4 September 2010

Blubber and Beacons and Biscuits

» A ramble over Blubberhouses Moor to Round Hill, returning to the start at Timble by Kex Gill and Beecroft moors.
Distance: 13.8 Miles | Time: 4h 52m | Difficulty: Easy

Three jobs applied for and a lovely sunny afternoon with nothing else to do meant only one thing; walk.  But with only fumes in the car, where? Well, fumes can be stretched, and in this case they stretched as far as my favorite location; Swinsty reservoir up in the Washburn valley behind Otley.

Kex Gill Moor

With a whole afternoon at my disposal and a few new bits of kit to get broken in - namely a Leki Makalu Thermolite Aergon Antishock pole (say that 5 times fast), and a 1.5 litre Sigg bottle - I thought I'd better make it a reasonable distance so, with a cursory glance at the map, I set off in the direction of Timble heading for Blubberhouses Moor.

No stops for a refreshing pint today, that would have to wait until later, some serious mileage to put in first (about 13.8 miles by the time I'd finished). So it was straight through the village and up to Sourby Lane, then on past Sourby farm along the unmade road toward Timble Ing woods.

It's a shame that Timble Ings doesn't see more use, as ever, the car park at Swinsty was pretty full when I hefted on my pack and set off up the hill. Timble Ings by comparison was deathly quiet, nary a soul.  Admittedly it doesn't have the 'picturesque' reservoir to walk round but on a warm day the tall pines provide a cool, shady, 3 mile circular route.

As it was I was heading straight through the woods, out the back onto Lippersley Ridge.  Lippersley's one of the least precarious ridges I can think of, with the furthest you can fall being identical to your height, onto soft heather at either side of the path...

Blubberhouses Moor

The path is simple to follow being the only one over the moor to Round Hill, along the way passing a number of old boundary markers for the Forest of Knaresborough, shown above (as mentioned in the first part of the Six Ales Trail). At 409 metres Round Hill is the highest point on Blubberhouses Moor and the point where I was planning on heading northwards down to Kexgill Farm on the A59.  However, overtaken by a moment of madness I decided that in best Fellfaller fashion I'd take in The Old Pike on Beamsley Moor, what with it being there - and only a couple extra miles.

Unfortunately the Old Pike isn't a pub - although it would probably be a good place for one after a couple hours walk in the sun - but the cairn on top of Beamsley Beacon, with lovely views towards Addingham and Skipton when it's not so hazy.

So after a quick stop for a drink and a bite to eat - today's snack of the day being Aldi's apple and cinnamon muffin bar, surprisingly tasty it was - it was back over Beamsley Moor to Round Hill, through the gate and then down the moderately worn path to Kexgill farm. Instead of taking the path you can walk down the track, but then there's a third of mile of walking alongside the very busy A59 - far easier to cross it later on and join the old road.

Having crossed the A59 the old road takes you along the edge of Kex Gill Moor, nicely away from the traffic, before passing the old Blubberhouses Quarry and joining the bridleway over Hall Moor.

Hall Moor isn't really anything to write home about, it's quiet and at this time of year it's thick with sheep, grouse and pheasants. It does have some superb views over towards St. Andrews church at Blubberhouses and Fewston reservoir. The path joins Hall Lane at the bottom of the moor, dropping back down to the crossroads at Blubberhouses, taking in the magnificent Blubberhouses Hall en-route.

Back at the A59 it's time to take up a regular path of mine, from the Yorkshire Water car park go over the stile and head up the hill along left side of the field ... click, copy, paste ...

Turn left at the top of the field and make your way through the remains of a once stout dry stone wall, heading for the gate in the right hand corner of the next field. Once through the gate follow the path as it snakes it's way along the left-hand edge of the field heading for the plantation on Beecroft moor.

The next stile drops you unceremoniously into an open field, head for the large tree 70m in front of you then onto the wire fence another 85m behind it. Turn right at the fence and head down the hill towards the ruined buildings and sheep folds by Thackray Beck. A wooden footbridge leads over the beck and into the Beecroft Plantation.

The path up through the plantation isn't too well worn but you can get a general feel for the direction you should be heading - up into the treeline. After a few minutes fighting your way through the undergrowth you'll pop out on a forestry trail ... return to regular commentary ...

This time, instead of crossing the trail, turn left and follow it as it winds it's way towards the reservoir and then makes a right turn, keep with it until it comes to a T junction.  Here there's a stile hidden behind a tree in the stone wall directly opposite.  Go through the stile and head for the gate in the middle of the next wall.  Through the gate it's downhill to the next gate at the bottom left hand corner of the field.  Once through the gate you join the path back to the car park.

Apologies for there only being two photos with this route, it was hot, sunny, hazy and with the iPhone away for repair I really couldn't be bothered faffing about with the 350D to do some HDR shots. And "Blubber and Beacons and Biscuits"? Well, there was Blubberhouses Moor, Beacon Hill, and Kex is a Swedish brand of chocolate biscuit...

The Map

OS Maps: Landranger 104 | Explorer 297

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