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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Embsay Moor

Date: 28th February 2010
Those there: Me, Druid, Dave, Si, Kenny, Scott
Map: OS Explorer OL2
Distance: About 12 miles (600m ascent)

We were meant to head up the Skiddaw hiking trail in the Lake District on Sunday as part of the training for our Lakeland 3000’s walk but due to the adverse weather we decided that the risk was too great.

I doubt there were many out on the fells actually over the weekend and those that did would have been the braver and more resilient of us. When I read the following on the Lake District Weatherwatch site we were a touch put off;

Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment including an ice axe and crampons are essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. The deep snow covering all paths, combined with low cloud make navigation at altitude challenging, so good navigation skills are essential, as is the ability to assess your route carefully and be prepared to turn back when necessary.

Definitely the right move I feel. So instead we opted to head out to the Yorkshire Dales to stretch our legs. We gor on t’internet and scoured www.go4awalk.com and looked long and hard for a good hiking trail that would take in some serious ascent, sadly there aren’t many of those outside of Scotland, the Lake District and Snowdonia so we went with one of the biggest in the Yorkshire Dales. It kicked off from Embsay and walked around Thorpe Fell.

The weather was still pretty bloody freezing and thus the reason why I took no photos, it’s days like these that you would be pleased to sacrifice the quality of snaps you take with an SLR for the convenience of being able to whip it out of your pocket and wave it around at will (your camera that is, anyway I don’t know anyone called Will). Thus I sadly and regrettably didn’t take any snaps – fair play though I think the quality would have been weak at best even if I had (it would have been good though to capture some of the many moments when people were falling through the crustiest of snow).

Anyway the hiking trail was about 12 miles and had an ascent of around 600 metres which wasn’t bad. You start off by parking in Embsay itself in the car park on the north side of the town and you can either walk across the fields or through the town and up to Embsay Reservoir.

Passing by the right hand side of Embsay Reservoir the road takes a 90 degree turn to the left. At this point you go through the gate to your right and head for the dry stone wall on your left hand side although with the prospect of the hill in front we decided to acquaint ourselves with the wall further up. You hug this wall (although watch out for the barbed wire) until you drop down on the waterfall. This was marked on the map but was a lot more impressive then I was expecting. That said and ogled at we crossed the stream above the waterfall and scrambled up the far side and headed back towards the wall. You pass a number of cairns and memorials en route. This is probably the most spectacular part of the hiking trail with views to the North West and the mass of the Dales. At about the half way mark (just past the 6 mile marker) and close to the summit of Thorpe Fell there is a bothy which is exceptionally welcome, especially considering the icy wind had gathered the troops and added snow to its armoury. The building that appears on the horizon isn’t actually the bothy, which is just to the left kind of built into the hillside.

A quick brew and snack was shovelled down to stoke the furnace for the 2nd half of the walk.

From here you head down the hill to the crescent shaped reservoir. The path is very well marked from here and it takes you round the hillside overlooking Lower Barden Reservoir, from the map you can see that it isn’t much further until you arrive at Upper Barden Reservoir. The weird thing here was that when we reached Upper Barden Reservoir, the whole surface (except the metre or so on the edge) was frozen solid yet the other reservoir just 150m lower wasn’t, whether that extra few metres gave a sufficient reduction in temperature or the wind was more severe at that height/angle not I’m not sure, whichever way though it left some puzzled heads.

The path on the map heads straight up the hill via the grouse butts but this isn’t quite how it works in reality, it kicks out to the left but I suppose it lessens the incline. From here the path wends its way all the way down the boggy hill for the walk back into Eastby and ultimately back into Embsay. A gem of a hiking trail that takes you over Embsay Moor which kind of emerges out of the plains above Skipton, sort of. Some great views towards the Dales too well worth doing.

We were devastated when we found that the pub next to the car park was closed from 3pm until 7pm. We managed to secure ourselves a pint of landlord by the fire in a boozer in Ilkley instead, more than welcome! Lucky I was driving otherwise I’d have been on my seventh before I knew it.

Below is a map that my brother measured on his phone using walkmeter. I was having real problems with the best form of maps to use on here. I was trying to master the Ordnance Survey mapping system but I failed with that after some time. There are still some methods I was going to pursue but seemingly this one does it all for you, albeit onto google maps. I wasn’t too keen on the terrain view on here as it doesn’t show paths or contours as well as the other maps but will stick with this until I have mastered a better way forward.

3 comments:

The Odyssee said...

Yes Sunday in Lakes was bitterly cold and cloudy on tops later on. You probably did the right thing giving Skiddaw a miss.
On the other hand Saturday was a fantastic day, cold, bitting at times but clear as a bell all day.
With full winter gear it would have been wonderful even if you didn't get to the top.
The forecast was for poor visibility, they got that very wrong and probably put a lot of people off adventuring.

The Weekend Dude said...

Sounds like it was a bonus for yourselves that the weathermen deterred the masses from the fells giving you free reign in great conditions.

I was out on the Yorkshire Wolds actually on Saturday and the forecast there was driving rain but we got off totally unscathed which was a pleasure. I got a feeling the weathermen might be losing a touch of credibility of late, mind all too our benefit.

We've got to head back to Skiddaw shortly for our training for the 3000's, hopefully it will be a bright day for us then, always got fingers and toes crossed for that. Always better safe than sorry in these circumstances though, don't want anything going wrong whilst out there.

Dan and Meenakshi said...

Hey Dude, it's the Yank from across the pond.
Thought I'd return the favor a pop into your blog here. I did a solo of the Coast to Coast Walk a couple years ago and it was amazing. I loved the Lakes District, and even spent a few days at St. Bees just loafing before the hike. Ever do a long distance jaunt?
Dan

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