19th January 2013 – West Pennine Moors (Winter Hill)

The walk today was a bit of a last minute arrangement. We knew we were going out walking on Saturday, we just had not decided on where we were going to go. There was no inspiration this week at all, just nothing appearing that seemed to grab me. Although no route had been decided, the soup and sandwiches were made on the Friday evening and packed ready. The soup was a vegetable and chicken, home-made as usual, and the sandwiches were roast beef and horseradish. As I was making the soup I also roasted a beef joint whilst I made the bread for the sandwiches. It was sensible to do this, the AGA was on for the soup to cook, so the oven was hot and was just asking to be utilised. After the beef was cooked, it was cooled and sliced into wafer thin cuts on the electric slicer, piled on the sliced bread with dollops of hot horseradish to give some bite and hopefully momentarily take the chill out of the cold air we would experience on the walk.

As we live in the West Pennine Moors we decided to stay quite local today and save on the driving time. One of the more prominent landmarks in the area is Winter Hill, which can be seen for miles around due to it being the location of a large TV transmitter. Winter Hill has also been the location of daylight murders and night time air disasters too in its past.

The route was a circuit around (and over) Winter Hill, with an approximate half way point being formed by The Black Dog Inn at Belmont. The obvious point for the start and finish of the walk was Rivington Barn. Parking here is very easy and there are numerous paths radiating out from “The Barn” that provide for an easy start. 

Total Distance – 8.9 mi
Total Ascent    – 1536ft

The route around Winter Hill
3D View looking from south west
3D View looking from the north
Elevation Profile

We parked up on the main approach road to Rivington Barn and Rivington Hall. The start of the walk would be relatively flat which I prefer as it gives me some time to get warmed up and have the blood pumping around. I once did a walk from Kettlewell and it appeared that no sooner had I got out of the car that I was walking up a very steep hill which caused me to curse and swear not to do ever again. This time we had approximately a one mile walk-in which should give us time to acclimatise and warm up. We walked through Lever Park and headed towards Knowle House with the walk being through a deciduous woodland landscape, after just passing Knowle we turned left up to Brown Hill. This gave a climb of approximately 400 ft and was a steady pull up a winding tarmac road. Left foot up. Right foot up. Left foot again. Heart pounding. Lungs wheezing. Head down. Keep going. We crossed a cattle grid and took the opportunity at this point to have a breather and look behind us at the view that was revealing itself as we ascended.

Looking West from the flanks of Winter Hill

We left the tarmac road which lead to Higher Knoll farm and continued climbing up the grassy, but very wet, bridle path to the old Belmont Road. On approaching the top we passed the ruins of Prospect Farm and then went through a kissing gate to arrive on the old road. We paused for a while, taking in the view before turning right and walking along to George’s Lane, (which is just a continuation of the old Belmont Road). The road is well built, but poorly surfaced and is composed of a random surface of jagged rocks. I have driven up here in the past and it nearly shook my fillings out! When we got to Pike Cottage on our left (the sign indicated it was a dog hotel – “room for two, Mr & Mrs Fido” ) we took the footpath through another kissing gate to the right side of Pike Cottage that climbed up and headed towards Crooked Edge Hill. 

We took the opportunity of stopping at the gate for a bite to eat and to have some hot soup. The sandwiches were great, the soup was even better and the view westwards was excellent. We could see as far as the Welsh mountains and the sky was quite dramatic in its shading and colour. After 10 minutes and a quick bite, we packed away the plastic food container and steel flask and proceeded to ascend Crooked Edge Hill. As we climbed higher the sky beyond, to the east, was turning a very dark grey and we were anticipating having to get the waterproofs out. Luckily as we approached the summit of Crooked Edge Hill the strong wind had blown the dark clouds past us, and we were now getting open views all around us.

We got to the summit and continued on to the tarmac access road that leads to the radio transmitters on the summit plateau of Winter Hill. The smooth surface made for good walking after the boggy, muddy and rutted moorland path. We did expect to make some good progress along the access road, however we didn’t anticipate just how much ascent there is along it to the mast, we thought it would be flat and it was quite deceiving.

The approach to Winter Hill summit
The whole 1015ft of Winter Hill TV mast

We continued to plod up the road until we got to the offices and equipment buildings at the base of the mast. There wasn’t any vehicles here, but it was a Saturday. There were lights on in the offices. I would have thought with the technology available today, all the engineers would have been replaced with remote access computers, nevertheless, I was still amazed that the buildings and huge mast were constructed here in such an exposed and remote location. It just couldn’t be done today, environmental groups would prevent it happening.

Close up of the mast
Memorial plaque for the 1958 air crash
The Winter Hill air disaster occurred on the morning of 27th February 1958 when the Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter travelling from the Isle of Man to Manchester, crashed into Winter Hill several hundred yards away from the Independent Television Authority’s Winter Hill transmitting station. Thirty-five people died and seven were injured. The storm that morning was so severe that none of the engineers working in the transmitting station were aware of the crash. Several feet of snow hampered the rescue efforts, and a snow cat vehicle had to be diverted from the A6 road to cut a path for emergency vehicles, though the track had been cleared by people using spades by the time it arrived on the scene.
Just in case you didn’t know where we were!

We pushed on past the TV transmitter and continued towards the eastern edge of Winter Hill. On the route just beyond the offices and on the opposite side of the road we passed the “Scotsmans Stump”.

The Scotsmans Stump

On 9 November 1838 George Henderson, a Scottish merchant walking over the hill from Bolton to Blackburn, was murdered by gunshot along the road directly opposite where the television station now stands. James Whittle, a 22-year-old collier from Belmont, was brought to court and found guilty of murder. However, he was found not guilty at a second trial in Lancaster. There is an iron post with a plaque on the hill in memory of the victim erected in 1912, replacing a tree that was earlier planted opposite the television station. This is known as Scotsman’s Stump.

On approaching the edge of the plateau we left the transmission masts behind and started to descend down to Grange Brow. We crossed through the timber gate at the top of the slope and started to descend from the summit. The path here was well worn, extremely eroded and was a mix of muddy puddles and stony ground. Careful footing was needed to avoid falling over. This descent was slow going. We eventually got down to an old track that lead to Grange Lodge – (could be a house, or could be a mill pond, I really don’t know!) We crossed the track and went through the boggy, waterlogged field passing the end of Spring Reservoir and this lead us down to a stile in the corner of a field. We crossed into a small wooded ravine area and followed the path down to the main road. 

The last 100 metres to the main road were bloody awful, with ankle deep mud, tree roots and dislodged stone steps providing some of the hazards we had to negotiate. We got to the A675 through a narrow gap in a stone wall. I was surprised at this point as I have never come across such a dangerous stile. There were three stone steps descending through the wall and down onto the edge of the main road – there was no footpath here at all – just the busy main road with cars whizzing past as they approached the  bottom of a large hill – on a blind bend also – what could make for a better introduction to a busy ‘A’ road for a walker with tired legs? It was a very quick prayer before an even quicker dash to get to the other side of the road and safely onto the paved footpath. We walked up the A675 heading towards Belmont village slowly climbing uphill to the brightly illuminated Black Dog with its promise of warmth and liquid refreshment.

The Black Dog, Belmont

We checked our boots as we entered the Black Dog as we didn’t want to leave muddy prints throughout the pub and upset the Landlord. Fortunately, the trek up the road and the intervening puddles had managed to wash the worst of the mud off so we actually looked quite presentable as we approached the door. In we went. 

The pub was moderately busy with a couple of people stood at the bar and others sat in the various rooms about the place. I ordered the drinks and decided that for myself I would try a pint of Holt’s Bitter. It is a long time since I had a pint of “Joey Holt’s” as it is known locally, and its reputation seemed to go before it in my mind. An old timer once said to me, many years ago, and it has stayed in my mind since, that he always ordered a plate of chips to go with Holt’s beer, as it was useful to have something that appreciated vinegar! A little unfair I thought as Holt’s is a traditional brewer in Manchester and wouldn’t have survived as long as they have if their brew was under par. As our drinks were being poured I spied a couple of empty seats next to the fire in the ‘snug’ opposite the bar. There was already one walker sat in this small area and he was finishing his lunch. Lying on the floor by his feet with his head between his front paws was a large, but obedient, collie dog who looked rather despondent at their walk being interrupted. As I waited at the bar I noticed that everytime the walker shifted position in his seat, the dog at his feet twitched his ears, raised his head, glanced excitedly around in anticipation of their walk continuing and then sighed and resignedly resumed his previous position as the walker remained seated. In no time our drinks were placed upon the bar counter and we then took our seats in the corner between the window and the fireplace and removed our coats and fleeces so we would get “the benefit” when we put them back to go back outside. I took a long, slow draught of the cold bitter and to my surprise it was excellent; quite dark amber hue, not overly hoppy but quite light, refreshing and very quaffable. It was nothing like what the old timer had once told me. I would have no hesitation of ordering more in future and I am pleased to report that my long held view had been completely demolished.

The time came where we had finished our drinks and the usual questions were asked: “shall we have another?“… “hmmm, should we?“…”errmmm??!? uhhhmmm“… This indecision was then followed with a firm “We really need to get moving as it is going dark“. Our coats reluctantly went back on and our empty glasses were deposited on the bar as we departed. 

We got outside, and immediately got “the benefit”, and started to walk up along Rivington Road leaving the warmth of the pub behind. We passed St Peter’s church which looked impressively illuminated although it isn’t a huge building, and headed along the road towards the “Blue Lagoon”. At this point I should pause to explain something for those readers that are not from Bolton or the surrounding area. The “Blue Lagoon” name is a bit of a misnomer; had it been named as such in the current legislative climate someone would no doubt be doing ‘time’ under the “Trades Descriptions Act 1979”. For the avoidance of doubt, there are no white sands, no palm fringed shorelines, no azure waves lapping at the beach, no elevated temperatures, no steamer chairs with exotic chilled cocktails waiting to be consumed… forget all of that, it is a man made reservoir that is officially known as Ward’s Reservoir and was built in the 19th Century to supply water to a local mill. So there you go, an illusion shattered. What did you really expect in the West Pennine Moors? Sydney Opera House? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of… sorry, going into the realms of Fawlty Towers there.

As we approached the Blue Lagoon we walked along the path to the back edge of the water and sat on a small stone wall at the outfall of the reservoir and got our sandwiches and soup out. We considered it bad form to do so in the pub. The light was quickly fading and we would soon be walking in the dark and there wasn’t really anywhere else along the route we could stop, so took this opportunity. The soup was still hot and the remaining sandwiches were quickly finished as we looked across the chilly, choppy water over to the dark silhouette of Sharples Higher End. The bag of sweets also came out and several went into the pocket of my fleece to keep me going until we got to the back of the car. The rucksack was soon re-packed and on my back again and we continued along the shores of the reservoir and headed back on to the road. 

Winter Hill from the shore of the Blue Lagoon

As we got closer to the road we could look up at the transmitter mast high on Winter Hill. The red warning lights on the mast were illuminating the clouds as they scudded past the tower. As our eyes had become accustomed to the dark, the red warning lights scattering their vivid illumination through the misty cloud cover provided the whole mast with an eerie red glow. It looked quite alien. We reluctantly got back onto the tarmac of Rivington Road. The road here is not what you would call a ‘main road’, however it is busy, fast and unlit with no footpaths. We had anticipated this situation of course by wearing black! It was a case of keeping your eyes peeled for cars and then leaping quickly onto the grass at the roadside to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic. I now know how a hedgehog feels. I made a mental note to ensure that I carried a Hi-Vis reflective vest in my rucksack next time, and to remember to put my headtorch in the bag too. The traffic could have been worse, and would have been if we had done this walk on Sunday. As it was Saturday tea time many people were busy doing other stuff. There was no other option but to continue along here for 3/4 of a mile until we could get back onto the ‘old’ Belmont Road. It seemed to take forever and as the road undulates, we kept approach false summits where we expected our turning to be ‘over the next hill’. Eventually we did arrive at the ‘old’ road. I say ‘old’, but from checking historic maps it was only constructed around the turn of the 20th Century and most likely to service Lord Leverhulme’s summer residence on the slopes of Winter Hill. 

We were grateful to get onto this quiet track, however the surface, as noted at the beginning of this entry was very poor underfoot. This was made more difficult by the fact that you couldn’t see where you were placing your feet either. The easy gradients made for good going, but the surface did slow down our advancement a bit. We struggled along here for a mile and a half and we did get more used to the difficult going underfoot. To come from smooth tarmac onto this jagged surface was a disappointment but we just plodded on.

Our spirits picked up as we approached the Pigeon Tower on the edge of Lord Levers’ old estate gardens, and we turned off into the trees to descend back down to Rivington Barn through the woodland paths. We hadn’t really thought about this bit and we ended up doing this maze of tracks in the dark. We made the route up as we went along, and just guessed taking the obvious route downhill. It wasn’t even an educated guess due to the darkness all around us. The paths through the gardens can be muddy at the best of times and today they were like a quagmire after heavy rain we had been having. The close proximity of the trees made the whole route back down appear like something out of The Blair Witch Project. It was hard going and frustrating too, but eventually we found the main path that lead us down to the rear of Rivington Hall Barn. It was a relief to exit the woods and cross the open meadow adjacent to the terraced gardens and leave them behind. We could see lights in the distance which were from the windows of Rivington Hall, and we knew that we were almost at the end of the walk. We quickly strolled past the rear of the Hall and down the track that runs along its flanks until we passed onto the main driveway leading to the Hall and Barn. Although the road was unlit, there was enough light to see the outline of the car parked up on the gravel area at the sides. We were elated to have got back without a twisted ankle and it was reassuring to open the car door, turn the ignition key and hear the engine roar into life. I put the heater on maximum as we changed our footwear outside the car, and carefully packed the muddy, damp boots into a large blue Ikea shopping bag for drying and cleaning when we got home. I closed the boot, got in the car and slowly drove back home.

With hindsight, not my most favourite of walks, but I would put that down to the time of year. It would be more enjoyable on a warm, dry summer day. The views from Winter Hill on a clear day are extensive and stunning. You can easily see the Irish Sea, Blackpool Tower, Isle of Man and up to Cumbria. The going underfoot was varied, and did make for hard going in places. I would do it again, however I would start and finish at the Black Dog as a pint on completion would have been a more fitting end.

11th Jan 2014 – Askrigg to Bainbridge and back via Worton

I was really struggling towards the end of this week on a destination for today’s walk. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anywhere to go, but the difficulty was down to an excess of choice. Living in northern England gives a wide variety of options for walking as there are four National Parks within an easy 1 hours drive, not that you need to go to a National Park, as there are areas of north Lancashire, and over in the Pennine on the Lanc’s / York’s border that offer superb walking too. It very nearly came down to placing a pin on a map whilst being blindfolded.

I eventually settled on Askrigg, in Upper Wensleydale. An absolutely charming village in North Yorkshire and situated in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. I will admit that I am no stranger to Askrigg having visited several times previously, although really just passing through, and once having stayed in a small cottage for Xmas and New Year around twenty years ago. Askrigg is renown for being a prominent film location in the BBC television adaptation of James Herriots’ books about veterinary practice in pre war Yorkshire Dales. The books had various titles, although the TV series found international acclaim as “All Creatures Great and Small”. I have read all the books and I do prefer them to the TV adaptation, as the TV version skims over much of the back story that is found in the books, and the TV series doesn’t present the humour and wit of Jim Wight as much as the books do.

We parked up in the small public car park to the north eastern end of the village on the Leyburn Road. The car park is a public car park, unusually, it is not a pay and display. We did make a voluntary contribution for our stay in the steel box provided for that purpose.

Total Distance  –  5.97 mi
Total Ascent     –  914ft

Askrigg route
Elevation Profile

We started from the car park and headed west along to the Crown Inn at the top of Main Street. I really dislike walking past pubs, but we felt that entering this pub only 3 minutes into the walk would be a cop out, and so we reluctantly decided to give it a miss. The footpath went up the hill to the rear of the pub, although we struggled to find it from the main road and so went through the 5-bar gate accessed at the right hand side of the Crown Inn, and through the pubs’ beer garden and subsequently onto the path we needed. The climb up this hill was quite steep, although the ground underfoot was very soft. The views to our left opened up as we climbed and gradually we were over looking the roof tops of the houses on the main street and in the distance seeing the outline of Addlebrough which was prominently silhouetted on the horizon.

Overlooking Askrigg to Addlebrough

We continued on the footpath until we arrived at a fantastic ruined barn in a field. We walked along the path to the right hand side of the barn until we then dropped downhill to Askrigg Beck, and thus unfortunately losing all the height we had so far gained.

Ruined field barn, West End, Askrigg

We gingerly crossed over Askrigg Beck, taking care not to fall in, and then started to gain height again as we approached Low Straights Lane. I anticipated better going on Low Straights Lane, miserably this was not to be. 

Looking North East to Ellerkin Scar from above West End, Askrigg

There was much mud, puddles and boggy ruts to be navigated on the track and as a result I got my clean, new boots very dirty. The climb up this track was steady and consistent, with the height gained providing some wonderful views along Wensleydale. The track proved to be hard going. it would be a delight in a dry summer, but after the rain we had experienced it was bloody awful.

The view down Wensleydale

As we approached the top of Low Straights Lane, we took the opportunity of having a sandwich and some home-made Stilton & Broccoli soup whilst sitting on a thoughtfully provided wooden bench over looking Whitfield Gill. This was a wonderful vantage point and gave some incredible vistas over the surrounding countryside. Brownie points go to the people who thought of placing the seating there. We finished our sandwiches and shook out the last drops of soup from the flask cup, packed everything away and made our way down into Whitfield Gill Plantation. This is a very steep sided, wooded ravine, and the path leading down to the valley floor was treacherous. In fact, the path was just a quagmire and careful footing was required to avoid your feet from slipping from under you. The exposed tree roots added to the difficulty. The balancing act I provided all the way down this footpath would have put a circus tightrope artiste to shame. If you did lose your footing, over the ravine you went! In situations like this a walking pole is a useful addition, and I am still wondering why I left mine in the car.

When we got to the bottom of the path and crossed the bridge spanning Whitfield Beck, we passed a waterfall that could have been man made from the appearance of the stone blocks it tumbled over. It may have been natural, but to my untutored geological eye it didn’t look so. We continued up the opposite side of the ravine and stumbled across a timber signpost indicating a high level path to Whitfield Gill Force. It was 400 yds further back up the beck so I decided to go and have a look whilst I was here – a sucker for a waterfall. The path to the waterfall was just as bad as the route to the valley bottom and made for heavy going. I got to the end of the muddy path and it stopped abruptly at a sheer drop. Unfortunately for me, Whitfield Gill Force was obscured by trees and my effort was wasted. I could the waterfall see it through the barren trees, and I must admit that it sounded very impressive, but the view from my vantage point was extremely disappointing and I made a mental note Google it when I got back home. Here is a picture I found of it on Google – I could not do justice to it by a photograph from where I was standing.

We departed Whitfield Beck and crossed a lush looking field to a derelict farmhouse above Spen Rigg. We walked along the old farm access track and on towards the macadam surfaced road that leads from Helm. It was quite a relief to get onto the road where the going underfoot was good and we could increase the pace of the walk. The road descended very steeply to Gill Gate and ran parallel to Grange Beck. There was a superb waterfall at Gill Gate and it took us by surprise although the volume of water thundering down made it sound more impressive than it looked

Waterfall on Grange Beck

We continued to descend down to the road junction, and proceeded to take the road into Bainbridge, passing under the now derelict Wensleydale Railway, ( which could soon be running again in the near future) over the stone bridge crossing the River Ure, past Yorebridge House and into Bainbridge village centre.

Dusk from the River Ure, Bainbridge

As we walked into Bainbridge we came across the Rose and Crown Hotel on our right hand side and in a commanding position overlooking the village centre. The sun had now slipped behind the horizon and the light was fading rapidly; we were only two thirds of the way round and it became clear that we would be finishing the walk in the dark. It didn’t really matter if we stopped off for a pint or two as we wouldn’t be missing anything in the inky blackness, so into the pub we went!

The fireplace in the lounge of the Rose & Crown

I had a bit of a dichotomy in the pub, there was Black Sheep on handpump and Theakston’s Best also on hand pump. Hmmmmm, what do I do? I decided on Black Sheep. The beer was well kept and it was a decent pint, I was tempted to follow this with a pint of Theakston’s Best in order to linger in front of the log fire a bit longer, but decided we had to make progress. You know the situation where one pint leads to two, and then three, and before you know it you are staggering around trying to get back to where you started from and trying in vain to get a taxi. The pub seemed untouched by any hint of modern décor, and could have come straight from the early 1960’s judging by the fixtures and fittings which adorned it. Two locals sat at the bar discussing the national football results and they both said a cheery ‘goodbye’ as we placed our empty glasses on the bar and departed out of the front door.

The Rose & Crown Hotel in Bainbridge

It was almost dark as we left the warmth of the pub. We walked along the road passing through the centre of the village and we turned left to cross the road bridge over the River Bain. The bridge spanned over a series of noisy small waterfalls that ran next to an old water mill. We continued on the main road passing Brough Hill on our left, with its ruined Roman fort on its summit, and climbed the hill to a minor road junction.

A warning to moles!

At this point we left the road, climbed over a stile in a drystone wall and continued climbing through the fields in the dark up to the rugged escarpment of Brough Scar. It was a relief to get to the top of the Scar where it was as flat as a billiard table and the walking was easy. The fields here were full of sheep – lambing time was on its way and these fields in two months time would be a cacophony of wailing, bleating lambs.

Dusk from Brough Scar

We continued along past Scar Top farm until we arrived at Worton Scar. At this point we descend from the scar and down the footpath to the hamlet of Worton. As it had gone dark there wasn’t a lot to see, however the moon was out and was shining brightly. It was not a full moon but was bright enough to cast a shadow and provide sufficient illumination for us to find our way easily. We left the main road through Worton, the A684, and headed down a very steep road to Worton Bridge. We crossed this single track steel bridge and left the tarmac road to head across the fields, this was Askrigg Bottoms. We were surprised to find that the path here leading into Askrigg had been laid with stone paving slabs, which along with the moons’ brilliance made for a memorable journey back into Askrigg itself. We gradually ascended over the disused railway and continued the gradual climb onto Cringley Lane on the outskirts of the village. We walked along this lane towards the village centre and this lead on to Silver Street. We walked along Silver Street and arrived at the Market Place opposite St Oswald’s church and next door to Skeldale House. We turned right at Skeldale House and walked uphill along Main Street and back to the car on the Leyburn Road.

St Oswalds, Askrigg

We got to the car, and decided to go back down the hill to The Kings Arms to rebalance our fluids. We changed our footwear, and made an attempt to look a bit more presentable. The car started and I slowly drove down to the Market Place and parked outside Skeldale House.

Skeldale House in the moonlight

We entered the Kings Arms ( or Drovers Arms if you want ) and perused the handpumps; I decided on a pint of Theakston’s Best. To be honest I was a little disappointed by it when compared to the pint of Black Sheep I had sampled earlier. It certainly didn’t have the depth of flavour, nor the strength of flavour either. We were served our drinks at the main bar, however decided to sit in a quiet, empty little back room, as a large group of ‘blokes’ had taken up residence in front of the fire, and along the whole bar counter top, and they were becoming gradually louder and louder. 

We discussed eating here, but my better half had the great idea of calling in at Hawes chippy for a traditional tea of fish and chips straight from the paper. We discussed the highlights of the day and slowly drained our glasses, put our coats on, left our empty glasses on the bar and went out to the car. We had to pass through Hawes to get back home so the chippy was conveniently en-route. When we got there we couldn’t believe how busy the little chip shop was; but I suspect chip shops are few and far between here in the Dales. The fish and chips were excellent and made a great finish to what had been a relaxing and enjoyable day. All that remained was to meander back the way we came and go home to a hot bath and a large whisky and discuss where to go on the next outing. 

Well, what can I say? Until next time… au revoir!

Sat 4th Jan 2014 – Malham Tarn Circuit

I have been doing some thinking about the best day of the weekend on which to go walking. I ended up coming to the conclusion that Saturday would be the better of the two days due to many people going shopping, and others possibly working, so it should be less crowded. Additionally, there is also the advantage of having a ‘free’ Sunday in which to recuperate before going back to work. That is my thinking anyway.
For today’s walk I decided on the Malham Tarn circuit. The main purpose for this route was to judge my performance on a relatively flat route. In November I tore a muscle in the top, rear of my left leg and have been having physio’ on it – at first I was laid up for two weeks in bed unable to walk and the pain was excruciating (akin to having someone stabbing it with a hot knife). In December I started to gradually get mobile again, and now I can move much more freely, although I am still getting a numb pain and stiffness when I wake up in the morning. I needed to get some frame of reference of where I was at physically, and so having done the Malham circuit a few times previously, it should give a good indicator of where I was up to.
The route is a circular one starting at the small car park south of the outfall from Malham Tarn, or Tarn Foot as it is noted on OS Maps.
Route Map
Route Elevation Profile

Route Distance: 3.58Mi
Estimated Time: 1:09
Total Ascent: 248 ft
Total Descent: 250 ft

3D view of the Malham Tarn Circuit

We eventually arrived at Malham just after lunchtime. The walk wasn’t going to take long and there was no rush to get back home, hence the late start, and additionally, I really do enjoy the atmosphere of finishing a walk just as it is starting to get dark with the farmhouse lights on the fell-sides starting to twinkle and the growing aroma of woodsmoke in the air… with a promise of a pub complete with open fire, serving decent beer – I ask you; what could be better?

The weather was becoming promising as it had rained on the way over to Malham, so the rucksack was on today with waterproofs inside. The new boots stayed at home though, however the new Karrimor Alpiniste jacket my better half had surprised me with was being worn. A great jacket and enough pockets for map, phone and sweets for the walk. The wind was blowing a bit and it did feel ‘fresh’ when getting out of the car – cars really should have an ‘acclimatise’ button you can press when nearing the walks’ start, or maybe, just wind the windows down and save the cost!

We proceeded to follow the Pennine Way from the car park and along a very muddy path which headed to Lings Plantation. There was a surprising amount of water underfoot making the ground very slippy, and the outflow from the Tarn was quite high and rapid. I have seen children paddling here on hot days in summer, but that would be only for the foolhardy in the conditions today.

Tarn Foot

We got onto the metalled track that leads to Tarn House and started making better progress than on the grass. There were some large excavators and tracked tipper trucks parked next to the track which would have had little boys wetting their pants with excitement. The question was asked about what what going on, and right on cue, a signpost came into view with an explanation. It turned out The National Trust were undertaking some work to the bank of the Tarn at this location. Surprisingly, the waves on the Tarn were damaging the peat banks and severely eroding them and work was taking place to reinforce the bank with timber posts to try and prevent further erosion taking place.

We continued up through the woods adjacent to the house, and walked past the Orchid House and around onto the main vehicle access road that leads to the building.

Tarn House looking from the East

The current Tarn House was built in the 1780’s on the site of an old farmhouse. For a time it belonged to the Morrisons, a wealthy family with diverse business interests throughout the Victorian era. It was handed over to The National Trust in 1946, and in 1947 it was leased to the Field Studies Council who have occupied it ever since.

We continued following the Pennine Way down the main driveway, part of which is impressively cut through the bedrock, and headed west until we got to “Keepers Cottage”, where the Pennine Way turned abruptly right at 90 degrees to head north, and we continued along the access track east. Before we got to Home Farm, the Malham Estate Office and the unclassified tarmac road, we took a left turn at a wall mounted post box and went along a drystone walled track marked as a permissive path on the map. The track was level and provided easy going underfoot, although it was quite waterlogged. This track eventually brought us out on the unclassified public road that headed over to Arncliffe.

We continued along this road heading towards High Trenhouse, which was a working farm at one time, but is now a “leadership workshop venue“, whatever that means. Call me cynical, but maybe I need to go on a course “of blue sky thinking, outside the box, to push the envelope forward to catch the low hanging fruit for a re-engineered paradigm” (Really?!? Anything that contains the words ‘workshop‘ should involve light engineering in my opinion!). A great read here on High Trenhouse prior to being taken over by leadership workshop facilitators.

View of the Tarn from High Trenhouse

We actually took the opportunity to rest on a bench at High Trenhouse and have a late lunch of home-made lentil soup, ham sandwiches and home-made mince pies (with orange flavoured, sweet crust pastry – yum!). The Scotch bonnet chillies in the lentil soup certainly made it warmer than the original recipe dictated. After resting for about 15 minutes, and finishing off the comestibles we departed High Trenhouse to continue up the road as it ascended a small hill. At the summit of this small hill it we had great views of the Tarn and surrounding countryside as dusk approached. The pink tinged clouds above went scurrying past as the blue sky darkened and stars started to shine in the graduated sky. We descended down to a cross roads and headed left down to Low Trenhouse Farm. This is still a working farm, unlike High Trenhouse, and as we passed the farm entrance some pale brown coloured calves watched us intently from the gates to the open fronted outbuildings. We presumed this farm must be part of the Malham Estate as the buildings’ woodwork and rainwater goods were painted the same colour of burgundy as Home Farm and the Estate Office we passed earlier. The semi Gothic architecture and burgundy paintwork reminded me of a railway stationmasters’ house. We made good progress to the outfall of Malham Tarn, and passed over the beck as it gushed in culverts under the road. The now deserted car park was visible beyond the approaching cattle grid, and as the last of the light faded we drew nearer to the car. 

After a change of footwear we drove down to the Listers Arms in Malham for a quick ‘freshener’ to keep our fluids in balance after our exertions! We parked on the small car park to the rear of the pub and went in through the rear entrance. It looks like some work has been carried out since we last visited in the summer of 2012 – new accommodation has been added at the rear, along with a large patio area with teak tables and chairs. The pub is run by Thwaite’s of Blackburn; it is great to see Lancashire beer being served in a Yorkshire pub!

Listers Arms in Summer 2012

The pub was very busy, in fact the busiest I have ever seen it in all the time I have been coming here. We managed to sit at a small table for two near the bar, although it would have been better to sit beside the log fire and take in its sybaritic warmth. I had a pretty decent pint of Wainwright, and we “ummed” and “ermmed” about grabbing a bite to eat, but eventually decided against it this time as we anticipated the wait to be quite extensive as all the tables were taken, and the earlier soup and sandwiches were quite sustaining. 

After gradually draining our glasses, putting our coats back on, we reluctantly sauntered back out to the car and unhurriedly made our way back home where we discussed possible locations for our next trip into the Great Outdoors.

Friday 3rd Jan 2014 – A Warm Up Lap…

It is the last day of my Christmas holidays today, and the bloody weather is still grim. However, I was convinced of the benefits of going for a walk “around Enty” by two neighbours and then to follow this with the treat of a pint in the Strawbury Duck. Who could resist eh? 

I drove over to Entwistle train station with my neighbours and accompanying dog, a Terrier, who disappointingly had far more energy than I had. As we parked at the station we noticed that the ‘Duck car park was very busy and hoped that there would be seating available inside when we finished the ‘Enty Round’ because we felt that we would be in need of it. My neighbours need greater than mine as they both had very bad head colds. The thought was voiced of going straight into the pub, but it was pretty much dismissed straight away.

As David stood at the tailgate of the car looking like a flamingo and vainly attempting to get his waterproofs on, it started raining. I had decided on the perennial Berghaus WindStopper fleece, bob hat and Ron Hill Tracksters so there wasn’t much I could do to afford additional protection. Usually the windstopper does a great job of keeping me dry (and warm) and the Tracksters tend to dry pretty quickly if they get wet. I do have Gore Tex PacLite waterproofs in my ruck sack but they rarely get used and today the rucksack stayed at home.

Suitably attired we set off past the Strawbury Duck and along Overshores Road past the row of red brick terraced houses on our left side. The track along here is quite waterlogged and the ruts in the surface seem to get worse everytime I walk along it. It would certainly drive me mad if I lived here. We dropped down the hill past the Bunk House on our right, and down to the outflow from the reservoir itself and then walked along Batridge Road that runs on top of the earth dam that holds back the might of the water. The car park at the opposite end was very busy with vehicles, although the perimeter footpath looked relatively quiet. We went through the gate and started along the perimeter path.

Looking across Entwistle

It was quite muddy underfoot and the wind was still very blustery, but the the rain had stopped for now. In fact the sun was trying to get through but not succeeding and small patches of blue were appearing in the sky. The stroll around the perimeter path to the footbridge at the foot of Yarnsdale was largely uneventful, bar the dog trying to get to the ducks and geese, who wisely stayed in the deeper water. The dog was reluctant to put the bits he licks the most into the cold water, so thankfully he didn’t venture too far.

We continued around past the inflow to the reservoir and made our way back to the pub. As we progressed along here we passed several trees that had been decorated with Xmas baubles and tinsel. I have seen these several time previously, but have never worked out who does it and why.

Decorated tree & bushes

After passing the decorated trees the rain stopped and the sky started to clear up. Generally the path here is the most muddy of the whole route, but this time it wasn’t so bad, perhaps United Utilities have improved the surface. We climbed up the slight incline to the gate that leads back onto Batridge Road, and the sun finally appeared and the sky cleared on the final stretch to the pub. We went back along Overshores Road, and headed straight into the pub to finish off with a nice pint. 

Looking up Entwistle from the outfall on Batridge Road

When we got to the bar, there were only three beers on tap Wychwoods’s ‘Hobgoblin’, Moorhouses’s ‘Pride of Pendle’ and ‘Blonde Witch’. We all settled for a pint of ‘Pride of Pendle’ and it really was on form. I made mine last as I was driving, with the others deciding to indulge in another pint whilst I was gently sipping at mine. 

Moorhouse’s “Pride of Pendle”

The pub was busy throughout, and unfortunately one room sounded like a creche with small children crying and bawling, and my heart went out to the lunchtime diners who were trying to eat in there with that racket going on. If it was me I would have just put down my knife and fork and walked out. After taking in the warmth and conviviality of the place and finally draining our glasses, we made our way outside into the cold, started up the car and drove home quite satisfied with having made the effort to shift our lard arses off the sofa and get out into the great outdoors.  

A good start to 2014 in our opinion!

A New Year… New Start??

The Start of 2014

It is a New Year, and thus a useful point in time way to get my outdoor activities back on track.

I have been a keen walker for a number of years, since my early 20’s really, and have previously completed Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk twice (first time in 7 days camping, the second time in 10 days using B&B’s), the Dalesway trail twice (first time camping, second time B&B’s) and Hadrians Wall Walk once (camping) and with various wild camping expeditions and ‘walking weekends’ over the north of England over the previous 20 years, getting out into the hills became part of what I did. Unfortunately, the past 12 months have been a bit of a desert with regard to walking, and I have only got out a couple of times at the start of 2013, and in retrospect this is a bit disappointing.

The only reason I can work out for the lack of outdoors action in the past year is apathy. It really does become too easy to find alternative reasons not to get out and do some exercise, and this is particularly so when the weather is poor. As a result of this lack of action, my mind has been focussed over the Christmas holidays to become more proactive with regard to getting the boots on and striding out again. I am looking forward to it, the fresh air and exercise should do me good.

I hope this blog will also reinforce my urge to get out, and also act as a diary of where I go and what I do. If you stumble across it, you may be inspired to also get out into the great outdoors, or you may just enjoy looking at the photo’s and places where I have been. No matter, here we go, get the flask and sandwiches ready… those boots were made for walking!

Looking down High Cup Nick

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