Against our recent trend, we shunned The Chase for this weekend’s training walk. On Friday night a thought had popped into my head as to what I fancied doing instead and having checked the weather forecast it didn’t seem too bad (sunshine and wintery showers, with a bit of a stiff wind), so I put my plan to Mick and having obtained his nod, off we set last night to better place ourselves in Halifax.
As we left Ma-in-Law’s, at an unreasonably early hour for a Sunday morning (on my current lazy-girl scale, anyway), it was snowing. As we drove away, the blustery wind was making it difficult to keep the car in a straight line.
“Do you think that this is a good idea?” I asked Mick. He didn’t give me a direct answer, but neither did he suggest that we modify our plan, so onwards we drove along blissfully empty roads.
An hour later we had passed through Settle and arrived at the intended place on a little road, at Rainscar. Happily, although the wind was strong and hail showers were passing through at regular intervals, the top of Pen-y-Ghent was completely free of cloud.
That was certainly an improvement on our visit last year, during our Big Walk. On that day the weather was truly awful, with very low cloud, heavy rain and winds gusting to 50+mph. We had come over Fountains Fell and having seen the cloud covering Pen-y-Ghent swiftly decided that there was little point in going over its top, as it would purely be an unnecessary exercise in saying that we had been there.
Instead we had battled the wind and made it down to Horton, where you may recall that we spent the night in uncomfortably close proximity to flapping-tent-coughing-bird.
Today was looking decidedly better. In fact, I do believe that it’s the first time that I’ve ever seen the top half of Pen-y-Ghent, and a pleasing hill it is too.
By 9.45 we were on the top, enjoying magnificent views, and gate-crashing the solitude of a chap who had been enjoying the summit shelter to himself. We were soon joined by four others, but no-one stayed more than a few minutes.
Whereas the others all made their way straight back down off the hill, via the Pennine Way path, our route saw us heading over to Plover Hill.
As the going became increasingly boggy and rough, so the cloud came down severely curtailing our visibility, and prolonged hail-storms hit us. We agreed that this was Good Training; far superior to anything we could find on The Chase. Of course, the low cloud immediately lifted as we started to descend. Isn’t that so often the way?
Only one other person was passed during the four or so miles between the top of Pen-y-Ghent and rejoining the Pennine Way on the way into Horton. There seemed to be plenty of people going up and down the hill, but it seems that the choice of the majority is a short circuit to just the single top.
Just before rejoining the Way, an interesting feature of the landscape ahead of us caught our eye, and we took a short detour to visit it. Hull Pot, the map told us that it was called and we agreed that this place, where the wide beck suddenly falls down a significant chasm in the ground, was a highlight of our day (I shall post photos of it later in the week, once I’m back home).
Having paused for a pint of tea in Horton, we set back out to follow the very path that we had taken into Horton last year, which saw us heading back up the side of Pen-y-Ghent. The first person that we passed as we headed up commented about conditions further up, but we managed to resist any smug mention of the fact that we had already been up to the top (which no doubt would have seemed a strange statement, in that we were apparently on our way back up there).
Our route was not back to the top, however. As our path came to a junction with the Pennine Way, we turned right instead of left and back down to the car we headed, being battered by increasingly furious hail-storms as we went.
It was a mighty fine outing, and the stats for the day were 10.5 miles walked, with something like 2500 feet of ascent and each carrying packs heavier than was necessary for a day walk, but not as heavy as full backpacking gear would have been.
As a bonus, we arrived back in Halifax to one of Ma-in-Law’s legendary roast dinners, which involved the consumption of more of her fantastic Yorkshire Puddings and roast potatoes than it is reasonable to eat in a single sitting.