#19 – Bleaklow and the Wain Stones

“I’ve been over Snowdon, I’ve slept up on Crowdon;
I’ve camped by the Wain Stones as well.
I’ve sun bathed on Kinder, been burned to a cinder,
And many more tales I can tell.” Manchester Rambler – Ewan McColl

Looking towards Crowden from Torside Clough

McColl’s song, written in the 1930’s, starts like a ‘tick list’ of the walks well known to the working class Mancunian hill-walker of the time.  Although I know Snowdon well enough, my knowledge of the Derbyshire Peak District is limited to no more than a handful of days out.  There’s less excuse for this now that I live in West Yorkshire, as it’s as easy to get to parts of the Peak District as it is to get to the Yorkshire Dales or Lake District, but I still tend to head north and west rather than south.

The Wain Stones

The new car had a niggling problem with the engine management computer, and had to go back to the dealer to be fixed.  The job was expected to take at least half a day, so I needed something to do to pass away a few hours.  The garage was near Glossop on the edge of the Peak District, so there was no competition – I would walk out over Bleaklow to visit the Wain Stones in McColl’s song.

'Mist' on the Longdendale Trail

I dropped the car off at Padfield, and set off with ‘Mist’ on the Longdendale Trail.  The route follows the old railway line over Woodhead, and forms part of the Trans-Pennine Trail that runs coast to coast from Liverpool to Hull, and having the gentle gradients of a railway it makes for fast and easy walking, especially with an impatient Border Collie as a companion.

"Come on, then!"

The flat gentle trail doesn’t last for ever though, and soon it’s time to gain some height along the edge of Torside Clough, following an even better known long distance path, the Pennine Way.  After Clough Edge, the route follows the stream of Wildboar Grain through typical Pennine countryside, arriving at last at the large cairn at Bleaklow Head, with the Wain Stones nearby at the highest point of 633 metres.

Bleaklow Head

The Wain Stones

From the Wain Stones, a path heads down next to a stream, heading for the junction with Wildboar Grain that I had passed earlier.  My route from there was over Harrop Moss, where I encountered the first true Pennine walking of the day – wet, sticky, black peat!  A succession of wooden duckboards kept me out of the worst of it, and took me to a curious looking construction high on the moors at about 480 metres altitude.  It looked like a suburban patio had been dropped there, but a more likely explanation is that it’s a shelter for shooting parties; the duckboards were probably also for shooters.

...a suburbian patio...?

From here it was all downhill back to Padfield, where the nice people at David Oldham Ltd. had not only fixed the car in less than the predicted time, but had also washed it as well!  What brilliant customer service – how many other companies would take so much trouble?

"I've seen the white hare in the heather"

“I’ve seen the white hare in the Heather
And the curlew fly high overhead”. Manchester Rambler – Ewan McColl

I heard a curlew but didn’t see it, but I did see white hares – three at least, possibly four.  The Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus) is a relative of the Arctic Hare and is more usually seen in Britain in the Scottish Highlands.  The hare is not originally native to Derbyshire, and was introduced for the hunting entertainment of the local gentry.  Their white coat makes them quite visible on the moors at this time of year (early spring), but the longer days soon trigger a response that turns the hare’s coat back to a more useful camouflage brown.

White hare near the Wain Stones

Note – Although McColl is well known as the author, “Manchester Rambler” is often regarded as a traditional folk song.  Versions differ due to the ‘folk process’, where subtle changes creep in to established songs.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 4. Northern England | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

#18 – A dry day on The Long Pub Crawl

The Ullswater Lakeside Path last week had been a good walk out, and even the drizzle and mist hadn’t put a damper on the day.  That didn’t mean that we were in a hurry to have a repeat performance though, so the weather forecast was watched carefully.  The forecast was for one sunny day on Monday, and then back to grey for the rest of the week.  I also had a first aid training course booked mid-week, a requirement every three years to validate my Mountain Leader qualification.  So, if we wanted a hill-day, it was Monday or nothing.

The start at Street Gate

A couple of years ago I wrote a Yorkshire Dales route for Walking World called, “The Long Pub Crawl”.  The walk goes from Malham via Goredale Scar, then over to Arncliffe via Street Gate and Arncliffe Cote, before returning via the Monks Road to Malham Tarn and back to Malham by Malham Cove.  The ”Pub Crawl” bit came in because of the two great pubs on the walk, The Falcon half way round at Arncliffe and The Buck at the finish in Malham.

Outbound to Arncliffe Cote

The route is a hearty ‘yomp’ at 28 kms (17 ½ miles).  We didn’t really want to commit to that distance, but a shorter variation starting and finishing at Street Gate near Malham Tarn brings the distance down to 16.8 Kms (10 ½ miles) Best of all, the route is mainly on well-drained limestone, reducing the mud problem of previous weeks.

Lime kiln...

...and big skies

The day dawned fair as promised.  Because of the wide-open spaces, a fair day in the Yorkshire Dales usually means long views and big skies.  As the morning progressed we had the first signs of an approaching weather front, indicated by high cirrus clouds, but the day stayed fair.  We passed an old limekiln before dropping down to Littondale where we followed the valley to the village of Arncliffe, with its attractive church, functioning ‘stocks’ on the village green, and The Falcon pub.

Arncliffe Church

The stocks at Arncliffe

The Falcon pub

The Falcon is a pub with character, to the point of being eccentric.  The beer is still served  in a jug direct from the barrel, and the ‘fine-dining’ menu is traditional pie and peas with mint sauce!  Sadly, we had left it a bit late to visit for a drink, so it was going to be a dry day in more ways than one.

Limestone crags on the return route

Having left it a bit late for the pub, there was no point in lingering, so we gained height fairly quickly on The Monks Road, once used by the monks of Fountains Abbey travelling to the fisheries at Malham Tarn.  The approaching weather front suddenly had a change of heart and we finished with more blue skies, passing limestone crags and the lonely Middle House Farm.

Middle House Farm - a typical Dales farm

OK, so not the most adventurous expedition we have done, but a good leg-stretch with interest throughout.  It was also good to have a dry day after the rain and mud we have had lately – shame that the dry day included the pub, though!

p.s. You can see the original “Long Pub Crawl” route on Walking World – Walk ID 5054

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 3. Yorkshire Dales | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

#17 – The Ullswater Lakeside Path – a walk for all seasons.

A 'dreich' day!

After last weeks walk in the sunshine, the winter weather returned.  I wouldn’t have minded a full-blown snow storm or similar, but on the hills it was ‘dreich’ – for those who have never come across this Old-Scots word, Urbandictionary.com defines dreich as, “a combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of the above adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich.” Well, we had the full set of six, and consequently we decided to find a low level walk.

The Ullswater Lakeside Path

Having made that decision, we wanted a low-level walk that had the feeling of being in the hills.  There was one clear contender – the Ullswater Lakeside Path from Howtown to Glenridding.  Linear walks such as this are satisfying in so far as they are like a mini-journey, travelling from one place to another.  Conversely they suffer from the logistic disadvantage that they start and finish in different places.  Having a car at each end is one answer, but at Ullswater there is another option – the Ullswater Steamer.

View from the 'Lady of the Lake'

In summer, this is a great way to start this walk – on the edge of winter it epitomises all that is ‘dreich’.  We boarded the boat at Glenridding at 1110 hrs, and joined the huddled group of passengers on the upper deck – below would have been better but we had ‘Mist’, our Border Collie travel companion, with us.  At least those of us in mountain clothing kept warm(ish) and dry, but I felt sorry for the group in city clothes, who put a brave face on things.  Thirty-five minutes after leaving Glenridding, we were deposited at Howtown Pier, and left to our fates as the “Lady of the Lake” continued to Pooley Bridge.

'... left to our fates ...'

A surprising number of people disembarked at Howtown, considering the state of the weather.  The first mile or so of this walk is often a bit like the Grand Prix, with groups straining for pole position and an early lead.  We started walking behind our fellow travellers, delayed by me getting to grips with a new camera.  When we did start, a brisk pace soon had us warmed up, and before long we were starting to overtake those who had set off before us.  The path starts by traversing the slopes of Hallin Fell, following the edge of Ullswater.  By the time we had reached Sandwick we had taken the lead, though we were still a bit on the slow side as far as ‘Mist’ was concerned!

Going for the overtake!

The path is one of the best low-level walks in the country, and even on a grey day the ever-changing landscape and sense of drama in the scenery are rewarding.  Don’t write it off as a soft option, though – like all lakeside and coastal walks there is a surprising amount of up and down, and there are a few places where a careless step could result in injury.  For this reason, Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team have a boat as part of their equipment – the middle section of the path is isolated and casualty evacuation is much easier by water.

'... a surprising amount of up and down ...'

The switchback section of path below Birk Fell goes through woodland, and even in winter the views are restricted by the trees.  As the path approaches Silver Point, the views start to open up, and the path starts to settle down, eventually becoming a broad track.  Although we weren’t in any great rush we made good progress towards Side Farm, which was quietly biding its time before the start of the ‘season’ from Easter onwards.  From there an easy stroll lead us back to the car park at Glenridding Pier.   On a classic walk, poor weather doesn’t get in the way of enjoyment, and the Ullswater Lakeside Path is a real classic– truly a walk for all seasons!

Nearing journey's end

p.s. For the pedantic amongst you, the Ullswater Steamers aren’t, at least not any more – they are now diesel powered.  If you want a ‘real’ steamer, try the ‘Gondola’ at Coniston Water.

p.p.s. For those of you impatient for something a bit more ‘derring-do’, stick around and watch this space over the coming weeks.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 2. Lake District | Tagged , | 5 Comments

#16 – “….I don’t know much about art….”

Nantlle Ridge - early morning mist

I’m sure many of you have had this dilemma – you fancy doing something but your partner wants something different.  On one occasion with Chris in North Wales, I wanted to do the Nantlle Ridge but she fancied an exhibition at the Tate Modern Gallery in Liverpool.  The compromise was fairly simple.  We parked the camper near the start of the ridge, and I set my alarm for 0530.  By 0600 I was out on the hill having a great time, and four hours after that was back at the van to be welcomed with coffee and a hot bacon ‘sarnie’ – wearing a highly visible red top has its advantages!  Four hours later we were at the gallery.

The Nantlle Ridge

I’m in the “Don’t know much about art, but I know what I like” school.  One artist I do admire, though, is the internationally acclaimed Andy Goldsworthy, mainly for the way he works with nature and natural objects. Between 1996 and 2003, Goldsworthy completed a major art project in Cumbria consisting of 46 sheepfolds.   I knew the location of one of these folds, tucked away in a lonely valley in the Howgill Fells, and it seemed a good ‘hook’ to hang a walk on.

Andy Goldsworthy's Washfold at Red Gill Beck (JB)

Mind you, it might not have happened.  The forecast for the previous three days had said that Wednesday was going to be fine and even sunny.  In West Yorkshire, though, we woke up to low cloud and leaden skies.  If we hadn’t arranged to meet up with my mate John Bamber, the project might well have been put on hold, but ‘travelling hopefully’ did the trick.  By Skipton the clouds were higher, and by Kirkby Lonsdale we had clear skies – to think that we could so easily have bailed out.

The Howgills from the southwest (JB)

The Howgills are one of the most viewed groups of hills in the UK – every day literally thousands of people drive by them, between junctions 37 and 38 on the M6 Motorway.   Many would regard this as the most scenic stretch of Motorway in the country, yet the hills are quiet and hardly visited.  Mind you, these hills have a serious identity crisis – although included in the Yorkshire Dales National Park they are actually in the county of Cumbria.

Approaching Cautley Spout

We started out from the Cross Keys, between Sedburgh and Kirkby Stephen.  If you are seeking solace in strong drink, the Cross Keys isn’t for you – it’s a temperance pub!  Where you will find solace, though, is in the scenery.  The Howgills are mostly rolling, grassy hills without drama, but there are one or two surprises.  One of these is the magnificent Cautley Spout, which never fails to impress.

Upper section of Cautley Spout (JB)

The highest waterfall in England is underground in Gaping Gill, but Cautley Spout is the highest above ground, falling for almost 200 metres down a series of rock steps.   The sheepfold we were heading for is next to Red Gill Beck, which is one of the streams feeding the cascades, and the first part of the route picked a way up a steep path on the right of the falls.  Steep is the word – in about 600 metres linear distance the path gains about 200 metres of height, which is an average gradient of 1 in 3.  Some individual sections are steeper.

Approaching the sheepfold

From the top of the falls, an easy meander of 600 metres up the beck brought us to the fold.  It’s a washfold restored by Goldsworthy, with the addition of a pyramid shaped cairn at one corner to commemorate the foot-and-mouth disaster of 2001, and to mark a renewal in sheep farming.  The isolated nature of the fold makes it a quiet, unspoiled spot.  Impressive as Goldsworthy’s work is, it’s also worth remembering the farmers who built the original fold.

Above Cautley Crags - '...not a place to stumble!' (JB)

This was more than just a trip to a gallery, though, and more grandeur was to come.  We retraced our steps to the top of the falls, then followed the narrow path (not shown on the map) that skirts the top of Cautley Crags.  The views were impressive, as was the drop to our left – not a place to stumble!  When the crags faded out we struck off over the flat untracked ridge of Great Dummacks to Calders.

Between Calders and The Calf (JB)

From Calders an easy rolling path took us to The Calf, at 676 metres the highest top in the Howgills.  The panorama here is stunning, though today we found the views obscured somewhat by what appeared to be a temperature inversion.  John and I enjoyed the game of “Spot the mountain”, made more entertaining when you can only see the topmost section of the mountain in question – we both picked out the Scafells fairly quickly, but Helvellyn had us scratching our heads for a minute or so.

The Calf - John, Chris and 'Mist'

An easy walk along good paths took us to another steep and untracked section leading down to Bowderdale Head, where we joined another good path back down to the valley and “the pub with no beer”.  Well you can’t have everything, and the warmest hill-day so far this year, together with great views, made this particular compromise acceptable.

End of the day (JB)

Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber

Posted in 4. Northern England, General Interest | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

#15 – “…feeling a bit peaky..”

The peaks in this case being three in number.  Last weeks post on Pen y Ghent brought back memories of the previous year, when I spent four months researching for a guidebook on the Three Peaks Challenge – That’s the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge (Y3P) in this case, not the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ National Three Peaks Challenge, of which more later.

Pen y Ghent - Early morning

The Y3P is about 22 miles in length, with a total height gain of about 1570 metres, starting at Horton in Ribblesdale and going anti-clockwise, taking in Pen y Ghent followed by Whernside then Ingleborough before returning to Horton.  The Challenge is to complete the walk in under 12 hours, and may have its origins in 1887, when two teachers from Giggleswick School went for a walk over Ingleborough.  They had such a good time that they carried on over Whernside and Pen y Ghent.  Ten years later, four members of the Yorkshire Ramblers set a record of 10 ½ hours.  The present record for fell-runners is an incredible 2 ¾ hours!

Whernside from Ribblehead (JB)

I first completed the circuit when I was nineteen with some mates doing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award expedition.  We took three days, and rucksacks weighing about 15 kgs (over 30 lbs) but tents were heavier then!  Then, in my mid-thirties, I ran the route with my dog, taking under six hours, never thinking I would be back to repeat it twenty five years later.

Ingleborough (JB)

It was Kim’s idea.  We had been in the Royal Marines together, me leaving after seven years as a lowly Lieutenant, and Kim eventually retiring as a major.  He thought that a short (20+ mile) stroll in Yorkshire could be fun; despite a combined age of 112 we did it in less than nine hours, and without any training.  Shortly afterwards Discovery Walking Guides suggested Y3P as a guidebook project.

Approaching Pen y Ghent

Most of the research was without incident, apart from the occasional soaking, but we had some laughs along the way, usually involving mate and photographer, John Bamber.  Oh, how we laughed the day we walked a linear route to John’s car, to discover halfway through that his car keys were in my car back at the start point!  And how we laughed (well, I did) when John struggled for over an hour in blizzard conditions to get a photo of a steam train on the Settle-Carlisle line, only for the train to zoom past as he was getting his camera ready!

Whernside in typically cloudy conditions

So, is the Y3P worth doing?  For regular walkers it’s a chance to measure fitness and stamina.  For many, however, it is the first (and last) walking challenge that they will ever undertake, and the route is very busy in the summer months when hundreds walk the route for charity.  The use of the hills for charity events is somewhat contentious, but the Y3P stacks up well when compared with its now better-known rival, the National Three Peaks Challenge.

Ingleborough from Whernside (LS)

The National Challenge is about reaching the summits of the three highest national peaks (Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis) in 24 hours.  I’m not a fan for several reasons.  The participants spend more time in a vehicle than on a mountain, and the Challenge is as much about driving as hill-walking (Don’t even consider doing the peaks and driving as well – it needs nominated drivers who don’t walk).

Snowdon (left) and Crib Goch from the Miners Track

Erosion is a problem on both challenges, but on the Y3P one organisation (The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority) is involved in restoration and conservation, making it easier for charities to make a block donation to offset the damage caused by their events.  On the National Challenge, two National Parks and one independent charity fulfil the same role, making co-ordination almost impossible.

Scafell Pike from Wasdale (AS)

The National also causes a huge amount of disruption, especially in the Lake District. Traffic chaos on single track lanes, inconsiderate parking, fields used as toilets, noise, disruption and extra mountain rescue callouts have become a regular feature of life at Wasdale Head.  What’s more, participants spend their money at the start or finish, leaving no financial benefit for the Lakes.

Ben Nevis from Corpach (JD)

Finally, the carbon footprint of the Y3P is much smaller – once the team has arrived at Yorkshire there is no need for extra driving.  On the National it’s a drive of over 450 miles  from start to finish, before adding on travel to and from the Challenge.  I can see that the challenge of walking the highest national peaks of Britain in one go is appealing, but for me the Y3P is a preferable option – Use the local pubs, cafes and campsites, and pay for the car park and you will reduce your impact on the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

* * *

For those who want a longer read, Click here to buy the guide for the Y3P Challenge direct from me.  As well as including the route for the Challenge, there are also useful hints to get you round in under 12 hours.

* * *

£8.00 for a signed copy and post free in the UK. (While stocks last)  If ordering outside of the UK contact me using the email link on the guidebook page, and I will let you know the cost of posting.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber – image tagged (LS) © Les Staves.

Photos of Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis copied from the Geograph website under a Creative Commons Licence. Images tagged (AS) © Andrew Smith and (JD) © Johnny Durnan.

Posted in 3. Yorkshire Dales | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

#14 – Another hard day at the office? – Pen y Ghent

Pen y Ghent - Hill of the Winds (JB)

“A bad day on the hills is better than a good day in the office”.  Fortunately I don’t have to make the choice, the hills being the office nowadays.  Today’s choice was Pen y Ghent, my favourite peak in the Yorkshire Dales.  Why my favourite?  All sorts of reasons, I suppose – It’s a short day if time is limited, but it feels like a longer day, and although it’s a straightforward enough walk there is extra interest in the band of crags on the southern approach.  In fact it’s one of those hills where I’ve never had a bad day, whether walking, running or even skiing.

The author skiing below Pen y Ghent - Winter 2010

Pen y Ghent – even the name promises great things.  It’s a strange, ‘other-world’ sort of name, that sounds as if it should be in Wales.  No surprise about that, though.  This area was once inhabited by British tribes whose language was a form of old Welsh.  They were certainly here when the Romans arrived and were still here when the Romans left.  Unfortunately they didn’t hang on in this area when the next wave of invaders arrived – the British tribes were defeated by the Anglo-Saxons in about 600 AD, changing the local language for ever.  Pen y Ghent translates as “Hill of the winds”.  Those who have walked there would probably agree that it was well named!

Pen y Ghent from Brackenbottom Scar (JB)

The weather forecast mid-week was so promising that I felt I should share the day.  My old mate John Bamber was an ideal candidate, so arrangements were made.  It’s usually me that’s slightly late, but today it was John, delayed on the way by a phone call asking if he was available to travel to the Arctic in a few weeks.  John is officially ‘technical support’ on the annual Polar Challenge race, but he’s also a resourceful “Mr Fixit”.  On top of that he knows how to use a shotgun, a useful skill in an area where 80% of the world’s polar bears live.

Polar bear on sea ice South of Truro Island Canada April 2010 (JB)

These days John is much more likely to shoot a polar bear with his camera, with which he is equally skilled.  This makes him a useful addition to any hill day, as he takes care of the photography.  So, with the addition of Chris (‘me missus’), and “Mist” the Border Collie, we had a team.  I’m a creature of habit, and so I suggested my favourite route – Out by Brackenbottom scar then up the craggy south side of Pen y Ghent.

The lane to Brackenbottom (JB)

The first part of the route is just “steady away” as they say up north, gradually gaining height in a relatively painless way.  When the path joins the Pennine Way things start to get steeper, but a succession of small crags, limestone at first followed by gritstone, make a series of interesting mini-scrambles that provide suitable entertainment.  Even the dog was having a good time, but unfortunately the rock doesn’t last long, and we were soon on the summit.

Approaching the South Crags (JB)

John Bamber with large camera and large beard

Even the dog was having a good time! (JB)

Despite it being in the middle of the week, and the weather being on the cool side, the shelters on both side of the summit wall were occupied, so sandwiches were delayed until we reached Hunt Pot on the way down.  I frequently get confused by the proximity of Hunt Pot and Hull Pot, often getting the names mixed up.  Well, Hull Pot is the huge, spectacular hole that fills up like a bath when it rains hard, and Hunt Pot is the one that thousands of people walk past every year, despite being within 50 metres of one of the busiest paths in the Dales.

Hunt Pot (JB)

Hull Pot (Note figure in orange jacket)

Pen y Ghent (JB)

The day ended with a pleasant stroll down Horton Lane to Horton in Ribblesdale – The end of another hard day at the office.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber

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#13 – Wandering around Malham

“The Team”

Chris at Nappa Cross

Mist checking food possibilities

The author looking busy

….assembled for “The Walk”

The Yorkshire Dales is rightly popular as a hill-walking destination.  The area does not have the picturesque views of Lakeland, the stark drama of Snowdonia or the wildness of the Scottish Highlands, but it does have good, honest, down-to-earth walking.  It is also within convenient range for walkers living in the heavily populated areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire.  More to the point it’s handy from where I live.

Medieval field systems above Malham

I know the Lake District fairly well, having lived there for 25 years, but I only really began to get to know the Yorkshire Dales about ten years ago.  Of course I knew routes like the Yorkshire Three Peaks, and as a caver I knew the locations of, and routes to, loads of caves and potholes, but I didn’t really know the upland areas.  I’ve now reached the stage where I know the Three Peaks, Malham and Wharfedale areas so well that it becomes difficult to come up with ideas for new walking routes.  Sometimes it needs a little nudge .

Looking down towards Malham

The nudge in this case was the weather, which had been up to its usual tricks for a week – the Atlantic Jetstream was wreaking havoc, driving a succession of low pressure areas past the north of the UK.  Then, out of nowhere, a ridge of high pressure turned up, pushing one set of storms east, and holding back another set to the west.  A fine day was promised, so a quick decision had to be made.  What to do?

The lane to Pikedaw HIll

Malham is the nearest part of the Dales to where we live, and so is often chosen by default.  The trouble is we have exhausted the more obvious routes, so the challenge was to come up with something less obvious but worth doing.  Then I saw it on the map; a path heading out of Malham village towards Pikedaw Hill and Nappa Cross.  Probably not the most exciting route in the world, but new ground.  Then I had the idea of not planning anything beyond there – we would head out and just follow our noses.

Gaining altitude towards Hoober Edge

Which is exactly what we did.  The path, heading northwest by Hoober Edge, gained height in good style, and gave us unexpected views of familiar sights such as Malham Cove, and new sights like the small waterfall above Butterlands Barn.  Old mine workings just below Kirkby Fell added extra interest before we reached the Bridleway heading towards Settle.

Malham Tarn in the distance

Here we changed direction to the northeast, passing Nappa Cross before heading towards Langscar Gate.  The sight of Malham Tarn in the distance suggested the next part of our route, so we headed to the Pennine Way, following that north towards the tarn.  This route follows a dry valley that once carried the stream over the nearby magnificent Malham Cove.

"Water Sinks" in its new (temporary) location

Just beyond the dry valley is “Water Sinks”, where the stream from Malham Tarn disappears underground, to reappear not at the foot of the Cove, as you might expect, but at Aire Head springs just south of Malham village.  Today, though, someone had moved Water Sinks!  There was so much water from the previous storms that the stream now extended 400 metres beyond Water Sinks before disappearing down another hole.

Malham Tarn

From Malham Tarn there were several familiar routes heading back towards Malham, but we had been making good time and it was not long past our lunch stop.  I was tempted by a detour passing through the site of the Roman Camp on Mastiles Lane.  We could then link up to Smearbottoms Lane (great name!) to return by Goredale Scar.

Site of the Roman marching camp at Mastiles Lane

We had a great day out, covering just over 16 kms (10 miles) and with great weather – the sun actually felt warm for the first time in ages, and the good light and low sun did a good job of picking out the remains of medieval field systems.  And the best part of it all was that I hadn’t spent ages poring over a map trying to find the perfect walk – instead we just set off, and the perfect walk found us.

Medieval field systems above Gordale

p.s. For those who don’t know this beautiful bit of England, and especially for readers outside the UK, click here for more about the countryside around Malham.  You can also follow these links to see more of Nappa Cross and the Roman Camp.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

Posted in 3. Yorkshire Dales | Tagged , , | 5 Comments