29 October 2010

The Glaciers of Crummack Dale (Or at least the remains of them)

» A circular route over the limestone pavement at Moughton and Crummack Dale from the Dales village of Clapham.
Distance: 8.8 Miles | Time: 4h 10m | Difficulty: Easy

It was a cold and dreary Saturday but that wasn't going to put us off a wander round the limestone on the hills behind Clapham and Austwick, besides, there were two pups raring for a day out. Joining the Fellfaller crew for the first time was Iain, Lesley's other half.

Iain's a true man of the mountains; someone who's hiked the Peruvian Andes in summer, the canyons of the Southwest US in winter, and stared down Mountain Lions. But would he make up for the absent Telfaller? Only time would tell, so without further a do we bundled into the chief curry cook's Citroen (yes, he makes a darned good curry too) and headed out into the Dales.

Austwick Beck

Dispatching the Saturday traffic with ease, we left the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park at Clapham and wandered up Church Lane towards the 19th century St James' Church and the famed tunnels of Thwaite Lane...

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

Heading up the bridleway of Thwaite Lane there are two long, dark, tunnels; an extravagance of the Farrer family who original owned the nearby Ingleborough Hall and the surrounding land. Such that they could wander the grounds of their estate without having to mingle with "common folk", Thwaite Lane was lowered and the two tunnels constructed to allow the Farrers privacy whilst galavanting about. A third, additional tunnel (80m long and now blocked off) was also constructed to allow servants and deliveries to access the hall without being seen by the family or guests. What a strange time the early 19th century was.

Route up Norber

Heading steeply up the hill, Thwaite Lane runs right through to the village of Wharfe, but we'd be turning off after a mile or so to enjoy a little scramble on Robin Proctor's Scar up to the top of Norber. From the first field after leaving the lane, the path actually runs into a second field at the far corner before gently climbing a grassy opening in the rock-face.  Me being me, however, it was up the scree slope and then a narrow little gully with a few trees clinging on to life sprouting out of it - not actually as bad as it sounds, the crampon marks on the rocks prove it's a popular winter route.

Of course from the top it was immediately back down again to the Erratics just above Nappa Scar, otherwise we'd be off in the wrong direction (not like we'd done that before, but that was Great Gable in low cloud...).

Heading for Moughton

Dropping down from Nappa Scar the path crosses Crummack lane and heads for the old clapper bridges over Austwick Beck. In times gone by the local farmers and herdsmen used to dam the beck at this point to give the sheep their annual bath, now it's just a pretty set of bridges and a ford in the lane leading up to the farm at Crummack Dale.

From the beck we pick up the walled lane to Moughton, just have to be careful to choose the right one; cross over the wall and take the path that is well and truly a "green lane" - pretty overgrown and not much chance of squeezing a Land Rover down there.

It's a steady pull along the lane for about a mile and a quarter before it deposits you at the foot of Moughton. From here the path winds it way up to the summit through the exposed limestone, however we were going to skip the summit itself and have another scramble up onto the end of the Scars. So it's an immediate left, past the ruined building, and up the scree slope to the rock face. Then, with the usual disclaimer applying, pick a route up the face onto the limestone pavement at the top.

Moughton Scar

By this stage things had been going pretty well, so it was about time for us to a) fall off something, b) get stuck, c) forget something or someone, or d) go the wrong way. Today Iain chose d, so we set off at a pace over the limestone in the direction of Selside, before remembering where we should be heading and making the required course correction for Thieves Moss.

Another one of those features where you can scratch your head for hours wondering where the name came from, it made for an ideal place to stop for a sandwich whilst the dogs chased stones and the sun came out over the limestone below.


Leaving Thieves Moss it was a left turn to pick up the route to Long Scar and Trow Gill. From here on it seemed that the weather was going to be kind to us, clearing enough to reveal the lower slopes of Ingleborough, but leaving the top shrouded by cloud as we yomped across the moor with the wind at our backs.

There's only one place to really go wrong on the route back to Trow Gill, so if you bear right whenever the path forks you'll be okay - going left at the first fork will take you down to Crummackdale (not advisable, but you could head back to the clapper bridge crossed earlier), the second fork loops round either side of Long Scar before merging further on.


Just before Trow Gill the path meets up with the end of Long Lane, making its way along the valley back to Thwaite Lane (which we left earlier). At the base of the valley below runs a path alongside Clapham Beck, heading to Ingleborough caves. It is possible cut down onto the lower path, but it can be pretty full with day-trippers following the semi-picturesque route through the woods.

Long Lane is relatively easy going, however it can be a bit muddy when it's wet. On rejoining Thwaite Lane it's a simple matter of going right and back down the hill to the start point (unless you want to do the whole route over again, in which case turn left).

All in the route is almost 9 miles, and slightly over 4 hours to complete (about 4hr 10m or so). Parking is plentiful in Clapham and there's a number of places to get a bite to eat or a pint.

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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