Piglet and I have been watching the weather apps throughout the holidays in the hope of breaks in the weather, and they all predicted at some point that yesterday was going to be a good day.
After our gratifying conquest of Ingleborough and Whernside last week we were both very keen to put the Ingleborough/Pen-y-ghent plan into action, and so when on Wednesday evening the apps were still predicting significantly more sun than rain for Thursday we made the butties, packed the rucksack and went to bed in a near frenzy of excited anticipation.
After a rather broken night’s sleep I woke early to… a nasty-looking grey day…
…so I downloaded the paper and read it for half an hour, or so, in the hopes that things might look up. They didn’t. I checked the weather apps again, though, and they were still showing sunshine, so I decided it might be the sort of horrible grey that might just burn off and got up.
A little later than I’d intended, but still pretty early for us, Piglet and I were soon en route for Ribblehead by car, as I’d decided to park there and go up Ingleborough first via Park Fell. Quo had informed me that our proposed route was just over 16 miles, with about 1,100m of ascent, and I was hoping that a steep start to the day would feel worthwhile later as we descended gradually towards the starting point.
Things began to look up in weather-related terms as we approached Ribblehead. There was some thick mist in places, but it was clearly mist, rather than general grottiness, and as we locked the car and set off along the road towards the bridge that crosses the railway line things were already looking gorgeous.
We got to the crossing point and then struck right to meet the wall that leads up to Park Fell. Mist was burning off quickly now, and lovely sights began to hove into view above and around us.
It was a very steep pull up first thing in the morning, especially in the gathering heat, but the beautiful views and promise of endless beauty to come made up for everything. We stopped for a moment to look back down to the bottom.
Eventually we arrived at the stile in the wall that marks the point at which it’s possible to go left and actually over Park Fell to continue towards Ingleborough. There we met a couple of friendly volunteers out with a collie and a quad bike, and stopped for a brief chat. I decided to stick with the route we’d walked last week, though, as I was keen not to lose time by getting lost early in the day, and so we pressed on.
The views towards Whernside beside us…
…and Ingleborough ahead…
…were simply breathtaking!
A little further along the path we met a bloke with what I thought was the biggest backback I’ve seen in recent years, but it turned out that he was carrying a paraglider and waiting for a pal to join him before setting off for a flight. Exciting!
Soon after that, and as we traversed the lovely little ridge along the side of Souther Scales Fell, we met a bloke descending from Ingleborough who’d parked near us but a couple of hours earlier in the day. He’d seen a fantastic inversion. I was envious and wished I’d got out of bed earlier!
There’s a bit of a pull up from the end of the little ridge towards the top of Ingleborough, but most of those aiming for Pen-y-ghent will turn left before they reach the top.
Piglet and I initially overshot, but I soon realised we’d gone wrong and it took only a couple of minutes to nip back down again.
From there we began the long descent to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Early on we stopped for a chat with a man and his dog, a working collie. They’d both been out early that morning working sheep on their farm, and now they were having a quick 10-12 mile bimble before nipping back to do some more work. Eep!
Pen-y-ghent was visible on the skyline virtually all the way…
…and with the exception of a rather boggy bit in the area of the limestone pavements it was pretty easy underfoot, and the views continued to be stupendous.
I’d seen reference to the possibility of showers in the weather forecast, but as the day wore on and early afternoon arrived it seemed clear that there was little prospect of anything other than unbroken and increasingly warm sunshine ahead.
All was well until we’d almost reached the point of descending to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, but at that point I spotted something scary on the ground.
A closer look ahead revealed that there were cows on the path.
I don’t take Piglet through cow fields (see here for why) and so we had to take a little detour. That was easy enough, though, and some half an hour or so later we’d descended, crossed the railway line, made our way through the village and begun the ascent of Pen-y-ghent via Brackenbottom. (So that I can remember if I do this again I’m making a note that on passing through the gate onto the fell from the lane it’s a sharp left turn up the hill beside the wall, and not straight on along the path. The correct bearing seemed to bisect the two obvious options.)
By then it was genuinely hot, and since we’d not stopped for anything to eat I gave in to Piglet’s request for a sandwich. The first of our tuna mayonnaise butties slipped quickly down, and I drank the first of my coffee.
I took Piglet’s little harness off too, as she was beginning to look sweaty and kept stopping to roll on the grass.
She also mentioned that a couple of other dogs had laughed at her, but of course I disregarded that.
Thereafter it was plain sailing to the top, and even the awkward step that terrified me when I first encountered it on the Pennine Way didn’t pose any kind of a problem. I’m not absolutely sure I actually identified it properly, but unless the front of Pen-y-ghent has been remodelled since 2004 I think it must have been this bit.
Kind people took a piccy of us at the trig point, and then Piglet and I shared two more tuna mayo sandwiches and I drank most of my remaining coffee. Piglet smoked a cigarette.
We didn’t sit around for long — maybe 20 minutes or so — because there was still quite a lot of walking ahead of us, though most of the climbing had by then been done. The route back towards Ribblehead could be clearly seen on the ground (to the right of the little water feature in the picture below).
It was a lovely walk in the golden evening sunshine, marred only slightly by my accidental near submersion in a bog at one point…
…and even though I later realised that I’d sadly lost my backpacking sunglasses, almost certainly at this point, I did realise it could have been worse…
When I realised they were gone I went back to search for my sunglasses. They’ve been with me to the Pyrenees and Corsica, as well as across Scotland several times and along the Pennine Way and sundry other walks. I even re-negotiated the boggy bits, but sadly I couldn’t find them. It’s a shame, as I’ve grown attached to those bits of my kit that I’ve been using for years and years 😦
Anyway… the walk continued to be easy underfoot, and for once I didn’t commit any major navigational errors.
The fantastic weather meant that there was time to stop and play with the camera a bit as interesting or particularly lovely things appeared around us. Neither of us was in any hurry to finish.
Eventually we left the moors behind, and began the walk along tracks and past some buildings in order to re-join the road. As we made our way through a farmyard and passed a sheep trailer what sounded like about 20 collies–fortunately secured inside it–went absolutely beserk! There was so much barking and snarling, and what sounded like deep-seated hatred and desire to kill us, that both Piglet and I wanted to break into a trot, and we almost walked straight into another collie which had cunningly concealed itself at the side of the yard in the shade of a tractor.
I spotted it just in time, though, and we took a rapid detour through a field. I’m not sure whether it was tied up or not, but it didn’t follow us. Phew!
We’d left Ribblehead at 0945, and we got back to the car 10 hours later. We could have gone faster, but it’s nice to stop and take piccies 🙂
Piglet looked almost as fresh when we finished as she had at the start of the day, and I stopped on the way home and bought her a tub of that extra-yummy wet dog food to stir into her kibble at home. After she’d had her tea I gave her a shower and dried her off, and after a shower of my own I made scampi and spuds for tea as Piglet settled down with a nice rawhide chew.
I was wearing my new Salomon X Ultra Mids, and they were very comfy. They’re a little bit big, and so I wore a second pair of socks to take up some space around my toes to avoid friction, and that seemed to work pretty well. My feet were warm, but I don’t mind that, and I was pretty glad to avoid trench foot after stepping so comprehensively into the bog.
I took billions of photos, and anyone who would like to see them can find them in an album if they click here.
Roll on the next dry and sunny day!