It’s funny how something becomes so familiar in your life, take for example my jounery by tram to New Street every month. The early morning walks through my town, cash machine and then board the tram. Seeing people on their way to work, some sleeping, some immersed in their phones or staring blankly from the window.
I’ll miss this little part when project ends, seeing all the different people going about their day, me guessing their narrative and stories, seeing the world go by in the early hours.
The early starts become a common part of Park run, but on this occasion I’m not setting off as I arrive at my start, I’m afforded a quick stop over in Ilkley to catch up with mother beard, my sister and sister in law. This month’s jaunt promises to be outstanding in scenery, 2 national parks back to back. The plan hacked out over the last week with the logistic giving me a headache and causing me to become temporarily insane.
Starting from Ilkley I’ll join the dales way into Windermere (80 miles) before cutting west and ending in Ravenglass, home team advantage for me, I miss the lakes and have not ventured this way for some 7 years, but even longer for any kind of exploring the many and varied mountain trails.
I’m afforded a brief stop over In Ilkley to catch up with family, the train journey being a simple affair with only 2 changes went without incident and I was soon arriving in Burley-in-Wharfe Dale, we head out for a nice meal and I go with the rather large fancy steak complete with fries, mac and cheese with large prawns on the side, I see this as more carbs and protein for the coming days.
Morning arrived, But I couldn’t be bothered to raise at 5am the temp had noticeably dropped over the last few days, with previous day marking the official meteorological start of autumn, so I just nodded off for a little longer, it was 6:30am before I was leaving, the start of the Dales Way begins at Ilkley and I opted to add a few more miles and take a little scenic route from mother beards home to the start, the route was wonderful as Yorkshire can be, the sun rising behind me and spreading a warm auburn glow over the land, before long I had arrived at my start point, interestingly the OS map shows the route starting well before here and I’m not sure why this is.
The official sign was found just by a garden centre and off I set into another adventure, the route follows the meandering river Wharfe flowing from the Upper Wharfe Dale, it twists and turns effortlessly through vallies and farmlands. I pass the little village of Addingham, rather large and expensive houses watch my every step before I pass into a more fancy holiday park, the large American log cabins standing as a definite statement of look what I can afford, open farmlands soon follows and takes me away from the world of people. crossing a road and just before Bolton Abbey I come across Farfield Quaker Meeting House, built around 1689 a signifcant place for people to worship freely, a little place hidden away. Before long the remains of Bolton Abbey come into view, in its day it must have provided a most impressive feature on the landscape for pilgrims to come upon after a long journey.
Now it provides a fantastic backdrop to the landscape around it, its Gothic and ruinous feature gives the visitor feast for the imagination, at the time i passed through it was yet to open, but a few people mulled around, I crossed the Wharfe and stood for a moment to watch a family spread the ashes of a loved one, I felt very fortunate to be able to witness this moment and said a silent few words in my head, before taking off along the path marked by the OS.
It worth noting here, that once inside the land of Bolton Abbey estate, the signs for the for the Dales Way vanish, there is none at all and I can only assume that this is due to some clash between the footpath and the estate own sings. My route takes me through a children’s walk, little challenges lay to the side of the paths making for a fun walk for the little ones or the slightly bigger ones like me as I make us of the obstacles. Your soon crossing a small bridge and into the bustle of the many day visitors, here I stop and make use to the cafe and after 12 miles of running and walking Im ready for a brew and cake.
People mull by, families walking dogs, children running and playing with more cyclist than I’ve ever seen in one place, I still hold the thought that middle aged men in Lycra is not a good look, I set forth and off into a wooded area the signs still very much absent, I arrive at an area known as the Strid, I had read about this section of the Wharf before I set off, on first glance the rock faces strewn with moss invites a sense of mystery and fairies frolicking on the banks, but this otherwise burbling river is one of the deadliest in the UK, here the water funnels from a wide open river into this small gully, it changes direction as it hits the narrow and craggy sides creating massive undercurrents and chambers below the water which have taken a number of lives over the years.
Barden tower a 15th Century hunting lodge now lies in ruins flashes by to my left as I pass more walkers heading in the direction of Bolton Abbey, fancy ornate bridges are crossed before heading across brief sections of road and into more farmland before I enter the small parish of Burnsall, I take the opportunity to take in the local delights and consume a fine bacon sandwich and cup of tea, a chicken wanders around the tables offering a distraction from the multitude of people wandering around the village.
As I headed off, I could see the clouds beginning to descend on the hills behind me, I quickly took shelter under the bridge and clad my body in my waterproofs and braced myself for the coming wetness, I passed the day walkers who were not as prepared as myself for the rain, some took shelter under trees and some just grin and bared it. The river was now taking on a more rough and ready appearance, as it coursed over the rocky outcrops and provided some fantastic weirs near to Hebden. I took a seat at an interesting spot, the seat carved from a tree trunk made a good spot for an insta shot, a short trot over a bouncy bridge which I took delight in making it bounce even more much to the bemusment of onlookers.
I was soon coming into the village of Grassington, it was an odd feeling to be around so many people early on, all my other parks I had walked away from people and into people barely seeing anyone for days on end. As nice as Grassington was, it was a little busy for me, I stopped had a few moments where I had some pop and set off, glad to be leaving the busy place behind me.
From here I took to my first lofty climb up wards onto Lea Green, the whole area a site once dominated by a medieval village, the area is a series of lumps and bumps in the landscape and has been in occupation since the Bronze age. The local cow population now the only residents here, along with a few walkers of course, the land took in a more isolated feel, with the large looming crags of the moors to my right and left you feel a tad enclosed, but this was proper hill walking country and just the type of terrain I loved.
I managed to catch a group of walkers along the way who were contemplating what to do about the group of cows congregating around the style, I wandered up and clapped my hands making the heard move until I came across the rather muscle buttocks of a bull, he just looked at me and I at him before I walked around the large chap and on wards. From here the route takes you over an escarpment overlooking Conistone, but the views were spectacular, to the left lay Kilnesy Crag, Kettlewell to the centre right and Hawswick moor in front, a perfect Yorkshire valley view. I took a moment and snapped some shots of the vast landscape ahead of me before setting off.
I caught up to a group of walkers here, now they irritated me alot every time I went through a style or gate after them they had decided not to latch or in some instances close the things, I’m not sure why people are so lazy but i takes a few seconds to do this and prevents livestock from running away and getting injured of lost. Its a basic country side rule, always close gates after you.
I decided to run past them all and took delight in passing the entire group very quickly and making a point of shutting the gates loudly, I was soon heading down a steep path and onto a minor road and into Kettlewell, I was by now fed up the constant climbing of the narrow walled styles, I must have climb 100 over the day and they definitely made your legs ache.
Kettlewell came into view and my camp for the night, I set up my tent near to the shower block which afforded me some protection from the wind coming over, after showering I begged some tea bags from another group who were happy to do this, a little later a lady popped over and offered me a few cans of pop, I thanked her greatly for these and she stated ‘its the mother in me’ I’m not sure if she felt sorry for me or worried but I accepted the pop, I had also chatted with another group who were admiring my one man tent, I chatted and told them of my adventure which they seemed suitably impressed by, especially after telling them that I was 28miles in for the day.
Fed, watered and clean I climb into my quilt and lay dozing on and off, by 7pm the rain came and briefly went before descending again, people once laughing and enjoying the late evening sun scampered inside their tents for shelter.