A wander up Inglebrough
After a lazy start to the morning at Holme Farm Campsite, we wandered down the road to the Pen y Ghent cafe for a full English and a black coffee. The food is really nice and reasonably priced, though it does not come with toast or tomatoes or mushrooms or fried bread or black pudding and only one egg and the coffee is an extra £2.20 for a cup of caffitiere coffee. Instant is available and is a lot cheaper but tastes like hot flavoured water so not recommend. Feeling as hungry as I did when I went in, we left.
Inside I'd been looking at my phone while waiting for my brekkie, and noticed a geocach just over the road. So, upon leaving I popped over to the bench. "Not in the wall, above head height" the clue read so after a minute or so, I'd found a slab of rock in a hole in a tree. It's an instant give away when you see something located where it doesn't belong. Behind the rock was a beaten up sealable plastic box containing the usual array of trinkets. The contents were damp so I didn't bother signing the scatty piece of paper and settled for just logging my find on the web site. We wandered back to the tent.
I changed out of my jeans into some combats, took a small water bottle out of the car, put on a fifteen year old pair of fabric walking boots that should have been thrown away ten years ago, put my camera round my waist, stuffed a map ( remember those?), and set off with the dog on a lead to appease Liz. Once out of sight the lead came off and Bailey walked obediently to heal. We followed the thin pavement along the dogs leg in the road and wandered up a short road to the station. We crossed the railway line, through a small gate that flew closed on a highly strung, lethal spring. In front of us were open fields, strewn with occasional clumps of rushes, but mostly covered in short, sheep-mown grass. In the grass were an palate of coloured flowers. Yellow birds foot trefoil, creeping buttercup and ladies bedstraw, the white of heath bedstraw, purple common, and in places marsh, thistle and beautiful racemes of foxgloves. Amongst all of this were the obligatory clumps of sheep shit, together with their donors. Occasionally Bailey would try to round some of these up, but a command of "leave" had him wandering off smelling everything in front of him without any regard for the creature he was bred to heard.
A fine rain intermittently soaked everything it came into contact with and the summit we were heading for remained hidden behind thick, low cloud. This made me reluctant to get my camera out, so I decided to wait to see what the weather was like on the way down. We wandered up the gentle gradient through the worried-looking sheep and a couple of lethally-sprung gates. The wet limestone lining the path proved very slippery underfoot. It was at this point that I wished I'd brought my walking pole for some extra support. Bailey walked twenty feet ahead, nose to the ground. Occasionally he'd find something worthy of an extra long sniff and sometimes he'd cock a leg and leave an "I was here" message on a tussock of grass or a larger rock.
The grassy meadows started to give way to the landscape feature that marks this area of England; limestone pavement. The flora here wasn't dissimilar to that of the meadow, with the addition of the beautifully pungent and delicate wild thyme. A few bent hawthorn trees clung to existence amongst the grykes and clints, the only substantial thing managing to grow through this carpet of rocky tiles.
Having passed a sign ten minutes back telling me the summit was another two miles away, it was with a degree of disappointment that I viewed a sign telling me it was now two and a half miles to the summit. Two and a half miles isn't that far but now the gradient increased and the going became harder on the old legs. I met a couple of guys in gortex waterproofs holding an iPhone six at arms length. They wanted to know the way to Clapham. I took out my paper OS map and explained what the surrounding features were and how to get to where they were going. All the gear and no idea sprang to mind but obviously I was too polite to say anything derogatory.
Through another gate and the track became wider, easier and relatively flatter. This was just lulling me into a false sense of security. This easy walking was all too short lived as I approached the steep incline to the summit plateau. Bailey flew up this with ease but I took it a lot more cautiously, partly for safety but mainly because I was bloody knackered. We were now walking through dense mist. We reached the top, but only knew this because the gradient flattened out, not because we could see anything. The map indicated the summit cairn was about a hundred metres away, but it was only after walking eighty metres that we could make it out through the mist. On reaching it I had a quick drink of water, took a selfie of Bailey and I, then headed back.
The way down was lethal on the slippery rock, at least for me. No trouble for Bailey, who had to keep stopping to wait, much to his despair judging from the looks he kept throwing me. This is where I regretted bringing my walking pole which provides a lot more stability, especially when descending. It also takes the pressure off my knees and gives my arms a bit of a work out.
On the way up I didn't stop to take many photos, so I made a concerted effort to do so on the way down. I took a couple of the limestone pavement with it's grykes and clints. I also found a hawthorn tree striking the classic limestone, wind blown pose one sees in so many cliche photos. I also took a couple of Bailey with Pen y Ghent in the background, as this is what we were heading towards on the way back to the campsite. I included a couple of shots of some of the interesting flora that grows in this calciferous landscape. I took a couple of purple and also white marsh thistles, and also some of one of my favourite flowers; wild thyme. This is such a beautifully pungent, small delicate flower that it is often overlooked by most walkers. I had only brought one lens with me; a 28 to 300 general all round lens that's cool for landscapes and for shooting Bailey but not so good for flora. I could have brought my 60mm macro lens, but I wasn't that organised. That goes for my tripod too!
I arrived back at the tent, having walked 10.03 miles in 4.09 hours at an average pace of 24.5 mph with a total elevation of 1,822 feet, for the statisticians amongst you. I was quite pleased with this. Nowhere near as fast as I used to be but considering my lack of practice and my illness, I think this was pretty good going! Good enough to reward myself with a pint of Pen y Ghent real ale at the Golden Lion Inn.
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