A Weekend Away; Dent to Ingleton via Whernside, Chapel-le-Dale & Ingleborough.
This weekend we ventured north into the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire 3 Peaks territory, a trip whose main star turned out to be the fantastically inclement weather. Our route was around 16 miles in length, and traversed approximately 1,500m of cumulative elevation gain. Present were my good friends Craig, Dom and James, and like all good journeys by rail out of Sheffield, this one began with a beer in the Sheffield Tap.
We arrived in Dent on the Friday evening, taking the early afternoon train from Sheffield to Dent via Leeds, approximately a 3 hour journey. The sun was still out when we arrived, though fading, and we set off on our 4 mile hike to the village centre and the campsite at High Laning. We arrived after dark, having taken around an hour and a half, and were met with surprise, but also with great enthusiasm and were quickly setting up soon after.
Craig, our designated cook for the evening, had kindly brought a vat of delicious, homemade vegetable curry and rice, which we quickly heated and devoured between the 4 of us. Our evening destination was the George & Dragon, site of the Dent Brewery tap. They had several of their ales on hand-pull and all that we tried were well kept, though the Kamikaze was heralded as the definitive group favourite. Full bodied & fruity…Yum!
It was pretty cold overnight, definitely in the minus figures judging from the ice that had formed around the skirt of the tent outer. The air had been pretty much still, resulting in a light film of condensation on the inside of the tent inner despite being vented at both vestibules. This wasn’t much of a problem however, no dripping, and it evaporated almost immediately after James and I got up. Tomato and garlic sausage sandwiches were for breakfast, courtesy of our local butchers, (Beeches of Walkley, back in Sheffield), and were complimented with a couple of flasks of Grower’s Cup coffee. We set off eventually, around an hour late, at 09:00’ish, we really must learn how not to faff in the morning!
The weather was fine and dry to begin with, and our route took us along the road out of Dent, south of the River Dee, crossing Deepdale Beck then taking a right at the Methodist church. The wind had started to pick up as we approached the Craven Way, and low cloud had appeared, obscuring the previously visible cairns up at Whernside Tarns. We stopped shortly in some ruins close to Wold End Quarry and by the time we finished our coffee/snack break, cloud had enshrouded our views up top, the forecast, progressive wind had picked up by quite some speed and the first of the day’s rain quickly followed to keep us company.
We continued along the decreasingly visible path around the Great Wold, eventually meeting with the standard 3 peaks route close to the top of Force Gill. As we did so, the hill fog closed in almost completely, leaving us with a visibility of no more than around 20m. This seems to be becoming a regular feature for my trips out of the Peak District!
As we approached the high path, the sporadic gusts of wind, accompanied by initial bursts of stinging, horizontal rain that had blown in from the south-east, had turned into heavily buffeting winds, minus-figures wind-chill and an associated downpour. MWIS certainly got this forecast right and on that basis I was able to come suitably attired, clad head-to-toe in the Pile/Pertex combo of my Buffalo Systems Special Six, (scroll down to ‘Winter Kit’ at the link). Not being waterproof the Buffalo did take on some water, but with our onward motion I was thoroughly dry in no more than around 20 mins or so, and at no point was I ever cold or uncomfortable. I’ve no qualms in saying that the Special 6 handled this weather 100% better than a previous instance whilst wearing a supposedly waterproof Primaloft One jacket. The conditions were pretty darned bad, at times almost as bad as any I can remember being in. It was safe to say that our time at the top was a short one, elucidating the necessity to check and track the weather in advance of your trip, thus allowing you to prepare suitably.
Battered, we continued south-west and dropped down, via Brocket Holes Pasture, to Broadrake where we stopped for a break and to dry off. Around this time the the winds subsided, the rain let up, and the sun decided to make a prolonged appearance, lifting our spirits somewhat. We decided to follow the road to our eventual lunch stop, the Old Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale. Some beer and sandwiches were called for and appreciated, steeling us for the next summit, Ingleborough. As we prepared to set off from the ivy-lined internal walls of the pub’s conservatory, the heavens opened up and the gales blew once again, and into that dreadful weather we set off.
The conditions were again highly changeable, with sunny spells and rainbows as we headed for Souther Scales. We ascended a short way onto a surreal plateau strewn with calciferious rock formations, peppered with sink holes and populated by the wintry skeletons of trees.
The skies darkened as we arrived at the ridiculously steep path leading up to the rocky, final ascent onto Ingleborough’s small summit plateau. Not since ascending and descending the insanely steep paths in India’s Cherrapunji region have I seen steps cut so vertically, at least here there weren’t so many! It certainly makes you wonder about the people who made and currently maintain them.
As we reached the top, the clouds parted and winds tried to evacuate the plateau, surely pushing for 50-60 Mph, and I feel like I could be underestimating. It was extremely difficult to be still or to stand up straight, as such taking pictures was almost impossible, though I did manage a couple of blurry shots before I stabilised myself at the well-received summit shelter. Again we made our summit stop a fleeting one and as the weather turned more favourable, we quickly sought the path down, along Ingleborough Common, via Hard Gill and onwards to Ingleton.
Night quickly fell in around us as we stopped for a snack by a strangely isolated house. As thunderstorms transiently illuminated the skies somewhere north of us, we donned our headtorches and set off into town in search of the pub. We sat gratefully for a beer at the Craven Heifer, a pub in the middle of Ingleton, and after some concerned discussion and frantic searching, we managed to find a taxi back to Dent where we intended to eat. On that note, if you find yourself needing a taxi going to Dent from Ingleton, I seriously recommend you ring Lady Cabs in Sedbergh. They were friendly and prompt, and charged us but £25, a considerable amount less than the £60 quoted by the service advertised in the pub itself! Upon arriving in Dent, we hastened ourselves to the Sun Inn where we ate a cheaper, more basic meal, then headed back to the George & Dragon for some more appetising beer.
That night, like the day that preceded it, really seemed like the universe had it in for us. The strong winds and heavy rain persisted through the night, but our tents stood up to the task well despite being pitched side on, (this resulted in a bit of flapping on the Kangri, but nothing too serious). This torment persisted throughout the morning and early afternoon, admittedly punctuated by a relatively late breakfast stop at the cafe across the road, though still leaving us battered by heavy rains and even hailstones as we walked back along the occasionally flooded valley bottom to the station, allegedly the highest in England.
After an over-subscribed Cross-Country trains service to Sheffield, (if they’re not late, they’re full to bursting), we finished as we started, with a well deserved, weather-proofed beer in the Sheffield Tap. We certainly are lucky to have such an establishment at our station!