Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Dales High Way - Day 8 - Newbiggin-on-Lune to Appleby-in-Westmorland


21km, 300 metres ascent, 5.7hrs incl stops.

Weather: rainy all morning, overcast afternoon with more rain later.

Gayle - good to hear from you. The Phreerunner effect (to the uninitiated this is my unswerving avoidance of bad weather) is not dead, it's just on holiday. Wait and see, and don't let the forecast inhibit your travails!

Phil - Hugh does indeed lead Coast to Coast walks, as on his present trip for Wilderness Travel, on which a party of North Americans is walking snippets of a C2C route on a 'day walk' basis.

Last night's meal at the Black Swan was very good - it's clearly a very successful operation down there. The 'Three Lads' turned up, with a fourth member of their party - 'slim Paul' - who has been curiously transparent until now.

The place was humming, but some mysteries remain... Who IS Fred, how does he manage to have such a woman on his arm, and why did the other two members of their party fail to show? We'll never know.

Today, to be brief, we finished the route to Appleby, mostly in the rain. It was a wet day in the Dales.

An easy start led through pleasant countryside past soggy sheep to a fine but very slippery limestone pavement on Great Kinmond. We slithered down past pretty orchids and primroses, and through a 'working farm' (very scruffy, in need of proper 'work') to Great Asby, where we paused in a bus shelter full of newspapers for the locals to collect. The 'Three Lads' (now a foursome) turned up and went to the pub. Two blokes on the Westmoreland Way joined us.

We decided to carry on to the pub at Hoff.

Andrew banged his head and had to sit on a wall (pictured) to recuperate. The path to Hoff was wet and muddy.

The pub at Hoff was closed, so we lunched on the car park. The New Inn is deceased, for the time being - there's a planning application.*

Not far now to Appleby, but the route was fraught with mud and frisky cows. We made it, and celebrated with cream teas in a friendly café - Taste of Eden.

The castle is shut - since 2004.

Now we are waiting for the train home.

I'll do an overview posting with links to proper photos in due course.

Hope you enjoyed this little journey.

Bye for now.



* October 2011 update: The pub at Hoff has re-opened according to Ethan.

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Friday, 17 June 2011

A Dales High Way - Day 7 - Sedbergh to Newbiggin-on-Lune (Brownber Hall)

19km, 850 metres ascent, 5.7hrs incl stops.
Weather: cloudy morning turning to drizzle for a couple of hours from 12 to 2, then sunny periods.

Chris, if you email me via the 'contact us' button on www.topwalks.com I'll let you know when I've put a suitable 'label' on these blog postings to facilitate a meaningful link from your website.

Good to hear from you, Heather. We had an excellent meal at the Craven Arms, despite Gary's 'Vegetarian Incident' - he's a bit prone to such Incidents, so I wouldn't be concerned, though you may be wise to supplement your tasty meal with a vegetable side dish! And we visited your wedding venue! Wow!

Thanks also for your comment, Roger and Jacky. We hope the Garden Party doesn't turn out too soggy, and we look forward to seeing you again soon. John Hillaby's route through Britain? - an ambitious project - now where's that map?

We were John and Sue's only guests at Holmecroft. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and a chat with them both, before setting off to replenish our luncheon supplies at the Spar shop in the main street. Soon a new Spar will open opposite the entrance to The School, which may change the whole feel of the place.

The lane above the high street car park yields several opportunities for false starts through suburban streets, but some clever (boring?) person has placed 'To the Fell' signs that no doubt discourage navigationally challenged visitors from heading up to dead ends.

The Swifts of Sedbergh were doing their best to dispose of the town's unwary insects as we progressed above the roof tops beside the rising waters of Settlebeck Gill.

The 'Three Lads' who are walking this same route zoomed past - Peter (the boss), Paul (springy legs) and Kev (sunburnt legs! [How?]) - all from Sheffield, on a regular sort of trip; it was the Coast to Coast last year.

A slow plod took me over Arant Haw whilst the others went around it, then on over Calders to our 676 metre high point of the day, The Calf. There was a cold wind at our backs; windproof jackets were donned, and in my case gloves - on 17 June!

It was nearly noon. The sky started to leak though the cloud remained high. We made our way through the drizzle along a pleasantly high and cloud free ridge, over Hazelgill Knott and West Fell. The cloud remained high despite the drizzle, but the lunchtime view down the Langdale valley (pictured - badly, but that's how it was) was rather muted on this dull day. However, the forecast downpour failed to materialise - we are happy about that - and as we descended into Bowderdale the mizzle evaporated and we suddenly found ourselves perspiring under a weak sun.

We passed a pair of oyster catchers nesting on a wall, with goldfinches enjoying the nearby gorse, and hedgerows lined with meadow cranesbill and lady's mantle.

A wet field then a narrow lane led to Brownber Hall, where Hilary and Andrew have been the owners of the 150 year old house for just six months. A lovely place, most appropriate for our last B&B of this trip. It's full tonight, with 18 guests, including eight Americans and their three leaders, one of whom is Hugh Westacott, whose writing in The Great Outdoors magazine I remember well. "You must be very old if you remember those" quipped Hugh.

"Hello Peter" - I surprised a man otherwise known as "Mr Grumpy". One of the Americans' leaders is none other than Pete Goddard, vetter and veteran of 22 TGO Challenge walks across Scotland. Sadly he failed to finish this year and is still trying to nurse himself back to health. We all wish him well.

There's no local eating place, and Hilary isn't cooking tonight, so we have a lift from Andrew to the Black Swan in Ravenstonedale, on which I'll report back tomorrow.

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Thursday, 16 June 2011

A Dales High Way - Day 6 - Chapel-le-Dale to Sedbergh (Holmecroft B&B)

25km, 800 metres ascent, 7.5hrs incl stops.
Weather: emerging from an early heavy shower, a pleasant, cool day with sunny periods.
No of comments from guide book authors: 1 - great to hear from you, Chris, and I'm quite happy for you to post links to these pages. We have found both the Route Guide and the Companion to be helpful and informative, as is the website; the only significant omission we've noticed is the Craven Lime Works between Langcliffe and Stainforth.

We finally parted company with Gary, who (thanks for your message) set off home, Jacky - who was called away on urgent business, and Roger - who kindly gave us a lift back to the Hill Inn.

R+J are involved in a second hand book sale in Giggleswick on Saturday. Their garage is currently home to several boxes of books. On the top was what looked like a 1939 first edition Observers Book of Birds. Worth more than the expected 50p?

The downpour had just about ended by the time we set off from the Hill Inn, but waterproofs were donned and despite his earlier intentions Andrew announced that he would be walking around and not over Whernside. So we strolled slowly down to the village, up to Eller Beck past some 'art' (the 'Boggard' of Hurtle Pot), and on to Broadrake, where I took high road and Andrew followed the other three lads who were on the Dales High Way, along the low route that skirts around Whernside's eastern flanks.

[I'm a little puzzled that the authors of this 'High Way' decided to designate the route over Whernside as an 'alternative', preferring the 'skirting around' option for their principal choice.]

By now the sky had cleared and the summit ridge of Whernside was glinting in the sunshine. I plodded slowly up the steep staircase of recently laid paving slabs, with great views down to the Ribblehead viaduct and the neighbouring hills. Approaching the summit, a team of stone-wallers was busy putting the finishing touches to a repaired wall.

I'd not expected to find the summit alive with a mass of small children searching for geocaches! They were having great fun.

Heading off to the north, past Whernside Tarns, the high pitched chatter of small children was replaced by calls from wheeling peewits and the sweet songs of skylarks.

Boot of the Wold was deserted when I reached it, so I had just a young wheatear for company for a pleasant half hour in a sheltered spot whilst I waited for Andrew. He finally came into view for about ten minutes before reaching and passing me. Sitting right next to the track, I must have been well camouflaged!

Lunch was taken in a grassy glade shortly before reaching a stretch of tarmac past a Methodist Chapel, and Dent was reached via the Dales Way path beside the River Dee in Dentdale, the banks of which were filled with generous portions of wild flowers.

It was warm down there, so a pause for café rehydration was required before embarking on our onward journey through lovely meadows (pictured) to Barth Bridge, one parapet of which was being totally reconstructed.

A steep, hot pull up to Lunds Farm was punctuated by a long chat with a farmer who thought this whole walk was beyond the capability of any normal person, and he did also stress that he thought we may be normal. Andrew wandered off, feeling exhausted, whilst I tried to point out to the farmer the defects in his reasoning, citing Andrew as proof. The farmer looked less than convinced!

By and by we reached the 'school' town of Sedbergh, and walked slowly past the town on the shortest route I could come up with, eventually emerging on the main road opposite our comfortable and quiet B&B, where John and Sue are our friendly hosts.

The Red Lion provided adequate sustenance at a good price, and we adjourned to watch 'the teachers' thrash each other at cricket on one of Sedbergh School's excellent pitches, equipped with a fine club house and all the latest gizmos including a remote controlled electronic scoreboard.

PS - Chris, we'll try not to get lost!!

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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A Dales High Way - Day 5 - Giggleswick to Chapel-le-Dale

24km, 800 metres ascent, 6.7hrs incl stops.
Weather: heavily overcast, with a light shower in the afternoon.

We decided to start from R+J's house in Giggleswick, rather than return to Stainforth by car. This enabled Roger and me to enjoy the riverside path to Stainforth Force, before heading off below Smearset Scar to reach the excellent tea shop at Feizor. Andrew, Jacky and Gary had already reached that fleshpot, as they had chosen a more direct route via Giggleswick Scar. Three other Dales High Way walkers were encountered - the first of the trip, and the reason why we couldn't get a room at the Hill Inn tonight.

A delightful route, despite the dour weather, led through Wharfe and past Wash Dub (an old sheep dip site) to Crummack, and on to join the Three Peaks route above Sulber Nick.

We lunched here and saw a runner, the first of many folk we assumed were taking in Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent in a day.

The good path then delivered us past Simon Fell to the summit of Ingleborough, just a few metres below the cloud base. It was cool, but we took time to explore both the ancient hill-fort site and the derelict remains of a Hospice tower, built and demolished in 1830.

It started to rain. In light cloud we descended the slippery steps down towards Chapel-le-Dale and the Hill Inn. Numerous '3 Peaks' walkers were met en route, as well as a minibus full of cavers returning from Great Douk Cave or one of the many other local caves and potholes.

The rain stopped and we finished our day in brighter weather before adjourning to the Hill and its display of sugary creations. Then we returned to Giggleswick. This evening we paid a meat eating visit to the nearby Craven Arms, where everyone was eventually satisfied. It's quite a posh place, but not really set up for vegetarians, as demonstated by Gary "I may be small, but this portion wouldn't satisfy a midget half my size!"

I neglected to take any photos with the phone until on the walk home tonight, when the sunset (pictured, with sheep) was rather colourful though I failed to capture the whistling swifts on camera...

Giggleswick is a lovely village dominated by its public school for 400 pupils. It has pleasant streets with old properties like those also shown above.

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A Dales High Way - Day 4 - Malham to Stainforth

17km, 600 metres ascent, 7.0hrs incl stops.
Weather: fine and sunny

Phil - thanks for your comment, if you want to wild camp this route it would be quite possible, and there are also campsites along the way. The main reason for our mode of accommodation on this trip is the fact that my good friend Andrew has never and will never backpack with a tent. That doesn't inhibit his desire for this sort of excursion, the enjoyment of which can be enhanced by meeting friends along the way.

Andrew's TV research, which is extensive, revealed an 'interesting programme' last night about the chandeliers at the Buck Inn that were made by the 'glamorous (former tax accountant) blacksmith' across the road. It all seems a bit unlikely, but we did hear hammering from the smithy. We missed the programme, as we were seated under one of said chandeliers, in the Buck's dining area that was mercifully TV free!

A long wait for breakfast didn't hinder our 9.30 rendezvous with Roger and Jacky in the car park at Malham, and we were soon on our way to the Cove (pictured), past grey and pied wagtails, goldfinches and various other feathered fledglings.

We could see the peregrine falcons from below, but having made our way across the upper lip of the Cove we found ourselves observing the three youngsters from just a few metres away. Trevor and another (resident?) photographer explained that they had fledged (left the nest) yesterday and that they wouldn't be perched on the nearby ledge for very long before they started to fly around whilst receiving up to two months of post-fledging training from their parents. Even then, they only stand a 40% chance of making it through the first winter.

We were engrossed for nearly an hour before moving on up Ing Scar, across Cove Road, and up to the summit of Kirkby Fell. On this lovely summer's day the views ranged far and wide, from Ilkley Moor to the SE to Whernside and other hills to our north, with Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent also prominent from around here.

A lone figure heralded our arrival on the next summit, our highest to date, Rye Loaf Hill (547 metres). Gary had been waiting for some time with his newspaper, watching our slow progress that had included a pause to rebuild a stone wall (Roger being an expert in this department). The redness of his visage indicated that he may have been there for a very long time, or has he taken to the bottle? He claimed his recent retirement was to blame...

We diverted from the planned route to admire Victoria Cave, the site of a prolonged excavation in the 1870s. Lots of animal remains up to 120,000 years old were found, including many species now found in Africa, together with tools that carbon dating shows are up to 11,000 years old.

Fascinating, but muddy with a dark interior, and just one of forty or so similar caves found in this area.

The walk to Stainforth via Langcliffe was equally interesting, if a little off our planned route beside the River Ribble. Instead, we explored the site of the Craven Lime Works to the east of the river and railway. It's not referred to in our guide book but is as unmissable as it is unheralded. Its dominant feature is the massive Hoffman Kiln built in 1873. This features 22 individual burning chambers around which you can now walk underground. We also scrambled up the steep sides to admire the kiln from above. Wild strawberries and ox-eye daisies are now rampant on the disused exterior. Impressive and fascinating.

Some essential car shuffling meant that we sadly missed out on a spell in the Craven Heifer's beer garden, but we were nevertheless soon installed in Roger and Jacky's rather more exclusive beer garden in Giggleswick. Thank you R+J for your great hospitality and wonderful food and for putting up our unexpected additional companion, Gary, who was expecting to camp.

A brilliant day.

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Monday, 13 June 2011

A Dales High Way - Day 3 - Skipton to Malham(Beck Hall)

22km, 700 metres ascent, 7.0hrs incl stops.
Weather: starting as heavily overcast as is possible without it actually raining, then a bit of drizzly rain that had passed over by lunch time, but our jackets stayed on to combat the cool NW breeze. By mid afternoon we got sunny periods, but it remained cool.

Thanks for your messages and comments.
Alan - I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed your trip to Settle; I think we missed most of the rain yesterday - we just got a bit of drizzle.
Phil - ('Glamping' haha?) this is a walk from Saltaire to Appleby on which we are carrying all that we need (apart from day to day purchases), and as such would probably be regarded by many as a backpacking trip. I'm not sure of the relevance of the mode of accommodation, which will not all be 'B&B'!
Geoff - 'Deepest Cheshire' is a regular venue for our evening walks - feel free to join us in the future.

Back to today. An overcast morning with rain in the air didn't deter us from stashing our waterproofs and setting off, after a fine (well, superb - a Country House Hotel couldn't have done better) Chinthurst breakfast, in search of our next meal.

Greggs Bakery and a fruit and veg stall provided the necessaries, and off we set towards the pointy peak of Sharp Haw. On the way the drizzle kept starting and stopping, so eventually we gave in and left our waterproof jackets on all morning.

The views were fine, but would have excelled on a bright sunny day. After slithering down to Flasby we bumped into two separate walking parties - the only ones seen until we reached Malhamdale.

The valley walk to Hetton was delightful, and we lunched on a bench on the smallest village green we had seen for some time. The Angel Inn was our next port of call - a village pub that is trying to survive by expanding its business and going up market whilst retaining local congregation.

A long, straight lane imaginatively named 'Moor Lane' rose slowly before dipping down to the sad looking half full Winterburn Reservoir. Then the well constructed path continued relentlessly up Winterburn Moor, eventually reaching our high point to date, The Weets (414 metres), from where the limestone pavements of the Malham area were arrayed before us. The summit of Kirkby Fell dominated the view above Malham.

An easy walk down the road to Gordale Bridge was followed by a stroll over slithery limestone, past the pleasant waterfall known as Janet's Foss (pictured), where Sue and others 'skinny dipped' on her birthday weekend one cold February day, and along a beckside path lined with buttercup meadows, leading to the small village of Malham at around 3.30.

We were soon installed at Beck Hall, where a block corporate bonding booking for NHBC's training managers has relegated us to a room with a four poster bed and a small single bed. It's a satisfactorily large room, though. The café here is shut on Mondays, so we tottered off to the nearby Old Barn Café for a cream tea fix.

The Buck Inn has subsequently fed and watered us. We are feeling suitably bloated and are looking forward to an even shorter, but more sociable, day than usual tomorrow, for an amble over to Stainforth that will probably only take us until early afternoon to complete. But it will be sociable.

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Sunday, 12 June 2011

A Dales High Way - Day 2 - Ilkley to Skipton (Chinthurst B&B)

19km, 530 metres ascent, 5.1hrs incl stops.
Weather: fine morning, steadily clouding over, maturing into a drizzly afternoon.

After a bright start, today's weather went slowly downhill. But we can hardly complain, we reached Spencer's Café Bistro in Skipton soon after 2pm and took full advantage of their excellent tea and cakes (pictured).

This morning we headed back along the path to the south of the houses of Ilkley, continuing easily past the Swastika Stone, where a Victorian replica has been carved on a stone in front of the large boulder which houses the faint original markings from the Iron Age.

As we progressed gently up to Addingham High Moor we passed the sites of several more stones with cup and ring markings, but our main distraction was the constant bubbling trill of the resident curlews.

Shortly after Airedale came into view we headed north off the moor towards Addingham Moorside and in the general direction of Wharfedale. However, this 'High' route that we are walking eschews the delights (and crowds) of Wharfedale in favour of a direct line to Skipton by way of Moor Lane and a pathway known as 'The Street' and locally referred to as 'The Roman Road'. Despite official documents supporting that description that date back to the 19th century, there is no clear archaeological evidence to support the wide belief that our path follows the line of a Roman Road linking Ilkley with Elslack, near Skipton.

With rain looking imminent, we lunched just in time to avoid getting our butties wet, but we did leave our perch fully clad in waterproofs.

Whilst the views became muted by the drizzly weather, it was a very pleasant path across the tops and then down past an old toll house to the centre of Skipton and the comforts of the tea shop.

With plenty of time on our hands we decided to visit Skipton Castle, the site of a wooden fort from soon after 1090, which was replaced by a castle that passed to the Clifford family in 1310 and was their main residence for over 300 years. It's a magnificent and truly historic building, remarkably complete, and a pleasure to visit. As Andrew commented, shouldn't we be more appreciative of such places, especially when you consider that they pre-date sites like Macchu Picchu by several hundred years?

We had already learnt in the café that Chinthurst B&B is the best in Skipton, and given the friendly reception and our large, comfortable room, we can't disagree with that. Tonight's restaurant, Aagrar, has to be the best Kashmiri restaurant in Skipton. We've enjoyed a superb meal there, as has the owner of Aston Martin reg no R5OEL (think about it!).

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