Tag Archives: Caves

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 short cut 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 od 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 me 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 hale 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.  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!

*****

 

MELLOR KNOLL AND THE HODDER.

Totridge Fell and Mellor Knoll from Burholme Bridge at the start of the walk.

Mellor Knoll is a 344m lump in Bowland, I didn’t actually climb it but I came close.

I was in my dormouse mode this morning and stayed in bed with my second coffee looking at maps whilst the day warmed up. Eventually, I stirred and drove out to park at Burholme Bridge on the River Hodder. Early morning cyclists were already returning from their Trough of Bowland circuit, a popular ride with Lancashire cyclists: one of the most prominent I met later in the day. I last cycled it 5 years ago.

A quiet lane leads up into the limestone area of Bowland with its Reef Knolls and caves.  A footpath brought me onto the farm track to Whitmore, a lonely farm at the base of Totridge Fell. In the past there were free-range hens wandering about although today the scattered wooden hen-houses looked deserted.

 

Welcoming committee.

A bridleway takes off towards the woods on a track that was always muddy but tree felling has opened up the landscape and things are improved. This bridleway cuts through between the cone of Mellor Knoll and the parent fell of Totridge. Contouring the hillside was a joy with bluebells and fresh green beech leaves; views down to the snaking Hodder and the little known Birkett Fell, Waddington Fell and distant Pendle; towering above me was Totridge Fell with stone walls going straight up the steep slopes.

With all this excitement I wandered off course at the col and was heading the wrong way into Hareden Valley, it wouldn’t have mattered on this open ground but I traversed back to the correct track. Up here the hardy sheep only seem to have one lamb as opposed to their lowland softies with twins and triplets. Oh and this is how to mend a wall…

I was now looking down on the farms of Hareden with the Trough of Bowland in the background. The hounds at the farm always give you a greeting long before you arrive.

Crossing Hareden Brook [dippers were seen] and then Langden Brook brought me onto a short stretch of The Trough of Bowland road.

Looking up the ‘Trough’ road.

I followed this for a short way before I could continue across fields to the water board road following the River Dunsop past cottages to the hamlet.

I’m sure these weren’t designed for outdoor seating.

Mellor Knoll above the new houses in Dunsop Bridge.

This is a popular walking area and lots of families were out enjoying the sunny weather and the delights of Dunsop Bridge hamlet – often cited as the geographic centre of Great Britain, although different measurements give different results. I passed the BT phone box which celebrates this fact.

A line of tall pines leads to Thornyholme Hall and farm over a bridge on the Hodder. The last time I passed here in 2013 a chain saw artist was just beginning rendering a stump into a statue of the thinking man and the results were seen today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lovely stretch along the River Hodder, ducks and their ducklings were swimming by the bridge and further on I watched sand martins going back and forth to their holes in a sandbank. If you click and enlarge the photo I actually caught some of them in flight and at the nest entrances. It was on this stretch I met an elderly couple walking towards me on a short river ramble, somehow the conversation turned to cycling and it transpired that the 80yr old gent was Dave Brown. He had been a prominent racing cyclist with impressive time trial results over all distances, only retiring after he had passed 70yrs. https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/sport/3829912.east-lancashire-cyclist-retires-after-53-years/  He told me he had written a weekly cycling column in the Lancashire Telegraph for 40 years until they recently decided to scrap it!  We swapped tales of cycling in the past, what a lovely chance encounter.

Soon I was back at Burholme Bridge having completed an interesting, if modest, 7 mile circuit feeling privileged to be living within this beautiful Bowland area.

 

*****

 

BOWLAND AT ITS BEST.

Looking up past Dunsop Bridge into the heart of Bowland.

14th June 2018. UK weather: Storm Hector batters Britain with winds of up to 100mph.

The above headlines in today’s papers were not encouraging but delving a little deeper and being three brave fellows we arranged a walk. We being ‘the rock man’, JD and myself. The idea was to stay low and leave late morning to avoid the worst of the storm. Leaving late was easily accomplished as the rock man was late anyhow. We parked up near Leagram Estate above Chipping avoiding any overhanging suspect trees. There was no sign of the wind abating.

Entering a windy Leagram Park.

Country lanes were used to weave through the fields bordering the fells. More and more barns have been converted into desirable residences and expensive 4×4’s kept pushing us into the hedgerows. The public road to the remote Burnslack was reached and followed before cutting off on the rougher track across the base of the fells. This is open country and felt wild today with the wind. Lickhurst was the next farm complex with new developments. The tenant, who was one of the last remaining true farmers, apparently has recently died. I had a long conversation with him when I last passed when he was telling me of his plans for retirement, sad news.

Lickhurst Farm.

Moving on we crossed the footbridge and headed up onto limestone pastures. These looked very dry as we’ve had virtually no rain for six weeks. The track down to Dinkling Green was found. JD and I had recollections of vicious dogs chained up here which would suddenly jump out as you passed through the farmyard. None today as the farmsteads have been gentrified. A nice stretch alongside a brook and we arrived at Higher Fence Wood, the farm with all those wooden hen houses.The rooster cockerel was proudly parading in front of his hareem. Free range eggs were advertised for £1.50 a dozen but unfortunately the cupboard was bare.

We were now in limestone country and relying on the rockman’s expert knowledge. There were limestone outcrops and signs of quarrying everywhere. We lunched under a limestone rockface of a long abandoned quarry. There were signs of chalk on the rock from modern-day boulderers.

Our lunch spot.

By now the sun was getting a little stronger but the wind was still bitterly cold. Tracks took us to New Laund Farm above the Inn at Whitewell which can be reached across the Hodder on stepping stones. Today however we stayed high and went into secretive mode for a little trespassing into the woods to locate Fairy Holes Caves. Once found we explored using our phone torches which proved far better than the old flashlight. I saw crinoid fossils which I had missed on previous occasions. The location is recognised as a Bronze Age burial site, probably dating to around 1800 BC.

The Inn at Whitewell.

Forbidden land.

 

We scrambled out onto the public right of way to Fair Oak , this gives some of the best views down into the Hodder Valley in both directions as it crosses a small col. See title picture for view NE. and below for River Hodder and SE to Longridge Fell.

‘Scrambling out’

From here on we wandered past old farmsteads all in a state of modern repair, Delightful residences but all so remote from anywhere. The old bridleway down from Greystoneley was followed over the ford.

Towards the end of the walk I wanted to explore a footpath I’d never used and it turned out perfect. From an old limekiln and quarry we went cross-country, unfortunately missing a crucial footbridge, back into the Leagram Estate. Delightful walking under the Fairsnape Fells with views across to Longridge Fell. The wind was still blowing strong when we reached the car but had detracted little from a grand day out.

My ‘new path’

Fairsnape Fells.

Longridge Fell.

*****

LECK – a day out with Tilley.

Things don’t always work out as planned, today’s walk was one of those.

In the past I have often explored Leck Beck from the village up to Ease Gill and remember the dramatic scenery particularly in Ease Gill Kirk. We would often finish the day with some simple cave exploration on the fell, Short Drop and Lost Johns Caves stand out in my memory. So when the Pieman and his little brother Will [all is relative] suggested a revisit I was keen to join them. Out came Wainwright’s Limestone book with the relative chapter, maybe we could also throw in an ascent of Gragareth.

The day started well as I parked up next to the church and donated them a pound , cheaper than those car parks in the Lakes. We met up promptly but there was an unexpected addition to the team – Tilley the spaniel, Will’s beloved dog. This didn’t seem a problem as she was on a lead and appeared docile enough. Off we went catching up on events in our separate lives and reveling in the lovely weather. Tilley trotted alongside. Only when we into more open country did I realise that Tilley could run Will a merry dance, despite being on one of those retractable leads when she decided to explore off route Will seemed to have to run after her.  Hilarious.

The valley was longer and more beautiful than we remembered. Certainly longer for Will dragged aside by Tilley. By the time we reached the interesting Ease Gill Kirk my plan to drop into it to explore further didn’t resonate with the brothers plus dog and they left me to it. Feeling rather abandoned my visit was only cursory and I didn’t see what I wanted. The whole place seemed overgrown and unreconisable, I’ll have to return without any pressure.

Reunited for lunch we discussed the way on, the dog team won and we climbed up the hillside, now resplendent in purple heather, towards the road near Leck Fell House. This must be one of the loneliest places in Lancashire, yes we are still in an outpost of Lancashire despite the ‘dales’ feel to the area. I didn’t have the heart to inform the other two they were not in their beloved Yorkshire, they might have panicked. Potholes were all now fenced off and I didn’t have the time to find my favourite, Short Drop Cave. I used to enjoy dropping into it, it was only a short drop once you knew it, and going down the water worn passage was easy for some distance.  Apparently the dog was tired so our ascent of Gragareth was dismissed. At least we made a cursory exploration of the area of Lost Johns Cave, a stream entrance was obvious but today there was too much water  and too little enthusiasm for further probing.

Back on the road it was a delightful walk back down to Leck with Tilley showing no further signs of fatigue lead the way. The scenery hereabouts triumphed over my frustrations as we arrived back early at the car.

I would like to make it clear I have no malice towards the lovely Tilley, as they say it’s not the dog’s fault  it’s the owner’s.

A map of where we did and didn’t go…

FAIRY HOLES CAVE – WHITEWELL.

My stereotypical image of prehistoric life is of a family sat eating round a fire, animal bones scattered about, in the mouth of a cave. Hence this morning I found myself sat in a cave entrance high above the River Hodder near Whitewell living the dream. Fairy Holes Cave was excavated in 1946 and more recently in 2013 and has revealed cremated human bones, animal bones and pieces of pottery dated to the early Bronze Age. I had not been here for maybe 35 years when I had come to show my children the virtually unknown site. I remember it took some finding and was on private land – it remains so to this day. Once located there are three caves in a limestone outcrop, the middle one being by far the most extensive. A high entrance leads to a 25m long cave which you need to stoop along until at the furthest point a phreatic tube allows you to stand again. My head torch only allowed a poor view of the features but I was hoping some photos would show more. Having satisfied my speleological desires I clambered up the hillside and continued on my walk through this limestone area of Bowland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The early morning start north of Chipping saw me parked up at the end of a bridleway, now a surfaced lane, leading to a prominent Lime-kiln on Knott Hill, this was used to provide lime for the fields and mortar. Throughout this walk little outcrops and quarries of limestone are discovered.

The tracks onwards to Lickhurst Farm were waterlogged reflecting the amount of rain we’ve experienced this summer. Got chatting to the weathered farmer, whom I knew from a previous life, about these isolated Bowland Hill farms. He is due for retirement soon and is one of the last generation born and bread in the area. So many buildings, farms and barns have been upgraded for a new breed of incomers. The property next to him which seemed derelict a couple of years ago when I passed through now offers luxury accommodation. We speculated, with a smile,  on how they will manage cut off in the next harsh winter – no doubt helicopters will be involved and the TV will report on a survival rescue.

Lickhurst Farm.

The next stretch through more  wet fields passed farmsteads, Dinkling Green and Higher Fence Wood, amidst curious Limestone Knolls surrounded by the Bowland Fells:  a juxtaposition  of grit and lime. Hereabouts I had heard of caves but never found them, I wandered about in vain for awhile and was on the verge of giving up when I spotted a fenced enclosure, a give away really. There it was – an obvious cave opening in an outcrop. It turned out to be a few cave entrances to a system which looked as though it extended down into deeper passages – not for me alone today. Has this cave a name I wonder?

Down the lane and across fields towards a small quarried outcrop which I remember bouldering on years ago and which is now in the definitive Lancashire Bouldering Guide named appropriately Reef Knoll Crag. Anyhow passing quickly onwards I arrive in the farm yard of New Laund where workers are busy sorting sheep. Nobody notices my diversion to Fairy Holes…

 

… my continuation over New Laund Hill gives views back to ‘The Jaws of Bowland’ with Mellor Knoll, Burholme Bridge and the Whitendale Fells prominent. Ahead is the deep wooded valley enclosing The Hodder with the slopes of Longridge Fell behind. Some creative navigation through Fair Oak put me on the right track to Greystonely, another farmstead with converted buildings, the one whose residents I knew were out so no cups of tea! The bridleway over a ford quickly took me back to my car and I was home for lunch.

 

*****