If I had labelled this post just Plover Hill most wouldn’t have heard of it, whereas Pen-y-ghent is justifiably popular as a walk and as an iconic view along with its neighbour Ingleborough. Yes – it has a Welsh name [hill of the winds] because a version of Welsh was spoken throughout Britain before the Anglo Saxon invasion.Just enjoyed a grand half day’s walk up here. I didn’t get away early as the day was supposed to brighten later – it didn’t – setting off from Horton at 12am. To avoid the unpleasant, steep and crowded direct route from Brackenbottom I used the lanes past old barns and Dub Cote farm to join the bridleway up to a shake-hole named Churn Milk Hole. From here one gets a dramatic view of Pen-y-ghent rising above you, the bands of limestone capped with a gritstone helmet. High up round to the left out of sight is a gritstone cliff where I’ve climbed in past years. A climb called Red Pencil Direct featured in the Ken Wilson Classic Rock ‘tick’ book, all the climbs here are steep and have a terrific sense of exposure.There are some recent reports of rockfall, it always felt a bit scary with some loose rock and those overhangs above you.
Until now I had seen only sheep but once onto the main track it became a circus of people struggling up, even being pushed up the steep bits, and falling down the slippy limestone bits. I didn’t linger with the crowds on the summit, 694m, as the mist had come down making it cold and miserable with no views. Going due north along the ridge brings you to the subsidiary rounded summit of Plover Hill, 680m. The sedgy grasses along the way seemed to be taking on an attractive Autumnal colouring. I’d forgotten how eroded and boggy the way was, surprising really as we have had a month of relatively dry weather, any rain and it will be a quagmire!From the summit there were views of Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside as the mist lifted off their tops for a brief moment – the Three Peaks. Leaving the top and heading north takes you down to an extensive limestone bluff through which the path takes a delightful rake. From here looking into Foxup valley the lines of limestone sink holes following some fault are clearly seen. The whole area must be perfect for geology field trips.
Along here the Pennine Way is joined but I also realised I was following ‘A Pennine Journey’. This is a relatively new 247 mile LDW based on the journey of the celebrated Alfred Wainwright, undertaken in 1938, up the East side of the Pennines to Hadrian’s Wall and back down the West side to Settle. His story of this trip is worth reading not only for his own personal observations but also an insight into rural life in the years leading up to WW II. How things have changed.
The enclosed bridleway gave quick walking back to Horton with distant views to Pendle. The clocks have just gone back so dusk came early and smoke was rising from the cottage chimneys, the sign of cold dark nights to come – maybe time to head off to warmer climes.