Friday, 29 March 2013

Rumination: Beating the Retreat 22/03/13

Taking a room in the Black Horse Hotel in Grassington was such a good idea, being able to end your walk and immediately jump in the shower, give your boots and gaiters a scrub and check your shoulders for only minimal amounts of bruising after carrying 8 kilos for 17 miles. Then being able to get in a couple of pints of Grassington Best Bitter, and Sausage and Mash for dinner, and chat with the staff about sharing someone else's name, share walking tales with the other patrons and to send word of my progress to my folks via the hotel's phone when my mobile refuses to play ball. And there's still time to peruse my OL2 and route guide to bone up on the coming day's route and to get myself familiar with the bad weather alternative avoiding Grassington Moor, before getting an early night with the weather still looking clear and me still having full intent to press on to Buckden.

Then, as the cliche would have it, what a difference a day makes...

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Dales Way #1: Ilkley to Grassington 21/03/13

Self in Ilkley
Backpacking is not my thing, I'm very much a one-day-at-a-time walker, but when it came to examining ways of assaulting the Dales Way, I couldn't theorise a better way of taking on the first three stages up Wharfedale, the only alternative would be many hours of travelling on Dalesbuses up and down the valley, and that would be a lot of day wasted just going hither and thither. Anyway, Spring is due to start and I need to take a break away, so book rooms in Grassington and Buckden and pack your life into a bag for three days and get going! Trouble is, my regular bag isn't really big enough, so I have to score a bargain at Nevisport and get myself a new 35 litre rucksack, and when that's loaded up with 8 kilos of gear it feels like a weight that I have only carried as far as the railway station in the past. But onward to the Dales Way, to make serious inroads into my Walk to Windermere, and I've no real idea of how far it is to Bowness as my route guide says 78.7 miles, wikipedia counts 84 and the sign at Ilkley Old Bridge claims 82. All I now is that if I'm going to be carrying 8kg of my belongings with me, I am going to count every footfall towards my walking total, and with a 17 mile opening day and the promise of a blast of arctic weather on subsequent days, the greatest immediate risk to my progress is me psyching myself out, so let's get on the move!

Walking to Windermere: The Dales Way #1: Ilkley to Grassington. 17.1 miles.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Dent to Ribblehead 16/03/13

Walking over Great Shunner Fell, in May last year, had me regarding the uplands and valleys that separate the eastern flowing Wensleydale from the western flowing Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Garsdale, and wondering why the names of these geographical features were unfamiliar to me in the inventories of the ups and downs of the Yorkshire Dales. As with so many new things in my walking career, I made the resolve to venture into these lands between Hawes and Ribblehead, once the predictable routes had been covered and to find out the hidden corners of the North Country therein. So once a FOSCL walk shows up in the vicinity at the start of Year 2 of my 1,000 miles, it's the right time to make my first tentative steps in that direction, and as the weather projections shift from mediocre to changeable, a late winter walk in the high lands would be an ideal distraction before the Dales Way comes calling.

Dent to Ribblehead, via Arten Gill and the flank of Blea Moor.  9.6 miles

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Bramhope to Ilkley 09/03/13

Self in Bramhope
The oddly predictable pattern of weather for the the early walking season continues, alternating between bright sunshine and dour greyness, and we land on the rubbish sort of weather for today. All week the projections for Saturday had suggested poor to terrible, only easing toward mediocre to poor on the Friday but projecting an, and I'd had another tough week in work and wasn't feeling any enthusiasm for the trail as the time to go came around. But I had to go, as I had only two weekends available before my first break away of the year, and the option of dropping behind schedule just wasn't there this time. And, anyway, if you are going to take the high road to Wharfedale, a bit of crappy weather is surely the sort of thing you want to have to get the full bleak flavour of Rombalds Moor? Yeah, keep telling yourself that, and as you ride the bus up the A660 into the gloom and mist, keep reminding yourself 'This was supposed to be my week off...'

Walking to Windermere: Bramhope to Ilkley  11 miles

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Leeds to Bramhope 02/03/13

Self at Woodhouse Moor
Having endured a severe brain grey-out on the the 23rd, spending the whole day feeling fuzzy and listless, I was already a week out on my early season schedule when March came around. Of course, I'd factored in a weekend off but I'd hoped to take it a little closer to the serious activity at the end of the month when my legs would need the time out. Still, a weak day of grey weather was lost and that didn't feel too bad, and the weather eye kept looking toward a repeat performance until a late week change predicted a good 7 hour window of clear skies for Saturday. Let's get going early to curse the fact that the early buses into Leeds at the weekend are just not as regular as I'd like, to wind up at that rather scratty corner of Woodhouse Moor to again stand beneath the statue of HR Marsden and contemplate the panels of the aspirational Victorian triptych on the plinth, noting that while 'Industry' and 'Education' remain, 'Commerce' has gone missing, somewhat appropriately for these rather straightened economic times. Anyway, enough with the trenchant political insight, the Dales Way Link awaits!

Walking to Windermere: Leeds to Bramhope  9.9 miles