21 October 2010

Ingleborough and Twisleton Scars

» A circular walk starting with a climb of Ingleborough, descending Humphrey Bottom then returning to the start via Hurtle Hole and Twisleton Scars.
Distance: 9.9 Miles | Time: 4h 19m | Difficulty: Easy

"It just goes to show that even the Met Office can get the weather forecast so completely wrong you begin wonder if they use scientific method or just consult a physic." "What? I can't hear anything with this rain pummeling my hood." Today should have been a bright and clear day, a few gusts of wind but overall pleasant enough for 10 miles up and over Ingleborough - at 723m the second highest peak in the Dales.  But as it was the conditions just went to prove the old adage of "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment."

Lone Tree II

The day didn't start bad, it just seemed to get progressively worse - right up to the point of reaching the car then, understandably, it turned into a beautiful day. But even lousy weather wouldn't dampen our spirits...

Quick Links: The Map | Photos on Flickr | GPX file for your GPS device

The expedition started well enough, making good time to Ingleton from Bradford and managing to secure one of the limited parking spaces opposite the quarry at Skirwith; cutting out the need to park down in the village and make the slog up the road to join the end of Fell Lane. From the lay-by it's a quick jaunt up the hill through a sheep paddock to join the old walled lane to Crina Bottom and the start of the ascent proper up Ingleborough.

Crina is a lovely location, a rambling cottage nestling behind White Scars - I'd be grinning from ear-to-ear if I was fortunate enough to live in a setting such as that, in the drizzle and approaching cloud it looked warm and cosy, somewhere to bask in the summer sun, or hunker down in front of a roaring fire during a winter storm.

Grina Bottom

From Grina onwards the ascent of Ingleborough really starts, with the path beginning to gain some proper altitude - or at least as much as you'll get in this part of the world - as it snakes its way up the south-west face past Red Gait Head.  At this point we started to meet the cloud base and the winds that had been playfully tussling hair began to cause trouser legs to flap like a loose mainsail and unsecured straps to whip about painfully.

Stairway to...?

From Red Gait the path begins its final slog up to the summit, over the ever-popular, uneven, poorly spaced, stone steps which seem to be laying siege to our National Parks. The contours of Ingleborough as you pass through the "Limestone Load" vary immensely from gently-sloping to beggar-me-that's-steep, making the going over the steps change from minute-to-minute but taken as a whole it's a steady climb up, without need for stops.

We reached the vast, flat, top of Ingleborough to be greeted by an empty summit - finally a Monday without people; not that I have an aversion to people, the exact opposite in fact, but I love the solitude and remoteness to be had when you don't see another soul. Straight over the top of Ingleborough is the route to Humphrey Bottom, a nice steep scramble following the spring off the top of the peak and down to the Souther Nature Reserve.

Souther Pavement

In an attempt to preserve the bog on Souther Scales Fell the National Park has laid a mixture of stone slabs and duck-boards to form a solid path from the foot of the scramble onwards to the limestone pavement. By the time we'd reached the start of the path we'd dropped out of the clouds but were in heavy drizzle, making the smooth stone slabs slightly treacherous in places as they head downhill.

The limestone pavement below Ingleborough is practically mirror image of that of Twisleton Scars on the other side of the valley and with the other glacial features in the area makes for some unique scenery. At the side of the path through the pavement is the fantastically named Braithwaite Wife Hole, a deep sink-hole popular with potholers.  Unfortunately it seems the story behind the name is long lost in the annals of history, however I'd like to think it has something to do with a Mrs Braithwaite being lost down there...

Boggard of Hurtle Pot

From Braithwaite's Hole the path winds its way down to the hamlet of Chapel-le-Dale, home to some fine houses, equally fine cottages, a quaint little church and the Boggard of Hurtle Pot. Words fail me for an apt description of Hurtle Pot, so I'll leave it to Thomas West's Tour to the Caves in the West Riding of Yorkshire from 1778...

"The first curiosity we were conducted to was Hurtlepot, about eighty yards above the chapel. It is a round, deep hole, between thirty and forty yards diameter, surrounded with rocks almost on all sides, between thirty and forty feet perpendicular above a deep black water in a subterranean cavity at its bottom. 

All round the top of this horrid place are trees, which grow secure from the axe; their branches almost meet in the centre, and spread a gloom over a chasm dreadful enough of itself without being heightened with any additional appendages. It was indeed one of the most dismal prospect we had yet been presented with: almost every sense was affected in such an uncommon manner, as to excite ideas of a nature truly horribly sublime. 

When ever we threw in a pebble, or spoke a word, our ears were assailed with a dismal hollow sound, our nostrils were affected with an uncommon complication of strong smells, from the ramps and other weeds that grew plentifully about its sides, and the rank vapours that exhaled from the black abyss beneath."

It was these sounds and smells emanating from the great hole behind the church that led to the locals belief in a boggard, or evil spirit, inhabiting Hurtle Pot and, as a result, its inclusion in the folklore of the area. Further up the road is an iron statue of the mythical creature, standing menacingly in a clearing amongst the trees - looking like a lifeless extra out of Alien.

Into the Dales

Leaving Hurtle Pot the lane slowly pulls up the hill to the farms at Ellerbeck where we made a left turn onto the long byway running above and through Twisleton Scars. Having had light drizzle, heavy drizzle, gentle breezes, blustery winds and enveloping low cloud so far it was obviously time for the heavens to open and try their darnedest to soak us to the skin.

However, as the saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment" so it was out with the waterproofs before we continued the trek over the top.  The rain came down sideways with a force that made it almost painful, and making photographs a definite no-no, so you'll just have to take my word for the fact that it's lovely countryside on the Scars.

Raven Scar

As we dropped down the final section of the limestone pavement to Scar End the rain also came to an end and the skies further down the valley told of sunshine to come - understandable as we were now only a mile or so from where we'd started.

Dropping down the slippery grass slope below Scar End, we picked up the Waterfalls Walk path towards Beezley where we'd cross the River Doe over the stepping stones (over through the ford if you happen to have four legs and like playing in the water). Then it's a brief walk up the hill and along the permissive path through Skirwith quarry to come out back where we'd started earlier that morning.

All in the walk's a whisker shy of 10 miles and ever so slightly over 4 hours to complete in not so brilliant weather. For a slight diversion there's an opportunity for a pub stop at Chapel-le-Dale; head up the valley along main road for half a mile to the Old Hill Inn. One of Black Sheep's "Flagsheep" pubs with a selection of excellent Black Sheep Ales and hot food.

The Map

OS Maps: Landranger 98 | Explorer OL2

View the trip at | See all the pictures on Flickr | Or go get the GPX file
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