Last weekend I was up in the Yorkshire Dales with Crosby Rambling club when we visited Kettlewell.
I decided to do the ‘A’ party walk led by Roger Tolley. It was listed as 10 miles. I could manage that even though we were going to climb Great Whernside, which at 704 metres is the 6th highest hill in he Dales.
The route started from the village and climbed up moorland to the isolated scout centre at Hags Dyke.
Once past Hags Dyke the going became harder as the gradient increased. Our path zigzagged up between boulders to approach the plateau close to the summit cairn.
It was very windy and cold on the top, not what it had said on the weather forecast. We stopped to pose for a couple of photos and then quickly moved on.
It was hard going being buffeted by the wind and I was wishing I had brought my woolly hat and gloves with me. We were fortunate to find some respite in a shelter where we could eat our lunch.
The plateau is made up of gritstone rocks and boulders with one or two boggy sections but underfoot it was not as bad as we had expected. Roger decided to extend the walk slightly as we were making good time. We left the ridge to descend steeply towards Tor Dike. Crossing a minor road we maintained direction to climb up to Tor Mere Top.
Conditions got a bit more squelchy underfoot but the sky had cleared and there were good views looking back to Great Whernside and Little Whernside.
We continued to head north towards Buckden Pike.
Upon reaching a wall and an old boundary stone we stopped to reassess the situation. The next kilometre to the top of Buckden Pike at 702 metres is all bog and in any case we did not have enough time. We passed through a gate and headed south following the wall.
The boundary stone was inscribed B + O, which confused me. However the O is probably a mistake for C, as the stone marks the boundary between Buckden and Carlton Highdale.
We were only a few hundred metres from the Memorial Cross. This commemorates five Polish airmen who were killed here during WW2 when there plane crashed. At the base of the cross there is an effigy of a fox’s head. This was placed there by the sole survivor of the crash. Injured with a broken leg he had crawled from the plane and spotting footprints made by the fox in the snow he followed them down the mountain to a farm. He had guessed that the fox knew the way to some food.
We were now following Walden Road, one of the old packhorse routes which crosses the moor from Starbotton to Walden Head.
The going became rough and stony but the views were superb with the side valley of Cam Gill beck to our left.
We reached Starbotton and then had just a couple of Kilometres to go along a delightful path through some flower meadows. I soon had my camera out capturing some wild pansy and Germander Speedwell.
We had covered 17.5 km, 11 miles and done 1040 metres of ascent. I reckon at least 40 metres of those were climbing the numerous gated squeeze stiles on the path back to Kettlewell.
Our reward was a pint of Timothy Taylors Landlord. A strong Pale Ale, 4.3% ABV. It has a citrus,hoppy, fruity aroma and a sweet hop taste. Just what I needed to revive my aching legs.
Another super days walking.