Three Shires Stone to Pike O’Blisco

The walk noted below was a real nice change for me, as it had been devised by my pal Steve (@LakesRamblings on Twitter)  and for a change I wasn’t poring over maps, trying to find somewhere with a bit of interest which I had never visited before, but I know he has a fair selection of Lake District books and guides in his study, and suspect he consulted a Wainwright or a Poucher before settling on this course. I drove up there, so not too much of a change then.

Steve has a penchant for the Lake District, and a couple of years ago very nearly moved to Borrowdale, which would have been both a great bonus and a minor irritant. He is one of my oldest friends, is very well read; up to date on current world issues and offers the salvation of intelligent and thoughtful conversation so his moving up to Borrowdale would have deprived me of some eloquent discussion, however, if he had moved it would have provided somewhere to stay up in the Lakes. Every silver lining has a cloud.

Distance – 2.7 miles

Ascent – 1,111 ft

Estimated Time – 3hr 15 mins

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OS Route Map
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3D OS Route Map
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Route Elevation Profile

The chosen route was starting at The Three Shires Stone on Wrynose Pass, as this had an 800ft advantage over starting from Oxendale in Great Langdale. As we arrived there was plenty of roadside parking available for us, and I reversed into a nice spot parallel to a Land Rover Freelander. We climbed out of the car and proceeded to change our footwear. We hoisted our rucksacks onto our backs and then set off in a northerly direction.

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The Three Shires Stone on Wrynose Pass

The routes to the summit of Pike of Blisco are limited if you want to stick to the OS public footpath ways, and so we headed ‘off piste’ over Low Teighton How and towards Green Crag and then on toward Black Crag.

The view down to Little Langdale  from Green Crag was wonderful and a dappled sunny day was manifesting itself in the valley below us.

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Looking down to Little Langdale
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A natural infinity pool above Little Langdale

The going was hard as there was no path at all, and we started to follow sheep tracks which headed in the general direction of the summit to make the walking a bit easier. The ground was quite boggy in places so we tried to stay quite close to the various rocky outcrops which littered this high place and there were many tussocks of rough grass. We climbed up and over Green Crag and made a meandering path toward Black Crag whilst taking in the wide and expansive views all around us.

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Curious Sheep

I didn’t know it, but the reason behind Steve heading towards Black Crag was so he could see ‘The Needle’. This is noted in Wainwrights’ fourth Pictorial Guide book about the Southern Fells, and he had obviously researched this prior to choosing this route as it is a bit off the beaten track. It is like a miniature Napes Needle on the flanks of Great Gable.

Wainwright notes that he could find no reference to this being climbed when he wrote the pictorial guide in 1960. How things have moved on! Here is a recent clip of it being conquered.

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The Needle, Black Crag, Wrynose

After spending some time mooching around The Needle, we pressed onward, and upwards. The route was quite steady from here, and there was an obvious path to be taken, well at least more obvious than the sheep tracks which litter the place. As we approached the summit of Pike o’ Blisco, the ground surrounding the top was a maze of rocky outcrops and a circuitous route was taken to actually get to the summit cairn itself.

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Summit cairn of Pike o’ Blisco, looking South East

The summit had a number of grassy areas on which to sit and to take in the view. It wasn’t busy like Scafell, but there were three or four others up there taking in the views and munching on their lunch.

Steve and myself sat on the northern slope overlooking Great Langdale, whilst we consumed the sandwiches he had very kindly provided. The views were very extensive and uninterrupted except for the view up to the North West. This was looking towards Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and beyond to the Scafell range. The clag was down, and it was all shrouded in mist. In fact it looked as through it was a magnet for holding the cloud and mist and thus allowing the rest of the lakes to have clear views. As we sat having our lunch, lone wisps of clouds passed by in front of us which were floating over from Crinkle Crags, and larger amounts of mist tried grasping out towards us, but never enveloping the summit enough to cause concern.

Whilst we were lingering on the summit a rag-tag group of walkers appeared in shorts, trainers and vest type tops and T-shirts. It was a group of young lads, around the very early twenties age group who were over from Newcastle. The Geordie reputation for wearing only a T-shirt in all weathers was ably demonstrated here, as everybody else on the summit had a fleece and shell jacket on – well, I had just just a fleece (..and trousers of course!) but it wasn’t warm enough for just a T-shirt. I got chatting and asked them where they were off, and they pointed over to Pavey Ark and Stickle Tarn. They asked how long it would take, and I estimated about 6 hours. They were going to go along Crinkle Crags, along over Bowfell and Rossett Pike to cross over Stake Pass and thus over to Pavey Ark. I asked them where their map was and they confirmed they didn’t have one, nor a compass. They then set off heading for the the thick clouds shrouding Crinkle Crags – Mon Dieu! No wonder we need Mountain Rescue Teams.

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The view down Great Langdale from Pike o’Blisco summit

We finished our sandwiches and made our way down. The route Steve had chosen took the path almost directly down to Red Tarn. The temperature had risen considerably now were were off the tops, and we took the opportunity to remove boots and socks and dangle our feet into the cooling waters of the Tarn. I half expected my feet to hiss as they touched the glittering water. It was wonderful to lie back on the soft grass and have the Tarn soothe and cool me plates of meat, whilst I closed my eyes. I could have stayed there for a couple of hours and dozed in the warm sunshine.

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Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the band from Pike o’ Blisco summit

 

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No Muddy Boots here, but wet feet in Red Tarn

After drying my feet and pulling on my socks and boots, we were off again along a well made path leading below Long Scar and heading the direction of Wrynose Pass. We made rapid progress along here and made a steady descent back down to the Three Shire Stone at Wrynose. We passed it by, and went back to the car where we gratefully took off our rucksacks and boots, put them in the back of the car, changed our footwear and set off to Ambleside in search of that Alfred Wainwright favourite, fish and chips.

Post Script

Whilst sat in a back street fish and chip shop in Ambleside we heard a number of familiar voices. It was the group of Geordie lads I was talking to on the summit of Pike o’ Blisco – the MRT had not been called out for them afterall. They had gone along Crinkle Crags by following somebody else who knew the route, and got to Three Tarns where they threw the towel in. They turned right down The Band and walked back to their cars and then driven to Ambleside for fish and chips like ourselves. I was pleased to see that they had come to no harm.

Burnsall to Thorpe and back

The walk today was a small circular stroll along easy paths, and was undertaken as an appetite sharpener for finishing in The Red Lion Hotel in Burnsall. Burnsall is a very attractive and compact village sitting on a delightful spot on the River wharfe in Yorkshire, with a very attractive Church, a small village school and a great pub.

Distance – 3 miles.

Ascent – 413 ft

Estimated Time – 2hrs

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Map of the Walk
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3D view of the walk

When we arrived in Burnsall it was very busy, (as it usually is) and we had to park up near St Wilfrid’s Church. On the walk today myself and Mrs Muddy Boots were joined by our friends and neighbours Paul and Sue. We have known them since we moved into the village where we live, and they are great company to be with. We started the walk by first going in The Red Lion and topping up our fluids, and we were fortunate enough to get a seat outside at the front of the pub. (There are seats at the back on the garden which was very, very busy). After having just the one pint, purely as a taster, and reserving a table for later in the day, we left our seats and walked down by the side of the magnificent Burnsall Bridge to pick up the Dalesway path which runs alongside the Wharfe.

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Lambs next to the River Wharfe

The path runs alongside the Red Lion rear garden and passes behind the houses which line the main street running through Burnsall. It is a well made and popular route. As we strolled along in the warm May sunshine, the whole world seemed very green and looked idyllic with the sun reflecting off the slow moving river. We made our way behind the old school and Church, whilst seemingly saying a constant ‘hello’ to people coming the opposite way.

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The School and St Wilfrid’s Church
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Riverside houses in Burnsall

We continued along the undulating path, sometimes walking next to the river and other times looking down on it from high above, and all the time being on a well made surface. We passed a family who were out picnicking by the river and were having fun with an inflatable dinghy, although I suspect the water was cold.

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The River Wharfe near to The Stepping Stones

When we got to the Stepping Stones and suspension bridge, the Dalesway continued across the river in a north easterly direction, and we started to climb uphill in a south westerly heading. We were passing through lush, green pastures and climbing steadily up towards the B6160 that forms the main arterial road through the valley.

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Burnsall and Thorpe Fell, with Tennant Lathe to the left (from above the suspension bridge)
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Looking back to Hebden Moor from the Bridlepath towards Thorpe

As we climbed towards the main road, the path became easier and flattened out so as to make the walking easy indeed. We crossed the tarmac road, and started walking up the steep single track named Kail Lane. This walled lane lead to the small hamlet of Thorpe. This was a steep climb and soon had us panting for breath. Gradually the road levelled out and the walking, and talking became easier and we took a left turn down down a farm track. We now started walking back down hill and following the track through the fields until it crossed Badger Lane.

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The farm track off Kail Lane
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The route down to Starton Beck

We continued following the path down to Starton Beck, and crossed this by means of a small planked bridge, and headed uphill through more green pasture, and passing through a number of small Yorkshire squeeze stiles in the drystone walls.

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Typical ‘squeeze’ stile.
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The hill above Badger Lane

We continued walking along the verdant and vibrant grass until we crossed Badger Lane, which is the access road to Tennant Lathe farm. We climbed up again after crossing badger Lane, before walking downhill into the flat farmland surrounding Burnsall. we passed through a caravan park which I didn’t know existed and crossed a small field before entering the main street of Burnsall via a narrow ginnel in the houses lining the main street.

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The path leading to the road through Burnsall

After we had got back into Burnsall we walked back through the village and down to the Red Lion. It was still busy, and a side of Morris Dancers had turned up and were loitering outside the pub. The deadline for our reserved table was approaching so we didn’t hang about to watch, and made a quick drat inside through the low door to bag our table, have a pint and order our tea. The food at The Red Lion is always good, so I was ready to relax after being the days’ tour guide and tuck into some vittles after an enjoyable walk.

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The Red Lion at Burnsall, and a side of Morris men getting ready for action

A Circuit Around Littondale

Today is a Saturday, and it is also walking day; the first day of the weekend and the day for catching up on those jobs that cannot be done during the week. One of those jobs related to my car which had been off the road for some repairs and I had been lucky enough to have the use of my mothers car for the time that mine was unavailable. I had agreed to drop it off for her on Saturday morning so I decided to get it washed and valeted prior to taking it back and then setting off on the walk.

We got to the car wash, and they said it would take about an hour as there were others in the queue before me. This gave us time to kill. Fortunately there was a Cafe next door to the car wash and they were open for breakfast. Mrs Muddy Boots persuaded me, against my better judgement to call in and grab some breakfast. I knew temptation would get the better of me, and it did, and a “Full Monty” was duly ordered. We sat down with our cups of tea and awaited delivery of our food. After a short time the waitress appeared with two rounds of toast each and then a large plate each of bacon, eggs, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, sausages, tomatoes, hash brown and fried bread. All this for £4.95 including the tea and toast. I did think this would be sufficient to keep me going for the next few days, if not for the duration of our walk today.

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The Full Monty

After finishing off the huge breakfast, we collected my mothers car from the car wash and valeting shop and drove it back to her house. We then proceeded to drive to the Yorkshire Dales along the A59 towards Skipton and then up wonderful Wharfedale and into Littondale.

On arriving in Arncliffe the only practical place to park was outside the Falcon Inn. There are no parking restrictions as such, but I am wary of parking outside the houses of others as they may require the place to bring shopping in from their cars and I don’t like being inconsiderate. Additionally, I live in a small village which has a very popular village pub, and many people go for a ‘run out’ to this country pub and then park directly outside my house which is very frustrating when trying to unload my car, and even more frustrating as the pub has a large car park which these inconsiderate people seem unable to use. As is usual on walking trips, Mrs Muddy Boots has to nip to the loo at regular intervals, so we went into the Falcon so she could avail herself of the facilities and thus I started this walk with a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor’s Boltmaker inside me.

Distance – 6 miles
Ascent – 937 feet

OS 3D MapRoute Profile

We exited The Falcon through the front door and turned left to walk down the side of the pub. This took us along a walled track past a small, attractive telephone exchange and along onto what possibly was an old drovers road that lead up the fellside.

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Old Drovers Road Leading from Arncliffe

As we started gaining height we came across a signpost on our right indicating the path to Malham which was six and a half miles away, via the Monks Road (as the OS Map has it). Fountains Abbey used to own much of the land around here, so it is likely that the name of this path came about from its use by the Abbey.

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Signpost outside Arncliffe

We made our way up the Monk’s Path which rose high above Cowside Beck and above Yew Cogar Scar. The sun was trying to break through the clouds and it was quite warm. As the path began to level out we sat down on the soft, springy grass whilst admiring the vista up Littondale. The sun had broken through the cloud and was now beating down on our faces. We lay back on the soft grass looking upwards watching the clouds changing shape and passing by against their blue background. Well, with the huge breakfast, and a couple of Timothy Taylor’s inside we both nodded off for an hour. I awoke to the sound of skylarks and sheep, whilst Mrs Muddy Boots slowly stirred, stretched languidly and mumbled about staying there for another couple of hours.

After a short time we reluctantly arose, pulled our rucksacks on and continued gently ambling our way along the Monks Path high above the tumbling Cowside Beck with the glorious expanse of Littondale stretching out behind us, and apart from us there was nobody else around.

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Looking back to Littondale from the Monk’s Path
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Arncliffe from the Monk’s Path
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The View up Littondale
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Looking toward Potts Moor and Out Moor above Litton

We continued walking steadily uphill and arrived at a small dry valley named as Clowder on the map. We turned off the Monks Path and proceeded to walk upwards across the tussocky moorland between small limestone outcrops of this dry valley until we reached the highest point of the walk. We were quite fortunate as there were a number of intersecting drystone walls up here with gates at the points they intersected and some small sheepfolds which allowed us to pass through into different pastures.

As we started the descent to High Cote Moor, Mrs Muddy Boots started walking back uphill towards  a section of galvanised wire sheep fencing blocking a tumbled down part of a wall. At this point there was a sheep which looked like it was scratching its back against one of the timber fence posts. As She got closer she shouted me to come back up as the sheep which she had seen had both its horns tangled in the wire fencing and could not free itself. I walked up to the fence and the sheep was wanting to run away from me. I got a strong hold of it by the horns and managed to free one side of its head, and then the other. Now I know sheep are a bit thick, and their sole ambition in life is to die, but I do feel this one sensed I was trying to help it and it stopped struggling after a short while until its head was free again, and at this point it trotted off and at a distance of about ten yards, stopped, turned around and made several short bleats which I understood to be it saying “Thank You” – you can’t beat a nice bit of anthropomorphism!

After my good deed of the day we continued walking down the hillside to the obvious bridle path at High Cote Moor. We picked up the path and made our way along it north eastwards gradually descending to Arncliffe Cote.

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Looking down to High Cote Moor
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Cote Gill dropping over a limestone outcrop
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Looking up Littondale from above Arncliffe Cote

We made steady progress down from High Cote Moor as the bridlepath was both well made and clear. We passed through the small, ancient farmstead of Arncliffe Cote and eventually arrived on the main tarmac road up the valley. We turned right and made our way along the road to Outgang Lane which lead us to the River Skirfare, which sounds like be a Norse name if ever I heard one, although I am no expert on these matters. Our arrival at the river was greeted by a substantial steel footbridge leading across to Hawkswick, although we didn’t cross the bridge, but turned left to the path which runs alongside the river.

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Footbridge to Hawkswick

As we made our along the valley floor through lush, green pasture land back to Arncliffe there were parts of the path that had been washed away by the floods earlier in the year and deep scars in the earth on the river banks were indicative of the force of the water that had come down this valley. As the ground was flat we managed to get a good pace going and we soon arrived back in Arncliffe via the Old Vicarage, which is a grand looking building for such a small place, and we passed between it and the church of St Oswald.

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St Oswald’s Church, Arncliffe
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The village stocks at Arncliffe, on the approach to the Lychgate of St Oswalds (should be brought back into use in my opinion)

We walked through the little side streets of the village and came out on the Green onto which most of the cottages face. We walked up the green and back to The Falcon Inn. As is usual, we had to rebalance our fluids, and on entering the pub a couple of pints of the landlords finest brew were ordered. The Falcon is unique in that it has no cellar and very little space behind the bar, and the casks are tapped and a large jug is filled from which the Landlord then fills the pint glasses with a practised ease.

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The Village Green at Arncliffe
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The Falcon Landlord handling big jugs with ease

As we sipped our beers we contemplated ordering our evening meal here, however we decided that as this was the second time we had been in here in one day we should try further up the valley at Litton and see what the Queens Arms was like. After we finished our drinks we drove up the valley a couple of miles until we got to Litton. There were a large number of cars parked outside the pub, so we weren’t hopeful of getting a table, however when we got through the door and ordered a drink the bar staff found us a table for two in the dining room.

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Testing a pint of Greene King in the Queens Arms
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Wall map in the dining room of the Queens Arms

The dining room was very well presented with attractive table settings. We ordered Steak Pie and Chips and a King Prawn Curry, both of which were really delicious and were served in ample proportions too. We had to decline the pudding. We slowly finished our drinks and reluctantly paid our bill and left the establishment. We got into the car and began the long drive home whilst discussing what a great day we had both had.

Littondale, we will be back!