Walked 13th June 2013
Those interested in The Dales Way might like to look up the Dales Way Association website.
All the photographs were taken on an iphone 5, the images subsequently cropped and adjusted for exposure, highlights and shadows and contrast in Photoshop.
We had stayed the night at The Buck Inn and had agreed to meet for breakfast at 8.30. There were two other couples in the room when we assembled. Our cheery waitress was very taken by Dave’s Bristolian accent and starting hamming up his rural overtones: “Ooo arrah TRACTURE” she said. Loudly. Several times. We laughed. She laughed. Dave took it in good humour.
Although clearly not overstretched we were perplexed, then exasperated that we did not have our breakfast served until well after 9. Over which, John 2 made the shocking announcement that he had a swollen foot and so would not walk today and John 1 dropped out in solidarity, so our party of 5 was reduced to 3.
We hit problems again with our lady at checkout. Apparently last night’s staff had failed to record what we had eaten and drunk. This led to her all but banging her head on the bar and collapsing in a state of complete meltdown. We did our best to give an honest account but recollection of the later part of the evenings drinks consumption was hazy.
From Buckden we kept to the Wharfe’s banks for a mile or so and then joined a minor road to Hubberholme, where we crossed the stone bridge over the river and passed by the Norman St Michael and All Angels Chruch.
Dave and I popped in and were rewarded by some fine stained glass. It seems JB Priestly was also taken by the place.
To the right of the river bank the path climbs gently through buttercup meadows through the hamlets of Yockenthwaite and then Deepdale, where we crossed its very elegant bridge (the view of which is somewhat marred by the insensitive placing of a post box)
From here up to Beckermonds the river was shallow and stepped with rapids its solid rock bed moulded into little pools by erosion.
We never did find out what engineering works were taking place by the roadside.
We stopped for coffee from our flasks at Beckermonds bridge where we crossed the river once more and had a chat with a very heavily laden Canadian couple who must have been well into their 60’s (which, speaking as someone well into their 50’s I found encouraging).
It was quite a steep climb on the quiet road from Beckermonds to Oughtershaw where a stone monument (erected in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee) marked where the path leaves the road and followed a wide farm track, still rising into the moor.
This cow near the start of the track was very pretty but not as pretty as my beloved Aubracs.
It was a dull, overcast day and we had the odd sharp shower so waterproofs were pulled out and stayed on for the rest of the days walk. As we hopped across boggy bits and little streams we were grateful that it was relatively dry underfoot.
This stretch could be hard work in the winter. It brightened up and the views improved as we approached Cam House.
The massive block planted coniferous Cam Woodland is a throwback to the days when the Forestry Commission did not really think about its landscape impact.
We were not sure if the devastation of its upper edge was caused by man or nature.
Either was it was a bit of a shock to pass through such mayhem.
Lunch was taken as the path joins Cam High Road by a cairn which marks the joining of The Dales Way with the Pennine Way.
A huffing and puffing solo walker passed us, clearly struggling under the weight of a big bag and in a hurry to finish the day and catch a train.
It seemed extraordinary how much effort had gone into re-surfacing this old coach road (pity those poor horses that would have had to have dragged the coaches up to this highest point of the path -520metres, or around 1800 feet if you prefer). We speculated that the upgrading was required for Forestry use. It certainly made for easy walking as we slowly descended this once Roman Road towards Gearstones.
Crossing Gayle Beck near Gearstones was a challenge. They had removed the bridge and a pile of bales of straw in the wide stream was barely an adequate replacement. Bob and Dave picked their way over makeshift stepping stones and jumped across the bales. I thought wet feet were guaranteed by their route so I made for where they were working, only to be shooed away by some jobsworth. I was up for a confrontation but could then see that there was nothing to be gained by it and made the crossing on the bales, noting that a stiff letter would be written to the National Park Authorities.
Although not late in the day we were feeling fairly tired of leg so the mile and half walk by the busy road to the Station Inn at Ribblehead was not welcomed, though the view of the viaduct was very fine indeed. Not wanting to miss out on a closer inspection of the viaduct (tomorrow we would have to retrace our steps to Gearstones to pick up the path) Dave headed off for an explore.
Our bags were waiting and my spacious room looked out to the viaduct and I was glad of the view and grateful for the shower and a short rest before going to find out if my friend Paul (who was driving up from South Wales to join us for the rest of the walk) had arrived.
He had. He was installed in the BunkHouse (there being no room for him at the Inn). He’d had a somewhat challenging drive so we retired to the bar and were joined shortly afterwards by Dave and Bob (who had met each other before when we had walked on Hadrians Wall but neither had met Paul).
We scored the Station Inn highly for beer and food. For reasons I would have difficulty explaining I moved our conversation to an elephant that I felt was in the room – politics. Dave and I were the main contributors and we had a firm and frank but thankfully not fatal set to.