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June 2000

1 June

The walking gang from work went away for 3 days in Wasdale two tears ago. It was such a success that we did it again last year going to Brecon. This was year three but the whole thing is creaking a bit because of different walking agendas. This used to be seen as the Chaps' Weekend Away but this has been shot through with the growth of the group to include women (shock; horror). So I got Beryl invited along but she had two pleas before saying yes. One was that she wouldn't stay in a youth hostel. The second was that we stayed an extra day because she wanted to visit York.

Well I didn't have any difficulty with either of these. I'm a YHA member and think it does a wonderful job in making the countryside more accessible, especially to the next generation of walkers, who are not too well-off (but please, kids, don't walk the same paths as me; I like my solitude) However I do like a bit more luxury and I don't feel in the least bit guilty about this. As for the second request, I would very happily live in York which is one of the great places of the universe.

However this didn't make life any easier for Charles who was doing the organising. He booked the group into Stainforth Youth Hostel whereas we stayed at Clapham. Then I said that I didn't want to do his first walk. Again don't get me wrong; the circuit from Malham via Janet's Foss, Gordale Scar and the dry valley to Malham Cove is not only a classic but it was the first proper walk I ever did. However I didn't want to do it again particularly as it will be on the agenda when we go to Malham with Reg in October. Then there was a big difference about the main walk on Friday; most wanted to do the Three Peaks but neither Charles nor I were keen. So a split again there.

Anyway Beryl and I did two walks on our own today. We parked at Dent Station and walked up Great Knoutberry Hill. Having separated from the others I wanted to go somewhere obscure and this really met the bill even though it is both a Hewitt and a Marilyn (so there was some unashamed peak bagging here). The descriptions I read said that this is an undistinguished peak but has superb views. I'll agree with the first but can't comment on the second because the cloud was down. However when we descended out of it, I warmed to the area. We did get decent views and we went through the wonderful Artengill Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle line. This was actually a navigational miscalculation on my part as I had intended to return by the track which contours around the hill. Still I regarded this as serendipitous especially when two trains passed over the viaduct whilst we had a coffee stop.

The downside of the error was that we had to return via the valley bottom road but this is part of one walked described in "Wainwright in the Limestone Dales" (which I had thoughtfully left at home) This was the first time I had been to Dentdale and it is truly lovely, particularly the cobbled main street of Dent Town. This is nearly 5 miles away from Dent Station. This features in a book I bought in the late-60s entitled "Yorkshire Wit and Wisdom" (a slim volume)

        Question: why did they build Dent Station so far from Dent??

        Answer: because they wanted it to be near the lines.

We then drove down to Ingleton and did the Waterfalls Walk. We'd just started when the heavens opened and we were rushing round as a result. I love waterfalls and it was still worth it. Thornton Force is very impressive because of the sheer volume of water coming over a single large drop. The Pecca Falls are very pretty. But my favourite was Baxenghyll Gorge.

2 June

Off to Kettlewell collecting Charles en route. We took the direct route across the Fells into Littondale which was a lovely run even with the cloud down on Pen y Ghent.

We set off up Great Whernside. The main soil is limestone and it is covered in very short, bouncy grass which makes walking a treat, particular as the path climbs at an hospitable gradient. The going changes at Hagg Dyke scout base. The limestone gives way to gritstone, the ground gets boggier and the grass longer. Still we made good time to the summit and the cloud had lifted off the top whilst we were doing it. It's a wild landscape hereabouts but an uplifting one.

There's a sharp descent to the public road before taking Starbotton Road (an old footpath) which contours high above Wharfedale. We stopped for lunch at Fear Gill and the view was impressive. A good job too because we then had 2 hours of boggy slog up Buckden Pike. We deserted the Nuttalls' route because Charles' road atlas marks Tor Mere Top (goodness knows why) and he thought it must be significant and we had to visit. Well that's another fine mess you got me into, Stanley. There was a path but much of it was obliterated by the bog and it was really slow going. The high spot of the ascent (well, not literally!!) is the Memorial Cross. It's very impressive. It was commissioned by the only survivor of a wartime plane crash (the crew were Polish). He only got off the hill by following a fox's tracks in the snow. This is why there is a fox's head carved into the base of the memorial. There is also an extra stone in it added in 1999 as a memorial to a walker; I have to say that I can think of many lovelier spots if I get a choice over my memorial.

The Memorial Cross

The top of Buckden Pike is unexciting. Charles phoned the others to let them know where we were. Whilst he was saying that the top was clear (well it was…..just) I was watching this wall of white rolling in behind him. This soon brought visibility down to a few feet and we were glad to have a distinct path to follow down to Buckden. It was pretty wet to begin with (a bit of impromptu polybagging by me, unfortunately without a polybag, leading to soggy backside for the rest of the day) but again we could tell when we passed the limestone\gritstone divide. The path became much drier and friendlier despite the fact that we were in heavy rain.

From Buckden we followed the Dales Way along the Wharfe back to Kettlewell. There were a lot of people on it, a big contrast with the earlier part of the day. I can imagine the path being very pretty in good weather (isn't it the most-walked long distance path?) but it got a bit tedious, although Beryl was dispensing wine gums to raise our spirits. We were all glad to get back to the car.

3 June

A day of what might have been.

The others were tired from the Three Peaks and not wanting to walk much. We set off up the side of Ingleborough to the show cave and Gaping Gill. I'd thought about going on to the top but, when we should have been able to see it, we couldn't because of cloud. So I did a rejig planning to leave the others part way down their return to explore the limestone fields. By that time it was threatening rain and I didn't feel like getting soaked for the third day running so we just returned to Clapham.

I was really pleased that we'd got to Gaping Gill. I'd known about it since I was at school but this was my first visit. The stream falls 350 foot down the pot and the top isn't fenced off; it's very disconcerting trying to see as much as possible without overbalancing. We had lunch there and it was very pleasant.

10 June

Another Saturday out on my own. This was prewalking my Ramblers walk on 18 June. The original plan had been to go to Montgomery but this got dropped after my excursion there last month so I went back to the Breidden Hills.

I parked at the community centre at Crew Green and had to hack back an overgrown path. I knew this beforehand and had taken secutaires but it was still hard work. It was a lovely day and I soon gained height to get the views. It was a real treat all up the spine to Middletown Hill and then climbing again to Moel y Golfa. I could pick out the Shropshire hills as well as the Berwyns and Arans.

I wanted to cut across the wooded area to get to Breidden. However there were notices about temporary footpath closures cutting this off. These were for tree felling but I noticed that they should have expired the previous week so I gave it a go. It was a bit unnerving as I passed danger signs halfway across but there was no noise so I pressed on (the hoof prints on the path were an encouragement). All went well; fingers crossed for next week.

I had intended not to climb Breidden but, on the basis that the views might not be as good next week, I did the climb. The reward was a faint sighting of Cadair Idris.

The descent was uneventful and after a bit of road walking (which I can skip next week) it was along flat paths to the banks of the Severn. The return to Crew Green was easy but with interesting views of the hilly part of the walk.

11 June

Beryl and I went on the Ramblers morning walk and very enjoyable it was.

It started at the Vernon Yonge Arms at Croxton and went out over the back to Bishopswood. A hilly return featured views of the Shropshire hills. I'd like to say more about the route but I've studied the map since and I really can't work it out. But it was really enjoyable.

18 June

It was one of those days when most things come off as you have planned them. This is a wonderful feeling.

It was my walk for the Ramblers around the Breidden Hills. As I might have said before, I originally planned to go to Montgomery but the paths weren't good enough so I switched it. This was announced at the AGM but the name of the walk, Moel y Golfa, meant nothing to anyone, no doubt helped by Norman's mispronunciation. I was disconcerted for a moment at the car park when Chris Moyle seemed to have the right map. In fact he had several in his car and was guessing.

It was a glorious day. This seemed to put a lot of people off and several regulars were away for the weekend. So we only had 9 people although this allows you to talk to everyone. When we arrived at Crew Green, it was very hazy and I thought that we were going to lose the views but it cleared gradually through the day and was pretty good by the end. We couldn't see the Wrekin at all at the start. It was just discernible by the top of Middletown Hill and fairly clear by Moel y Golfa. I got a hint of Cadair Idris from there.

By the time we got to Breidden itself there was the complete panorama. The Shropshire hills, Heath Mynd, Corndon to the south. The Cheshire Sandstone Ridge to the east (but not quite Mow Cop or Cannock Chase). Then swinging round the Clwydian Hills, the Berwyns, the Arans, Cadair Idris and even Plynlimon. The viewfinder said you could see Snowdon but clearly it needed a clearer day. I suspect you can only see it when you get sun shining on snow.

But it was formidably hot, somewhere in the 80s. Quite a bit of the walk was in trees which cooled things down and there was a bit of breeze on the tops (this is presumably what cleared the haze). Still progress was slower than normal as we took lots of stops. I did cut out the last loop along the Severn. We would have been back very late and it would have been very hot out of all the shade. The diversion also gave us the chance to stop at the Admiral Rodney for cooling drinks although no one was drinking alcohol.

One interesting feature was meeting another group. This was the Heart of England way Society. Ron really should have been there; he is the fan of the path (there are others who think that it is England's most boring long distance path).

Most people seemed to enjoy the walk and Rudolfo was quite passionate in his appreciation. This the reward for the work in sorting it out. To quote Hannibal Smith of "The A Team"; I love it when a plan comes together.

More seriously this is the sort of area which deserves to be walked more. Certainly the Ramblers have nor been there in the eight years that I've been a member. My hope is that the new series of Explorer maps will allow more scope to visit the new places.

25 June

Just the Ramblers morning walk on the Chase. But it was Roz's first attempt at leading a walk so we went to give her some encouragement.

We started high above Brocton and picked up the Heart of England Way across the Hednesford Road via Glacial Boulder. Then a long sweep back to the Katyn Memorial and back down the Sherbrook Valley to the stepping stones. The last leg was a long but gentle uphill which I don't think I'd walked before.

It is difficult to get worked up about the Chase but I did walk with Ted for long sections and he kept telling me how much he disliked walking there. I started feeling more sympathetic towards it.


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