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Day 6

Ribblehead viaduct an the Station Inn

Ribblehead viaduct an the Station Inn

 

Ribblehead to Dent (7.5 miles)

Despite the quality of the accommodation I slept pretty well overnight, and because it was warm, managed to get a number of items dry.  Also, despite the problems with breakfast (and my subsequent very late departure), it was rather good.  So, at 10am, I managed to leave Ribblehead – luckily I was only going the short hop to Dent and Conder Farm Campsite, a favourite stop over of mine from the Dales Way.

Looking back at Ingleborough

Looking back at Ingleborough

As I left it was overcast, threatening rain and muggy.  The enforced late start meant there were a large number of walkers out, including four ladies who were also walking the Dales High Way on a similar schedule to myself.

The location of the inn meant that I passed almost directly underneath the viaduct, a really impressive view point.  I even manage  to catch a train passing over it.  It’s not long before I’m back on the official route, passing the remote signal box  at Bleamoor.  There was a steady stream of trains every few minutes, surprising me with how busy the line actually was.

The signal box

The signal box

The path here is part of the three peaks route to Whernside and was well maintained – it needed to be.  Without the work the path here would be a quagmire.  The railway was crossed via an extremely impressive aqueduct which also carried Force Gill.  Then began a long steady climb along a very stoney path which was hard on the feet.  There were plenty of rest stops, and I spent a few enjoyable moments looking back towards Ingleborough, dominating the view behind Ribblehead.  The line of the railway which had entered a tunnel was visible by the line of ventilation shafts which littered the slopes of the adjacent hill.   Despite the cloud cover, there was very little wind and a warm humidity which hadn’t been present during the last few days.

Railway and Ingleborough

Railway and Ingleborough

At the brow of the hill, the view opened up to the east, giving a first glimpse of the very top of Dentdale and the Arten Gill Viaduct.  This brought back some good memories of the Dales Way, which passes almost directly underneath it.  The path here had changed into a lovely lush grassy track.  I paused for a while to rest close to some grouse butts, an enjoyed the stillness of the day.  It wasn’t silent though, the constant burble of skylarks, another call which I could only describe as sounding like a squeaky hinge (possibly a Bull Finch having listened to the RSPB website) and the occasional grunt from a Grouse all disturbing the stillness of the day.

Looking into the top of Dentdale

Looking into the top of Dentdale

Dent Station was also visible from here, and it only demonstrated how far it actually was from the village it was allegedly serving. Would a better name not be Dentdale?

Wolds End

Boot of the Wold 

After an enjoyable rest, just watching the world go by I continued on to the Boot of the Wold, a series of gates entering a walled lane which heralded the descent towards Dent.  The view opened up here and I was treated to an exquisite view over Dent and the lower part of the Dale.  The cloud had broken up as well, and at times the sun was breaking through dappling the landscape below with a mixture of light and shadow.  The RAF seemed to be out enjoying the reasonable weather also, a number of jets flying up Dentdale at my eye level, and in between, a number of the propeller training aircraft appeared as well.

First view over Dent

First view over Dent

While the views were fantastic, the path wasn’t.  The soft grassy track was left behind and was instead replaced with a hard, rocky and uneven surface which began to take a toll on my feet.  It was with some relief that Deepdale appeared to my left heralding the final push to the bottom of the hill.

Panorama of Dentdale and Deepdale

Panorama of Dentdale and Deepdale

The track finished on a road at Whernside Manor and it was with some interest that I noticed the way mark for Wainwright’s Pennine Journey – a book of his which is a must read for any walker, detailing his walking holiday immediately before the outbreak of World War 2.

Finally, I met up with the Dales Way to complete the last mile or so into Dent across lush pastureland.  The whole of Dentdale had been one of my favourite sections of the Dales Way, and Dent especially so.  I was making for the stunning little campsite at Conder Farm, which, despite its rather rustic facilities is still one of my favourite campsites.

Back on the Dales Way

Back on the Dales Way

However, before I could reach Dent there was the small matter of a thunderstorm to negotiate.  As I had approached the village the sky had been getting darker and a large swathe of heavy rain was falling in the distance.  The wind had risen considerably since reaching the road at Whernside Manor, but the worst of it looked as if it would pass in front of me, the wind blowing it across my path rather than towards me.  I took a chance an pressed on, hoping to get to Dent (and the pub) before the heavens opened.  I was literally 200m away, when the rain came down in floods.  Rather than take a soaking I took refuge under a reasonably sheltered hawthorne hedge.

Lightning appeared just after this photo. I got very wet soon after

Lightning appeared just after this photo. I got very wet soon after

While I was reluctant to put the waterproofs on, common sense won the day and I relented, completing the journey to Dent.  Rather than head for the campsite, I walked straight to the pub to dry out and await the passing of the rain.  A couple of pints later the sun had appeared with the cloud all but disappearing leaving the village swathed in sunshine.

After the storm in Dent

After the storm in Dent

Walking back to the campsite I pitched the tent and used the opportunity to dry a few things out.

Day Rating 10/10

Another quite fabulous, if short day.  Once again, there was a real change in the character of the walk – the rather bleak and imposing Ribblehead to the softer and gentler feeling Dentdale.  Dent is one of my favourite places, it really is somewhere I should spend a bit of time walking (I’m sure I said that in the Dales Way blog again).  The village itself was lovely in the evening sun, and the campsite almost perfect.  A quite lovely days walking.

Lovely evening in the village

Lovely evening in the village

 

 

 

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Day 5

 

Looking back over Little Stainforth

Looking back over Little Stainforth

Little Stainforth to Ribblehead (11 miles)

The campsite at Stainforth had been superb, they had a large amenities block with showers, toilets, pot room and laundry room.  Even vending machines and radio piped through the whole building.  I had walked the short distance to the pub in Stainforth the previous evening, in between heavy bouts of rain, after pitching the tent and spent a pleasant evening next to an open fire, chatting to the landlady, and with another couple who came in during the evening.

Smearset Scar

Smearset Scar

I awoke at 5 after a decent nights sleep.  There hadn’t been much rain overnight, or at least if there had I’d slept right through and not noticed it.  The tent, however, was saturated in the morning and with it being quite cool, wasn’t likely to dry off any time soon.  I packed up quickly and dropped my back pack in the amenity block and proceeded to make breakfast on one of the picnic benches just outside.  It was overcast, but was one of those mornings on which the sun seemed to be wanting to break through.

A typical ladder stile

A typical ladder stile

It was an uphill start – a steep uphill start, right from leaving the campsite, and for once I was glad that the morning was cold.  There were fine views back over the Ribble and towards settle, all dark and brooding.  It was a lovely spot.  The farm track turned into soft green grass and I slowly climbed the slope towards Smearset Scar.  Finally it appeared, shrouded in mist and full of drama.  There was an eerie silence here as well, there was no wind and no noise other than the occasional “caw” from a crow – combined with the mist it gave the Scar an otherworldly feel.

The bridleway past Fiezor wood

The bridleway past Fiezor wood

All too quickly I left the Scar behind, dropping into the small hamlet of Fiezor.  It was a mark of how early I had started that the (rather good looking) cafe wouldn’t open for at least another hour.  From here I turned onto a bridleway to walk up past Feizor Wood through another smaller limestone scar.  At the brow of the hill the view was immense with Moughton Scar and Pen-y-ghent dominating the view.  In a way, even more spectacular, was Wharfe Wood – a local nature reserve.  I popped my head over the gate to have a look – the covering of bluebells was incredible.

Bluebells in Wharfe Wood

Bluebells in Wharfe Wood

I carried on through fields down towards the hamlet of Wharfe, delightful walking punctuated by a few too many ladder stiles for my liking (it was more like the 500m hurdles).  Wharfe itself was caught in a time warp.  I can’t imagine that this place has changed much since the 19th century.

Panorama above Wharfe

Panorama above Wharfe

I was now on an old packhorse route, a narrow track running between two drystone walls.  All the way along the verges were blanketed with bluebells, another quite incredible display.  I reached Clapper Bridge and the Wash Dub field, and had a rest on the bench there to eat one of my cereal bars.  Almost immediately a cheeky little Chaffinch, piping at me until I shared some of my bar.  He ate it and flew off, only to return a short time later with his mrs.  It is a popular picnic spot after all I suppose!

Approaching Wharfe through the fields

Approaching Wharfe through the fields

It was all uphill now towards Crummack, as the rain started falling heavily.  Soon I was out on open moorland again with Ingleborough dominating the view north.  There was a short steep climb up to rejoin the Pennine Bridleway and it was here I had to make a decision.  Would I go over Ingleborough or take the bad weather route which would give me a bit more of a direct route to Ribblehead.

The time locked hamlet of Wharfe

The time locked hamlet of Wharfe

While the weather during the morning hadn’t been great, the cloud which had been shrouding Ingleborough was lifting leaving the summit clear.  The route up didn’t look like too much of a steep climb so I decided to go over.  There was a huge expanse of limestone pavement here, and walking through it was a superb experience.  It is a landscape that is unique, rugged and bewitching, giving an altogether an ethereal experience, especially on a cloudy day.

Old Packhorse Route

Old Packhorse Route

The ascent was easier than I expected, just a steady climb until the very last push to the summit.  It was here that I met the first walkers of the day, heading down the path I had just come up – a bit of a surprise as I had imagined this to be one of the busier sections of the route.  I decided to forego the walk to the trig point and instead head straight off towards Ribblehead.  The official route, which headed straight over a rather precipitous looking slope, was left behind and I followed the ridge route along the edge of Simon Fell.

This handsome little chap was insistent about sharing my lunch

This handsome little chap was insistent about sharing my lunch

This was just an incredible place with wide-open expansive views to the north.  Ribblehead viaduct gradually came into view, but more impressive was the view from above of the valley and limestone pavement around Chapel-le-Dale.

looking back towards Wharfe from Crummack

looking back towards Wharfe from Crummack

The ridge walk was fine and easy, all the way to Park Fell and I could mark my progress towards Ribblehead by the size of the viaduct.  Eventually the ridge ended and a tricky descent ensued.  It was steep and slippery and even with the walking poles it took a long while to reach the gate at the bottom with the legs burning badly.

Ingleborough

Ingleborough

I took the shortcut route via the quarry and happily fell through the door of the station inn for a well earned pint.

Day Rating 10/10

Limestone Pavement

Limestone Pavement

Another day that is right up there with the best from start to finish.  From the limestone scar at the top of the climb out of Little Stainforth, the bluebell lined bridleway and woods to the lovely time warp village that is Wharfe, not to mention the spectacular Limestone Pavement on the ascent up Ingleborough this was a day walk that had almost everything.  Finished off nicely with a fantastic ridge walk to Ribblehead.  It was only a pity the weather couldn’t have been better, although the worst of it was a short heavy shower as I reached Crummock.

The ridge walk to Ribblehead

The ridge walk to Ribblehead

A “special” mention now for the Station Inn at Ribblehead.  I’ve never stayed there before and had seen many mixed reviews on the internet – still I had an open mind.  On arrival I had a pint, and got the feeling that I was interrupting the barman’s important dealings on his mobile phone.  In fact, I felt about as welcome as a fart in a lift.  I had booked a bed in the bunkhouse for the night – it is quite possibly the worst accommodation I have stayed in anywhere (that I’ve paid for) and I’ve stayed in some interesting places.

looking back at Ingleborough

looking back at Ingleborough

It was essentially a glorified bothy.  The only redeeming feature was a small electric heater that at least meant that the room was warm overnight (and I had a room to myself).  Even when I went for a meal and asked to set up a tab they wanted me to leave the card behind the bar because they had had a number of “eat and runs”!  Added to that, having paid for everything up front accommodation wise (including breakfast), I apparently didn’t exist the next morning, and they had no record of my ordering breakfast.

Ingleborough in all its glory

Ingleborough in all its glory

 

Just to put this into perspective, since I started trail walking in 2004, this is the first time I have really not been impressed with where I have stayed (with the exception of the ACE hostel in York, but this was a different league).  Crap welcome, crap accommodation, good beer and reasonable food.  Pity because it could be a fantastic place.

The view from the ridge

The view from the ridge

Still, it didn’t take anything away from the day, and it saved me from wild camping out the back of the pub on what was a pretty grotty night.

The famous viaduct

The famous viaduct

 

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