The weekend before Christmas is a special one in our year, since it brings another of our regular get-togethers with the gaggle of cronies now known to us as Our Camping Friends. Not that we were camping. We aren’t that hardy, well not all of us anyway. Once upon a long ago we used to congregate in one of our homes – wherever the host was generous enough to offer, which meant, presumably, that they could overlook the bad behaviour of the previous year and the potential for randomly strewn Quality Street and/or Brussel sprouts under their sofa, not to mention turkey fat stains on the kitchen lino and partially cooked potatoes on the lawn. These days we rent a hostel for the weekend (and I ought to add, don’t leave any food rotting in inappropriate nooks and crannies). This was our twelfth such weekend and for the second year running the venue was The Old School Bunkhouse in Chapel-le-Dale.
It’s a perfect spot – it has a large kitchen where the adults tend to gather to mainline tea and reheat old stories, but also a large living room which the kids annexe for the weekend. It sits slap-bang between Whernside and Ingleborough and if we were ever to get any decent weather whilst we were there, no doubt it would be the perfect place from which to launch ascents of one or other of them. Sadly, once again the principal characteristic of the weather was its wetness.
Indeed, when the Adopted Yorkshireman came in from his habitual pre-dawn yomp, looking like the proverbial drowned rat, he was prepared to admit that it was ‘almost not worth going out’ which is as damning as he ever gets. Still, it did brighten up later that day and we managed to encourage/cajole/browbeat/bribe the kids to join us for a mass hike along the lanes and tracks around Chapel-le-Dale.
Looking toward Ribblehead Viaduct.
We even had a little blue sky.
A barn by the track near Bruntscar.
Another view toward Ribblehead.
The kids enjoyed fording Ellerbeck Gill so much that they did it again and again. Wellies were definitely the wisest choice of footwear.
I think some of them found the stream so enticing that they were tempted to follow it upstream to look at the falls. They did look good!
Whernside almost emerges from the cloud.
The return leg of our walk brought us past this arresting sculpture…
…which has had a chequered past.
Judging by the luxuriance of the moss on this wall, the wet weather we’ve experienced here is normal service. Just below here we stopped a while to peer down into Hurtle Pot.
Chapel-le-Dale’s diminutive church.
Some of our party had a very soggy walk back to the church the following day to swell the congregation at their Carol service.
When we arrived back at the bunkhouse, Ingleborough was almost cloud free and the weather was looking as promising as it had all day. (As it transpired, as promising as it would all weekend). So some of us resolved to get out again, after a quick bite of lunch.
And, in short order, we did just that.
This time we were a little more ambitious and headed up to Twistleton Scar, after one minor navigational mishap whereon we strayed into the fields by High Scales – the farmer came to point us in the right direction: I think he was a little annoyed, understandably so, but he was very pleasant and helpful even so.
The cloud was drifting across Ingleborough in a highly tantalising way, seemingly threatening to unveil and reveal a great view, without ever fulfilling that promise.
Never-the-less, the edge of the scar here makes for magnificent walking and I shall definitely have to come this way again soon.
Looking down to Ingleton.
A Twistleton scar erratic.
The bunkhouse kitchen.
On the Sunday, the weather was irredeemably awful. Some of us – the Shandy Sherpa, the Adopted Yorkshirewoman and I – took all of the kids around to Kingsdale to have a gander at Yordas Cave. It was wet. Very wet, both outside and in.
Such was the volume of the water in the stream through the cave that when we crossed the mid-stream flow Andy and I felt it necessary to hand the kids across one-by-one.
We took them down to peer at the waterfall through the ‘window’ at the end of the cave and I think that they all enjoyed their little adventure. You can find some marginally better photos of Yordas Cave from my summer evening visit last June.
Due to the generosity of the owners of the bunkhouse, we had the option to stay quite late on the Monday, before we all set off to wend our ways home. The photograph above gives a feel for the weather conditions. This was during a brief, relatively pleasant spell.
We had a little wander to investigate Winterscales Beck. Generally it runs underground here, but not today. This…
…is a footpath. Earlier in the morning The Adopted Yorkshirefolk had found themselves on the wrong side of the beck, after another rain-drenched walk, and had waded through when it was running very deep. It had already subsided somewhat by the time they’d persuaded the rest of us to have a look, so naturally we hooted with derision and told them to stop exaggerating and making such a fuss.
Maybe next year we’ll get some sunshine. Or snow. Or even a little less rain would be a start.