Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dales High Way again

On a lighter note.......

In a frantic effort to use my last few days leave (use it or lose it!), 2 weeks ago  I spent another 3 days in the Yorkshire Dales basing my routes again on the Dales High Way and the excellent associated handbook

Learning from my last visit, I went straight to Skipton and parked at the train station. I wanted to get as close to Ingleborough as possible giving me the possibility of getting as far as, and over, the Howgills the next day. I therefore followed the High Way as previously towards Malham.

I had thought of going from Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale via Pen-y-Ghent but decided to stay on the High Way and continued on to Settle. With the longer day, I was able to press on to Stainforth and then decided to go to Horton via the Ribble Way. 

I arrived at the Crown Inn just before it started getting dark where I had a most enjoyable meal and good night's sleep. A pleasing 27.5 miles in lovely conditions - sun, and fresh snow.

In the morning, early breakfast was available, so I was able to leave just after 7:00. It was a frosty, crisp and clear morning, and I made good time on to the summit of Ingleborough. The last section was very icy and I was pleased to have my Kahtoohla microspikes with me.  

Due to severe ice, I took the safer route along the ridge over Park Fell then down through Chapel-le-Dale, and onto Whernside

I reached Dent just after 13:00, and had a very pleasant bowl of home made soup followed by some cake at Stoneclose tearooms.

Looking at my maps, accommodation options and available daylight , I decided I could get to Sedbergh, over the Howgills and on to Ravenstonedale. Once out of Dent, I rang Jenny who researched accomodation and booked a room at The Black Swan.

Having had lovely sunny skies all day, it began to cloud over as I reached Sedbergh. The main purpose of getting to the Howgills today was to actually see the view so I began to feel it just wasn't to be. I began to feel very tired as I climbed up out of Sedbergh but soon felt better after some emergency chocolate! As I reached the summit at The Calf, the skies cleared and I was treated to the most wonderful late afternoon sun and then a glorious sunset as I descended towards Newbiggin-on-Lune and onto Ravenstonedale.

After a superb day and just over 37 miles, I arrived at The Black Swan in the last few rays of sunlight. And what a lovely choice of accommodation it was - welcoming host, a superb dinner and a really comfortable room. They also provided me with a breakfast tray for the morning which consisted of cereal, juice, croissant, Danish pastry and juice for my early getaway. Highly recommended.

The next day, I again set off just after 07:00. My plan was to follow the low-level detour of the Dales High Way back to Sedbergh and Dent, then pick up the Dalesway to reach Buckden or Kettlewell. In was a lovely cold but sunny morning again. The forecast was for increasing cloud and possible snow showers in the late afternoon.

The route to Sedbergh was very pleasant and I stopped at Stone close tearooms again for some mid-morning cake and coffee. Or was it 2 pieces of cake!

The Dalesway from Dent then followed several miles of tarmac which was very disappointing. It was also beginning to cloud over rapidly, and as I reached Denthead viaduct it began to snow heavily.

Over Blea Moor I was met by blizzard conditions and it started to get decidedly unpleasant. I was also feeling tired and I quickly made the sensible decision to bail out to Ribblehead and get a train back to Skipton. This was my last major training before the MdS so I didn't want to completely butcher myself! 

When I reached Ribblehead, I had covered 26+ miles, so I was really pleased with 3 consecutive marathon distance days.

I am really enjoying discovering the Yorkshire Dales. My mini-adventures are all great fun but it's always nice to get home to my Jenny!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Troller's Trot, 2nd March 2013

Jenny and I had a well deserved weekend to ourselves recently and decided to get away for some walking if the weather was OK. I suggested to Jenny – or was it coerced? – that we try a LDWA event. The longest Jenny had walked previously was 15 miles, so the Trollers Trot at 25 miles would be a significant challenge. However, she positively jumped at the idea.

We found a hotel to stay at in Grassington for the weekend and arrived on Friday evening. After a bit of a relax and food, it was back to the room to sort out kit for the next day and an early night. I was carrying all the gear – waterproofs, spare layers, water and food – Jenny was “travelling light”!

We had arranged for an early breakfast as we wanted to start the walk at 8 (before the mass start at 9). In my excitement, I managed to drop the cereal container and spill the lot on the floor, much to Jenny’s embarrassment. We then drove the short distance to Threshfield, registered and set off on schedule.

It was a lovely morning and we set off at a good pace. There was a time limit of 10 hours for the event and Jenny desperately wanted her certificate. We made good time up Threshfield Moor and then continued past Winterburn Reservoir and down Moor Lane to Hetton where the first runners overtook us.

The first manned CP was at Rylstone. I had a senior moment when I checked my watch whilst holding a drink in the same hand, spilling it over my shoes much to Jenny’s amusement.

We took our time up the significant climb to Rylstone Fell but once on top we quickly got going again, and were soon descending again past Upper and Lower Barden Reservoirs. 

I was encouraging Jenny to eat regularly even though she wasn’t hungry. 

When we arrived at the first CP with food at Barden Scale the cupboard was bare; there was nothing left at all. The marshal generously got us a Mars Bar from his car, and we stopped and had it with a cup of tea. Having gone on about cakes, flapjack etc at CP’s, it was a bit of a let down to find everything gone!

We were well on schedule to beat the 10 hour cut off as we continued down to Barden Tower and onto the Dales Way in Wharfedale.  

We stopped briefly for our sandwiches at Eastwood Head and then wandered down to Parceval Hall. Going up past Skyreholme Beck, Jenny began to get very tired so she took on emergency chocolate, and at the CP I forced her to eat 2 pieces of swiss roll. 

Powered on by cake, we descended back into Wharfedale and the final 4 miles back to Threshfield. We positively powered through Burnsall, over the suspension bridge at Hebden,  past Grassington and on to the finish in Threshfield.

Jenny had done remarkably well in her first long distance walk. She was unsurprisingly tired but happy to finish in 7 hours and 59 minutes, and get the all important certificate. We had had a lovely day, chatting away all the way, and the weather had been great.

After a quick bath and change, it was off to the pub for a meal. Jenny totally crashed out before pudding and went to bed. She also had sore toes and later developed 3 black nails – a certified endurance athlete!

Post note: As we approached the finish, I told Jenny that now she’d want to do another one. She said she wouldn’t! Within 2 days she was asking when we could do another one! Brain washing a success!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Dales High Way or the Yorkshire 3 days.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a most enjoyable 3 days running on a The Dales Highway. This is a fairly new route, running for 90 miles from Saltaire (near Shipley) in West Yorkshire to Appleby-in-Westmoreland in Cumbria, returning with a “breathtaking train ride along England's most beautiful railway”, the Settle-Carlisle line.

The excellent website http://www.daleshighway.co.uk lists route options, accommodation, potential “grot spots”, and describes the walk as an “exhilarating 90 miles across the glorious high country of the Yorkshire Dales”. The walking route is divided in 6 sections – from Saltaire to Skipton, then to Settle, Chapel-le-Dale, Sedbergh, Newbiggin-on-Lune and Appleby. My plan was to complete it in 3 days, essentially 30 miles a day, stopping at Malham and Dent.

Day 1 - Skipton to Settle
Armed with the excellent guide book (available on the website for £6.99), I set off from Lincoln on the Monday morning a bit later than planned due to a lack of motivation, arriving at Saltaire mid-morning. My plan immediately went pear-shaped as I was unable to find anywhere to park for more than a single day. A parking attendant was unable to help, so after a few moments pondering the map, I decided to drive to Skipton, thus missing out Ilkley Moor and Ilkley. I suggest that if planning this route, the best option is to get the train to Saltaire!
I was able to park at Skipton train station for 3 days, so off I set with a tentative plan to now stop at Settle and probably Sedbergh, giving approximate daily distances of 20, 30 and 25 miles. I was carrying a decent amount of kit firstly for safety and secondly as further MdS preparation.

The first few miles out of Skipton were across muddy farmland, and I was still struggling with motivation – probably still some post-Spine blues! However once I hit some open country on the way to Sharp Haw, I really began to enjoy myself. It was a lovely sunny day and I was soon in short sleeves. 

I made good time through Hetton then on to Gordale Scar which really is most impressive. Running above Malham Cove, I was able to fully appreciate the limestone pavement that I’d crossed during the Spine.

Then a mile or so along Raven Scar on the Pennine Way, before turning westwards over Kirkby Fell, arriving in Settle just after 4. Apart from around Malham, I’d barely seen a soul all day.

After checking out the options, I decided to stay at the Royal Oak – it was cheaper and they would do an early breakfast for me. Suffice to say that I probably wouldn’t stay there again – very hospitable hosts but some interesting features! On the other hand, I had a really good meal at The Lion, including possibly the best ever sticky toffee pudding – and I’ve tried a few!

Day 2 - Settle to Sedbergh
I set off in the morning at 8, hoping to get to Sedbergh in the light. I wasn’t in any great hurry and, with nothing booked, could go further or stop earlier depending on progress. This felt very liberating! 

It was a glorious morning, still frosty but not a cloud in the sky, and I felt great. 

Passing through Stainforth, Feizor and Crummack Dale, I then headed towards Ingleborough which I hadn’t been up before. 

Ascending from the south, and joining the main route from Horton in Ribblesdale above Sulber Nick, I reached the summit where the views were spectacular.

I then headed down towards Chapel-le-Dale with a quick stop at the Old Hill Inn where I had a pleasant few minutes rest with coffee and flapjack.

My next goal was Whernside. The main route actually detours Whernside, keeping more to the valley and then on to Dentdale. However, there is an alternative route taking in Whernside so up I went! Still in glorious sunshine and cloudless skies, I made good time up to Yorkshire’s highest point.

Then it was down towards Dentdale and Dent, where I had a very pleasant ice cream in a very pleasant village! I had been in communication with John Bamber and we were hoping to meet up at some stage. However, he was on a tight timeframe and we missed each other in Dent by 10 minutes – I shouldn’t have had that flapjack earlier!

Beyond Dent, the route climbed onto Frostrow Fells wher I had spectacular views of the Howgills in the late afternoon sun. As I made my way down to Sedbergh, I was treated to a magnificent sunset.

I spent a very pleasant evening and night at the Bull Hotel in Settle. For £50, I had a massive superior double room with an equally massive bath. My dinner was most satisfactory, finished off with  a superb ginger parkin and ice cream. Regular readers might begin to recognise my love of desserts and ice cream – I have a terrible sweet tooth.

Day 3 - Sedbergh to Appleby
My host had kindly agreed to sort me out some breakfast at 7, so I left promptly at 7.30 and headed for the Howgills. Unfortunately, the gorgeous blue skies had disappeared, and as I ascended the Howgills, I was immersed in thick cloud. 

Reaching The Calf, the guidebook promised a spectacular view along the ridge – I had a spectacular view of about 50m! Navigation across the top required a little care.

I then descended towards Wath with spectacular views of the cloud-covered Howgills behind me.

I took the short cut detouring Newbiggin-on-Lune, reached Sunbiggin Tarn and the headed towards Great Asby via some impressive limestone pavements.

I ran past Rutter Mill, across some unpleasantly muddy fields, and on to Hoff where I had soup and a roll at the New Inn. 

Then it was a few pleasant riverside miles before the finish at the attractive town of Appleby-in-Westmoreland. I popped into St Lawrence’s church and felt inspired to say a little prayer of thanks. 

I then made my way to the train station and the lovely journey through the dales back to Skipton.

A thoroughly enjoyable 3 days and I heartily recommend the Dales High Way as a lovely route to either walk or run. There is plenty of accommodation en route and plentiful watering holes!