26 March 2010


Sunday 21st March

We awoke to a clear, frosty morning, but unfortunately the clarity it didn’t last. The mist crept down the mountains and into the dales, and by the time we left, visibility was severely restricted.

frost on the grass, hawkswick


It leant a mysterious air to the countryside as we drove through ever-worsening visibility. We had intended to walk up Pen-y-Ghent – the highest peak in the Dales, but as we drove the road past the mountain we couldn’t even see it. Here's a photo of it.

view of pen-y-ghent from the road to stainforth

We decided to check out the Ribbleshead Viaduct instead. We parked the car and set off – it wasn’t a long walk, but because of the mist, we could see no sign of it. We started to be able to make out the vague shape of it, like a ghostly apparition looming out of the grey nothingness. The closer we got, the more the viaduct revealed itself – not only because we were closer, but also because the mist was beginning to lift.

ribblehead viaduct: first glimpse

ribblehead viaduct: appearing act

d and the viaduct

As we stood under the bridge, we caught sight of the nearby fell in the background, with blue sky above it! But even as we looked, the mist came rolling back over us, and our visibility petered away once more.

whernside from the viaduct

i ship it

drain ice

ribblehead viaduct: disappearing act

bright fog and ribblehead viaduct

We walked back to the car in the cold fog, observing the ice sheets on the top of all the puddles in the pot holes.

d in the puddle

potholes and people

Since writing off Pen-y-Ghent, we had no solid plans for the day, so we looked a the map and picked out a likely looking spot to do a bit of walking. We drove over to the little village of Selside and set off through several fields and past many, many sheep.

j & d, cold and sunny!

i don't know if i've ever noticed a signpost marking eighths of miles before

now is not the time to talk about the film "black sheep"

noses to the wind*

d in the dales

As we walked, the sky cleared, and Pen-Y-Ghent came out of hiding, mocking our failure to climb it.

pen-y-ghent, late morning

But the sun was shining, and we were enjoying our much less densely populated stroll – we only passed one other pair of walkers, not counting a farmer and a couple of horse riders (the trouble with ‘proper’, defined and well known walks is that they get incredibly crowded, even on a cold and misty spring morning out of tourist season).

curves: stone wall and farm track

three hills, yorkshire dales

straight lane, yorkshire

three winter trees

cattle grid and ancient land

We bought some Kendal Mint Cake on the way back after having a cup of tea out of the boot of the car. FUN!

the tea at the end of the walk

everyone feels a bit sick after their first time

Heading back to the cottage to meet up with M & A for lunch (they had stayed and done a local walk while we were out gallivanting), we drove back along the same road by which we had come, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking. It was a totally different drive. On the way out, we had driven under the mist, through the mist and over the mist – several times we had been convinced that we were about to drive over the edge of the world. But now! We could see for miles, the sun was shining – it was a whole new world!

pen-y-ghent, completely clear

horse drawn animals?

j cooking pasta

After lunch, while M & A had themselves a little afternoon snooze, we set off on another walk, up across Hawkswick Moor – right on our doorstep! The first 10 minutes or so was quite hard going – a steep climb which had us panting and sweating despite the chilly winds.

j & d on the climb up

j clutching the laminated os map

After that, though, it was fairly easy walking, and included several stop offs to admire the snow at the bottom of the dips in the ground.

shake holes with snow

it's all sweet and innocent, i swear... GONNA GETCHA!

The moor seemed to be strewn with rabbit corpses, and we amused ourselves by making increasingly poor moor-based puns about how they had died (‘They were moor-tified’ and ‘They were tasty moor-sels for the birds’ and ‘They’re not im-moor-tal’ . . . and then D said he was rabbitly running out of moor puns, so we stopped).

rabbit skull

We followed stone walls and quad-bike tyre tracks (it was open access land – we cold go where we pleased!) and found plenty more little pockets of snow to stomp on!

looking back up to old cote moor

looking down the ridge between wharfedale and littondale

this one's for dad

We also saw lots and lots of bell holes. Or were they shake holes? Or both? (Answer: both! Shake holes are the larger depressions caused by collapses of underground caverns, etc. Bell pits are the residue of old-old-old lead mines in the Dales) Anyway, there were lots of holes in the ground, and many of them were in straight lines. A strange sight indeed.

line of bell pits

We wandered over to the triangulation point, and took in the views of the surrounding moors, the sun straining through the clouds – we were even treated to a rainbow! How perfect is that?! Amazing!

trig point: OSBM S5295

thumbs up: J with OSBM S5295

thumbs up: D with OSBM S5295

dappled light

conistone moor (?)

We sat for a bit on the hillside, and despite the wind and cold and drizzle, it was exceptionally pleasant – the sun’s crepuscular rays escaping spectacularly above the clouds over us. Then down, down, down we went, back to the cottage, for a lazy evening of bathing, eating, drinking, talking, reading and relaxing. Nice.

blast of light

hello again

d & j in the dales

We fell a bit in love with Yorkshire.

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