Category Archives: Yorkshire Dales.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – under Pendle.

Walk no. 33 in Mark Sutcliffe’s guide explores the foothills of Pendle from Downham. I was just able to park in the picture postcard village at 10am. The sunshine had brought everyone out to explore the surrounding limestone countryside. A large walking party was  manning up for perhaps an ascent of Pendle brooding above. Time to be on my way. This 5 mile stroll should be within my ever decreasing limits, the bad heel and bad back were still niggling me. On top of that my recent cycling tumble has left me with a painful ligament on the inside of my left knee. Anyhow, I’ve strapped up my knee, so I can enjoy the best of the Spring sunshine.

Familiar paths alongside Downham Beck  get me ahead of the crowds. Soon I was climbing up to Clay House the first of  several attractive  farmhouses on today’s walk.  There was no letup as I continued upwards, past a barn at Lane Head and then over the access lane to Hollins Farm. Up to Hecklin Farm where a diversion around to the right and then fields towards Ravens Holme. The wall stiles are solid, none of those namby-pamby metal gates with yellow catches, and marker posts have guided me through the fields. That’s how it should be.

Leaving by Downham Beck

C19th Clay House.

C18th Hollin’s Farm.

How much in a garden centre?

C17th Hecklin Farm.

C17th Raven’s Holme.

Spring is definitely in the air with lambs, blackthorn blossom, primroses and celandines all around.

Ups and downs in these folded foothills took me up to Throstle Hall Cottage. All the while Pendle gazed down on my slow progress. Whilst Mark’s directions have been spot on he has become confused with the names of the farms along here. A simple mistake for which there is no excuse. I was now on paths new to me as I descended towards Hill Foot farm. Now out onto open limestone pastures with little quarries all around. I emerged onto the lane by the defunct mill pond to Twiston Mill.  TWISTON_MILL.pdf (downhamvillage.org.uk)

Twiston Mill.

I couldn’t resist the short walk up the hill past the Lime Kiln to have a look into Witches Quarry, a favourite limestone venue of mine for years. The sun doesn’t get round to the face until late. Climbers were on one of the sustained HVS’s in the centre of the wall, The Spell. The routes here tend to have ‘witch’ themed names, this is Lancashire Witch country after all. I chatted for a while and then left as they were starting up the VS Thrutch. I was feeling a little envious as I walked down the lane and in fact the quarry could be seen from a fair bit of my ongoing track which surprised me as one tends to think of it being hidden from close up.

The Spell.

Thrutch.

Zoom back to the quarry half a mile away.

The paths I used were well trodden heading down the beck, but then  I crossed on a footbridge and climbed past a cottage, Springs, onto a higher ridge, possibly a Roman way, for a grand finale back to  Downham, now even busier with families enjoying the sunshine and ice creams from the little shop. I came in by the pretty cottages, pub and church.  All the while Pendle was proudly overlooking its gentle foothills. For more of Downham read here.

Springs.

An ideal walk for a perfect Spring day, though I don’t think I’ll be out for a while as my knee has played up.

*****


LET’S LOOK AT SOME LIMESTONE.

I’ve not been far from base recently. There is a cousin, ‘the pieman’, living in Skipton whom I’ve not met up with for two years. Admittedly, he has phoned me on several occasions with a suggestion for a walk, but I have always declined with the excuse of injury. This can’t go on. It turns out he is suffering also, so when I suggest a short walk, on his home territory, the die is cast.

Yorkshire Limestone has been a favourite climbing venue for me over the years. Malham, Gordale, Attermire, Twistleton, Crumack Dale, Oxenber – the list goes on. The last time I visited the imposing Pot Scar the polish on the holds was unnerving, so in recent years, we retreated to the safer bolted climbs of Giggleswick. Why not revisit some of these venues on today’s walk.

There used to be a garage or was it a café on Buckhaw Brow above Settle, but now all is bypassed, and my mind is clouded. In the past, buses came this way, struggling up the hill from Settle. We are parked on the Craven Fault. Limestone high on the left and gritstone down below on the right where the land has slipped. My knowledge of geology is rudimentary.

The pieman’ is proud to display his vintage wool Dachstein Mitts, once an essential item of all climbers, famed for their warmth and water resistance. They had the added advantage that when winter climbing, they could virtually glue you to the ice. Are they still available?

The little roadside crag is examined, yes there would be routes on it, and then we are off along the airy escarpment. A path is followed, linking stiles in the substantial stone walls, with views down the fault to Settle. Up to our left are limestone cliffs with hidden caves, we are heading for Schoolboys Tower, a cairn associated with Giggleswick School down below. Stones were added to the cairn by pupils on their last, or was it their first, day. A smaller nearby cairn has been named Schoolgirls once the school had admitted the other sex.

Having reached the ‘tower’, looking a little dilapidated, we went in search of Schoolboys Cave down below on the steeper escarpment. A bit of scrambling, and we found the entrance to what was only a short cavern, curiosity satisfied we then peered into the more cavernous quarry nearby, now redundant.

What followed was a mistake. I wanted to link up with The Dales High Way coming out of Stainforth. The obvious way would have been to follow the River Ribble or even the quiet road up the valley from Stackhouse. No, I eschewed both for some cross-country  escapade involving some inelegant and illicit wall climbing. I hope the farmer is not reading this, although despite risking damage to his walls, our clothing and appendages, not a stone was dislodged.  As a diversion, we were treated to  excellent views of  the stately  Pen-y-ghent.

Things improved once we were on a signed path. Over the rise, the long escarpment of Smearsett Scar led us on. We started to meet more (sensible) walkers. The last time we were here, we climbed to the trig point on the Scar for its views, today we were less enthusiastic and settled into a wall for lunch. I regret not recording for historical evidence the size of ‘the pieman’s‘ sandwiches.

My eyes were scanning the cliffs of Pot Scar for routes often climbed. Will I ever return to those steep walls?

The farm at the head of Feizor was busy with cattle being let out onto the higher fields. We stood aside as the stockmen herded the cows, calves and a moody bull. Feizor was always a sleepy hamlet, but now there is a café and several holiday lets. Despite this, I think It will always be at the back of beyond.

As we gained height, looking back to Feizor the distinctive top of Ingleborough could be made out. New finger pointers show us the way back across clipped limestone grasslands to Buckhaw. We were both feeling the effects of a short but unintentionally fairly strenuous day.

Make that a splendid day.

*****


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, CONFUSED ON CROOKRISE.

                                                   Crookrise and Embsay Crag in the early morning.

*

Most of what I have to say today is irrelevant. Putin is focused on invading Ukraine on false premises, and a peaceful nation is being annihilated.

*

The object of the day was to reach the trig point on Crookrise at 415m. Sir Hugh has had an ongoing mission to visit all the 76 trig points on OS map 103, mainly in the NW part of Lancashire, although today we are in Yorkshire. This would be the final summit, and he duly touched the shining white pillar early in the afternoon, congratulations on another challenge completed.

Fortunately, we had chosen a blue sky day and the views were sparkling. In the background, on the picture above, is the lovely little ridge of  Sharp Haw on the edge of the busy Dales town of Skipton. Down the Aire valley was all floods. In a northerly direction, the monument on Rylstone was prominent and the rift of Deer Gallows showed up clearly, reminding me of a long day when we climbed on all six crags on this edge of Barden Moor with a lot of rough walking between them.

Our rendezvous on this occasion was the free car park in Embsay village to make a hopefully interesting circuit, it turned out to be a full day in the hills. Above the historic village, once busy with mills, is the shapely Embsay Crag, and this was our first objective, although at the time we hadn’t realised it. In my mind, the path traversed below it en route to the reservoir, but no, we were slowly guided onto the summit. And what a summit, surrounded by gritstone craglets with a 360  degree view. The vast interior of Barden Moor with Deer Gallows, distant Beamsley Beacon, Embsay and its reservoir directly below, even more distant Pendle and the fell wall leading up to the Crookrise summit. Along the valley below, a steam excursion was puffing on the short stretch of restored railway.

C18th Embsay Kirk.

 

C19th Embsay Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

 

Embsay Crag.

 

Beamsley Beacon and Eastby Crag.

Looking back to Beamsley Beacon and Eastby Crag.

 

Embsay Reservoir and sailing club.

A problem was how to reach the route up onto Crookrise without loosing too much height, we failed and followed a decent path down to the reservoir. This took us past a secluded ghyll complete with a lively stream, magic.

Rough ground to Crookrise (top right)

 

Back up to Embsay Crag.

I was glad of not carrying a full climbing rack and rope up the steep track, past the perfect little boulders where we used to stop off for some warm up entertainment before the main event. Sir Hugh had promised a nostalgic visit to Crookrise Crag after the celebratory trig visit

Heading up newly flagged path.

 

Trackside boulders.

 

First view of the crag over the wall.

 

That trig point.

 

Floods in the Aire Valley.

 My regular climbing partner years ago lived in Skipton, still does, so Crookrise, on his back door, was a frequent venue for our early struggles on gritstone, I knew it well. From the trig point I thought I saw a way down to the base of the rocks – but our first attempt, and second, and third, ever more precarious, only landed us into a world of moss and conifers, many of those precariously toppled by recent storms. Obviously too far west. Back up to the top, we retreated several times and yet tried again without success. This was jungle warfare that stretched Sir Hugh, and I felt embarrassed and responsible. Let’s sit down and have lunch was my best solution. I didn’t know it as well as I remembered. I tried to distract him with views across to the splendid crag at Deer Gallows.

A tight squeeze.

 

Pulling on heather.

 

Temporary escape, time for lunch.

 

Deer Gallows and Embsay Crag.

 

Zoom to Deer Gallows.

Composure restored, we climbed the wall onto the access track and headed down the fell, our tails between our legs. More stiles were passed and investigated without any obvious ways down, but the last seemed to ring a bell in my memory. I was over and looking down on the End Slab of the main crag. Sir Hugh was ‘keen’ to follow, and soon we were stood below the slabs. The rock was in perfect condition, and I was regretting not throwing my rock shoes into my sack. But maybe my memories deceived me, the slab was steeper  and relatively holdless, drawing one on to even more difficulties higher up, which I may not be able to succumb. I was content therefore to admire smugly from terra firma. The rest of the crag stretching west into the trees will have to wait for another time, even I was loosing my enthusiasm.

There must be a way down.

 

At last.

 

Another time.

 

Can we go now?

Moving on…

Back on the descending track, we met up with a pleasant couple, ‘birders’ by the look of them, who were out for the day with their binoculars. In typical Yorkshire banter, they  commented on farmers, walkers and most emphatically irresponsible dog owners. On the whole, we had to agree with their sentiments, though we debated the finer points as we progressed down past the reservoir. Our contributions to bird watching were Greylag Geese on the water and Oyster Catchers swooping above.

Heading down.

 

Greylag Geese.

 

Oyster Catchers.

The industrial heritage of Embsay was in evidence, with mill chimneys and mill races as we entered the village past the Manor House. It was difficult to believe it was 4 o’clock back at the car, I’ve no idea where the time went. Sir Hugh hasn’t divulged his next project as yet.

Past history.

 

Manor House, 1665.

 

Could be interesting.

For Sir Hugh’s version of the day, see    conradwalks: Trigs 103 – Final trig of 76 – Crookrise Crag

and for those interested in the crags mentioned

UKC Logbook – Embsay Crag (ukclimbing.com)

UKC Logbook – Deer Gallows (ukclimbing.com)

UKC Logbook – Crookrise (ukclimbing.com)

    *****

SALT OF THE EARTH.

                                             Salt’s Mill.  Oil on two canvasses.  D Hockney 1997.

Titus Salt was born in Morley  on 20th September 1803, the son of a successful wool merchant. He joined the family firm, which became one of the most important worsted companies in Bradford. He took over the running of the firm in 1833 when his father retired, and eventually owned five mills in Bradford. The city became a horror story of the Industrial revolution, with poor working conditions, squalid housing, polluted air and water supplies. Life expectancy, of just over eighteen years, was one of the lowest in the country.

To improve matters, Titus decided in 1850 to move his business to a green field site where he built an industrial community on the banks of the Aire and next to the canal. Salt’s mill, Italianate in style, was the largest and cleanest in Europe. At first his 3,500 workforce travelled from Bradford, but to improve their lot over the years he built housing for them. He integrated into the Saltaire village:  parks, churches, schools, hospital, almshouses, railway station, public baths, libraries and shops. But no Public House. Clean water was piped in, gas for lighting and heating, and outside loos for every house. He did charge a rent for his properties but provided superior living and working conditions, a model of town planning in the C19th.

Titus Salt died in Dec 1876 having given away much of his wealth to good causes. The business continued under his sons but over the years declined, wound up and sold to business syndicates in 1893.  Textile production continued into the mid C20th and finally closed in 1986. The village itself had been sold to the Bradford Property Trust in 1933 thus enabling the houses to be bought by their occupiers.

An outstanding entrepreneur, Jonathan Silver, bought the Mill the following year and within months opened a gallery exhibiting the work of his friend, Bradford-born artist David Hockney. With Silver’s enthusiasm, the mill developed into the vibrant space we see today. He died young, but the enterprise is still run by his family.

Saltaire was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001, recognised for its international influence on town planning.

Well with all that write up it was time I paid a visit to Yorkshire. A wet Sunday in February was chosen. I drove through the floods down the Aire Valley. You realise the scale of the mill and village as you pull off the hectic suburban road.  The car park was busy despite the foul weather. As well as the historic buildings and the connection with the artist Hockney: the mill now houses cafés, upmarket retail outlets, artist materials, an excellent book selection, antiques, cycles etc. All waiting to make a hole in your wallet, though the parking and entry are free. I had come basically to see Hockney’s artworks, but was impressed with everything else that was on offer. Everything is on a grand scale here, from the size of the stone building blocks to the massive indoor floor spaces.

 

You enter into the long ‘1853 Gallery’ with works by Hockney from different periods as well as a large selection of artists’ materials, all under the gaze of Titus Salt. The walls are all windows, so ingenuity has been needed to display the Hockney pictures. Time to get  used to the large scale of this place.  Hockney started his career at Bradford College of Art school (1953–57) and the Royal College of Art, London (1959–62), Portraits have always been an important part of his works and some early examples are exhibited here…

Red Celia. Lithograph 1984.

Margaret Hockney. 1997 oil on canvas.

…as well as some of his more recent computer generated portraits.

The next floor up was a gigantic book and poster shop where I had to be extra strict with myself. The queue for the diner looked daunting. Somewhere behind in the depths of the mill was an antique centre, an outdoor outlet and an upmarket home and kitchen showroom.

Having manoeuvred around all these, I arrived in a long gallery with some of Hockney’s abstract offerings from his time in Malibu Beach.

Round the corner was a stunning ceramic installation depicting Batley and Bradford by Philippa Threlfall, 1972.

I eventually found the way up to the top floor where I sat and watched a video of the history of Saltaire from which I gleamed my information for this post. In the next room were some historical artefacts.

As you move around the galleries, there are views out of the windows reminding you of the extent of this building and the surrounding village.

The major Hockney exhibition was on the top floor. In the first space was a video presentation of his iPad and iPhone pictures using the brushes app, which he emailed to friends. They came up three at a time and were a variety of vibrant styles. The larger exhibition was entitled “The Arrival of Spring” – a series of iPad paintings done on different days from his car parked on a Yorkshire Wolds lane from January to May in 2011. He made the most of the portability and speed of using the hi-tech iPad, capturing  subtle changes in the light. He was able to print them out on a large scale

These pictures celebrate fleeting moments of intense beauty, and remind us of the importance – and the joy we get from looking closely.”

I’m ready for Spring – aren’t you? Worth clicking for enlarged images.

I came out of the mill to a broody winter day with hail showers moving in. I wanted to have a look at some nearby Saltaire streets, under the shadow of the mill, before the light disappeared. The terraced houses were obviously now desirable properties, and the shops on Victoria Street appeared prosperous. Chic Yorkshire.

Next time I will give myself more time – a grand day out.

WHELP STONE CRAG – Gisburn Forest.

                            Distant view of Whelp Stone Crag peeping out of vast acres of Gisburn Forest.

I parked in Tosside; a church, a village hall, a war memorial in the middle of the road and an inn that is closed.

St. Bartholomew.

War memorial and ‘pub’

 

On the map the track leading to Whelp Stone Crag looked straightforward, a lane to a farm and then a footath alongside Gisburn Forest. As far as the farm the lane was good but the path onwards diabolical, difficult to follow on the ground, encroaching trees and waterlogged for most of its length. Why do I always seem to find these horrors?  I could hear the mountain bikers on the Gisburn Forest trails whooping with delight, I hope they could not hear my cursing. I would not recommend this approach, there are probably better traks within the forest.

The crag in sight over more rough ground.

 

Anyhow I arrived at the trig point, 371m, on top of a fragmented gritstone edge. Ravens were cavorting about in the updrafts. There must be some good bouldering on these rocks. From here I could look down on the bikers speeding along the trails. There were 360 degree views over Pendle, Bowland and into Yorkshire although the higher peaks were cloud covered. I was the only person up here.

After a snack as I was preparing to leave a couple arrived on the summit. ” That was the worst path we have ever been on” was their opening conversation. I had no idea what they meant.

The ongoing ridge was a delight before trackless slopes took me down to squelshy fields where farmers were rounding up their sheep. Across the valley, A65, were the limestone hills of the Settle area.

The unmarked footpath just about navigated me through or around, I was never sure which, several farms called Brayshaw. They all had a well worn look to them and were undoubtably of vintage.

Passing a smarter residence I reached some tarmac on a minor road. I threw in the towel and followed it back to Tosside. I think I was in Lancashire most of the afternoon but the oulook was Yorkshire Dales country.

*****

RIVER WENNING AND ‘THE BIG STONE’.

The River Wenning comes out from the Craven limestone dales and heads towards the Lune.  Today we were constantly reminded of the Dales by the presence of the Three Peaks on the horizon. The river takes its name from the old English ‘wan’ meaning the ‘dark one’ and within yards of the carpark we were crossing its rushing brown waters. These waters in the past powered mills in the Bentham area, originally for flax but later turning to cotton and silk. Here at Low Bentham modern accomodation has been developed in some of the old buildings.

It was a pleasure to walk upsteam chatting to Sir Hugh especially after the last few stressful weeks. Before we knew it we were in a massive caravan park, part residential and part tourism. We were impressed as to the quality of the park but what would you do here all the time.

After exracating ourselves from the park we climbed little used paths linking farms up the side of the fell. Some tidier than others.

Fourstones Farm

Once on the open fell the object of our walk appeared on the horizon across boggy terrain. The Great Stone of Fourstones stands on the Lancs/Yorks boundary. Known locally as ‘the big stone’, it is a glacial erratic gritstone. Originally as the name suggests there were three others which were broken up by farmers, but I can find no reference as to any dates or why one stone survived. A feature of the stone is a set of worn steps carved into the side, easier to climb than descend. I remember playing here with my children and finding more adventurous ways to the top. Today we were entertained with an ascent by a passing motorcyclist in his unsuitable footwear. The stone is covered in carved graffiti.

Leaving here we weaved a way across the fell to descend past interesting farms with the dramatic view of the Yorkshire hills ahead of us.

Gragareth, Whernside, Ingleborough and Penyghent.

Grusckham.

A late lunch was taken sat on a couple of stones only to pass a perfect wooden seat within a hundred yards. This is a frequent occurence on walks which remains an unexplained quandary.

Dawson.

From time to time we were strafed by Chinook type helicopters which had the conversation ranging to ‘Mash’ – Hawkeye, Hot lips and Radar. We are of a certain generation.

Back on the River Wenning we bypassed Higher Bentham village using a lane by riverside mill cottages. Once through another large caravan park we took paths on the north side of the river to Lower Bentham.

Sleepy Lower Bentham.

Yet another interesting walk in unfamiliar territory. Are there more in this area?

*****

 

A SETTLE CIRCULAR. Second day.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go – but I think I’ve ended up where I needed to be”  Douglas Adams.

As I slogged up the steep lane out of Stainforth I was regretting the good and filling breakfast I’d just eaten in The Craven Heifer. I’d had a quick look around the churchyard, crossed the stepping stones over the beck and then followed the Pennine Bridleway signs. At the top of the lane was a gate giving access to some more spectacular waterfalls – Catrigg Foss. A placid beck wanders through upper pastures before disappearing into woods. Looking down from the top only revealed a very steep ravine with the water rushing way down below, it was time to explore the lower reaches by a steep path. The falls tumble down in two stages through vertical strata. A magic place to while away time.

Back on the Pennine Bridleway, I cross fields to reach a footpath going towards Attermire, passing a prominent erratic on the way. The day was not looking good with low cloud covering all the tops, down to about 400m. The bridleway I was intending to follow would be in the mist all the way to Ryeloaf Hill which couldn’t be seen – my resolve faltered. I was close to Jubilee Cave so I thought I would climb up to have a look not having been here for years. The two entrances were obvious and I went into the main one but didn’t explore further. This cave and several others in the area have been excavated finding animal bones from before the last ice age and evidence of early human since. There is a large platform area outside the cave, more evidence of human activity, where I sat and had a coffee and debated the day. Why not explore a few more caves at Attermire and then take a shortcut to Rye loaf if the cloud lifts.

So I took the footpath leading around the corner passing Wet Cave … … just spotted on the photo that good looking layback crack to the right of the cave.

Higher still was the larger Victoria Cave, discovered in 1837 and excavated extensively. Plenty of animal bones were found. The earliest, at 130,000 years old, [Upper Pleistocene interglacial]  when the climate was much warmer than today, included hippos, rhino, elephants and spotted hyenas. The glaciers returned and the cave filled with clay.  After the last Ice Age brown bear and reindeer bones were found as well as an 11,000-year-old antler harpoon, the first evidence for people in the Yorkshire Dales.  More recent Roman layers yielded bronze and bone artefacts including brooches and coins. The inner depths of the cave are now barred to preserve any further archaeological finds but I remember years ago exploring deeper connecting passages.

Returning down to the main path which goes south through the gap between Warrendale Knotts and Attermire Scars.

The back of Warrendale Knotts.

This area was one of my favourite climbing venues with a whole range of buttresses and tiers of limestone, all facing south and giving a huge variety of routes.  The scene as you approach the rocky crest from the south reminds me of those old cowboy films when hundreds of Indians suddenly appear along the horizon. Today one could hardly make out the features shrouded in mist. Anyhow, I walked on to find the trod leading up through the screes to the long escarpment where I remembered Attermire Cave should be.

It seemed much steeper and exposed than I recall but I think the mist added to the atmosphere. I reached an area of solid rock which I recognised from past climbs, Hares Wall etc, some of the best VS to E1 routes hereabouts. The vertical rock is immaculate limestone with cracks and pockets leading to overhangs higher up. I was pleased to identify so many climbs but I couldn’t find Attermire Cave itself. Exploring around the corner I came across the vertical cleft of Horse Shoe Cave, more of a landslip than a cave. Now pacing back and forth along the base of the cliffs I remembered that the cave I was looking for was on a higher shelf. [It’s there on one of the photos above!]  So  I scrambled up at a likely spot and traversed airily along a ledge to an exposed step into the mouth of Attermire Cave. The cave entrance is smoothed off from the previous flow of water, phreatic, and one can walk in, under an ominous wedged boulder, for several metres before a crawl takes you through to another chamber. I was not equipped for crawling today but the light on my mobile illuminated the outer large chamber well enough. Again this cave has yielded animal remains but also more recent human artefacts including of all things part of a chariot suggesting the cave had some spiritual significance.

Views were restricted so I retraced my steps carefully and descended the screes below. In the valley floor, previously a lake at one time, are metal targets apparently commissioned in the C19  when it was thought France may invade. They were used again before WW1.

There was no point going up the valley to climb Ryeloaf Hill as it was completely obscured by the low cloud. Another time. To save the day and incorporate a ‘loaf’ I climbed the easy low Sugar Loaf Hill on the way back to the car.

On reflection, my amended walk would be better called ‘Caves and Fosses,  AKA Loaves and Fishes’. I had made the best of today’s weather by keeping low and searching out those caves. I ended up climbing 20000ft in the space of 5miles.

*****

 

My Settle Circle below…

Caves and Fosses Walk.

A SETTLE CIRCULAR. First day.

You often hear the sound of crashing waterfalls before you reach them. A sign off the road directed me to Scaleber Foss in a wooded valley. Scrambling down to the base gave the best views as the water cuts through the horizontal strata. There are some lively smaller falls before  the beck disappears down a valley at a more sedate pace to be met later.

I had just started another walk plucked from the LDWA database. A circular 23-mile walk in Limestone country from Settle in North Yorkshire named  ‘Loaves and Fishes’. I enjoy a two day walk away from home, I’m not sure this brings it into the long-distance category but it is a good excuse to have a night in a pub halfway. Considering the winter days and my level of unfitness this walk would seem to fit the bill perfectly. At the last minute, whilst parked up at the start I changed the direction of my walk to fit in with the weather forecast, rain today and maybe drier tomorrow when I would be higher in the fells.

Back up onto the road, I was soon on an old lane following Brookil Gill, this is Langber Lane an ancient drove route linking Settle with Otterburn and on through to Skipton. Easy walking left me thinking on important topics: the state of the world politics, our future after so-called Brexit this Friday, Coronavirus, our own mortality and is that water getting into my right boot?

After a hop across the beck, a path continued into pasture land where the stream from Scaleber Foss joined at a wooden footbridge. An ideal wild camping spot.

A steep climb out of the valley and I joined a lane overlooking Long Preston, one minute I could see it and next clouds and hail showers obscured the view. As I came out onto a road there was a bench perfect for an early lunch. I’m not sure why this road heading onto the moors is surfaced, there are no properties up there. On old maps it is Queen’s Road [? Elizabeth I ] and was the direct route from Long Preston to Settle over Hunter Bank before the turnpike road was built in the valley in the 18C. An old milestone was thus inscribed.

Dog walkers told me of the fine views up and down Ribblesdale, not today. Once over the top, I took to a direct footpath and a blurry Settle appeared below me. Little lanes, some still cobbled, thread their way into town. I took a coffee and dried out in The Folly, a late C17th manor house built by a wealthy lawyer Richard Preston.

I didn’t have time for more coffee and cake in the Ye Olde Naked Man, formerly an undertakers with a ‘naked man’ on the outside wall, 1663 covering his privates. There were more delights to discover off the beaten track in Settle. Narrow streets, quaint cottages, a Quaker burial ground and an old Victorian Music Hall.

I was aiming for a footbridge over the Ribble and then I would follow the river upstream past Stackhouse and Langcliffe Weir to Stainforth. The imposing large quarries at Langcliffe were in the gloom. I must be on a Long Distance Walk according to the signage. The going was muddy and by the time I arrived at Stainforth Falls, the light was fading. Sat-Nav is responsible for wide vehicles becoming stranded and damaging the old packhorse bridge.

I stayed the night in The Craven Heifer,  a friendly and comfortable inn. There are a number of pubs named after the Craven Heifer, a massive cow bred on the Duke of Devonshire’s Bolton Abbey estate at the beginning of the C19th.

The restaurant was fully booked for a Chinese New Year banquet but the chef was able to cook a fish and chip supper for me in the bar before festivities commenced. There was talk in the bar of a new virulent virus spreading in China.

The fish was significant as it was the only one I saw all day – remember the title of the walk. The loaves come tomorrow but the fish are the salmon seen in October/November leaping the falls at Langcliffe and Stainforth, not my battered variety.

Gung hay fat choy!

*****

 

BARDEN MOOR AND RYLSTONE, last of the summer wine.

A vigorous day visiting old haunts with wide-ranging views.

The Duke of Devonshire, Bolton Abbey Estate, owns a large area of grouse moorland NE of Skipton. Confusingly Barden Moor to the west of the Wharfe and Barden Fell to the east. I’ve spent many days on these moors mainly on their edges climbing on Rylstone Crag, Crookrise, Eastby and Simon’s Seat. I felt it was time to revisit and make a walk of it across the moors. The Pieman doesn’t get out much so when he phoned suggesting a walk this week I gladly agreed and decided on this walk on his local hills. I cajoled JD into the party to show him a new area. Wednesday was the day and the forecast was for improving weather, but first we had to get rid of the tail end of Hurricane Dorian. Early morning and the rain was still heavy, I even had a phone call from Skipton querying opting out but I’m made of sterner stuff. Miraculously as we drove across the skies cleared and the sun came out, there was a sneaky breeze when we met in Rylstone.

Rylstone with its duck pond and church; the famed ladies who produced the original nude Calendar;  the inspiration for Wordsworth’s 1808 poem ‘The White Doe of Rylstone’ and above the village Rylstone Cross.  The latter was visible on the fell as we set off but it would be several hours before we stood alongside it.  Originally a stone figure, the ‘Rylstone Man’,  changed to a wooden cross to commemorate the ‘Peace of Paris’ in 1814. This had to be replaced several times until the wooden structure was replaced by a stone one in 1997. I remember a wooden cross held by a metal frame from early trips to Rylstone Crag.

A bridleway climbs away from the road and was followed easily into the heart of the moor. We chatted away and hardly noticed the increasing tailwind. The heather, unfortunately, was past its best. Views started to open up to familiar hills but putting a name to them often eluded us. Simon’s Seat across Wharfedale was prominent. Upper Barden Reservoir came into sight and veered off on a track to it.  Sitting on an ancient stone gatepost out of the wind we had an early snack. Across the dam was an old waterboard house, we speculated on its value – isolation and views against accessibility.

The estate has signed most of the tracks and we changed course once again heading back to the moor’s northern edge.  Another small reservoir was passed and we focused on an old chimney up the slope, this with some obvious old pits suggested past mining activity.

As we reached the edge I regret not diverting a short distance to look at Numberstones End, a small gritstone crag.

By now the wind was almost gale force and difficult to walk into, JD’s hat became the focus of attention as it somehow stuck to his head. We took our second break in a beaters’ shelter, the shooters more commodious lodge being firmly closed. We gazed across upper Wharfedale to Grassington, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside, Grimworth Reservoir with Nidderdale behind. The Three Peaks were hidden in cloud.

Refreshed we commenced battle with the wind as we bypassed Rolling Gate Crags and made a beeline towards an obvious Obelix, Cracoe War Memorial erected to honour the dead from the Great War with a plaque added for the 2nd WW. It was difficult to stand up on the summit because of the wind and we set off down the ridge towards Rylstone Crag and its Cross. Now below was the limestone country around Cracoe and the contrasting greens of the Winterburn Valley.

A visit to the base of the main face of Rylstone Crag was obligatory to gaze up at President’s Slab, Dental Slab and all those other climbs that have given me so much pleasure in the past. Last climbed six years ago.

President’s Slab.

Dental Slab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cross was another gale swept vantage point now looking towards Pendle.

 

  A couple of boulders took our attention and we played around trying to stand up in the hole or reach for an edge, only long-limbed JD was successful with the latter. We reflected on ageing bodies and ‘the last of the Summer wine’ as we trotted down the hill back to the car, getting out of the wind and enjoying the warm sunshine.

*****

Not a grouse was shot during this walk.

*****

NORTHING 438. SALTAIRE TO HORSFORTH [LEEDS]

What could have been an uninspiring day in the hinterland of Bradford and Leeds turned out to be almost a green corridor of pleasant walking. It was not difficult to keep close to our lateral line with the proviso from Sir Hugh to incorporate a visit to his primary school in Thackley.

From the rail station in Saltaire we quickly reached the Leeds – Liverpool Canal to follow it off and on throughout the morning. At first all was industrial, historically relating to the canal with some fine mill buildings brought into the 21st century.

There were a few scattered sculptures including this one which was a pun on the Salt Mill connection…Hanging on the wall of my garage is an Ellis-Briggs cycle frame, probably 40years old, so I was delighted to pass their establishment which has been building steel frames since 1936. The cycling scene was booming in the 1930’s and the other notable established builder was W.R. Baines, whose factory was based at Thackley, see above and further into the walk. Coincidentally I rode a 1950’s Baines ‘Flying Gate’ cycle for many years.

 

Some nondescript scenery followed enlivened by some dubious and unsuccessful canal boat manoeuvering, it is difficult to do a three point turn.

Climbing away from the canal on cobbled paths above railway tunnels we entered Thackley, a mixture of old stone houses and modern estates, and found Sir Hugh’s school still open and extended since his time. Up here was the local cricket club with a very challenging sloping pitch, Sir Hugh’s father had been a member.

From the map we were not sure whether we could access the canal towpath from open country but thankfully there was a bridge. Soon we were sat on a bench looking down locks near Apperley Bridge, this was a busy stretch with pedestrians but no boat movements.Crossing busy orbital roads took time unless there were lights. We switched from the canal to follow the River Aire alongside the sports grounds of Woodhouse Grove School. The river continued through remarkably rural scenery despite being close to the railway and new housing developments.

Pleasant suburbs gave us twisting streets heading for Hawksworth Park which turned out to be a wooded valley. More parkland and upmarket housing and we arrived at our excellent budget hotel for the night.

*****

SKIPTON TO LONGRIDGE 1 – another straight line.

Skipton to Barnoldswick.Following on from the success of the straight line from Longridge to Arnside completed with Sir Hugh at the end of last year I have persuadedthe piemana resident of Skipton to undertake a similar scheme between our respective abodes.

The Pieman.

He is a lifelong friend, possibly blood related though I tend to ignore that, with whom I’ve shared many backpacking trips throughout Europe but recently we have not been able to meet up as much as required. So this was a good opportunity to get 2019 off on a better note. Thus I was drinking coffee in his house in Skipton early this morning before setting off on what could only be described as a drab day.

My local guide takes us across Aireville Park, where I used to play as a child, over the Leeds Liverpool Canal and out of town through an industrial estate with some interesting relics awaiting restoration.

Airedale Park.

We crept under a main road and crossed the placid River Aire on an old track into Carleton. This essential bridge for our route was just within the mile either side of our arbitrary straight line  The C19 mill in the village was originally for cotton-spinning but I remember buying carpets there in the 70s, apparently it is now luxury apartments.

Carleton.

Today we didn’t visit the village but took to unmarked footpaths through green drumlin fields. I have to concede that satellite tracking maps were a great help in navigating this section. We were going parallel to a disused railway [Skipton to Colne] and eventually we found ourselves walking along it for convenience until stopped by vegetation.Possibly we touched on a Roman Road leading to Elslack where there was a fort. Our priority was to find a picnic bench and there right in the middle of the hamlet was one in some sort of memorial garden. Having put his instant coffee powder into a cup he looked for the flask containing the hot water, unfortunately it was on the worktop back in Skipton. I had hot apple tea in my flask so he ended up with a strange brew.

We walked past the C15 Elsack Hall but at a discreet distance and then along the abandoned railway into Thornton-in-Craven joining the Pennine Way for a short stretch. The village has interesting old houses but no shop or pub and the heavy traffic deterred us from lingering.

Tree planted for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

?Millenium Clock.

On the edge of the village are Almshouses built for poor women, there is not much of that charity evident today.

By the church a sign guided us to a Holy Well in the grounds, dating from Saxon times it is covered by an octagonal structure erected in 1764 by the rector.

On a short stretch of golf course we joined The Pendle Way. It weaved around a church and graveyard where every grave was decorated with flowers, presumably from Christmas.

Rolls Royce have a large presence in Barnoldswick and we passed one of their factories before joining the Leeds – Liverpool Canal for the final stretch into town. My overall impression today was of green fields and a rich historical background.

*****

TWISTLETON SCARS. Climbing on the SW Face.

The main crag at Twistleton hosts many low grade classic limestone climbs and was once a regular venue but slowly the polish increased meaning it fell out of favour with my group of climbers. Thats a shame as the rock was of such good quality and the situation in Chapel-le-Dale spectacular with Ingleborough brooding above on the opposite side of the valley. I wonder if due to less people climbing, not just because of the polish but with the rise in popularity of bolted routes and bouldering, left to nature the rock may roughen once more.  A few outlying crags were developed but we found these a bit short and scrappy, nowhere near the quality of the main crag. The exception to these was a separate area the South West Face, a small compact crag which in fact hosted some of the earlier climbs on the scar back in the 60’s Allan Austin era. This area had avoided the excesses of the main crag particularly no groups and remained a bit of a connoisseur’s area with climbs only on the lower grades.

My gardening induced shoulder pain had stopped me climbing for a few weeks so for today’s outing with Dave I wanted something gentle and he volunteered to do all the leading to tempt me along. He had taken a bit of a beating on gritstone the week before so when I suggested the SW Face limestone he was happy. My day didn’t start well as the cheap Aldi trousers which I had climbed in for over a decade finally disintegrated, a sad loss.  It is so long since either of us had been in Ingleton we were not even sure of the lane to take leading to the crag and once on it were surprised by how narrow it was. Anyhow eventually it straightened out [thought to be of Roman origin here] and we were in the correct valley, the northern side of Chapel-le-Dale. Ingleborough was indeed brooding over us and the show caves on its flanks seemed busy with cars and coaches, it was a lovely Summer’s day.

As is usual the approach to the crag seemed longer and steeper than in our younger days. On previous visits we had probably ticked most of the climbs but had to get out the guide book to reacquaint ourselves.