing about the whole thing as I crossed the bridge.

Once safely across the river we followed the path that begins to climb the hillside and make our way towards the bridleway we were looking for. Behind us we had a fantastic view back to the river and the abbey that stood on the opposite bank.

The bridleway to Storiths was signposted and we forked off to our right following it for a short distance before we followed another sign to our left. The path narrowed considerably and was only wide enough for one person but fortunately the nettles are only just beginning to grow and weren’t a problem yet. Later in the year that might not be the case though.

The path eventually led us into a farm and then onto a small road that we followed for half a mile or maybe more, as I wasn’t really taking note, instead my gaze was fixed on our target that sat in front of us. After a short while we came to a junction and off to our was left Hazlewood or so the sign said, and after a quick team meeting and map check we decided that we would go that way. Beamsley Beacon was still very much in front of us and was quite an imposing sight as we headed off.

The road dropped down before snaking up rather sharply forcing me to get the legs pumping and also giving the lungs a good work out. As we reached the top of the climb there was a farm to our left and a solitary cow was sticking its head over the wall watching us very closely before letting out a large mooooooo. A little further along we saw some really little lambs who were soaking up the sun closely guarded by their mum and just after that we were watched by a horse as we approached the main road.

Our small quiet road was now ended as it met the busy A59 and that was our point to cross, which we did, before heading through a gate and down towards Kex Beck.

It was slightly wet as we reached the bottom so instead of following the beck for a while we used the farm road to climb gradually up the hillside and out towards the path that would take us to the trig point.

After a very short, but steep section on the road we joined after leaving the farm track, we saw the footpath sign and Beamsley Beacon was only 3/4 mile away.

The climb from here wouldn’t be too bad and we began to make slow but steady progress. From time to time we stopped for thirty seconds before moving off again. L’Autobus formed, for the first time in a while and it was like the good ol’ days. We hadn’t really seen the bus form for a while due to the smaller nature of the hills the trig points sit on and more importantly the fact that they are now fitter and more accomplished walkers. Today though it was like a blast from the past even if it only lasted minutes,

Once we had climbed the shoulder of the hill we had a gradual walk along the ridge, climbing slowly but continuously until I could see Beaky approaching the trig point in front of me.

As with most things it hadn’t taken us that long to get to this point from Kex Beck but it often seems so daunting at first glance. We made our way to the trig and as I touched the top I had completed my 29th of the 54 trigs in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The views were fantastic and the weather was wonderful too. There was a slight chill from the breeze that was blowing across the exposed top but nothing to worry about as we sat for some lunch and chatted away as a few other people came to the top before turning round and heading back. I never quite understand that and I mentioned to Beaky that I don’t see the point in walking to somewhere that is elevated and just touching the top and heading back. Why not spend ten minutes looking at the beauty that surrounds you? We could see Thorpe Fell, where we had walked a week earlier as well as various reservoirs and towns dotted around. Closer to us, well right next to us in fact, was a big pile of rocks and stones that were part of some Bronze Age burial site. There was a plaque attached to the trig point which explained more in detail and we read it before deciding it was time for us to make a move.

We had a couple of groups pics taken by another walker who had just arrived and returned the favour before we headed for Beamsley. I didn’t know it at this point, in fact I didn’t realise until we were sat in the pub an hour or two later but the pictures I would take from here on would be no good, as my new memory card decided to corrupt them. At this point I continued to snap away as we walked into the tiny hamlet of Beamsley before we came out at the main road once again. We followed the sign for Bolton Bridge that took us underneath the main road and over the old bridge before we joined the Dales Way as it followed the twists and turns of the River Wharfe. The scenery was stunning and I feel the pictures I took will be a personal loss. Sure I can go back to walk this stretch again and again if I choose to, but will seeing a picture remind me of this day. A day that was almost perfect in every way from the moment we left Bolton Abbey car park earlier to the moment we climbed the steps up to the Bolton Priory wall before heading back to the car. Once again the weather had been with us and we had enjoyed ourselves immensely, Wu Tang even hinted it could be her favourite walk of them all which was high praise indeed. For me I find it hard to rank them as the mind has funny ways of remembering things differently to how they actually occurred at the time. I have my favourites but they may change depending on what day I am asked or what part of the walk I recall. We headed to the pub for a drink and to reflect on another fine day out. With no more walks in between this and our first long distance path (I know it is only a small one) my mind had already shifted forward to that and the final planning that was required. The time was nearly upon us and it was almost time to discover if multi day walks are our thing, or if the Coast to Coast is just a dream that will never be fulfilled. In under a week we will find out!

Sir Edmund


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