Driving over from Lancashire in the sunshine held promise of a glorious day like the preceding few. Alas on crossing the border into Yorkshire greyness reigned and did so for the rest of the day. Good to meet up with old friends for today’s walk. We arrived in Austwick at the same time thus avoiding, on all sides, the usual derision as to our time of rising or navigational skills to the chosen venue. It was presumed we had one map between the four of us, compasses weren’t mentioned. We were soon into our stride out of the delightful village of Austwick…
…past lots of characterful stone cottages.
It had been very warm this last week –
Our first objective was to visit the hillside which is home to the famous Norber Erratics. These are sandstone boulders and were transported by glaciers, 15000 years ago, from cliffs 1km away to the north in Crummackdale and were deposited on Carboniferous limestone when the ice melted. Some of the larger erratics have protected the limestone beneath them as upstanding pedestals of limestone. On the hillside are a mass of such boulders but our ‘Team Geologist’ was unable to find the the most photogenic. We were in luck as the local SARDA were running a practice dog rescue on the hillside and their leader, knowing the area well, was able to point us in the right direction and assured us that if we became lost or cragfast the dogs would find us.
By now the morning was passing rapidly and we had various problems with navigating through the fields we had mistakenly become enclosed in without damaging any farmers stone walls. We realised our only map was woefully out of date by about 40 years.
Once on the correct bridle way we made better progress until it started going downhill in the wrong direction, a heated discussion resulted in a rather uncoordinated attack on the limestone pavement above us. This off-piste route did however reward us with a fine cluster of purple orchids.
Soon back onto one of the main thoroughfares, from Sulber Nick up onto Ingleborough, and we were made aware of the vast amounts of footfall that these paths take. Masses of Three Peak walkers started to stagger down past us. Good luck to their chosen charities. The path was ‘protected’ by stretches of stone flagging and the less durable boarding.
This was Ingleborough, 724m or 2573 ‘Wainwright’ ft, poor views, late lunch in a cold wind and hoards of people enjoying the experience on their smart phones! The top was flatter and more confusing than I previously remember.
Hint — a compass would be helpful in all but the best of visibility. Incidentally where does the ‘borough’ originate from? It usually denotes a town. We careered over Little Ingleborough and down to the unmistakable Gaping Gill.
This is probably one of the best known British potholes, the awesome surface rift leads to a vertical shaft of 340ft and a gigantic cathedral like chamber. For the full experience try to go down on one of the organised ‘cave rescue’ events on a winched chair in May or August bank holiday breaks.
Onwards now and into the dry valley of Trow Gill, which today was busy with climbers ascending the vertical limestone walls. The gorge has been transformed into a sports climbing venue — i.e. bolted, and is proving very popular.
A few miles, of I must say, rather tedious stony bridleways –
– brought us back to Austwick and the welcoming Game Cock Inn.
Over a pint we solved the in or out of Europe question, we considered the benefits of Pacer Poles and we worried about male breast cancer, I can’t remember why.
Till we meet again.