Tag Archives: Yorkshire Dales.

SIMON’S SEAT.

Bolton Abbey Estate riverside car park Tuesday 10am.

£8 please.

Eight?!

Yes it’s half term. But if you had come last week it would have been £4.

It has been in the news this week about airport carparks doubling their charges for school holidays so this is just another example of greedy businesses taking advantage of families. Rip off Briton.

The ‘pieman’ and I set off on today’s walk in a grumpy mood. We had chosen today to climb Simon’s Seat as there was sunshine forecast. Way back this was a regular winter walk for us, then we would extend the route to include the moors above Appletreewick [an interesting name] and Trollers Gill. A straightforward 9mile circuit was planned for today. The paths seemed to have changed now that the land is open access, I seem to remember sneaking in to some of these areas. At one time we also had a major offensive on the climbing routes on the summit rocks of Simon’s Seat – an atmospheric place to be on a summer’s evening. Stand out routes were Arete Direct VS and Turret Crack HVS. See later photos of crag.

The path into the estate passed by some ancient oak trees which must have been several centuries old. The Valley of Desolation was entered and the stream and woods followed upwards – the name derives from a storm in 1826 when most of the vegetation was destroyed but not the oaks obviously. A hidden waterfall was glimpsed through the trees. Once onto the open moor a cold wind kept us on the move. All the surrounding fells had rocky outcrops but we were heading for the highest group of gritstone, 485m, Simon’s Seat itself. The land rover track passed the shooters lunch stone. Scrambling up the summit boulders was tricky with slippy snow scattered on the rocks, it was still winter up here. Goback called the grouse. dsc05552

Below the crag we found a convenient lunch stone of our own, out of the wind, with views over to Perceval Hall and beyond. Classic Dales scenery. Reminisces of shared past trips kept us humoured, the Pyrenees, Greece, Turkey, Dolomites, France, La Gomera, Spain. Above we could trace routes on the rocks. We have been lucky.

Our lunchstone.

Our lunchstone.

The classic arete on the left of the crag.

A paved track cum water course took us steeply down into the valley where we joined the Dales Way, another old favourite. We now met people strolling the river bank commenting on the lovely weather – no idea what it was like up on the tops. We kept to the left bank path on the Wharfe which proved ‘undulating’. Good views down to the deadly Strid though.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCSUmwP02T8

The car park was full of £8 vehicles when we arrived back at the busy Pavilion. Coffee at the pieman’s was the most economical option before driving home.

ANCIENT WAYS.

Beamsley Beacon and Round Hill.

Two ancients going their own way.

There will be lots of posts with Autumn colours at this time of year, I went abroad a week ago whilst the leaves were green and have returned to spectacular trees. But today I hardly saw a single tree on these bleak moors. The general visibility was poor also but a combination of The Pieman and The Rockman as companions was sure to provide an entertaining day.

I have driven below on the A59 hundreds of time and looked up at the craggy top but I had never ventured up there. By our roundabout stroll we found were reminders of ancient routes long before the present roads. There were numerous old mile/directional stones and many boundary stones suggesting lots of foot and mule traffic at one time. Tracks tend to connect and the places mentioned on the stones give some idea of destinations. What was the nature of peoples travel – monastic or trade routes?  – people certainly wouldn’t have come up here for pleasure. On the map there is also a Roman road shown but no trace of this was passed today. The whole area was rather boggy, an understatement, and progress was slow and must have been troublesome for those who passed before. There is no trace of paved mule routes here, whereas in many Pennine areas these are an outstanding feature. On the map there are mentions of ‘cup and ring’ stone markings but we didn’t notice any, didn’t look hard enough.

Enough of way stones – there didn’t seem to be many obvious paths…Up on the drier heather slope there had been some harvesting of the heather which was bailed up – to be used for what? There was yet another mystery, two detached boot soles.

Having traversed Round Hill [409m] we arrived at Beamsley Beacon itself [393m], a more popular destination being a short walk from the car park. The prominent Beacon was part of the chain of fires that could be lit as warnings during the Napoleonic wars, recent uses of these beacons have been more celebratory. The large stone cairn is thought to be a Bronze Age burial site but has never been excavated. The trig. point bares a memorial to a crashed Lancaster Bomber crew from the Royal Canadian Air Force killed 5th November 1945.Will have to come back for the views.

 

 

MORE YORKSHIRE GRIT – EASTBY CRAG.

I must have climbed here as much as anywhere over the years as one of my original climbing partners lived in Skipton. Looking back at my red 1974 guide it is well ‘dirty’ thumbed.  The front cover features Allan Austin climbing at Ilkley with the rope tied round his waist and it was he who pioneered many of the outstanding lines at Eastby. The routes here tend to be slabby and when a subsequent guide book appeared YMC brought in P grades:

P1 Well protected with falls only damaging egos,

P2 Bolder, sparse protection with plenty of air time, could be painful,

and P3 You will be lucky to walk away from a lob, get life insurance.

It was then we realised how challenging had been some of the slabs, particularly pre-Friends. Nonetheless the classics were slowly ticked Knuckle Slab, Mist Slab, Nose Climb, Whaup Edge and even The Padder although I never could muster up the courage to lead Pillar Front. This crag is relatively low lying, dries quickly and gets any sun going so I think we often visited early in the year before venturing onto the ‘mountain crags’. So today, almost August, we were surprised by the vegetation, fortunately a track wove up through the head high bracken, it was like being in a maze.  You no longer have to have written permission from the Cavendish Estate to climb here, sorry I’ve misplaced my permit.We were beaten by a few minutes to the base of the crag and left the only other team to start on the well trodden Eastby Buttress. We went right to below Knuckle Slab but chose easier climbs to start. Birch Tree Crack was a mistake, despite being a good line many holds were obscured by vegetation. Scoop and Crack was much cleaner and I, with prior knowledge, avoided the finishing boot wide crack [unprotected ankle scraping and thrutching]  for a delicate step left onto a slab. That’s more like it. The descent was as hairy as the climbs ?P2.

Now we were able to get onto Eastby Buttress …… and enjoy some classic wall and crack climbing. Once your wrist is locked into a crack just pull up and find somewhere for your feet – repeat and repeat and you are at the top. Great views of Pendle and Longridge Fell in the distance and down below little steam trains chugging along on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey line.

We finished on Nose Climb Original, a steep wall pops you onto a holdless slab to run up and reach a  final secure jamming crack.

Not a P3 in sight.

CREAKING GATES ON ROLLING GATE.

Climbing at Rolling Gate.

It’s the hottest day of the year with temperatures in the 30s. This high Yorkshire crag faces NW and seemed an ideal choice for the conditions and so it was. A sweaty walk deposited us in the shade of the scattered rocks which form a rather broken edge.                                                      The obvious start was Veterans Flake which wandered about to eventually surmount the large flake, all a bit of an anticlimax. It was however pleasant to belay on the top in a breeze with views over Grassington into upper Wharfdale.                                                                                  Next up was Long Crack a proper gritstone thrutch around several noses in a corner, sweaty work today. The descent  brought us to the foot of The Main Buttress and the start of Rolling Gate Buttress the starred route of the crag. The first steep and bold 10ft seemed hard, my left hand reluctant to leave a decent slot for small slopers above with only slanting footholds – surely not severe. Eventually a hand on the arete enabled my feet to move higher and the ‘better’ hand holds above reached, heart in the mouth stuff. Then large ledges were shuffled onto and left insecurely round bulges with no protection, I’d not brought the big friends. Don’t seem to remember it being this hard 40 years ago!

Rolling Gate Buttress.

Rolling Gate Buttress.

We retreated to a shady corner for lunch and composure, our gates were certainly creaking and our resolve weakening in the heat. However to the left was a rib leading to a cracked wall which looked inviting, The Pillar, and we couldn’t resist. Easy climbing up the right side of the lower rib was almost alpine in nature. A stance was taken below the top wall which close up looked steeper and longer.  Once committed a lovely sequence of slots, ledges and cracks led to the top on perfect gritstone – the best of the day. We only wished it could have gone on for another 50ft but life is not like that.

I finished with a quick solo of Six Metre Wall, there are lots of other good looking boulder problems hereabouts.

Fortunately we arrived back at the lane just as the farmer was wanting access for contractors with oversized trailers. [they were in a rush before tomorrow’s potential heavy rain] We thought we had parked responsibly but could now appreciate his problem and were soon on our way. What a change however to meet a pleasant and chatty farmer, in the circumstances, to round off our great day out.

SHARP HAW – Skipton.

Sharp Haw.

Sharp Haw.

Sharp Haw is not quite the Matterhorn of Skipton but it is an eye catching shapely fell standing like an island in the Aire Valley. Driving across from the west this morning its numerous peaks promised a day of exploration. Dragging The Pieman away from his garden we parked at the start of the track saving a couple of miles walking in the day. On our last visit we had just walked out of his house in Skipton but I think we were both feeling lazy today. Instead of following the bridleway over Flasby Fell we headed over rough ground to the rocky ridge overlooking Gargrave to make the most of the views. All around are familiar hills, nearby is the Embsay/Crookrise/Rylstone ridge whilst Waddington Fell, Longridge Fell and Pendle are prominent to the west. There is a birds eye view down the Aire Valley with its enclosing hills. As we made our way along the crest gritstone boulders littered the ground and there was evidence of chalky visits, UKC now lists over 200 boulder problems for this fell. The Pieman showed me a particularly nice slab which he used to solo as he passed on his regular fell run. A quick ascent had me pleased. Next stop was across some boggy ground to the shapely summit and trig point, this was already occupied by two girls so we dropped down through the woods and found a classy metal bench for lunch and putting the world to right. [Memorial to a Helen Handley a local artist and politician].

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Waddington Fell with Gargrave below.

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Waddington Fell with Gargrave below.

Coming out of the woods we went through Flasby hamlet, all of six houses, and into the parkland of the Hall. All well manicured English scenery.  A short stretch on the road took us past the stately Eshton Hall  where my guide for today had attended when it was a school, he thinks it is apartments now. After a few fields we were on the towpath of the Leeds – Liverpool canal for a couple of miles back towards Skipton. A friend lives on a barge here but I think the other side of Gargrave. Uphill lanes were followed through the scattered houses of Thorlby and Stirton where most of the farms have been upgraded to exclusive living. More interestingly by the road side is a ‘Tin Tabernacle’, a disused Methodist chapel built with corrugated iron probably at the beginning of the 20th century. The Pieman can remember his father auctioning off the harvest festival products for chapel funds many years ago. I wonder how long this building will last and if it is listed, you don’t see many now.

Eshton Hall.

Eshton Hall.

So if you are in this area maybe eschew the higher hills and explore this rocky island.

 

SKIPTON MOOR.

My friend the ‘pieman’ has lived in Skipton most of his life and  surprisingly never knowingly  been up to the top of this moor directly above the town. Judging from the paths plenty of Skipton’s citizens do make the effort. We were able to walk from his front doorstep, after he and his wife had replenished my caffeine levels. This is always a busy town and today was market day. We found our way to the unpretentious  street leading up onto the moor and nearing its end were surprised  to see an old toll house, looking at the map we realised the lane had been the original way over to Addingham.  Where the houses end the tarmac reverted to cobbles and the track signed as A Dales High Way,  a 90 miles walk from Saltaire to Appleby  I’ve just read. This long distance path may be worth looking into.  A passerby told us to look out for Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the woods above. The bridleway soon gained height and worked its way across the western slopes of the moor, after about a mile we struck uphill to the summit. A trig point 373m, substantial cairns at the Eastern End and a recent narrow unstable looking one at the Western end. The views were surprisingly good with Skipton laid out below, Sharp Haw and Flasby Fell are prominent and there are distant views of Ribblesdale and Cravendale. Of interest to us was the view across to Embsay Moor which boasts several climbing venues  – Eastby, Deer Gallows and Crookrise all old haunts of ours.

A hazy Skipton below.

A hazy Skipton below.

Despite the weather being sunny and warm in the west it was dull and cold up here, hence the hazy photos, so we didn’t linger. Having to climb some walls we were back on the bridleway, Dales High Way, for easy going. Just about lunch time an inscribed seat appeared, we postulated its origins over sandwiches. At a lane there was an old finger post giving miles to 1mile to Draughton and 3miles to Silsden.     To complete the circuit we followed field paths between farms, mainly  converted into  modern dwellings, one with aggressive guard geese. A rocky subsidiary ridge was reached and this gave us easy walking back towards Skipton with views all the way. Before we knew it we had joined the bustle on the High Street. What a great little circuit which would be perfect for a summer’s evening stroll.

zCapture.JPGskipton

Spotted on the way back to Skipton, a Triumph Herald similar to one of my first cars.

 

Gone with the wind.

Giggleswick Scar, Dead Man’s Cave, the Celtic Wall and more.

The ‘pieman’ and I have postponed several recent meetings because of bad forecasts, it was no different for today but we said “what the hell”. And so we found ourselves being battered by 50 mph winds on the limestone pavements above Giggleswick. Wainwright’s Walks In Limestone Country gave me some ideas, always dangerous, and I wanted to visit some of the out of the way features. I cannibalised three of his walks into one rough itinerary. Living in Skipton I presumed the ‘pieman’ would have up to date maps of the area around Settle, but no – so we had to make do with Alfred’s drawings, as good as any map I would say. The only problem being my copy was from 1970 and not all the wall gaps still exist so we had some fairly hairy up and overs, no walls were damaged on this walk!

First off was Schoolboy Cairn, above that big quarry, maybe had something to do with Giggleswick School down below. A  high level promenade above the bypass road gave us a gale battered but splendid bird’s eye section above the South Craven Fault.  The floods in the Ribble Valley below were all to obvious. We clambered up to the conspicuous Wall Cave, the wall seems to have gone, from where we had a view across the golf course. apparently there was previously a tarn here. There are lots of strange features in this limestone area. Below us somewhere are the popular bolted climbs on the steep scar.

Spurning other caves we marched along to Buckhaw Brow, the garage and cafe of Wainwright’s era have long since gone. Without giving any secrets away we arrived at Dead Man’s Cave and were glad of its shelter for lunch as the gale blew past. The bodiless sanctuary gave us chance to think and talk, previously these had been impossible. Guess what the ‘pieman’ dined on. The odd drip on our heads was of no consequence. My next new rendezvous was the so called Celtic Wall on the hillside above, we could not really miss it. 20m long and 2m wide and constructed of massive blocks it stood in splendid isolation. 2000 years old and possibly a burial site – who knows?

In front of us across a valley was the escarpment of Pot Scar [previously a regular climbing venue of mine until it became too polished for comfort. Climbers have a skewed take on places – Cannabis, Nirvana, LSD, Addiction, The Pusher and A Touch Of Grass were all popular lines.] and next to it Smearsett Scar. We had not knowingly been to the latter’s summit so a direct assault was commenced. We had to cling to its trig point to avoid being blown away. Views to Ingleborough, Penyghent, Fountains Fell and Pendle were glimpsed but photography was almost impossible. We spied a way off which we followed  to Little Stainforth, the famous packhorse bridge above the falls and then along the Ribble to finish.

Schoolboys' Cairn with Pendle in the background.

Schoolboys’ Cairn with Pendle in the background.

Looking out from Wall Cave.

Looking out from Wall Cave.

Giggleswick Scar.

Giggleswick Scar.

Dead Man's Cave.

Dead Man’s Cave.

The Celtic Wall.

The Celtic Wall.

Pot and Smearsett Scars above.

Pot and Smearsett Scars above.

The isolated Celtic wall.

The isolated Celtic wall.

Distant Penyghent.

Distant Penyghent.

Stainforth bridge and falls.

Stainforth bridge and falls.

By the way despite the forecast we didn’t have a drop of rain, the sun shone briefly, it was great to meet up with the ‘pieman’ and a first class day’s walk was  grasped from nothing.

Memo as usual  – buy some up to date maps.

zCapture.JPG giggleswick