Feb 26 2012

Walk 43: Moor Bark Than Bite

Limestone scars near Attermire

route: Hunter Bark, Langcliffe and Newton Moor from Long Preston
26th february 2012
distance: 11.1 miles
ascent: 1,765 feet
time: 6 hrs 05 mins
walkers: Dave, Graham, Leanne, roger, Sandra & Simon

More than two months after signing up to Trailtrekker the full team was in attendance for our latest walk. This time we had stepped the distance up again as we looked to prepare for the immense task that we would undertake in May. It was also the first Sunday walk for a while and there is no doubting they have a different feel to them. It is hard to pin point what exactly is different but I think the black cloud of work looms over a Sunday walk, whereas on a Saturday you know you can do something later that night or relax all the following day. Still it doesn’t mean the Sunday walks are any less enjoyable, and we took the team shot and began the walk in high spirits.

We walked no more than a hundred yards from the car before we turned up Green Gate Lane and began the gradual ascent towards Hunter Bark trig point. There wasn’t anything too difficult with the climb and we made good progress, only pausing from time to time for a quick drink or a look around at the low lying land as we slowly gained height. We also now use any break to check the map and get an understanding of our surroundings. In the past I would use my GPS and that worked fine, but as we all need to be able to read a map and navigate for Trailtrekker we often check the map as a group.

After our stop we moved on once again without too much fuss and the tarmac track soon turned into a dirt track as we neared the trig. Away to our right we saw a small heard of deer running across a field which whilst they weren’t wild it pleased me no end. I have wanted to spot some deer since we began walking so they brought a smile to my face. By now we were walking two by two as myself and G stretched our legs in front, Beaky and Roger followed about twenty yards behind and a similar distance behind them was L’Autobus. G crossed a stile and I followed before we began to climb up to the trig which was made slightly more difficult by very wet underfoot conditions. It didn’t slow us much though and within a few minutes we were once again checking the map to pick out various other landmarks.

As we planned our next step we could retrace our steps to re-join the track we were following earlier or cut across the fields to pick the track up a little further along. When making decisions like this we always throw the facts open to the gang and everyone has a say, but we all know that deep down L’Autobus don’t like retracing steps as that is extra distance, and with that we cut across the fields to try and find the track further on. We soon had to scale a fence topped with barbed wire before we came to a gateway into a field which had been churned up so much it looked like a mud bath. L’Autobus did a spot of wall hugging as they tried to go around it only to come across the exact same problem at the next field. Nobody like these conditions but sometimes you have no option but to get through it and trust that your boots will do the job and keep you upright and your feet dry.

Once through the mud we walked into a bleating mass of what must have been hungry sheep. Each one of us walking across the field resembled the pied piper with dozens of sheep following us making a racket as they called for food. As with our previous walk they must associate humans at this time of year with being fed and they sure made sure we knew about it.

After climbing the gate out of the field of sheep we ended up in Hudsa Plantation and we were still not back on the track we were after. We checked the map and got our bearing before choosing a direction and heading off.

We couldn’t stay on course due to the trees and bushes we had to walk around but after much giggling and laughing (caused by a little known craze of pictures in bushes) we eventually came out of the other side of the plantation and joined the track, where we soon came across a couple of Highland Cattle. One had the usual large fringe but the other was only a youngster and actually could see us!

The next half an hour or so was pretty simple stuff with the track turning right and then left, climbing slightly before dipping down and going in any and every combination of the previous four directions. We walked through a little logging plant and a few of us commented on the smell which was very distinctive and woody, although that didn’t come as a big surprise. The only hazard on this section was the mountain bikers that kept flying by and the cry of “biiiiiiiiiiike” was a common one as the first person to spot them called to the others. With all bikes spotted and avoided we reconvened at the end of the lane for another map check before we moved off once again.

As we stopped Minutes later we were over a stile and back into another field as we headed straight for the second trig of the day, Langcliffe. We got the occasion glimpse of the top as the cloud kept breaking up but it didn’t look too clever weather wise which wasn’t part of the plan as the forecast had been for a dry day.

With a little bit of drizzle beginning to fall we came across a wall we needed to scale and Roger, Graham and Beaky helped each other over before I followed. When the girls arrived they didn’t feel as confident in their task and began to walk up and down the wall looking for a broken section or an easier route over. As they walked away I told Graham and Roger to make their way up and the rest of us would catch up after the girls were over.

After a couple of attempts L’Autobus crossed the wall and we began the steep climb up to the trig.

Other than this climb which was short and sharp the rest of the walk was very gradual so we all knew our efforts would soon be rewarded. As we reached the end of the steep climb we could see G and Roger stood at the trig over to our right and we made our way across to them to swap stories of ascent routes and the half an hour we had spent apart. The drizzle continued to fall as we had a quick sandwich and took the usual array of photographs for our various records and then headed off on the return leg of our journey.

After dropping down from the trig point we carefully followed a wall whilst trying to avoid the horrible boggy areas as we looked to join the footpath towards Newton Moor trig. After a small hold up due to us being very selective with our route choices we walked back past Sugar Loaf Hill and eventually retraced our steps back to the road before turning off and heading for Scaleber Force.

The waterfall was a lovely detour and only twenty yards off our route which was a worthwhile detour although the sheep that was floating at the bottom of the falls did put a dampener on it for me and a few others. It is safe to say that a good few of the Badgers are animal lovers and we don’t like to see dead wildlife although we all appreciate it is unavoidable.

As we rejoined the route we picked up a track that we would follow for the next few miles of easy walking. At least I thought so, but L’Autobus were beginning to feel the extra distance we were undertaking in their legs and asked a couple of times how far we had to go. I never quite know how to answer as sometimes I know an honest answer may result in their mood dropping but also a blatant lie soon gets found out so I usually opt for something vague and try to keep their minds off the walking. On this instance that was done for me by the deer that we spotted just up above us to our right.

As well as distracting L’Autobus it also made my day as I have always wanted to see deer whilst out and about so I was made up and I could have stood there for hours but after ten minutes we needed to keep moving and continued on our way along the track.

We thought we had Newton Moor trig in sight ahead of us but as is usually the case it was behind the hill we could see which didn’t go down too well with some but did amuse Beaky. I don’t want any of my words to make it sound like people aren’t enjoying themselves because they are, I guess that sometimes when you have become used to walks of a certain length then a step up in distance may feel a lot of extra walking. I kept reminding Wu Tang that we walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks last year so this 11 mile stroll was well within her limits, and as we left the track to head to the third and final trig point we were only 2 miles from the finish.

For the second time today we encountered a wall and once again it was a struggle to get over. G and Roger climbed over and began making their way to the top as the rest of us found a different way over before following them up to the trig. It was a little windy at the top but we still spent ten minutes having more sandwiches before we checked the map and plotted a new route back to the pub and set off for a drink.

Within fifteen minutes we had reached a far and that would enable us to follow a tack all the way back to the car which meant the map could go away and we were another step closer to a Sunday lunchtime beverage. As we passed through the farm there was a barn full of cows all feeding as cows do and in a field to our right looked to be three things one of which was definitely a bull and we were happy that we didn’t have to go through them.

From here we made good time back to the car as we followed the farm track back to the village of Long Preston as we laughed and joked about various things none of which made any sense. It doesn’t take much to set us off on a topic that has no bearing on reality and quite clearly could and would never happen but these discussion do entertain us and made the final mile pass in no time.

We soon reached the car and no sooner had we done that than we were in the pub discussing another fabulous walk. The increase in distance had made this walk had taken a little longer than the recent ones and on a Sunday that isn’t always ideal but we all enjoyed it and were all looking forward to our next jaunt. We would be stepping up in distance for that as we planned on doing 30 miles from Skipton back to Leeds. This would be a big step up as we continued our Trailtrekker training. But that was for then, for now we ordered some chips and enjoyed the walk we had just done before we left a business card on the table and headed home and I could tell that the distance was a little longer because just like the old days L’Autobus were soon asleep on the way back. They were no doubt dream of the 30 miles they would be doing in a fortnight.

Sir Edmund


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