The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Great Knoutberry Hill

Saturday 4 April


Ribblehead isn't the obvious start point for the bagging of Great Knoutberry Hill (what a fine name!), but as we'd backtracked from the closed layby to spend the night there and, as we had a full day available to us to dedicate to this hill, we thought we may as well have a longer walk and not need to drive anywhere this morning. The decision was helped by waking up to the promise of a fine day.

The promise held true, involving far more sunshine than the forecast had suggested. Moreover, the air clarity was excellent, giving us the best views.

Judging by the number of cars parked at Ribblehead even before we set off (and an unfeasible number by the time we returned), Whernside must have been incredibly busy today. By contrast, we met not a single person until we approached the junction of paths that lies in the dip between Wold Hill and our objective, about 5.5 miles in. There we briefly observed something akin to rush hour, although we still didn't pass anyone close enough to greet, as we promptly left the path to take a soggy short-cut.

A pause for hot cross buns allowed a group of 18 to get ahead of us on the final ascent and by the time we got to the summit they had cleared it, giving us complete solitude again.

The summit views were outstanding and we turned in circles making sure we missed none of them. Then, in a move that could be considered dull and unimaginative (although I would beg to differ on the first count at least), we retraced our steps, admiring the Yorkshire Three Peaks as we went. (Ingleborough had a swarm of paragliders above its summit today, like wasps around a pop bottle.)

Noise from a flooded sink hole, that we hadn't even noticed on our outward leg, drew our attention on the way back. Approaching it, a great disturbance of the water occurred and we stood and watched, curious. Within a couple of minutes they started to come up for air: frogs - and not just one of two but dozens upon dozens of mating couples, making a sound like a contented cat. I've never seen anything like it!

The sink hole wasn't the only bit of sogginess in the area. Substantial sections of today's paths were waterlogged and I did slightly rue my decision to bring with me only two pairs of GoreTex boots, all of which ceased to be waterproof many a year ago. I was squelching by the time we reached the road on our return.

Even with uncomfortably soggy feet (it's the problem with failed waterproof linings: once the water gets in it can't easily get out), it was nothing short of an excellent outing. A bit shorter than I expected at just 12.4 miles, but we'll likely go and stretch our legs with a walk past the viaduct later.

('Urgh' incident of the day: after despatching our sandwiches, I had a furtle in the bottom of my bag to see if I could find any chocolate lurking in the depths. I didn't find chocolate, but did discover a very black, squashed and mouldy banana. No idea how long that had been languishing down there. Definitely an 'urgh' incident, but thank goodness I found it before it decomposed any further!)

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  1. Too past it for banana bread? ;-)

    1. Ohhhhhh yes. Furry is not a feature that should be associated with bananas...