Saturday, 10 November 2012

Pennine Journey - Settle to Bainbridge

Preamble to this blog:

After I joined The Wainwright Society in 2009 I was alerted to a book Wainwright had written called "A Pennine Journey - The story of a long walk in 1938". Wainwright had written this book when he completed the walk but it had lain as a manuscript in a drawer for almost fifty years until he was persuaded by his publishers to submit it for publication in 1986.

After reading the 1938 book I discovered that a man called David Pitt, a fellow member of the Wainwright Society, and who has since become an acquaintance, had researched Wainwright's 210 mile route from 1938 in great detail, and was about to publish a guidebook based on a modern day version of the route which was 247 miles long.  I subsequently bought the guidebook and suggested to my walking club committee at Ryedale Walking Group, that members may wish to join my wife Judy and I on this long distance walk. The committee supported the idea and the first three days walking from Settle to Bainbridge were included in the Summer 2011 walk programme. The take up was low I have to say, however this made the prospect of arranging accomodation for a walk which in our case turned out to be 260 miles in length a practical proposition. In the end although seven members walked a part of the prescibed route, (in two cases most) only four of us actually become what are now known as "Pennine Journeymen" - people who have completed the whole 247 mile route.  We accomplished this more than two years after we started the walk, and I am writing this foreword to the walk report from August 2011 in September 2013 when the walk was completed. In the interim the walk received recognition from various authorities. It was waymarked and a Pennine Journey Supporters Club has been formed - subscription: 247p each year (£2:47) to reflect the 247 mile length of the walk. 

Day 1 Saturday 20 August 2011 Settle to Bainbridge
(7.75m 1750 ft ascent)

Four of us opted to tackle the 30 mile section of the walk from Settle to Bainbridge over a long weekend. In addition  one friend Anne, joined us just for the first days walk to Horton in Ribblesdale.
We based ourselves at The Craven Heifer Public House one mile north of Skipton and used a mixture of our cars and public transport to help us complete the walk. In a nutshell we drove to Skipton and caught the train to Settle. From there we walked to Horton in Ribblesdale and returned to Skipton by train and from the station we drove to the hotel.

Geoff Fielding - in Ribblesdale starting out on a two year mission to complete Wainwright's Pennine Journey
The following day we did similar, but caught the train to Horton and walked across the hills to Buckden. From there we caught the Dalesbus back to Skipton. The last days walk from Buckden to Bainbridge was accomplished using our cars, parking one at each end before commencing the walk. 

A passing steam train on the Settle - Carlisle line in Ribblesdale
From Settle we followed our guide books and map and walked up the east side of Ribblesdale touching the villages of Langcliffe and Stainforth. The tracks and paths were all well used and well marked being within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The walk to Horton proved to be uneventful and took us just over 4 hours.
On Horton station waiting for the train back to Skipton
We returned to the Craven Heifer north of Skipton to check in and discuss over dinner our next days walk from Horton to Buckden over Horsehead Moor.
Hull Pot

Day Two Sunday 21 August 2011 Horton to Buckden
(12.4 miles 2150 ft ascent) 

For those of us who like going over high ground this was a day to savour. We caught the train from Skipton to Horton and made our way on the well trodden track up to Hull Pot. Sadly there were only three of us present - my wife Judy remained at the Craven Heifer with a tummy bug. This meant that we would repeat the walk together a month later and on that occasion we could bring our dog Treacle, who also loves fellwalking.
Phil, Jennie and Yvonne taking a break near Hull Pot 21 August 2011
Heading down the hill to Foxup 21 August 2011
The bridleway took us across Foxup Moor  and we saw nor heard any snared screaming rabbits to rescue on the way, which if you read his book, Wainwright did on his 1938 journey. When we neared Foxup a group of middle aged mountain bikers were heading up the bridleway from the hamlet. This hobby, or should I say sport, seems to be taking over from walking in terms of popularity. 
Lunch again at New Barn near Foxup when I repeated the walk with Judy on 30 September 2011
After lunch at New Barn (seat provided) it was time to tackle the curiously named Horse Head Moor which led us to Yockenthwaite. Allegedly, in bygone days the vicar from Hubberholme Church travelled on horseback over the moor en route to conduct church services in Halton Gill. The locals would look out for him coming into view over the hill so that is how the pass got its name of Horse Head.

Yockenthwaite bridge on 21 August 2011
In resolute fashion we surmounted the moor without too much of a struggle and descended into Langstrothdale Dale. By the time we reached Hubberholme Church at 4.00pm the George Inn was closed, so we had to wait until Buckden for our refreshments. 
Judy enjoys the customary cream tea in Buckden 30 September 2011
Our plan was to catch the local bus back to the Craven Heifer at Skipton and along with several other people, we waited patiently for the bus to arrive. We needed to reach Grassington by a certain time and then transfer to another bus. When the bus did not show at Buckden twenty minutes after the due time I became concerned and rang the bus company in Silsden. They confirmed the bus had broken down but that it was now repaired and on its way. We just made our connection at Grassington I am pleased to report. 

Day 3 Monday 22 August 2011 Buckden to Bainbridge
9.9 miles 1550 ft ascent 

I write this blog sometime after completing day three but I have to say, this stretch over Stake Moss is one of the best days walking on the whole Pennine Journey. You get a taste of what is to come as you cross Buckden Rake and look north towards Cray and the Causeway above it which carries the unseen (from where we were stood) B6160 over the hill into Bishopdale:

Buckden Rake on 22 August 2011

All four of us were to walk on this day and it was 11.00am before we left Buckden. The chore of taking my car to Bainbridge to return us to Buckden at the end of the day had to be done. We realised at the end of the day after completing less than ten miles on foot, that it is almost twice as far by road to reach Bainbridge. 

After we joined the B6160 over the Causeway we took a left on to an old drovers road that led us on to a high plateau for several miles. We stopped for lunch at around 1.00pm and by that time we had started descending Stake Edge on our way to cross a watercourse at Shaw Gill.

The Waterfalls here go to the lake which we were bound for in Raydale - Semerwater. Before that though we passed through the village of Stalling Busk, an interesting village. We dropped downhill here on a path among trees and suddenly Semerwater was in view through a gate between walls:

I have to agree with Wainwright, Semerwater is dissapointing. A story in his 1938 book related how he spent some time in a cottage earlier that year in Bainbridge and the man who owned the place likened Semerwater to Windermere. Well Wainwright did not get to visit at that time, however he did on Pennine Journey when he likened Semerwater to a flooded field.....check it out yourself, he wasn't far wrong. 

Beyond the "flooded field" that is Semerwater (I hope I have haven't upset any Yorkshiremen reading this, I have lived in Yorkshire now for 20 years but am Lancastrian by birth), it was a case of following the River Bain into Bainbridge along field paths before we met the A684 near the village at the end of the walk. We arrived there just before 4.00pm so that was good progress. 

Driving back to Buckden we'd had a great walk and were looking forward to continuing to follow the route in the spring of 2012.... 

Link to Day 4 Bainbridge to Keld and on to High Force

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