My friend and I had a couple of nights in a lovely B&B up near the pretty village of Ravenstonedale, walking some of the more distant Dales 30 mountains. Many are close enough to do as a day trip, but some are nearer the lakes and it’s much easier and more fun to have a couple of nights away. We stayed on a working sheep farm called Upper Greenside, it was ideal for us, comfortable, good breakfasts and a drying room for wet clothes!
We drove up via Swaledale to climb Rogan’s Seat. We parked in the pretty village of Keld and had THE BEST bacon sandwich from the farmhouse at the bottom which has a campsite attached. The walk took us up the top of swaledale, past the ruins of Crackpot Hall. I’d seen the hall on maps but never walked this way. It’s about 300 years old, originally a farmhouse it was finally abandonned around 1950 as subsidence from the lead mines made it uninhabitable. It’s wonderful name apparently comes from old norse words for crow and cave
It was a great walk up, we went up a narrow valley, which felt quite precarious at times. Swaledale used to be very much an industrial area (in 18th century terms!) with lots of mining and quarrying. The remains of buildings and spoil heaps can still be seen, it must have been a pretty desolate place to work. The heather is all in flower on the moors at the moment, it looked beautiful.
Once we reached the top plateau, the mist and rain started, luckily we were then walking on a landrover track which as there for the shooting fraternity. The actual official top of Rogan’s Seat wasn’t very clear, especially shrouded in mist, so we chose a clump of stones amongst the peat haggs and decided we were there!
We usually have our lunch on the top but there was clearly going to be no where dry in the rain and wind in the middle of a peat bog. I remembered passing a shooting hut about quarter of a mile earlier, we thought we might just be able to sit in the lea of the hut out of the wind. However we were pleased to see the shooting hut was only closed with a sneck lock and a rusty nail, so we opened the door, peered inside and found a long wooden table with benches either side, a perfect spot for lunch.
We returned by the same route, I did comment to my friend as we walked down that there’s a reason some summits have no paths going to them, as why the … would you want to go up there!! The walk up to the plateau was lovely though and it ticked another one off our challenge.
Having dried off at our B&B the next day (Sunday) the aim was to climb Yarlside and Randytop. We parked near the Cross Keys, an old Temperance Inn on the road to Sedburgh. The path took us gradually up towards Cautley Spout, which is meant to be the highest waterfall in England. Our path veered off to the right before reaching the falls but we still got a pretty good view and you could hear them for a long way too.
The path took us steeply up to the col with Bowderdale and then straight up the side of Yarlside. The higher we got the stronger the wind got, wind on mountains scares me more than anything due to my lack of balance, I’ve been blown over before! As we reached the ridge, just before the final ascent, it was getting beyond a joke. We sat down and ate our sndwiches, in the hope it would ‘blow over’. Half an hour later it was no better so we made the decision to turn back, it just wasn’t safe to continue. We were probably only 100m from the summit.
When you’re walking in the mountains you have to have total respect for the mountain and for the weather, it can change so quickly and there are so many micro-climates. It’s one of the hardest things to teach someone, when to turn back.
Despite not quite reaching the summit (We’re still calling it climbed for our challenge!) We really enjoyed the walk, we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones, there were a few scary bits even without wind and the views were amazing. This is on the edge of the Lakes and it has a completely different feeling to walking in the Dales, I love getting up high on the ridges, you can’t beat it!
After our walk we called in for a pot of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle at the Cross Keys. It’s a fascinating place, still run as a Temperance Inn so there’s no alcohol served. Apparently it’s the only pub in England without a liquor license! I’ve just read an article about it and it dates back to 1732, originally it was a normal pub, but in 1902 the landlord drowned inn the nearby river Rothey trying to help a drunk man. The next owner removed the license and it’s been a Temperance Inn every since, selling a huge range of non alcoholic drinks…and cakes!
On Monday we decided to walk up Fellside, this is one of the mountains you can see as you drive up the M6 through Cumbria. It was a lovely walk, all the high mountain feelings of being on top of the world without the scary bits of steep, narrow paths!
We were delighted to see the wild ponies on our ascent – until I read the Dales 30 book I didn’t even know there were wild ponies up here!
The view from the top was amazing, we could see across to Morecambe Bay, over to the Lakeland fells, though trying to identify them from that direction wasn’t easy – we think we could make out Helvellyn and the Langdale pikes…
It was a fairly easy descent, picking our way down the flanks of the mountain and through the bracken back to the car.
All in all we had a wonderful few days, despite a little inclement weather! We ticked off three more of the Dales 30, I think we’ve also realised that the authors suggestions of doing two in a day are a bit optimistic for us, we can do it occasionally like with Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill, but we also know when enough is enough. We’ll just have to go back for another weekend!
The Dales 30 book is certainly making us explore and walk in corners of the National Park we’ve never been to before. Next week we’re hoping to climb Great Whernside.