The exertions of last Sunday's hilly 10K race left me feeling a bit shattered so I didn't venture out for
another run until Wednesday. But that couple of days rest must have done me good for I sailed up Castle Hill with the greatest of ease for the start of an enjoyable five mile circuit through shady woods and fields of ripening corn. Then I'd two more days rest before the weekend activities when, once again, things didn't quite go according to plan. Saturday was yet another of those occasions when my wonderful partner wanted to refresh her memory about a route over which she'll be leading her intrepid (and very brave) U3A walkers in ten days time. She was anxious to re-acquaint herself with the lie of the land, check compass bearings in case of mist or stormy conditions, and to check cellphone reception from various points in case of emergency. Not relishing the idea of her traversing such remote and mainly trackless country on her own, I volunteered to jog round with her. After all, it was only 9 miles, though there was also a little matter of 1,200ft of ascent to make it more 'interesting'.
Saturday was a beautiful day, sunny and warm with clear views as we left Yarnbury to jog up Old Moor Lane, past the sheepfold where our local shepherd was shearing his flock, and in half a mile had reached the access gate onto open moorland. From here on our route would be trackless for the next five miles though there are some navigational aids in the form of walls and fences leading to the wild interior. We followed one of these walls for a mile before climbing more steeply into Howgill Nick where a ruined shooting hut overlooks a wide sinkhole that swallows the water from Black Edge Dyke. After our recent heatwave there wasn't the slightest trickle. Beyond the ruined hut was a faint dusty track that quad bikes will soon be using to transport the shooting aristocracy to allotted stances for their annual slaughter of the grouse population.
|Our route.... 9 miles/1,200ft|
|Memorial cairn with Great Whernside beyond...|
We followed the tyre marks until they ended at a narrow bridge over a dried up ditch from which point we
roughly guessed a compass bearing to a memorial cairn marking the spot where six cavers are entombed hundreds of feet below in Mossdale Caverns. This was a bearing my wonderful partner was anxious to get right because the cairn remains hidden over the horizon until almost within spitting distance of it, but after half a mile at 15º the top of the cairn loomed out of the heather immediately ahead. Spot on. We veered left to a long fence leading past Priest's Tarn, then upwards for another half mile to the Nidderdale boundary. I'd one foot on the fence, about to climb over into Nidderdale, when there was a plaintive cry from behind me. "I've lost my camera" she said. Like me, she'd had it slotted onto the belt of her waist pouch but it must have slipped off unnoticed when she'd taken off the pouch to check her phone.
|Running up the long fence to the boundary...|
|"There's Meugher"......rising out of the bog.|
Other than my wonderful partner and a late fell running friend I know of only one other person who's been
there - the shepherd/farmer who waved to us as we ran past at the beginning of our jaunt earlier in the day. Usually, the way ahead is akin to a watery version of Hampton Court maze, with ditches instead of hedges, but after the semi drought it was reasonably dry, making it more accessible and allowing us to take a more direct line, though it involved climbing in and out of several deep groughs. The final slopes are a mixture of tussocky grass and feathery bog cotton crossed by half hidden drainage ditches. Gaining the summit we'd a bite to eat and a quick drink by the redundant Trig point before following a 155º bearing across Meugher Dike and up to Henstone Band, a high point along the boundary fence ¾ mile away where we'd climb back into Wharfedale to run down the long straight wall that divides Hebden Moor from Grassington Moor.
|At Meugher's windswept trig point...|
|At Henstone Band, climbing back into Wharfedale...|
Come Sunday morning, I'd have really enjoyed an extra hour in bed to aid recovery, but my presence had
|Our Chapel - where God works in mysterious ways.......|
|That fence post, one among thousands...|
After heavy overnight rain the landscape had changed dramatically. Everywhere was oozing water. Black
|Up Old Moor Lane, there'd been a drop of rain overnight...|
|Cotton grass - cleaning my legs on the way home...|