On Monday my walking buddy and I ticked off another two mountains in our Dales 30 challenge. This is from a book by Jonathan Smith with routes up every official ‘mountain’ in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Apparently they have to be over 2,000′ to be a mountain. We’re aiming to walk up them all, goodness know how long it will take us but that doesn’t matter!
The weather forecast for Monday wasn’t brilliant, high chance of rain for most of the morning, so I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to a sunny morning here in Otley. However by the time we had bought our sandwiches (..and sausage roll and a sticky bun!) and driven up to the far end of Littondale, there was a rather large black cloud ahead.
We parked at Foxup which is a little hamlet at the top of Littondale. The farm there has a lovely stone bridge and a very friendly sheepdog!
We followed the path which goes over to Ribblesdale. We were heading for Pen-y-ghent, one of the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge’, I’ve walked up Pen-y-ghent a couple of times from the popular starting point of Horton in Ribblesdale, but this time we were combining it with Plover Hill which is just along the ridge from Pen-y-ghent.
The dark cloud got blacker as we walked towards it, we watched its progress and to our relief it was blown down the next valley.
We climbed upwards for about a mile before the path started to follow the contour round Plover Hill making for much easier walking. A few fields later and we reached decision time…
There was a little path which went straight up the side of Plover Hill, or we could walk round to the main path up Pen-y-ghent and then walk back along the ridge. We had decided to see what it looked like before we made a decision, but we had already decided that we could either go up the steep path to Plover Hill and down the main path from Pen-y-ghent, or we would ascend and descend by the Pen-y-ghent path. The little path was too steep for us to happily come down.
We looked at the little path and decided to go for it, it looked doable! It was a steep pull up a grassy path up to the craggy bit, then the path followed a route up through the rake, (a passable route between two crags ) it was a bit of a scramble, I quite like scrambling over rocks but this one did get a little hairy with my lack of balance, at one point I gave my walking poles to my friend as It was easier to have both hands free to hold onto the rocks…and don’t look down!
Once up on top it was a fairly steady walk to the top of Plover Hill. As mountains go it’s a pretty uninspiring top, especially when the clouds have come down so we couldn’t even see the view.
From Plover Hill it’s about 1.5 miles along the ridge to Pen-y-ghent. We couldn’t see the top initially as it was shrouded in cloud, but as we approached the summit the cloud lifted and gradually revealed the wonderful view of Ribblesdale. We sat and ate our sandwiches on the sheltered seat at the top.
We could still see a lot of heavy rain but fortunately (for us!!) it was raining on Ingleborough on the other side of the valley. It always fascinates me to watch weather systems like this. There was a solid bank of cloud to our left at one point and you could literally see it being pushed away like a wall of white by the wind.
I’ve just got a new camera so I was playing with it, it does panoramas! This one is from the top where we had our lunch. It’s about 180 degrees, so it does distort it somewhat but it gives you an idea!
This one is the view as we were heading down Pen-y-ghent, the paths have had to be flagged with old York stone or with a loose stones as there has been so much erosion on the three peaks. You can see how much the weather changed in probably half an hour. We went from all layers on and wishing I’d brought my hat and gloves to just a t-shirt!
We followed the path all the way down to Hull pot, you can just make out the path disappearing into the distance. I read recently that Hull pot is the biggest natural hole in the country, you could fit a cathedral in it. What is more amazing is that a couple of years ago there was so much rain it flooded! Itwas a bit of a detour to actually visit the pot so we gave it a miss this time!
From there we followed the Littondale path, the one we started on from the Foxup end. It meandered up and down, supposedly following the contours but we were flagging by this point so it seemed quite hilly! This was the view up towards the wonderfully named area of Cosh as we finally descended down to the farm at Foxup where our car was parked.
Altogether we walked about 9.5 miles, so it was a good distance. It was also a lovely way to climb Pen-y-ghent, away from the hoards on the usual paths, I would certainly recommend it…..and we can tick off another two mountains.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is starting to get somewhat controversial as in recent years it has become very popular for charity sponsored walks. In normal times every weekend in the summer there will be hoards walking up here. The challenge starts at Horton in Ribblesdale and the aim is to walk the 26 miles of Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside within 12 hours. The carparks in the village are full to overflowing by 7am and hundreds walk through the village in their heavy boots, chattering away, oblivious to the fact that it is early in the morning at a weekend. When we walked there a couple of years ago I was astounded as we had to queue to reach the top of Pen-y-ghent. The work need to protect the area from erosion is costing thousands, I think really any charity wishing to fund raise with the Three Peaks should have to give a percentage of the money raised to the National Parks to help maintain the area.
For those who like numbers,Pen-y-ghent is 2,277 feet high and is 8th in the top 30, Plover Hill is 2231 feet high and is 11th in the table. So we have done three now, twenty seven to go!