Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dent to Settle

The last two months have fairly whizzed by but finally we found a couple of days to walk the second section of our “Dales High Way Backwards”. And what a couple of days! After the rain of the Appleby to Dent walk it was wonderful to see some sun.

The sun was shining as we walked down into Dentdale

We got the train to Dent station and followed the Dales Way down the valley to pick up the DHW near Whernside Manor.

Joining the Dales Way at Lea Yeat

We followed the Craven Way all the way up to Boot of the Wold at the foot of Whernside. It’s a steady climb on a rocky track that gives way to a grassy, green lane and is very good walking.

The Craven Way

The views are fantastic all the way up though we had to turn round to get the best ones.  At Boot of the Wold we had our first break, perched on a lime kiln, and watched as a tiny two-carriage train chugged over Arten Gill viaduct and pulled into Dent Station. This is a real WOW point. The curve of Dentdale spreads out below with the Howgills and Lakeland Fells visible in the distance.

We left the track and headed up Whernside. Immediately conditions changed and we found ourselves yomping across wet peat on our way to the summit. The tarns were clear and calm, though freezing cold, the sun on my face more than made up for the soggy feet and we were soon at the top.

Whernside tarn

When I was a girl and living in Dentdale our sheep grazed on Whernside. There are few gates or fences on the tops and the sheep from neighbouring farms live side by side, each flock keeping to its own section of fell, a phenomena known as hefting. I had fun trying to work out which farm the sheep we saw were from by the coloured marks on their wool. A bit of a memory test!

As  we’d made good time and were enjoying the day we decided that rather than head straight down to Chapel-le-Dale and our accommodation we’d have a bit of an explore. We left Whernside after the first steep descent and wandered off west along the ridge, accompanied all the way by great views over Kingsdale to our right and the slopes of Ingleborough to our left. After a couple of miles we turned and headed back towards Chapel-le-Dale across the limestone pavement of Twistleton, the perfect location for filming an alien landscape. Dr Who anyone?

Limestone pavement at Twistleton
At Chapel-le-Dale we had a short rest in the sunshine and a quick peek in the church. The memorials to the people who died during the building of the Settle-Carlisle railway line are very moving – not just the men who were working on the line but women and children too.

Dale House Farm
We'd booked B&B at Dale House Farm. It’s about half an hour off the DHW route but worth the short detour. If you’re too tired to make it and you can get a signal just give the farm a ring and someone will come and pick you up at Chapel-le-Dale. We walked, following a lane for a short way then cutting across fields to God’s Bridge where we joined the road for about 10 minutes before heading down to the farm. The accommodation is my favourite sort of B&B – a self-contained mini-apartment with its own entrance, a main bedroom, a mezzanine room with twin beds and a bathroom. Breakfast is served in the room and the whole experience was very relaxed. The farm breeds Kune Kune pigs and we had a quick cuddle of the piglets before we were offered a lift to (and from) the pub for the evening. Breakfast was excellent – home reared bacon and sausage!! 

A Kune Kune piglet - 2 days old

The next morning we could have had a lift back to the main route but we’d caught the exploring bug and decided to work our way across Raven Scar and head up Ingleborough that way.

The view from our window

The climb from Dale House Farm was not as steep as it looked from our bedroom window and we were soon above the limestone terraces. After a bit of to’ing and fro’ing along a wall to locate a stile we found ourselves on another huge limestone pavement with Ingleborough rearing up ahead. Crossing this was easy enough with the mountain to head for but would be more difficult on the way down as there are no clear paths.

Heading towards Ingleborough
We joined the very obvious track that comes up from Crina Bottom and followed it all the way, reaching the broad, open surface of the summit after a short, sharp climb. The weather was glorious, if a little windy and I stood at the edge looking back towards Whernside and our route of the previous day.

Looking back
There was no time to waste though. It was already midday and we had another 11 miles to go before we reached Settle and the train home. Besides, I’d promised myself a mug of Elaine’s excellent coffee when we reached the tearoom at Feizor.

Ingleborough was busy and we met a fair few walkers coming up as we headed down towards Horton-in-Ribblesdale. As soon as we cut off though and followed the DHW into Crummackdale we were entirely alone.

Leaving Ingleborough behind

It is the most glorious valley and we walked in perfect solitude all the way to Wharfe, stopping only to sit awhile at the clapper bridge at Wash Dub Field before pushing on to Feizor and cake! This day just gets better and better.
Revived and refreshed our route took us over Smearsett Scar before dropping down into Stainforth  and a final riverside walk into Settle where a decision awaited – straight to the station or miss the train and go to the pub till the next one? Guess which won!!


Till next time
Tony and Chris - no Jess, she was on her holidays
August 2011