Mountains, Bogs, And Moisture

It was a strange day.  My 18 year old had asked to come hill walking with me which meant a change of my original route to something I felt he would be more ‘at ease’ with.  This gave me the opportunity to test him, without going over the top, especially when you consider the furthest he usually walks is from his bedroom to the fridge and back.  I selected a route, and although it was a good distance incorporating two mountains, the route contained a fair amount of level ground.

We set off into the Yorkshire Dales National Park towards Buckden, and the first mountain of the day, Buckden Pike.  Pulling into the National Park’s carpark in Buckden, we checked our gear, then set off.  It wasn’t long until we were out onto the moor well above the village.

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We made frequent stops so Kai could regain his composure, catch his breath, and have a drink.

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It was like the first time I’d ascended Buckden Pike, the views were stunning.  All my previous ascents had been in bad weather, low cloud, rain, gale force winds, etc.  It was pretty special to be able to see the mountain and the surrounding hills and mountains in all their glory.  In fact, in the distance we could see the Yorkshire 3 Peaks, Ingleborough, Pen-Y-Ghent, and the daddy of them all, Whernside.

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I’ve still to climb Pen-Y-Ghent (the mountain just to the left of centre on the above picture) but I’ve climbed the other two.  After a brief rest we pushed to the summit.

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We made our way towards the memorial cross that stands atop this mountain.  Since my last visit to the memorial, about 05:30 on July 2nd a lot more flag stones had been dropped off along the track, although these were still on their pallets waiting to be laid.  This is a very wet, boggy, peat moorland path so the flags help keep the peat from eroding, oh, and you out of the bog.

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From the memorial we headed towards our second mountain of the day, Great Whernside, often confused with Whernside, although never with Little Whernside…

This would be the most challenging section of the route as we were crossing the peat bogs of Tor Mere Top.  Although we were now to drop 200 metres the going would be slow, and wet, very wet.

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This area is crisscrossed with a lot of streams that need crossing and some of the ground (that seems solid when looking) is that wet, when you step onto it the whole surface moves as if a boat on a wave.  These areas need to be crossed with extreme caution.

We negotiated the peat bogs and, crossing the Park Rash Pass, stopped for a bite to eat before tackling Whernside.

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The climb to the summit was via Black Dike with a stop at Blackfell Top to look at, and scramble over the pile of stones.  It always amazes me to think that these stones are left over from when the glaciers that carved out these valleys hundreds of thousands of years ago passed through.

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It was only a short walk from these stones to the summit, and the trig point on Great Whernside.  The views from here were all new to me as the last time I climbed this mountain it was covered in snow, the rocks covered in ice, and visibility was next to nothing due to thick fog.

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From the summit we made our way down to Kettlewell via Hag Dyke and once in Kettlewell Kai decided he wanted to head back to Buckden by following the road.  He made it as far as Starbotton which was 2 miles short of Buckden.  I said I’d go get the truck and come back for him.  He’d pushed himself a fair bit and was starting to feel it by this point, I told him (trying to sound positive) he’d feel worse the following day but it would soon pass.  A couple of days later I asked him if he’d fancy coming out again and was pleasantly surprised as he said “yes”.

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Taking Out A First Timer? Here Are 5 Simple Steps For Success

Taking a first timer out onto the hill can be an exciting event, introducing someone new to the wonders of hill walking in the great outdoors.  It can also prove to be somewhat of a challenge but following these simple steps should hopefully help alleviate some of the stress.

1, Know your companions fitness level.

Knowing the fitness level of the person you’re taking out will be a big advantage, especially when planning a route.

2, Planning the route.

Plan a route that is challenging enough to keep the day exciting yet not too difficult so as not to put your companion off.  You want them to enjoy the experience, not have negative memories.  Be sure to factor in rest breaks and always go at a speed that suits your companion.

3, Check the weather.

There’s nothing worse for someone not used to being out on the hill than being out in bad weather.  Walking in constant rain or heavy winds is one of the best ways to ensure your companion never ventures out with you again.  We all know that the weather on the hill can change in a split second but there are a plethora of weather apps available to help you choose an appropriate day.  Remember to also check on the morning of your walk.

4, Clothing.

We know that having appropriate clothing is a must, jeans and a t-shirt might be fine for wandering round town but when it comes to walking on the hill, it’s just not going to cut it.  Ensure your companion has sensible clothing, especially footwear.

5, Breaks.

You might be able to walk all day without taking a break but it would be wrong, and unfair to assume your companion can.  During the planning stage you should’ve identified places where you can stop to rest and have something to eat or drink.  Be sure to eat and drink before you think you need to.  This will help keep your energy levels up.

Following these simple steps will help you enjoy, and have a relatively stress free day.

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The 36th Cheviots Challenge – The Pain, The Commitment, The Determination To Succeed.

The 2nd September saw me take part in the 36th Cheviots Challenge, a hill walking event that raises money for Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue.  There were two routes that could be chosen, a shorter 17 mile route, and the route I chose, the 23 miler that incorporated 3500ft of climbing.

The day started early, 5am for me as it was a two hour drive from home to Alwinton in the heart of the Cheviot Hills, Northumberland.  I’d prepped my bag the night before but was still unsure as to footwear, do I wear my Haix boots, or do I wear my Karrimor trail shoes?  I thought I’d make a decision at the start of the event once I knew what the conditions were like.

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The drive up to Northumberland was much more straightforward than I’d anticipated, I think I should travel everywhere at 5:30am, the roads are so clear!  I arrived at the car park (field) in Alwinton and made my way to the pub, which was where we all had to register.  I registered, confirmed that I was doing the long route, received my checkpoint card, and also a route map.  I was told that, as it was still before 8:00am that, although registered, I was unable to set off until the official start time of 8:00am.  “That’s cool” I thought as it would give me time to double check my gear and make a decision on footwear.

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Back at the truck, sorting through my rucksack I heard a “Morning” from behind me.  I turned round to see Ed, who was the culprit  person who had put this challenge idea in my head to begin with.  You see, a few months ago I received a Facebook message from Ed with a link all about the Cheviots Challenge.  I, being the good friend I am, signed up straight away to this event.  Ed however, Ed didn’t sign up to do the challenge, noooo, Ed wasn’t going to take part was he…  It turns out that our Ed was up in Northumberland though, in the next bloody village, visiting family, and had decided to come ‘see me off”.

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During our chat I’d decided to go with the trail shoes, I thought that as it was due to be a warm day, and with the distance involved, the boots would be a little too heavy.  I made the correct choice.  Ed said he’d walk part of the way with me, “great!” I thought, I was otherwise alone, not knowing anyone who had entered.  We set off just after 8:00am, I activated my Strava app.  As we walked, Ed was telling me a bit about his childhood as he grew up in this area and had actually worked on the very farm we were walking past.  After about 100 metres or so Ed said “right, I’m going to leave you here but good luck”.  “Oh, marvellous” I thought, “It’s your bloody fault I’m here in the first place and you abandon me right at the beginning…”  We said our goodbyes and I set off, alone.  I wasn’t really alone, I had plenty of people that I could follow round.

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The run to the first checkpoint was uphill, pretty much all the way.  It was definitely a climb to get the old heart pumping.  As I climbed I thought the views were awesome!  I’m used to the scenery and landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, this was something new, these were The Cheviot Hills.

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The weather was stunning, and the visibility, amazing.  For a first trip into these hills, I wasn’t going to de disappointed.  I reached the first checkpoint and nervously handed my card or stamping.  I’m not sure why I was nervous, I think it was the fact I was doing something that I don’t ordinarily do.  Not hill walking, I do a good deal of that, as can be seen from this blog.  I think it was more to do with the fact I was taking part in order to raise money for (as well as the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue TeamWalking With The Wounded and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.  This was a big thing for me, something I’d never done before so I think that failing and letting the charities, and those that had sponsored me down was in the back of my mind.

You can still sponsor me by visiting my Virgin Money Giving page, any amount would be greatly appreciated.

Setting off from the first checkpoint I started chatting to a real nice chap called Glen.  Glen had completed numerous Cheviots Challenge events in the past, in all manner of weathers.  We chatted about various things and he told me of an accident he, and his wife had come across while out walking these very hills.  The accident had actually very nearly cost the person their life, and if it hadn’t been for the efforts of Glen and his wife, the person would have certainly died.

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We walked, and chatted about what lay ahead all the way to checkpoint 2 where Glen and I would part company.  Glen had had a new knee fitted a few months earlier and as a result, was doing the shorter 17 mile route.  We shook hands, wished each other luck and separated.  I took the high road, and Glen took the low road, I’m sure there’s a song in there somewhere…

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I headed up the hill towards Border Ridge and checkpoint 3.

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The landscape had changed up here, no longer was I walking on grassy tracks, I was no on moorland tracks.  These tracks would take me all the way to the border that separated England from Scotland.

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The heather was in full bloom, a vibrant purple blanket, extending as far as the eye could see.  I continued on and before I knew it, I had reached the third checkpoint of the day.  From here I could see well into Scotland, although I was to stay in England, for the time being anyway…  It was between checkpoints 3 and 4, part way along I received a phone call, I took my phone from my thigh pocket and continued on my journey, replacing it back in my pocket after the conversation was over.

A little further along the track I came to a cairn.  On top of the cairn was a pole with a star on top, something I’d not seen before so I got my phone out to take a picture.  It was then I realised that my checkpoint card was no longer in my pocket.  I searched all my other pockets, knowing it wouldn’t be in any and searched the area I was stood.  All to no avail.  I decided that I’d better head back towards checkpoint 3 to see whether I could find it.

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One of the people I asked if they’d seen a checkpoint card said not to worry about it.  He said as long as I knew my entry number I’d be ok, people would loose them all the time.  I thought he may be right so, even though I was close to checkpoint 3, I turned round and continued along towards checkpoint 4.  About a mile from checkpoint 4 was the Ordnance Survey trig point at Windy Gyle.  Glen had told me that Windy Gyle was right on the border and if I walked round the trig point I’d have walked from England into Scotland, and back again.

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When I arrived there were a lot of people milling around, taking photographs, eating their dinners, etc.  I decided not to hang around and continued on towards my destination.  That said, Scotland was looking particularly beautiful.

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I eventually reached checkpoint 4 and told the officials that I’d lost my card.  “Oh, we’ve got it here!” said one, “you’re quite the topic, we’ve been talking about you on the radios.  It’s the first time we’ve had a card arrive at a checkpoint before its owner before.”  It seems someone had found the card prior to me knowing I’d lost it and had carried it to the next checkpoint.  Finally reunited with my card, I hit the trail once more.

Checkpoint 5 was where those doing the shorter route would join up again with us that were doing the longer route.  I did wonder whether I’d bump into Glen again, we had arranged to meet in the pub at the end of the event, if he was still around by the time I’d finished that is.  The path from checkpoint 4 to 5 was pretty straightforward, although it was a good 4 miles or so between checkpoints.  The scenery seemed to be getting better and better and I was beginning to see the route I’d taken in order to reach this point.  It was like a horseshoe and the distance to this point from the start had me impressed.  My previous longest day hike was my 16 mile hike, which you can read HERE.

The distance between checkpoint 5 and 6 was relatively short and I was feeling good in myself, although that was about to change…  Checkpoints 6 to 7 were another good distance apart, just shy of four miles (if memory serves) and a lot of the walking would be on a gravel track.  Initially the section ran alongside a wood and a really pretty stream that had some deep looking pools and I just felt like jumping in to cool off but I resisted the urge.

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It wasn’t really until I started walking along the gravel track that I started to really feel the pain.  I had developed a blister on my left heel but that wasn’t what was bothering me, it was the burning feeling I had in the soles of both feet.  Every step I took felt like walking on hot coals, it was horrible.  I was so glad I had taken a walking pole with me as I used it to try take some of the pressure off.  I kept looking at the map and thinking to myself, “not much further, just keep pushing, one foot in front of the other.”

I finally made it to checkpoint 7.  “Well done for getting this far” said the official, as he gave me some orange juice.  “There’s only about two and a half miles to go now.”  “Great!”  I thought, “and only one more hill to go” he said.  That wasn’t what I wanted to hear.  I had a top up of water and set off on the final leg, this leg would be nothing but pure hell for me.  At this point I’d walked about 21 miles, something my feet were not accustomed to.  I set off, trying to hide the pain I was feeling and made my way along the path that would lead me to the final climb.  As I was walking through the bracken I noticed that I was constantly going uphill, “if this is the hill then I can cope with this” I said to myself.  It wasn’t.

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I rounded a corner and in front of me stood the final hill.  This hill might as well have been Mt Everest.  It, although not big by any stretch, seemed huge to me.  I was in pain, my feet felt like they were on fire and my blister was starting to get more painful with every step.

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I looked again at the hill in front of me and I could see people traversing up the front of it.  I was determined to finish this event so again, putting one foot in front of the other, pushed on.  I came to a little stream at the foot of the hill and I put both feet in it.  The water came flooding through my trail shoes and my feet were instantly frozen.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t actually frozen but the water felt so cold.  It took all the pain away and for a minute or two I was able to walk without the burning sensation.  It soon wore off though and the burning was back.  Pushing on, and standing in every pool or stream I came across, I kept going.  I made it up and over the hill.  On the descent I could see the village of Alwinton in the distance, my destination, and the finish line.

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The very last section of the walk was along the road into the village.  This, for me was almost unbearable, the burning I was feeling was so bad that I wished I could just float.  I thought to myself that I couldn’t give up and the pain I was suffering now would be worthwhile in the end when the charities receive the money I’d raised.  The suffering I was feeling was nothing to that of those the Walking With The Wounded charity helped.  My few hours of suffering would be nothing compared to what they had experienced.  With that thought in my head, I really pushed hard to the finish, although the village seemed to get further away with every step closer I took.

Eventually I made it to the village, to the pub, and to the final checkpoint.  I handed in my card, was congratulated on completing the event, and was presented with my goodie bag and mug, courtesy of Cotswold Outdoors, along with my certificate.  Putting everything on the table, I headed to the bar for a very, very, well earned pint.

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As I sat there, contemplating what I’d just done, a couple I’d met while going round came in.  We congratulated each other and they sat down with me where we chatted about what we’d just done and what we were going to do next.  Heading back to our vehicles, we said our goodbyes, wished each other a safe journey, and went our separate ways.

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Thanks to my little detour (looking for my checkpoint card) it turns out I’d actually put an extra mile on the hike, 23.9 miles in total.  It was tough, real tough but it was worth every step and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.

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A Fair Hike – 16 miles, 3500ft Of Climbing

I had one of those rarest of rare things, a day off from work so I decided that I needed to head out into the hills.  I’d decided, a long time ago, that I wanted to climb Ingleborough, via Park Fell and Simon Fell so this was the plan.

I packed everything I needed into a 30 litre day pack and set off in the direction of Ribblehead.  The drive through the Dales was, as always, great.  The sun was shining and the dales were a hive of activity with farmers busy in the fields bringing in the harvest.  As I approached Ribblehead, my destination came into view.  Ingleborough, with its plateau of gritstone, supported by its friends, Simon Fell and Park Fell.

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I arrived at Ribblehead, parked up, grabbed my pack, checked the map, and set off.  The plan was to walk along Gauber Road a ways towards Horton In Ribblesdale before heading off up towards the first summit, Park Fell.

Turning off the road, towards Park Fell (yes, it was as steep as it looks) I crossed the Settle to Carlisle Railway (via a bridge) and was greeted with an immediate ascent but I was feeling positive about the day.

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I made my way along the track, past, what I’m assuming to be an old lead mine, and eventually to the foot of the ascent.

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My route was pretty much straight up, although there is an easier route as I saw another (the only other) person on Park Fell coming down it.  The ascent was not very long but it was steep, and quite slippery under foot.  We’d had a fair bit of rain previous to my visit, although none was forecast for the day, haha! Whatever!

Anyway, I continued upwards and glancing over towards Pen-Y-Ghent, erm, Pen-Y-Ghent… Hello! Bugger, Pen-Y-Ghent had vanished into a wall of rain.  I looked across to Whernside and low and behold, that too had vanished, “This might be interesting” I thought. Putting the distant weather to one side I eventually made it to the summit of Park Fell where the weather was nothing short of pleasant.  I saw the Ordnance Survey Trig Point across to my left slightly so made my way over to it.

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Lord’s Seat and the cairn on Simon Fell were my next destination.  I set off from Park Fell across open , very wet, peaty moorland; water regularly coming up to my ankles as I sploshed and squelched my way in the direction of Black Rock.  However, before reaching Black Rock that rain (previously mentioned) from on Whernside had reached me and made its presence very much known.  I quickly pulled my Berghaus jacket and Karrimor WTX trousers (a separate blog coming on these soon) out of my pack and put them on as Park Fell began to disappear behind me

.  I also put the rain cover on my pack, not wanting to make the same mistake of thinking “it’ll be ok” again…

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I continued on through the rain and made it to Black Rock where the weather had again taken a change of course.  I was no longer in need of my jacket, although my fleece was required.  I also decided to keep the waterproof trousers on.  I sat a moment and admired the views across the dale, Pen-Y-Ghent had once again come into view.  However, I didn’t sit long.

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Leaving Black Rock, I handrailed the wall until I came to a stile, I crossed the stile and made my way towards Lord’s Seat on Simon Fell.  From there I popped over the wall and climbed to the cairn where the wind was fair strong.

 

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I now needed to backtrack slightly, make my way across open, very boggy moorland once again before descending to Simon Fell Breast on the Dales High Way.  The peat was very wet, I regularly suck as I crossed.  I thought as I was on my own I should attempt to find a more suitable way across.  My only option was really to stick as close to the wall (that I was following) as possible so I’d at least have something to attempt to hold should I become stuck.  This was easier said than done though just by the pure nature of the area.  However, I made it down and on to the Dales High Way.  I was glad to be back on solid footings, although the track ahead of me looked like it would be fair tough going.

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Up to this point I’d only seen one other person, at the start of my ascent to Park Fell but heading along here I was followed by a couple of hikers, albeit a good distance behind.  The push to the summit wasn’t too dissimilar (I thought) to that of Pen Hill, although the steps on Pen Hill have been worn into the hill side, as opposed to built into it as on Ingleborough.

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I was now starting to see a lot more people coming off the mountain as I was heading up.  I remember passing a group who were stuck looking for the way down, I pointed them in the right direction and continued to the summit plateau, and the trig point.

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I was only on the summit a short time, in fact I ate a banana, a snickers, and had a quick drink of water before heading down in the direction of Chapel-le-Dale and, Whernside.

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Whernside was never part of my plan for the day but I thought it would be rude not to visit her, yet walk in her shadow.

I made my way down from the summit of Ingleborough towards Humphry Bottom.  On the steep descent I was talking to a couple of ‘older ladies’ we’ll say.  They asked whether I was doing the Three Peaks Challenge and were telling me how one of them had done it, while the other had done two of the three.  I told them I hadn’t made any plans to, but then again, I’d not made plans to climb Whernside either…  I said “it would entirely depend on how I was feeling once at the top of Whernside”.  We chatted a couple more minutes before saying our goodbyes, with me heading down at a much greater rate than them.  It never ceases to amaze me at just how friendly a bunch hill walkers seem to be.  I’ve only ever come across a small number that don’t say hello or ask how you’re doing when out.

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Saying goodbye to Ingleborough, I made my way across Souther Scales Nature Reserve in the direction of Chapel-le-Dale and ultimately, Whernside.

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Crossing the main road I made my way into the village and to the church.  Now I’m not a religious man but I really love visiting these old churches and the one at Chapel-le-Dale certainly is old, been built in the late 1600’s.

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Leaving the church I headed towards Ellerbeck, along the Dales High Way.  The track was good going and tree lined either side for a way.  Upon arriving at Ellerbeck, the farmer was moving some ewes onto new pastures so as not to disturb them, I slipped into the trees and watched them pass.  A few sheep saw me but they didn’t seem bothered by my presence.  Upon going through the farm yard, more sheep were in the folds waiting to be moved.  I continued on and after a short while thought it time to eat some more.  I wasn’t stopping to eat, opting instead to eat as I moved.  I pulled some chocolate covered flapjacks from my pack and washed them down with more water.  I looked back to where I’d come from, pleasantly impressed with my progress but the hardest part was yet to come.  I was going to ascend Whernside in what would be a short, sharp, hellish, climb.  I’d not gone up Whernside this way before but I had come down it so I knew just how tough a climb I was in for.

I wasn’t wrong!  The climb was a tough one, although in my defence, I had hiked around 10 miles by this point…  I was glad to have so many people coming down as it meant I frequently had to stop to let them pass.  I eventually made it onto the less steep incline, the views made the pain all totally worthwhile.

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Not much further to the summit and after passing a good 50 or so people from all walks of life, including the couple I met that were climbing mountains one day at a time while on holiday in the Dales with their young kids, I was once again on my own.  The visit to the summit was brief, the last time I was here there was still snow down.  However, I did take the opportunity to sit a moment and take in all the splendour that surrounded me.

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I didn’t stay at the summit too long as I had over four miles still to hike, albeit downhill.  I’m not a massive fan of the downhill stretches, the descent jolting my knees.  This could’ve easily been avoided had I taken my walking poles.  I knew I should’ve taken my walking poles…

As I passed Greensett Moss tarn I chuckled to myself, remembering how previously my 6 year old likened it to looking at the Earth from space as there was snow patches around it which looked like clouds.

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This final section of the walk seemed pretty tough going, although the track is well built, a mixture of flag stones and gravel paths.  I think it was maybe cos I knew it was the homeward stretch and psychologically knew the end was a few miles away.

As Ribblehead Viaduct came in to view I knew that the end of the hike, my longest to date was almost over.

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I passed the viaduct and made it back to my truck.  Looking at the data collected via the ‘Map My Walk’ app on my phone I could see that the walk had been 16.4 miles with a total ascent of over 3500 feet.

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I did contemplate heading over to Pen-Y-Ghent but as I want to incorporate Plover Hill into my Pen-Y-Ghent ascent, I decided to leave that for another day.  Well, that’s my official excuse anyway.

All in all, I really enjoyed the hike.  The ascent and descent was pretty killer but then I’m putting this down as a training session towards my 22 mile Cheviots Challenge next month, and it’s also another quality hill day towards my Hill & Moorland Leader qualification.

 

 

Heading Down A New Path

After a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided that I’m going to take the plunge and do my Hill & Moorland Leader’s qualification so, I’ve signed up with Mountain Training who run the scheme and I’m now logging each and every walk I do in order to build up my portfolio of relevant experience.  The main reason for signing up to do this course is that one day, I’d like to be able to lead walking trips, trips to introduce people both young and old(er) to the beauty, the beauty, serenity, and splendour that can be found high up amongst some of the Yorkshire Dales’ most iconic hills and moorland.  If it’s not already become apparent (through reading this blog, following me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) that I love being out in the hills, hill walking, then it soon will.  I’m also starting to spend more and more nights out on the hill too, wild camping.

So, just what will this course entail?  Well, would you believe, a lot of hill walking.  I will need to have logged at least 40 quality hill walking days in at least three separate upland areas of the UK and Ireland prior to undertaking my assessment.  It’s not quite as simple as just that though, there’s a lot of other factors to take into account, such as route finding, navigation, group management, understanding weather, emergency procedures, etc.

There’s no set timescale in which to do this, and I’ve not set myself a target, although it would be nice to complete this as quickly as possible.  That said, there’s a lot to take in and other factors, such as life and work will dictate how quickly I progress with this.

Hill & Moorland Leader

A ‘Wild Night Out’

 

Saturday 1st July 2017 saw the second Wild Night Out event take place.  What is Wild Night Out?  You may ask.  Well, it’s a celebration and an encouragement for all and everyone to get out and spend a day and night in the great outdoors, brought to you in association with those lovely people at Ordnance Survey.  It also encourages you to raise money for two great charities, the Youth Adventure Trust, and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, details of both can be found by clicking the relevant links.

To mark the occasion, my 11 year old and I decided to have a wild camp on the summit (702m – 2303ft) of Buckden Pike.  We’d be joined at some point in the evening by my brother who was working but until he arrived, it would just be Jasmine and me.

Everything was packed into our rucksacks that we wanted to take and it was in the back of the truck.  We told ‘the boss’ where we were going and when we expected to return, then headed off.  We stopped off on route just above the village of Cray, in Wharfedale to have a quick look at the waterfalls that make this area a great spot to visit.

One Of The Waterfalls Above Cray

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After taking in the splendour and beauty of the scenery, we continued on our journey to the village of Buckden.  Here we’d park up in the National Park’s car park and head to the summit for our wild camp.

We parked up, got our packs on, and after a last minute check, set off up through Rakes Wood onto Buckden Rake.  This was a nice steep ascent to start the hike, always good to get these out the way early on.

Heading Up To Buckden Rake

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We came to the top of the climb and onto the open fell.  The path was really well defined, as well as well signed.

The weather had changed as we made our way towards Cow Close, it wasn’t raining but the wind was blowing a fair bit and the cloud had started to descend, bringing a noticeable drop in temperature.  We both donned our jackets and continued on our journey.  As we climbed, we met a couple coming down from the summit, “are you doing the night?” we were asked, “Aye, we are” I said.  “It’s really wild up top, you’ll probably want to pitch the other side of the wall.”  “Yes” I said, “that’s probably a good idea, thank you!”  “Enjoy your night, hope the weather breaks for you.”  After we’d said our goodbye’s we continued on, the views magnificent, although you could see the change in weather.

A Storm Approaching From Langstrothdale

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We pushed on as we still had a fair hike ahead of us and the wind was picking up.  I kept telling Jasmine that once out of Cow Close we would hit a sand track and once on it, it wasn’t far to the summit.  I neglected to tell her of the climb that lay ahead, well, I didn’t think I should burden her with minor details, plus, she’d find out soon enough.

We were now into the cloud and the wind was blowing 35mph with gusts far exceeding that.  We were determined that this weather wasn’t going to spoil our night, after all, it was supposed to have blown out by 10pm.

We pushed a little further into the cloud and Jasmine eventually made it to the point I forgot to mention to her…  It was a shame that the cloud was low as the view back across the dale from this spot is quite stunning and it would’ve been nice for her to see where she’d walked from.

It wasn’t much further until the trig point and cairn on the summit came in to view and we pushed on with a renewed vigour.

Not wanting to spend more time than absolutely necessary in the cloud and wind we decided the summit photo’s could wait, it was time to get the tent up and get something hot to eat and drink.  We climbed over the wall where we would (to an extent) be sheltered and found a spot to pitch.

Still Hellish Windy

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Tent Pitched

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Everything sorted, it was time to get out the wind and get some food.

The view from the tent wasn’t great but wild camping isn’t just about views, it’s about been out in the wild and getting away from the daily grind.  We were out there, we were also supporting a good cause, and we were doing things Jasmine would remember as she grew up.

The View From The Door

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Jasmine opted for tomato soup for her tea, well why wouldn’t she, Heinz market it as a soup for just such weather as we were facing.

Heinz Tomato Soup, Perfect…

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After Jasmine had eaten, we tried to contact my brother to see how far off he was.  The signal was very hit and miss at the summit so we ventured into the wind again to get a good enough signal to call him.  We didn’t have to go far, 150 metres or so from the tent, although we made sure to stay on the eastern side of the wall to keep the worse of the wind off us as it was still really bad.

Is It Still Windy?

One good thing about the wind was it was now finally blowing the low cloud away and we were treated to an amazing display of the setting sun, patchy cloud, and great views.

A Visual Treat

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I managed to make contact with my brother who was actually not too far from us, although he was making slower than anticipated progress due to an existing leg injury.  I asked where he was and said we’d make our way to assist him.  I managed to keep in contact with him as we set out into the night, it was just after 11pm by this point but we came across him as he made his way up the ‘steps’ near the summit.  I took his pack from him to ease his burden, cos I’m nice like that but don’t tell anyone, I’ve a reputation to keep.

Nodd Appearing Through The Dark

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Finally making it into camp, Jasmine went to bed while Nodd and I set up his tent before getting ourselves fed.  I was having a chicken curry, while he opted for a somewhat less ‘adventurous’ beans and sausages.

Chicken Curry 🙂

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It was about midnight now, the cloud had pretty much blown out, we could see the lights of villages in the far distance, we had clear skies, and the moon was almost full.  The night was almost perfect.  After eating we decided that it was bed time, hopefully the morning would bring with it a better day than what we’d already encountered.

The Summit Trig Point And Cairn At Midnight

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Lights In The Distance

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I awoke around 5am, the rising sun hitting the tent bathing it in a golden morning light.  The view was also a little different than it was when we had arrived the evening before.

Morning World

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While the others slept, I decided that I’d make my way to the memorial cross that’s situated a little way from the summit.  The memorial was erected by the sole survivor of a tragedy that happened on 30th January 1942.  An RAF Wellington Bomber was on a training mission when the plane flew into a deadly snowstorm.  Looking for landmarks they spotted a town below them but were unable to identify it.  Continuing on, the plane hit a wall on top of Buckden Pike and crashed in the snow, 4 of the Polish crew were killed instantly, the others were all badly injured.  The least injured was the rear air gunner, Joseph Fusniak, although he had a severely broken ankle.  Joseph had to get off the Pike otherwise he would die of exposure but he had no idea where he was.  He could’ve been mile from no-where, thousands of feet high on a mountain.

As he dragged his broken body he collapsed due to the pain and exhaustion.  On the ground he noticed animal tracks, the tracks of a fox.  He knew that in severe weather a fox would instinctively head downhill to find a farm, food, and shelter.  Joseph dragged himself along, following the tracks, trying to keep them in his sight as the heavy snowfall and biting wind made their best efforts to hide them.  Eventually pulling himself over a wall Joseph was in despair, he shouted for help.  He thought it hopeless but suddenly figures emerged through the snow.  It was the landlord of the White Lion Inn in Cray.  His daughter had heard the airman’s cries for help and thinking he was a shepherd, alerted her father, Joseph’s ordeal was over.  Sadly all of Joseph’s crew mates had died on the Pike.

Joseph erected the memorial to his crew mates, giving thanks to the Parker family of the White Lion, and ultimately to the fox, without whom, he would’ve surely died on Buckden Pike.

5:30am At The Memorial Cross

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I left the tranquillity of the memorial and made my way back to the camp to find both Nodd and Jasmine awake.   We had breakfast, broke camp, and made our way down to Buckden.

Leave No Trace

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At The Trig Point On Buckden Pike

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A Momentary Lapse Of Reason

In (as I write this) less than two days time I, along with several hundred people will descend upon Kettlewell in the Yorkshire Dales. Why? You may ask. Well, the answer is simple, the Wharfedale 3 Peaks Challenge. “The what!?” I hear you say. The Wharfedale 3 Peaks Challenge might not be as well known as it’s cousin, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks but in Yorkshire it is, and a challenge,  it certainly is. It consists of hiking 22 miles over some of Yorkshire’s most unforgiving terrain and is said by some to be harder than the Yorkshire 3 Peaks due to that very terrain over which it’s carried out. Starting (and finishing) in Kettlewell, you climb Great Whernside, Buckden Pike, and what will be a new hill for me, Birks Fell. 

This will be my first ‘timed’ hill walking event, which actually came about due to a momentary lapse of reason (and I’m not referring to any Pink Floyd album); a laptop, and a bank card… I do have another 20+ hill walk scheduled for the beginning of September, The Cheviots Challenge, which was a well (more) thought out plan. That said, even though I’ve less than 48 hours to prepare, I’m actually looking forward to this.