Nov 19 2011

Walk 38: Head For The Hill

A lone tree on Appletreewick Pasture

route: Langerton Hill from Burnsall
19th November 2011
distance: 5 miles
ascent: 866 feet
time: 2 hrs 40 mins
walkers: Dave, Graham, Roger, Ryan, Sandra & Simon

Once again we were blessed with good weather as we pulled up next to the village green in Burnsall and stepped out of the car into the early morning sunshine. The thin cloud cover was dispersing and it looked very much like we were in for the nice day forecast. I quickly put on my boots, grabbed my rucksack and tied my fleece around my waist before heading over to the stone bridge that spans the River Wharfe. I saw Roger and Ryan park up shortly before Sherpa G-String arrived and joined Beaky and Ramblo in getting ready, and as I stood watching the water flow under the bridge my thoughts turned to Wu Tang. Unfortunately, she was on the injured list after falling down some stone steps and banging her knee on the way home from work a couple of days prior to the walk. She left it until Saturday morning and whilst the swelling had gone down, the knee was still cut and bruised and she decided it may not be possible to complete the walk. I took out my phone and sent her a picture message of the setting as I wanted to include her in our day. Moments later the others joined me as a couple of little dogs yapped away as the troops passed by the window they were looking out of. We all stood on the bridge looking down into the clear water trying to spot fish, which we did eventually do as a large trout (guessing it was a trout) slowly swished its tail but other than that it was motionless as it faced the oncoming flow in a similar fashion to treading water. We could no doubt have found others but instead we decided to do what we came here for and took a few photographs before heading off.

After crossing the bridge we took the steep stairs immediately to the left, dropping down to the side of the river before we followed a path which seemed to be covered in an above average number of cow pats. I didn’t survey the whole field but it seemed the single file footpath which hugged the river bank seemed to be popular within the cow fraternity.

We were only on this path for a few minutes before we forked right and climbed a small hill, eventually coming to Skuff Road which we crossed and used the ladder stile to enter the field opposite before continuing our climb. Another wall soon blocked our path and after using another stile to cross it, the path forked with us taking the right hand option which led us to another little road.

Upon reaching the road we turned left and climbed gradually until Raikes Farm where it turned sharply left which was the cue for us to leave the road and join the footpath that went straight on. A small patch of squelchy ground met on the other side of the ladder stile was soon replaced with decent underfoot conditions and we were well on the way to the trig point and little more than twenty five minutes into the walk. We reached a little crest and away to our right looked to be a trig point poking over a little mound but we were weren’t exactly sure. For some reason my GPS had yet to acquire satellites so we didn’t have the usual confirmed fixed position. Beaky took out his OS map and as he did I recalled that the trig was away to our left and not right where the mound was. Sure enough the map confirmed as I suspected and we made our way in the right direction. The map showed the trig was more or less next to a wall and we played a game we had done on numerous occasion before and guessed what side of the wall the trig would be found.

Beaky, Ramblo and the Flying Stick stuck to the side we were at, while myself, Ryan and Sherpa crossed the ladder stile and made our way along the far side of the wall. There were no clues as to who would be correct at this point and then as I peered over the wall I saw the other coming to a halt as they had come across an adjacent wall.

It didn’t confirm we were right but I felt a little more confident at that point and we were soon proved to be correct as the trig appeared in front of us. We celebrated and made the others wait while we took celebratory pictures before allowing them to join us for the loser shot. It was around 9.40am and far too early for lunch even for us so we took a few pictures and had a nosey round before continuing away from Burnsall in order to add a little distance to the walk.

The day was certainly nice for the time of year and I was still in my shorts and t-shirt although I did have my gloves on. Instead of going back to the path before continuing on we had decided to cut the corner off but unbeknown to us the path crossed the wall further back meaning we came to the corner of the field but had missed the stile. We used the corner to scale the wall and rejoined the path on the other side.

From here we crossed Holes Beck and passed a little memorial bench in a nice spot but kept moving and soon arrived at Far Lathe where the underfoot conditions were a little tricky. The field had contained cattle at some point recently as the ground was all chewed up allowing the water to soak in which meant we had to be careful with our foot placing as on more than one occasion I nearly slipped. Fortunately nobody went all the way over.

A few minutes later we had reached the B6265 which runs between Grassington and Pately Bridge and we headed towards the latter for a very short distance until we crossed the River Dibb, where we turned south and began the return leg of our journey.

The footpath soon disappeared and we had to make our own way around the lower slopes of Appletreewick Pasture with Barben Beck down to our right. With the path not being visible I kept one eye on my GPS ensuring we never strayed off the green dotted lines, although it wasn’t critical on a day like this as the weather was set fair and visibility was perfect, enabling us to see the open countryside ahead. The ground was very squelchy in places and I paid the price for being overly confident at one point and went in up to my shins causing G to chuckle. Behind us Beaky and Ramblo were chatting away with Roger & Ryan out of sight at the back. We decided that it would be a good time for a regroup and we paused for a few minutes to allow everyone to rejoin us.

Once back together we continued on our way as the path led us to a little sheepfold and we climbed a little stile gate and followed the wall round to the right. We soon encountered a tree standing all alone as it leant to one side, no doubt caused by the exposure to wind over the years.

No sooner had we passed the tree than the ground began to climb slightly and we came to a gate and sign posts pointing in every direction. We had a quick discussion about the best route for us and came up with two options. We had our originally planned route which would take us straight on towards Appletreewick, or we could cut off the corner and turn right which would enable us to join the Dales Way a lot nearer to Burnsall. We took a picture of everyone studying the little map I carry for ease. Some people played along with the confusion whilst I think others were genuinely confused. None of us were tired as we had only done about 4 miles but Leeds Utd were on TV at lunch time (we were all recording it at home) and we had our end of season awards ceremony that evening (there are no awards, it is simply an excuse to eat and drink), so we opted for the shorter route and began the final leg of another fabulous little walk by following Kail Lane until we joined the Dales Way.

The last half mile or so followed the river back towards Burnsall and I thought to myself it was hard to believe we were approaching December and here I was in my shorts and t-shirt. We have had our share of bad weather over the last two years but on the whole we have been very lucky to say we plan walks a month or so in advance.

Eventually we could see the stone bridge in Burnsall and we knew that we were nearly done for the day. As we neared the final field which is used during the summer as a car park and often filled with families enjoying a day in the Dales, we noticed a group of sheep all huddled around a wooden bench which seemed a bit weird. Behind them a few more seemed to be enjoying themselves as they drank from the river almost like they were having a day at the beach.

As we moved a little further on we noticed another bench again surrounded by sheep and it soon dawned on us why they were there and what they were doing. Some of the sheep moved away as we neared but those who were desperate stayed and continued to rub themselves up and down the bench using it as a post to scratch on. I had noticed one doing the same thing against a tree earlier in the day but why use a tree when man can provide a bench!

We ended our walk by crossing the bridge once again and as if by magic the pub was the first building we came to. We bought a drink and discussed another fab walk in the wonderful surroundings. It hadn’t been a tough walk, far from it, but it had been enjoyable as they all are. This one had the added bonus of me going home to watch Leeds beat Burnley 2 – 1, but not until after I had shown Wu Tang the pictures and talked her through our tiny adventure, whilst confirming that she made the correct decision by not risking her knee. I can always take her back there another day to catch up on the missed trig point and we should have time to over the next couple of months. With the busy Christmas period approaching this was going to be our final Badgers walk of 2011, unless I can sneak another one in somewhere…

Sir Edmund


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