Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ramsoc Weekend at Kettlewell – 25/26 October 2014

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This is the seventh Ramsoc weekend to be mentioned in these pages – Sue’s University Rambling Club reunion has come round again. This year she organised the event, with assistance from Sue W in her roll as YHA insider. Thanks go to both Sues.

Click here to view all the Ramsoc postings.

About 30 folk turned up, a generation after these events started, as many of the children who used to attend are now at Universities themselves. Just three teenagers and a couple of small children were present on this occasion – a far cry from the roomfuls of youngsters on past reunions. It was good to see Mark and Janet, who escaped to Singapore for many years, just to avoid the hassle of organising this event! (They are still there – this was by way of a ‘Royal Visit’.)

There was a fine view across Kettlewell to Middlesmoor Pastures from our room in the YHA hostel, which sadly is up for sale. Perhaps it will have a new life as an independent hostel, but whoever buys it would be well advised to sort out the parking arrangements.

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Saturday

We drove up to a car park at Buckden and milled about for a while in between pouring money into a Pay and Display machine.

Soon nineteen strollers were rambling up the Firth Fell path.

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A halt was soon called as some of the party had been distracted by an assortment of interesting features that I must have missed.

Continuing upwards, a splinter group headed off along the ridge whilst most of us continued along the flagged path for a long wait by a cold and draughty wall.

The descent to Litton was 'leisurely'. “Where are they all?” we wondered.

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Then, after a punishing 6 km in over 2 hours, everyone else decided on a long refreshment stop. I’d lost the will to wait by then…

I continued across the River Skirfare, which given the recent dry weather and its limestone foundations would have been an easy paddle.

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To allow the others to catch up, I chose a steep ascent from Nether Hesleden, with views opening out as I climbed to Hesleden Bergh. Then it was a long descent down the road to Halton Gill, but despite my roundabout route and lingering lunch on a bench, there was still no sign of the others.

Halton Gill is the home of Katie's Cuppas - a 'Help Yourself Honesty Box Tearoom', supervised by a watchful granny.

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Looking down the valley to Litton from the ascent to Horse Head, all I could see was sheep; the others must have gone another way.

Occasional flashes of sunshine interspersed with showers, brightened the view to Fountains Fell. It's quite a long haul up to Horse Head, where I tested the ridge route south east, but it was too blustery for comfort today. It’s a good route for a summer’s day, hugging the crest all the way to Kettlewell.

The descent beside Hagg Beck to Langstrothdale is quite rough. It was showery. Waterproofs went on and off with regular curses, especially when I got tangled up and fell over, twisting my knee. Ouch!

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Autumn looked well advanced as I looked across to Buckden Pike, and the hamlet of Yockenthwaite soon hove into view. The bridge at Yockenthwaite provides easy access to the riverside Dales Way path to Hubberholme, which hugs the north bank of the infant River Wharfe.

I passed the excellent George Inn at Hubberholme, too late to take advantage of its facilities. From there it was an excellent and easy path down the valley to Kettlewell.

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Eventually, in gathering gloom on a showery afternoon, the bridge at Kettlewell signalled the conclusion of this pleasant jaunt at around 5pm.

My route was 28 km, with 1000 metres ascent, taking 7.5 hours. A satisfactory alternative would start at Kettlewell and go via Arncliffe to pick up today’s route at Litton.

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Sunday

I assembled together with Sue, Robin, Josh, Graham, David and Tom, at a parking spot to the north west of Malham Tarn, others having gone elsewhere or home due to the rain.

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The heavy overnight rain (it was blowing into our room) had subsided as we loaded the cars, and the day turned out to be very pleasant, with good sunny periods.

The first half hour or so was along a quiet road, high above Malham, to a cattle grid where we turned left along a path to Malham Cove. In the other direction there were some confusing signs regarding ‘traffic’, and I notice the ‘Dales High Way’ now has its own signs. I’m not sure about that, though they are nice signs; I would have thought that people doing that excellent walk would be able to find their own way without the need for signs.

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After the overnight rain, everything had become a little slippery. Josh, in particular, was trying hard not to fall over - he's still getting accustomed to being a foot taller than he was a few weeks ago.

The footpath past Ing Scar was fairly obvious.

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Elevenses were taken on a massive limestone pavement above Malham Cove, high above the bustle of the village.

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A superb limestone pavement leads to the path down to the cove, down which we were reluctantly followed by two runners who were convinced there was a more direct route. We couldn’t see one. There isn’t one unless you’re a Peregrine.

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Sunday morning climbers littered the scene, though few appeared to be making much progress, and nobody had reached the overhangs.

We soon returned past the ‘money trees’ that seem to have become an unwelcome feature hereabouts, and joined the masses on the path to Malham.

A surprise encounter led to the reunification of Sue with some CCS, most of which had been eaten by the two 'monkey children' who had discovered it in the Youth Hostel fridge.

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A dinky path around the back of Beck Hall and past the modern looking Youth Hostel, led to the centre of Malham, from where a delightful and familiar path leads up to Janet's Foss.

Janet, a fairy, lives behind the Foss (waterfall).

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We enjoyed lunch with laid on entertainment from a variety of ‘tourists’. (Dog, children, members of our own group, etc.)

Gordale Beck leads prettily towards the waterfall.

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Shying away from a drenching, we by-passed Gordale Scar, in favour of a more southerly route with fine views towards the Dales Way as it heads south. Gordale Scar, far below, actually looked pretty innocuous.

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Anyway, we marched on towards Malham Tarn in bracing conditions, glancing to our left to take in the major landmark that is Pendle Hill.

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The tarn was soon reached, looking just as autumnal as it had done earlier, with quite intense waves washing flotsam to the shore line. The march continued, and we passed an outdoor centre, after which some of us paused briefly to admire the panorama of the pond…

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... before trudging off through the mossy woods.

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Later, the setting sun lit the hillside near Airton as we drove home.

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Here's our 15 km route, with 400 metres ascent, taking 5 hours - an excellent route starting from the CP at the NW end of the tarn.

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A more comprehensive series of 79 images is here. Click on the first image, then ‘slideshow’ to view them individually with captions.

Here’s Mary’s (completely different) take on the weekend.

7 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

Total nostalgia for me. Fab pics. Memories of exploring Dow Cave and Providence Pot from Hag Dyke when I was in the Scouts.. Frequent visits with kids from age 12 to 15 with torches and candles on our own whilst scoutmaster stayed in at Hag Dyke - two fingers up to Health and Safety - some of my greatest moments.

The Dales High Way - one of the best walks on my list.

You certainly covered some ground - this territory beats The Lakes for me. Thanks.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Conrad (I hope you enjoyed Gayle's visit BTW).

Our school had a ramshackle cottage in Askrigg. I remember groups of us being blindfolded and driven with a map to various points of the compass and being told to work out where we were and walk back. No supervision that I can remember. Great fun! As was sailing on Semer Water.

I forgot to mention in the posting the charms of goldfinches in Littondale, and the usual abundance of grey wagtails around Malham. Sadly I didn't spot any kingfishers on the Wharfe - they must have emigrated to Manchester...

Jules said...

Interesting post, and - as has been commented above - quite a lot of ground covered. Can't wait for my next trip up that way - coming soon!

Jules said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention: pity about the YH in Kettlewell - it's one we've used several times - along, in fact, with 2 of the other sites scheduled for closure this year :-(

I must confess to liking hostels but being mystified by the closure of many of the more interesting, well-situated-for-walkers sites in recent times.

Phreerunner said...

Yes Jules, it's a shame about the hostel, especially as it's on the Dales Way route. There's much discussion about the 'direction' of the YHA elsewhere, so I won't go into that here.

Jules said...

No, you're right - here is not the best place for lengthy discussions on that topic! :-)

Looks like we'll have to find another base for that area, though ....

Phreerunner said...

The hostel in Malham is good, as is Beck Hall B&B. And there are B&Bs etc in Kettlewell, but my guess is that someone will take on the hostel as an independent hostel.