A couple of months ago I spotted a walking book in our local bookshop, it’s called The Yorkshire Top 30, by Jonathan Smith. Apparently a mountain has to be at least 2000′ high and a certain amount of individual height around it to be classed officially as a mountain and within the Yorkshire Dales National Park there are thirty such mountains. The national park spreads itsself a little wider than Yorkshire’s boundary so some are in Cumbria and the odd one is in Lancashire. My walking buddy and I usually do a long distance walk each year but covid put paid to that both last year and this year, so we’ve decided to challenge ourselves to walking the Yorkshire Top 30, no time limit, we’ll just tick them off as we go.
On Monday we made a start. We decided to do Buckden Pike, the books route was only 5.5 miles, we can do that, we thought!
Buckden Pike is at the top end of Wharfedale, so we drove up and parked in Buckden village. The path goes steadily up from the carpark, it’s called Buckden Rake. We had a few stops to take photos…and have a two minute rest! We were fascinated by this tree and the angle it was growing at…
…it was noticeable how the trees here were at least a couple of weeks behind us further down the valley in Otley.
We quickly gained height and with it wonderful views up and down the valley, this photo is looking over towards Hubberholme and Yockenthwaite…
As the path climbed up and round the mountain we noticed the terraces on the hillside above the hamlet of Cray, the fields were sprinkled with white and yellow flowers. We saw quite a few wild flowers, violets, primroses, may flower, cotton grass, speedwell to name just a few, during the walk.
Upper Wharfedale is classic limestone country, this area looked like it had been quarried at some point. In the past this was actually quite an industrial area, there are still lots of old mine shafts and lime kilns, the remains of old settlements can also be made out.
Yorkshire is also known for its dry stone walls, so called because no mortar is used, they stay up due to the skill of the waller and how he choses and positions the stones, most of these walls are hundreds of years old. We noticed the one in the photo below which as you can see was built on a pretty steep incline, but all the stones are following a horizontal line, not the line of the hillside.
We like to have regular breaks and snacks whilst we’re walking, a ten minute sitdown makes all the difference. This was our view for our first break, a Greggs sausage roll and a cup of coffee.
As we got higher we could gradually see more mountains on the horizon, it was pretty hazy but we could just about make out Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside.
After much huffing and puffing we finally reached the top and sat next to the cairn to eat our sandwiches and a sticky bun!
Unfortunately shortly after this my phone died so no more photos!
The route the book suggested didn’t look or sound the easiest of paths so we decided to take the well marked path down the Starbotton, it was longer but looked easier. We walked along the ridge of Buckden Pike to see the Polish War memorial, during the second world war an airplane crashed up here during a training flight. One one airman survived, he crawled all the way to Cray. Hr returned many years later to build a memorial to his comrades.
The path down was not too difficult, a bit boggy in places and rough with loose stones in others, it was very noticeable how bad the erosion was from walkers. It was difficult in places as the path had eroded into a narrow rut or a boggy bit which meant it was easier to walk next to the path rather than on it…but then you’re making the erosion worse! We made reasonable progress down to Starbotton.
Starbotton is a really pretty village and it also has a footbridge over the Wharfe so we could walk along the river bank back to Buckden. It made a nice end to the walk and was certainly easier on the feet than two miles on a narrow, busy road.
Altogether (according to Garmin!) we had walked 8.5 miles, further than we thought it would be. We were both pretty tired at the end but it was encouraging that we had done it…though if a bus had gone past at Starbotton I would have been flagging it down!!
Our first mountain ticked off 🙂