#58 – Re-visiting the Ghosts

Boxing Day walkers at Janet’s Foss waterfall

 December 2010 was memorable for the snow and extreme cold conditions that gripped the UK, causing chaos far and wide.  December 2011 will be remembered for different reasons, at least by those who walk the hills.  A succession of Atlantic low-pressure systems combined with associated weather fronts has at times made walking the hills an unpleasant experience.

There have been calm days, sure enough, but I seem to have been doing other things on the settled days – we did manage an outing to Malham on Boxing Day, where the lower paths were crowded.  The small waterfall of Janet’s Foss was in full spate, and as we reached higher ground we were blown and buffeted by winds that made walking a trial.  There was some cheer on the horizon though – New Years Eve at the Station Inn at Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales.

The author (right) at Ribblehead, New Years Eve 2011

I wrote about last year’s celebration in #7.  I’d only just started the blog then, and many of you will not have read it, so I decided to re-visit the story.  The pics, however, are all from this year –


 ” Wakening the ghosts”

“From the earliest days of outdoor sports in the UK, walkers, climbers and cavers have frequented the local pubs, harking back to a time when social networking was done over a pint, not a computer keyboard.  The pubs were places for tall tales, stories of epics, narrow escapes or triumphs, and places to plot and plan the next trip….

“All the mountain and hill areas had their own popular venues.  The Clachaig Inn and Kings House Hotel in Glencoe, the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and the Wasdale Head Inn in the Lakes, the Vaynol Arms and the Pen y Gwryd Hotel in Snowdonia, the Station Inn and the Old Hill Inn in the Yorkshire Dales, the list goes on and on….

“Now I’m not a fussy man, but I do like a bit of music with my pub.  And I don’t mean the music that comes out of a box screwed to the wall.  I mean the music that comes out of a box with bellows, reeds and buttons or a box with strings that you strum, pick or bow – I’m talking about live, acoustic music….

“When I started walking, climbing and caving the pubs in the mountains and hills frequently had that sort of music as part of the normal scene, and the music became as important to me as the outdoors.  In fact, I’ve probably spent more money on musical instruments over the years than I have on outdoor gear….

“Which is why I found myself in the Station Inn at Ribblehead on New Years Eve, along with others who love the music, the outdoors or both.  They travelled from all points of the compass, from Cumbria, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, and that was just the locals!  We had a few pints, played some tunes, sang some songs, and saw in the New Year in right good style….

Music critic ‘Mist’ managing to catch up on some sleep!

” The instruments are now back in their cases, and the ghosts of long-gone walkers, climbers and cavers have retreated back into the shadows, perhaps for some peace and quiet.  Until the next time we come to waken the ghosts with our wild, beautiful music.”

Happy New Year for 2012

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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10 Responses to #58 – Re-visiting the Ghosts

  1. Michael says:

    Here’s hoping for the best for you and family for 2012, Paul.


  2. The not faffing comment is especially pertinent – so many people seem to faff and it’s a great way to get cold or benighted! So good advice there.

    I just wish I could convince Richard about the usefulness of an ice axe – he occasionally comes out with me in winter and I have to find him something suitably benign as he just won’t carry one. He’s convinced they’re dangerous unfortunately and I didn’t help last year when I clumsily tripped over my microspikes and fell on the pick of my ice axe last winter and made a little hole in my jacket. I tried to hide it from him but he noticed!

    Happy New Year to you and hope you have a good 2012,


    • You can spark off a huge debate by merely mentioning ice axes. On the winter skills course I did a year ago we practised short-roping clients in a potentially hazardous but technically easy situation. Tim, our instructor, climbs ice at a ridiculously high standard, and he tried to convince me over two days that a leash or strap on an ice axe is a really bad idea.

      His reasoning that you have a lethal weapon fastened to you if you fall is ‘a point of view’ but after 40 years of using some kind of attachment to the axe I just can’t abandon a leash – makes me feel very insecure without. Axes are potentially dangerous, but so is being on steep snow/ice without one.

      It’s all something to argue about over a pint – almost as much fun as being on a hill somewhere!

      Happy New Year to you also!


      • In this gloomy weather, having a pint is probably more fun just now! Actually, I like it when it’s warm in winter though – cheaper and more comfortable for me 😉

        Yeah, I’ve heard the arguments about ice axe leashes but still prefer to keep mine thanks. I can’t think of anything worse than being in a sticky situation and dropping your ice axe! You could use the same argument for crampons – you can make your fall worse if you stick the points in and start to somersault but you really wouldn’t want to risk losing one by not having it clipped or strapped on properly!


  3. Weird – I put my comments above on ‘Let it Snow…’ but it’s on here? Anyway, on this post – I had no idea we had entertainment in our English/Dales pubs on NYE! I always thought you had to go to Scotland for that kind of thing. May be worth actually going out to somewhere like Ribblehead next year. Nowt happens in our pubs locally really – certainly not people singing and playing instruments anyway.


  4. I’ve got an email address list for anyone interested in the NYE bash – I’ll add you to it if you wish. It’s a ‘come one, come all’ sort of thing, so you could pass the word onto your friends if they might be interested.
    There might be a change of venue for the next one, but it will be somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales.


  5. Well I was working last NYE night. But you could add me to the list anyway. Can you just turn up or do you have to let them know you’re coming (I won’t be bringing an instrument! 😉 ) – well, not other than my not-very-good voice!


    • It’s very relaxed, as these things should be. Just turn up, join in, don’t join in, listen, don’t listen, talk about Munros, talk about the state of the nation (Hmm, maybe veto THAT one!) in fact just come to a pub full of friendly people, many of whom are active outdoor types.
      I’ll keep you in the loop for next year.


  6. Steve says:

    A great way to spend New Years Eve, nice one.


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