20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #5 of 5 …. Stony Leas on Fylingdales Moor to Boggle Hole

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #5 of 5 …. Stony Leas on Fylingdales Moor to Boggle Hole

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038

Distance : Approx 16.5 miles (26.5 km) 20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular Walk

Significant heights : See end of this post for approx. figures

Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

Whole Walk Summary : A stretch of coast path, a lot of wide open moorland, and a final section of farmland. This was the longest day-walk I’d done for many a long year. Starting and finishing at Boggle Hole, along the coast and up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way), west skirting Jugger Howe Moor and across Fylingdales Moor, north past Newton House Plantation (forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

This diary post picks up my walking route on a high point on Fylingdales Moor, at the most westerly point of my route. It was from here I started making my way back towards the youth hostel at Boggle Hole, just south of Robin Hood’s Bay village. As such, this is a follow on from my previous posts :

post-1 (Boggle Hole to Ravenscar) ;

post-2 (Peak Alum Works) ;

post-3 (Ravenscar to Stony Leas)

and Post-4 Some info about wildlife on the moors ….

20170329-50_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moor + RAF Radar Station

Picking up the walk at the trig point at Stony Leas, high up on Fylingdales Moor, I’d had a bite to eat, some hot soup from a flask (which was VERY welcome given 20170329-49_Carvings_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moorthe weather conditions, as once I’d stopped I felt really quite cold, quite quickly. If you head out onto these moors, please take some decent clothing, appropriate kit for the walk [including 1st aid stuff] and enough food and drink for the day – and then add a bit more just in case of emergencies. It is always better to take home some packed lunch uneaten rather than feel you needed more should something go wrong for you and your party, or even if you come across a stranger in difficulties. Over the years, I think I’ve patched up more blisters on stranger’s feet whilst out and about than on my own feet …. Well it’s only common curtesy really, isn’t it?

Anyway, that’s a little beside the point really, as I hadn’t seen a single soul, not one person, since the lone figure I’d seen in the distance all those miles ago over on Jugger Howe Moor. This only added to the remote isolated feel of the place … maybe it’s a bit sad and maybe a tad anti-social, but I quite like it like this, no one to talk to, no one to worry about, just me, my map, the landscape and the elements.

From the trig point, I had to back track a few hundred yards to where a rough track heads-off on the left, swinging round generally northwards bisecting the landscape between the fantastically named “Green Swang” and “Leech Bog 20170329-51_Newton House Plantation from Fylingdales MoorSlack”. I was descending through the moor, the terrain very much like the stretch on The Lyke Way Walk, but I now had the dark mass of Newton House Plantation to view off on my left, which after about a mile or so I was to skirt alongside with just a small amount of moor between it and me. Dropping away from the high point of the moor, combined with it having stopped raining plus a degree of shelter from the forest allowed me to strip off my waterproofs and stow away in my sack. It shouldn’t really have made much difference, but I felt much freer, even lighter, and my pace quickened over the frankly quite rough terrain, including deep ruts, large muddy puddles, tangled heathers and tufty grass. It’s shown as a bridle track on my map, but is called Robin Hood’s Bay Road (path) perhaps indicating that this was, once upon a time, an important route across the moor. I certainly would think twice about riding across here unless I had a very sure-footed horse.

Anyway, the path continued northwards, the land dropping on the left to Blea Hill Beck and rising steadily on my right to Blea Hill itself, with its broad flank dropping to Bracken Hill where my map shows another bridle track joining into 20170329-52_Biller Howe Dale Slack (Bog Marsh Moor)the one I was following – I didn’t see this on the ground at-all, but this really wasn’t important other than it would’ve been nice as a navigation aid as to how far I’d come. However, it soon became apparent where I’d reached as a flat boggy, marshy area stretched off on my right. This is “Biller Howe Dale Slack” and marks the rising off a stream that eventually becomes Jugger Howe Beck crossed earlier in the walk. Again my map shows a right of way that winds it way through Biller Howe Slack; Biller Howe Dale, then further downstream alongside the stream (now called Brown Rigg Beck) and then emerging into the more significant valley of Jugger Howe Beck where Burn Howe Dale joins.

If you remember from my earlier post (post-3) I’d come through this point some hours earlier and I’d got it in my head that this path could have been used to shorten the walk by maybe a couple of miles. Doing this would have either spared me or made me miss out on the solitude and wide-open spaces of Fylingdales Moor; even now I’m not sure which of these applies, probably a bit of both. As it happens, this alternative path wasn’t visible to me at either end so maybe it was better that I’d taken the longer route.

20170329-53_Juvenille Fir ConesBack to my actual route, after crossing the head of the boggy valley, the land started to rise, a lone small fir tree adding a bit of height to the moor here, I’m assuming this was a self-seeded sapling escaped from the main forest plantation nearby. The fresh greeny-yellow juvenile fir cones really stood out against the drab moorland colours, but due to the brooding, lowering skies and breezy conditions I struggled to get a sharp image on my camera (or maybe I need to learn more about ISO-control/F-stops/and other controls on my camera). As time was pressing on, I didn’t feel I could tarry too long to improve my photography skills. I guess today was proof that I’m more of a walker who takes photo’s rather than a photographer who walks.

Not long after crossing the marshy bit, with the land rising I took a faint path branching right (still marked as the main bridle way), even with a very small 20170329-54_Route Choice - Which Path To Takemarker post alongside the path, it could very easily be missed, as the more distinct path continues north still following the line of the forest plantation. My map shows the path dissecting the line of a medieval earthwork/dike system but although I think I could make it out, it was somewhat blended into the moor as a whole. However, I had more pressing thoughts on my mind as I had to concentrate quite hard on my direction finding as the path was very indistinct in places, but it picked up more definition as it joined another path coming eastwards away from the plantation.

I was now heading in a north-easterly direction with the path slowing swinging in an arc to the right; I’d caught a glimpse of a pool some way off on the right (backed by Foulsike Farm) which helped on the navigation side of things and I knew the main moorland part of the walk was now approaching its conclusion. I must admit I’d had enough of the moor by now, and I felt I needed to be a few miles further on as soon as possible as the gloom of the day started to feel like the gloom of the evening – and I didn’t really want to be navigating the last of 20170329-55_Kirk Moor Beck_Thorn Key Wath_North York Moorsthe walk in the dark. The path was such that I could stretch out my stride as it descended alongside a shallow valley and soon reached an area where three little streams merged into one at Thorn Key Wath, The combined waters contrived to deepen the valley here, resulting in a few mini-waterfalls/cascades. In the sun with the heather in bloom, I’m sure this is a lovely spot and I can imagine families and groups of walkers making this a perfect picnic spot, especially as it is where two bridle tracks cross making four possible routes to/from here.

As it was, I was the only soul here, my only company an occasional sheep, and 20170329-56_Sheep_North York Moorsthey tend not to be very talkative or sociable in any way (this had been a very quiet route in terms of people seen/passed), but I did take the opportunity to have a bite to eat and a drink here before turning right (following the combined stream) towards the south. There were signs of civilisation here-abouts though; above is a junction between the A171 and B1416 roads with traffic jams seen earlier from the moorland path (due to roadworks). As I dropped further, nearing the A171 vehicles could be seen travelling at some speed, but without 20170329-57_A171 cutting through North York Moorsthem you’d have no idea the road was there at-all – and then all of a sudden, somewhat abruptly, the path emerges out onto the main road at a bend where it crosses over Kirk Moor Beck.

Unfortunately, I now had several hundred yards of road-side walking (rising quite steeply heading south-easterly), having to brave the traffic moving at 20170329-58_Slow Down - Bend on A171 - Fylingdales CPspeed. The amount of verge here isn’t brilliant; not really aiding staying off the tarmac. It’s obviously a bit of a spot where motorists need to slow down, as big signs almost shout at drivers to slow to 40 mph, I’m not sure anyone who’d passed me had heeded this speed limit (except for a huge tractor with an even larger trailer of smelly manure which trundled past climbing the hill).

20170329-59_St Ives Farm - Fylingdales North YorkshireOnce over the stiff (but not long) climb, I was pleased to soon turn off onto a farm road heading off to the left. It was still tarmac, but with grassy fields on both sides, gorse bushes in flower and a strip of grass breaking through down the middle of the road making it felt more track-like and I didn’t mind the hard surface as it allowed me to stride out dropping to St Ives Farm. The path does a quick skirt around the buildings and then rises now 20170329-60_Fylingdales CP - Bridle Trackas a dirt track up Park Hill heading into some woodland. The landscape had changed now, this side of the A171 being much gentler farmland, with woods and grassy fields – the moors now left behind. Navigation was straight-forward (eastwards), following woodland tracks, field boundaries (with cute gamboling lambs), farm tracks and farmsteads along the way (including Swallow Head Farm and Fyling Old Hall Farm.

20170329-61_Spring Lambs

20170329-62_Farm Gate_Fylingdales CPIt was at Fyling Old Hall Farm that I joined a very minor road, turned right and then a sharp bend to the left, crossed the line of the old railway (you’ll know a bit about this from my post-1, as coming from Ravenscar) and then rose up to merge into another minor road (Bridge Holm Lane). I didn’t mind this final stretch of 20170329-63_Country Lane Approaching Boggle Holeroad walking at-all, my legs, well all of me really, were feeling very tired now, and I will admit that last very little climb up had been a bit of an effort. The evening was drawing in quite quickly too so road walking was an easy way of navigating the last mile or so back to the car-park (even some roadside daffodils struggled to brighten the way back in the semi-light). I was quite happy to arrive back at 20170329-64_Boggle Hole Humourous Warning Signthe car-park, but still had energy to enjoy the little jokey sign-post warning people not to drive down to the youth hostel.

The steep drop down to the hostel was a bit of an effort for my weary legs, but I was quite happy as the old mill buildings came into view and it wasn’t long before I’d crossed the little footbridge (now briefly back on The Cleveland way) and “checked in” at reception to cross me off as being “home” safely (I’d left my route with them at the start of the day). I’d made it back and just before 7pm.

20170329-65_Boggle Hole Youth Hostel

It’d been a long day, a big day of strenuous walking (at least for me) and certainly the longest distance I’d done in a day for a very long time. I was tired, yes, I was tired, but my knees had stood the test and I felt good. Later, after a shower, I headed into the self-catering kitchen, made cheesey nachos with a hot tomato salsa for starter, beef chilli and rice for main course and steamed treacle cake for pudding …. All washed down with a couple of pints of ale purchased from the hostel reception.

Well that’s about it, I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings…. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

Heights Climbed worth mentioning over the whole walk.
Downhill bits not really worth noting.

Stoupe Beck Sands to Ravenscar.
About 200m (660 ft)
Track, Road, Coastal Paths.

Ravenscar to Trig Point near Radio Mast/Scarborough Rd
About 66m (215 ft)
Road, Track, Moorland Path.

Jugger Howe Beck Valley Bottom, Initial Climb onto Moor.
About 60m (200 ft)
Flagstones, Moorland Path.

Long Steady Climb over Fylingdales Moor to Stony Leas.
About 120m (395 ft)
Moorland Tracks and Paths.

Biller Howe Dale Slack, Rise towards Thorn Key Wath.
About 40m (130 ft)
Indistinct Moorland Path.

A171 between Kirk Moor Beck and Farm Track
About 20m (65 ft)
Only mentioned really because of the potential traffic hazard

St Ives Farm to Bridge Holm Lane
About 30/40m (100/130 ft)
Spread over a number of ups and downs on farm tracks, paths and roads.

Overall Adding Up
About 540m (1,770 ft)

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20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #4 of 5 …. Some info about wildlife on Fylingdales Moors

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #4 of 5 …. Some info about wildlife on Fylingdales Moors

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Summary : Some extra info about wildlife on Fylingdales Moors
Where : North Yorkshire Moors

You may well have come across this diary entry via my walking diary posts, where I’d walked from Boggle Hole, along the beach to Stoupe Beck Sands, up to Ravenscar on the coast path, across a lot of moorland and then farmland back to Boggle Hole.

My other posts are :- Post-1 Boggle Hole to Ravenscar ; Post-2 Info about Peak Alum Works ; Post-3 Ravenscar to Stony Leas on Fylingdales Moor ; Post-5 Stony Leas to Boggle Hole.

20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular WalkHowever, if you’ve just come to this post directly and not via my walks diary, none of the above really matters, as this info is relevant just as a standalone post if you want it to be. The following is info’ taken from a leaflet I picked up at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel, and I think makes an interesting supplement to my walks diaries.

Fylingdales Moor is managed as a conservation area by “The Hawk and Owl Trust” on behalf of the Strickland Estate. It covers about 6,800 acres of land of the eastern part of the North York Moors National Park near Whitby.

20170329-31_Straight Path Through Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

This vast heather moorland with its scattered trees and wooded valleys and gullies, is being managed for its wildlife and archaeological remains. The key aim of the trust’s habitat management is to encourage merlins, harriers, short-eared owls and other moorland birds, such as red grouse and curlew, to breed.

20170329-41_Burn Howe Dale Joining Jugger Howe Beck Valley

The moor is nationally and internationally recognised as a :-
• SSSI – Site of Special Scientific Interest
• SPA – Special Protection Area (for merlin and golden plover)
• SAC – Special Area of Conservation

It is home to :-
• Over 135 bird species,
• Many mammals, including otter and water vole,
• Plants ranging from three kinds of heather to bog myrtle, orchids, sundews and sedges,
• And, Insects like the large and small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies and emperor moth.

20170329-43_Jugger Howe Beck

On my walk across/through the moors, I didn’t see anything (except for hearing skylarks, and seeing a dead stoat/weasel type of animal lying on the path), but the leaflet I’d picked up says to look out for all sorts of wildlife depending on the time of year including :-

• Spring and Summer :-
Harriers, Merlin, Golden Plover, Linnet, Curlew, Whinchat, Reed Bunting, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Stonechat and Yellowhammer.
Orchids, Heathers and other spring/summer flowering plants.
Butterflies and Dragonflies around ponds and becks.
• Autumn and Winter :-
Snow Bunting, Crossbill, Great Grey Shrike and Winter Thrushes.

20170329-32_Moorland Pool between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

• All Year :-
Kestrel, Red Grouse, Skylark, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Bullfinch, Lapwing, Snipe, Meadow Pipit and Wood Warbler.
Otter, Water Vole, Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Stoat, Weasel, Badger.

The Hawk and Owl trust’s partners in the conservation management of Fylingdales Moor include :-
• The Strickland Estate (which owns the moor),
• Fylingdales Moor ESS Ltd, (I believe ESS = Environment Stewardship Scheme)
• The North York Moors National Park Authority,
• Fylingdales Court Leet, (ancient institution of control over common land and is the guardian of the moor)
• Natural England.
• And, also works closely with its neighbour, The Forestry Commission.

20170329-33_Standing Stone between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings, or at least found it useful …. If you’d like to comment on my diary please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you. Having said that, I’m no expert on birds or bird watching and if you want more info on the technical/legal side of the moors management, access, etc, please do a bit of “google-ing” for yourself. I will try to add some links, but over the years I’ve found that “official” web sites such as *.gov addresses often seem to become unobtainable and you’ll end up having to search further anyway.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #3 of 5 …. Ravenscar to Stony Leas, incl. part of Lyke Wake Walk

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #3 of 5 …. Ravenscar to Stony Leas, incl. part of Lyke Wake Walk

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038
Distance : Approx 16.5 miles (26.5 km)
Significant heights : See end of post #5 for approx. figures
Map : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.

20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular WalkWhole Walk Summary : A stretch of coast path, a lot of wide open moorland, and a final section of farmland. This was the longest day-walk I’d done for many a long year. Starting and finishing at Boggle Hole, along the coast and up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way), west skirting Jugger Howe 20170329-25_National Trust Visitor Centre - RavenscarMoor and across Fylingdales Moor, north past Newton House Plantation (forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.

This diary post picks up my walking route at the National Trust information centre in Ravenscar, and follows on from post-1 (Boggle Hole to Ravenscar) and post-2 (Peak Alum Works) … follow on posts include post-4 (info about wildlife on the moors) and post-5 (Stony Leas to Boggle Hole) that completes the walk.

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

20170329-26a_View over Stoupe Brow (Railway Bridge + Quarry)I’d just grabbed a bite to eat from my rucksack (I always walk with more than enough for the day) and a bought cup of coffee from the National Trust info’ centre, and it didn’t take long for me to feel a little rested. However, as I was running somewhat late regarding walk timings and as the overcast skies turned to light drizzle, I didn’t tarry very long. So, I threw my sack on my back, and headed up Raven Hall Road, heading generally south passing a ribbon of houses; the road walking didn’t much bother me as I 20170329-26b_View over Stoupe Brow (Railway Bridge)knew it wasn’t for long and there were good views out to the bay over Stoupe Brow, with a glimpse of the old railway, a stone bridge, clumps of gorse coming into flower, and an old alum quarry all blending seamlessly into each other in the landscape. I ignored Church Road/Bent Rigg Lane on the left, as the road bent slightly to the right, to then turn off on the next road/track on the right (Robin 20170329-27_Mast above Ravenscar (Scarborough Road)Hood Road) to pass a few slightly isolated buildings.

Near the end of the track as it headed off into some scrubby moorland. I chose a path on the left following the line of the field boundary wall on my left, rising really quite steeply, certainly enough to raise the heart rate and had me puffing somewhat. Even more extensive views opened behind/below 20170329-28_Robin Hoods Bay (from above Ravenscar)me, but my next destination was above me : a radio mast pointing skywards. The route to get there was via a single-track path at the bottom of a narrow heather clad gully/ditch, not overly exciting perhaps, but this is the end of an ancient medieval earthwork (ditch and bank) system called20170329-29_Green Dyke Ancient Earthworks Near Ravenscar “Green Dike” heading south over the highest part of the moors hereabouts. The gully, wide enough for single file only, rises to reach a minor road (Scarborough Road) very near to the radio mast. I believe this marks one end (normally the finishing point) of The Lyke Wake Challenge Walk.

 

After crossing the road, the medieval Green Dike (designated a monument scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979), continues southwards from here, but my route was to be just south of an almost due westerly direction, heading into the now pretty much flat 20170329-30_Trig-Point - North Yorkshire Moors (near Ravenscar)moorland terrain. There were several paths/tracks that could be chosen, so I referred to my compass, took a bearing and started out noting the trig point off a little on my left.

My map shows the height here is 266m (about 873 ft) above sea level, indicating the height climbed since leaving Stoupe Beck Sands some 3-miles or so earlier in the walk. 20170329-31_Straight Path Through Howdale Moor + Helwath GrainsThe well-defined track heads out over Howdale Moor, which, still in its bleak winter colours of grey and brown, was a complete contrast to the softer, lusher, farmland below Ravenscar. There was little variation in the landscape, except for a lone pool just off the track, its waters a deep peaty black looking ever slightly sinister (or was I allowing my imagination to run wild again) and an odd standing stone, with 1902, an arrow and other lettering carved into the hard surface.

20170329-32_Moorland Pool between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

20170329-33_Standing Stone between Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains

20170329-34_Standing Stone Engraving 1902 (Howdale Moor + Helwath Grains)

20170329-35_Me on North York Moors

After about a mile of the track, there was a divergence of paths. I wanted the more northerly option. It’d be very easy to miss this junction, especially in poor visibility, or I can imagine 20170329-36_Path dropping to Cook House on Stony Marl Moorjust chatting to colleagues/daydreaming as you walked would quite easily suffice to inadvertently miss this northern option. However, it wouldn’t have been a disaster if I had, as the overall route could’ve been picked up again later.

20170329-37_Pool-Pond at Cook House on Stony Marl MoorMy route through or across the moors [between Howdale Moor and Stony Marl Moor] swung around to the left, dropping gently into a shallow valley to reach Cook House (farm). There was a degree of manicured-ness (is that a word) near the farmstead with a sizable wild looking pond glimpsed on the left. This pond isn’t marked on my old map (I wonder if it’s made it onto newer printings), however the farm track 20170329-38_Fast Taffic on A171heading away from the farm was on my map and that marked my route to rise up to meet the A171 main Scarborough to Whitby road.

If you do this walk, please be very vigilant and careful here, as traffic can be travelling at high speeds in both directions. As you might have 20170329-39_Burn Howe Dale and Jugger Howe Moorgathered, the route crosses straight over here to continue directly on the other side, crossing into a long grassy field, effectively on a bit of a ridge; the landscape dropping on both the right with wide views over the landscape and more steeply on the left into the shallow valley of 20170329-40_Distant Lone Walker on Jugger Howe MoorBurn Howe Dale, the opposite valley side rising up onto Jugger Howe Moor. I believe the Lyke Wake Walk takes the track across Jugger Howe Moor and if you wanted to, it would be perfectly OK as an alternative to the route I took. A lone walker heading eastwards in the distance added a scale to the scene, he looked quite diminutive, small and insignificant and against the grey sky. [Please see my earlier post about a mini-wander on Jugger Howe Moor whilst on holiday with my family from some years ago].

20170329-41_Burn Howe Dale Joining Jugger Howe Beck ValleyI’d chosen to stay north of Burn Howe Dale, where after about ¾ of a mile the indistinct path drops through some rough woodland, across a small stream via a footbridge, and then another small rise and descent across scrubby moorland to meet Jugger Howe Beck all on paths little more than sheep tracks. With the route in the 20170329-42_Jugger Howe Beck Valleyvalley bottom now heading southwards for a short distance, it took quite a bit of concentration to find a footbridge to cross Jugger Howe Beck and make my way through the vegetation.

 

 

20170329-43_Jugger Howe Beck

20170329-44_Flagged Path Through Jugger Howe Beck Valley

I needed to pick up a path heading east-west, marked as a tiny dotted black line on my map indicating it may not be an official right of way, so I was surprised to find it was flagged (stone slabs) as it crosses the flat boggy valley floor and picks up where the track across Jugger Howe Moor drops into the valley (there’s another small footbridge over the beck here). I turned right onto the flags, crossed the valley floor heading almost due west, soon starting to rise steeply up onto the huge area of Fylingdales Moor.

The weather had deteriorated somewhat, to the point where I donned waterproofs and I began to wish I had windscreen wipers on 20170329-45_Me (Jugger Howe Moor Behind)my glasses. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was now back on the route of The Lyke Wake walk, the way ahead marked by deep muddy ruts cutting a path through let’s face it was a quite bleak terrain. I anticipate this would be much more appealing in late summer/autumn with the heather in bloom under 20170329-46_Lyke Wake Walk - Fylingdales Moorblue skies and a warm breeze. That dream was a long way from today’s reality however as there was a decided chill in the rain, although I soon started feeling rather warm and sweaty inside my cag’.

There was now a good stretch of this moorland rising gently (but quite insistently) ahead of me, maybe for the best part of three miles or so, so I now “got my head down”, upped my pace (as much as the terrain allowed). At any one time, the terrain underfoot, the gradient and navigating was nothing to speak of, the hardest part was perhaps the monotony of the landscape. There was little variation to the dreary winter colours of the heathers [browns and greys] almost reflecting the moody flat grey clouds above and patches of drizzle/rain coming (mostly straight into my face) and going interspersed with drier periods.

20170329-47_Police Tape - North Yorkshire MoorsAn oddity that I came across that I hadn’t anticipated at-all though was finding some blue and white police incident tape flapping around in the breeze, one end tied to a post stuck in the ground. This was way out on the moor, and again imagination could lead to all sorts of conclusions: was it a crime scene, a TV set, or perhaps a training event …. Whatever it was or had been, the plastic ribbon had been abandoned to just litter the moors – very unsightly!

It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on you, as I started to feel that I’d walked too far and with no definitive features to take a bearing on, I slowed, stopped, consulted my map, moved on a bit further and rose up a steeper rise for a good stretch. I even back-tracked for a while to review if/where a few tracks had merged across the moors, trying to work out a precise location … a GPS unit might have helped or even a smart phone (which I now own with a grid-ref app installed, but I didn’t have at the time). In the end, I decided to trust my instincts that I needed to go a bit further, so re-ascended the steeper rise and pressed on for a bit longer, scanning the terrain for clues. My decision turned out to be correct (of course it did!) soon reaching the trig point I wanted to reach at Stony Leas just off the main track on the right.

The area is home to a raised piece of land, which I take to be an ancient tumulus or burial mound and there are also some standing stones, again with engravings. The 20170329-48_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moorlargest of the stones still shows the marks where it was roughhewn and dressed to shape and large C and + carvings suggest to me a Christian root to it’s purpose. Maybe the standing stones were to usurp/claim the pre-Christian burial mound for the church, or as a boundary marker between abbey land-ownership or just parish boundary points. Whatever they signify, it had stopped raining, so became a good spot for a drink of soup and bite to eat to 20170329-49_Carvings_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moorreplenish lost energies on the walk up to here.

Whatever the significance of the stones, this was the highest point of the entire walk (299m / 981 feet above sea level) and also the furthest west I was to go. From here, there are wide, open, extensive views all around, it felt very remote. To the north was a sizeable area of forest (Newton House Plantation), eastwards was from where I’d come from, west was MOD land and if you could cross here as the crow flies, would take you across the moors to the A169 road and then on to Goathland village.

South and south-west is again MOD property, marked on my map as danger areas (I assume unexploded bombs/shells and potentially live firing ranges) leading across to a huge triangular, odd-looking, almost pyramidal looking building in the distance. 20170329-50_Standing Stone_Fylingdales Moor + RAF Radar StationThis is the RAF early warning facility, part of Britain and NATO’s defence system on Fylingdales/Lockton High Moors. Strangely, it isn’t marked on the map; because it’s a secret/sensitive site I think; but everyone and his dog world-wide probably knows it’s here. The current incarnation of the radar building has replaced the iconic “golf balls” that have been so well documented in tourist photos whilst travelling past on the A169 (just google it). I must admit the golf ball buildings had a much more photographic quality about them. I wonder if they were completely destroyed in the upgrade or if they are in pieces ready to be reassembled as a museum piece somewhere in the future?

Anyway, as this was the highest, most westerly point of the walk, it would seem a good place to stop this post to be continued on post-5, to follow later.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings so far …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk Post #1 of 5 …. Boggle Hole to Ravenscar

20170329_Boggle Hole – Ravenscar – Fylingdales Moor Circular Walk

Post #1 of 5 …. Boggle Hole to Ravenscar.

When : 29 March 2017
Who : Just Me
Where : North Yorkshire Moors and Coast
Start and End Point : NZ954,038
Distance : Approx 16.5 miles (26.5 km)
Significant heights : See end of post #5 for approx. figures

Whole Walk Summary : A stretch of coast path, a lot of wide open moorland, and a final section of farmland. This was the longest day-walk I’d done for many a long year. Starting and finishing at Boggle Hole, along the coast and up to Ravenscar (Cleveland Way), west skirting Jugger Howe Moor and across Fylingdales Moor, north past Newton House Plantation (forest) and then eastwards through farmland back to Boggle Hole.

20170329_A North York Moors + Coast Circular WalkMap : 1:25,000 Outdoor Leisure Map No.27 … North York Moors Eastern Area.
[My map is pretty much an ancient relic, probably a slight over statement, but it did only cost me £2.95 which gives an idea of its vintage. I’ve no idea how old it actually is, but essentially the moors don’t change much and despite it being in a slightly dilapidated state (slowly falling apart at the folds) it did me fine for my trip. Next time however, I think a new map may well be on the cards, and won’t need Sellotape to hold it together].

If you click on a pic’, it should launch as a larger image on my photostream on Flickr … a right click should give you the option of launching in a separate window/page.

I was staying at Boggle Hole Youth Hostel, but rather than start at the hostel’s front door, I’ll start my description from the small car park just up the road (and up hill) from the hostel so making it more like someone just parking up for the day. The car park itself was free, with an honesty box for donations towards its up-keep, but of course, I suppose this could well 20170329-01_Boggle Hole Beach and Youth Hostelchange in the future. For your info’ the car park is situated at the end of Bridge Holm Road.

As I was planning a long walk, and was staying at the hostel overnight, I should have been able to get an early start, but, due to needing to transfer my kit to a different dorm’ after everyone had vacated / staff had cleaned it, I didn’t get away until about 10:30-ish, which was a tad on the late side really. Anyway, from the car park, the route is north-easterly down a minor road (Mill Bank) which drops steeply towards the coast. DO NOT drive down here, there is no turning point! with only access to the youth hostel and that only at low tide via the beach and only for service vehicles after they’ve crossed the beach and forded the stream. There is a bit of a dog-leg in the road and the coast can’t actually be seen, as you drop quite quickly, but a view over Mill Beck Valley opens up through the trees, over the small river and then to the hostel, set down in the steep sided valley, just above the high tide line. Mill Bank road peters out, tarmac 20170329-03_Coastal Cliffs _ Boggle Holegiving way to large stone sets, as the road becomes a slip way either down onto the beach, or directly into the sea if the tide is in.

This morning, I was lucky enough to find the tide out, allowing me to head out onto Boggle Hole’s beach. The beach is a combination of sand, boulders, and areas of 20170329-04_Undercut Cliff + Potential Slumpflat rock forming a series of large arcs heading out into the bay (Robin Hood’s Bay). From my school lessons of so many years ago, these flat rocky areas are known in geographic terms as a “wave cut platform” and are the remains of where the cliffs here have been eroded back into the land. This process is still ongoing, the current cliffs are somewhat unstable, with places where the sea is undermining the cliffs at the base, creating an eventual slump, and higher up large cracks appear and large chunks of land just fall off.

20170329-02_Cliff Cave_The Boggles Hole and Boggle HoleNear to Boggle Hole there is a sizeable cave cut back into cliff – This is The Boggle’s Hole giving the place its name. Rather than go into detail about what or who the Boggle is, please see my earlier post explaining the legend of the Boggle.

I mentioned earlier that I had started the walk a little late, and this was further compounded by me spending far too long taking photo’s down on the beach. Why so long taking pic’s?, Well, with home being in the 20170329-05_Eroding Cliffs - Robin Hoods Baylandlocked midlands, I live about as far away from the coast as you can get, so the normal opportunity for seascapes, beach and cliff scenes, and the like, doesn’t come around too often and the quality of light is different as well; so I just clicked away trying to get arty pic’s of the wave cut platforms, cliffs, boulders, north up the coast to Robin Hood’s Bay village, and south over Stoupe Beck Sands and on towards the 20170329-06_Eroding Cliffs - Robin Hoods BayRavenscar promontory. All this was despite the day being overcast, light rain in the air making it decidedly gloomy, not exactly enhancing the views here.

My ill-discipline timewise effectively put my start time back even later, but hey, I was enjoying myself and I had all day ahead of me, with only daylight hours to restrict my finishing time. Anyway, my route was southwards, along the beach, keeping a good safe distance away from the cliffs (in case of landslides/falling rocks) as far as Stoupe Beck Sands, which is marked by 20170329-07_Stoupe Beck crossing Beach into Robin Hoods Baya small stream (unsurprisingly called Stoupe Beck) emerging from a wooded valley directly onto the beach here. There is a small footbridge crossing the stream accommodating The Cleveland Way coast path, and in times of heavier flow may be the only way across the small river as it spreads out over the beach. Today however, the stream was low enough to allow me to just walk across effectively fording the water to reach the far side, where I then headed up to the bridge ready to leave the beach, not to return for the rest of the day.

20170329-08_Stone Stacking Fun_Stoupe Beck SandsIt is worth mentioning, that when the tide is in, the beach route would be impossible, but there is an alternative, with a path following the coast above the cliffs accessed very close to Boggle Hole Youth Hostel and emerging at the footbridge across Stoupe Beck. There are some large wooden posts driven into the ground here, protecting the bank from erosion, and someone had placed a few pebbles atop the stakes. I then decided to play a little, balancing pebble on top of pebble to create a mini column of stones – a small piece of precariously balanced artwork, albeit almost certainly very short lived. Amazingly, it was still standing as I headed up a short sharp climb away from the beach on a wide path, budding trees and pretty primroses bordering the way – always a happy spring sight.

20170329-09_Stoupe Brow Parking - Cleveland WayI was now on The Cleveland Way and it soon brought me to a small car-park next to Stoupe Bank Farm. This is a private car-park with a £1.00 charge and an honesty box for payment – Quite old fashioned in our rip-off Britain 21st century way of life. It would be interesting to know if anyone actually makes a payment, or indeed if anyone ever makes the effort to even drive and park here at the dead end of an extremely minor road. I’d like to tell you the name of the road, but all I can find is a local government web site describing the road, rather than 20170329-10_Road to and from Stoupe Bank Farm (Robin Hoods Bay)naming it …. It says “Street” = “Stoupe Brow To Stoupe Bank Farm” and the farm at the end of the road has a post code of “YO13 0NQ” so if your planning on parking here, at least you can try to put something in your Satnav, but please confirm this for yourself just in case I’ve got my facts mixed up!

20170329-11_Spring DaffsGetting back to the route, my [old] map shows the cliff path immediately starts near the car park, but this is no longer the case, I guess that since the map was printed, the cliff-path has subsequently fallen into the sea below. So, a little road walking was now required, but not too much of a hardship as it rose gently, soon making a little dog-leg to skirt Stoupe Brow Cottage Farm. A cluster of daffodils added a nice splash of colour in front 20170329-12_Back Garden Stone Circleof a low stone wall (as happy as the earlier primroses). On the other side of the wall, in the garden, I could see a small stone circle; it is not marked on my map, nor are any other sites of antiquities very close by, so I suppose it is probably a modern incarnation as a spot of garden landscaping.

20170329-13_Friendly Horse - Came to say helloAfter the left-hand of the dog leg, the road bends to the right and it was here I left the road. Taking a foot path off to the left heading towards the cliff top but not before saying hello to a friendly horse. I was still on The Cleveland Way20170329-14_Cleveland Way Cliff Top Path to Pill Box (and would be for some way) and I soon came upon the next landmark of note; a substantial concrete pill box pointing out over the bay. This isn’t marked on my map either, so I figure it was probably built in WW2 to protect against invasion from the North Sea. Rather than Nazis hoards, it appears that the sea itself will eventually 20170329-15_Pill Box Above Robin Hoods Baydestroy the bunker as the cliffs (called Peter White Cliffs) erode away beneath it. A good proportion of the structure is now cantilevered out supported by nothing more than sea air. The views out over the bay are superb, and as the tide was out, the arcs of wave-cut platform were very visible, in fact much easier to see than when stood on the rocks themselves.

20170329-16_Wave Cut Platform - Ravenscar - Robin Hoods Bay

20170329-17_Blackthorn (Sloe) in FlowerPressing on, my map again showed its age, with it showing The Cleveland Way cutting diagonally inland rising over a number of fields towards Ravenscar; this option is still available (a finger post showing the way), however The Way now sticks closer to the cliff tops for a little longer, which rewarded me with a thicket of blackthorn (sloe) coming into flower, the slightly off-white 20170329-18_Cleveland Way Sign Postflowers blooming in advance of the similar Hawthorn/May Flower by quite some weeks. After a little while the path did turn away from the cliff tops, heading inland. But yet again, there was another recent change to the route of The Cleveland Way, a finger post clearly showing The Way turning off to the left, towards the nearby Alum Works site, in the care of The National Trust.

Not wishing to miss the opportunity to see the industrial heritage ruins, 20170329-19_Horsetails (Marestail) in Cliff Top Streamthis is the route I followed, crossing a grassy field to drop down into a sizeable gully/small valley where the stream/boggy ground was crossed by a wooden board-walk. The wet scruffy, scrubby area was populated with the dried tops of last year’s horse tails looking rather pre-historic; my imagination just wanted a few scaled down dinosaurs to appear in the tangle of vegetation. However, it was very quickly apparent that I wasn’t going to see any mini diplodocus’, tiny stegosaurs, diminutive-T-Rex’ or even a teeny-weeny triceratops, so I crossed the boardwalk, ascended the bank 20170329-20_Ravenscar Alum Works (NT) (Ruins)at the far end, and emerged into Ravenscar Alum Works. I’ll not say too much about the site here as I’ll will write a separate post about it later, but suffice to say it was interesting walking through here, reading the info boards and talking with a NT site manager for quite some time as a small team of people were strimming/tidying around the ruined buildings etc.

One thing I will pass on though; the gent’ told me that The National Trust had some years ago considered buying Stoupe Bank Farm (near the dead-end car park) as a local management centre, but in the end declined the opportunity because of the rate that the cliffs were/are receding back inland.

20170329-21_Cleveland Way near RavenscarAnyway, I made my way to the south-easterly corner of the Alum Works site, picked up a path rising away from the coast and then turned left, joining a much larger track heading towards some golf links up ahead. However, before reaching the links, I branched off to the right, leaving the main track onto a path (quite sizeable in its own right) staying on The Cleveland Way. This path rose quite steadily, with 20170329-22_Bracket Fungussome great views looking back over Robin Hood’s Bay, which were lost somewhat, as the way swung around to the left entering a more wooded area; instead of wide sweeping views, bracket fungi and pussy willow catching the eye as I continued to climb.

 

20170329-23_Pussy Willow Flower or Catkin20170329-24_Pussy Willow Flower or CatkinThe path here runs parallel to and just below the route of the old coast railway, now disused as a means of transport, but open as a permissive right of way for walkers and cyclists. The path/track continues to rise, emerging into Ravenscar village, right next to The National Trust Visitor Centre.

I’d worked quite hard on the climb up from the Alum Works and I took the opportunity to go into the visitor centre, work out how to use their self-serve coffee machine and find a bench on the green opposite to grab a 20170329-25_National Trust Visitor Centre - Ravenscarbite to eat from my packed lunch. My legs were quite happy to have a little rest, at least just for a short time.

This seems a good point to stop this first post, I’ve probably written too much anyway considering I’d only walked about 3-miles, but it had been packed with interest. Also, if you want to head back to Boggle hole from here, you can do so, by joining and following the old railway and then dropping back to Boggle Hole via Bridge Holm Lane to complete a much shorter circular walk.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my scribblings so far …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome. I’d love to hear from you.

T.T.F.N. Gary.

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20110918_MHW_Cheddar Gorge and Mendip Hills (B-Walk)

20110918_MHW_Cheddar Gorge and Mendip Hills (B-Walk)

20110918-23_Midland Hill Walkers Crossing Black Down - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenWhen : 18th September 2011

Who : The Midland Hill Walkers – B-Party

Where : Mendip Hills – Somerset – England

Maps used : 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey Landranger map no. 182 Weston-Super-Mare & Bridgwater area.

Start Point : ST475,513 [Draycott]     End Point : ST446,597 [Churchill]

Distance : Approx 16.6 km (10.3 miles)

Approx significant heights : Climb-1 = 200m (656 ft) ; Climb-2 = 220m (722 ft) ; Climb-3 = 105m (328 ft)

20110918_Mendip Hills Walk (Draycott to Churchill via Cheddar Gorge + Black Down)Summary : A very wet walk (at least for ¾ of the day) crossing The Mendip Hills AONB generally south to north, using The Mendip Way for some of the route, starting in Draycott and including the observation tower at Cheddar, climbing up the southern edges of Cheddar Gorge, crossing the highest place on the Mendip Range at Black Down and finishing off by crossing Dolebury Warren and hill fort before descending to Dinghurst/Churchill on the A368.
If you’d like to see a bigger photo’, click on the pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.

As with all MHW walks, the coach left almost dead on 7:00 a.m. which had meant being out of the house by about 6:25 for the drive to Kenilworth. Rather than go through all the blurb about car parks, timings, etc., again please use these links to see my earlier post about the MHW and the MHW’s own web-site.

The coach headed off down the motorway system eventually leaving the M5 to drive right through Cheddar heading towards Wells. Because today was my sister Janet’s birthday and she was 20110918-10_At a view point looking up Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenwalking today, and my other sister Julie was also out on the walk, I decided to join them with the B-walkers for the day. We and the rest of the B-party were regurgitated from in the village of Draycott about two miles outside of Cheddar on the A371, on the edge of the Somerset levels …. we were only about 30m above sea level here, even though we were miles from the coast. The A-party stayed on the coach for an extra mile or so, to the village of Rodney Stoke, for the start of their slightly longer route.

Being so close to sea level, meant only two things could happen :- 1) we could start off pretty much on the flat, or 2) we could set off uphill. Unsurprisingly, being called The Midland Hill Walkers we had a hill to climb. 20110918-01_Batcombe Farm - Draycott - West Mendip Way by gary.haddenThis entailed crossing the main road and then a more minor road, heading north-east(ish), before a surprisingly steep ascent kicked in on a grassy rise up past Batcombe Farm; the going was good underfoot so this wasn’t particularly difficult. Above the farm we continued uphill in a mini-valley, but soon after made a right turn (still rising) doubling back on ourselves to do a big zig-zag, ending up still heading parallel to our original direction. After a while (near the top of the mini-valley) we tended to the left towards the field boundary as the gradient started to ease. From here the effort level began to drop, but unfortunately  so did the rain, as the low, monotonous grey clouds decided it was time to stop being just flat and miserable and become fully fledged rain – Meaning waterproofs in variety of colours (mostly shades of blue) were rapidly found and donned before moving off again.

20110918-03_Midland Hill Walkers heading for Cheddar - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenIt didn’t take long before we reached the top of our climb, took a big swing left and then followed the path (I think it might have been a bridle-way) passing above Carscliff Farm. We were now generally heading in a north-westerly direction on a long descent of maybe a couple of miles towards Cheddar. The way was on grassy fields, a narrow muddy enclosed track and later country lanes as we passed through Bradley Cross to reach the outskirts of Cheddar, having now lost literally all of the height we’d initially gained at the start of the walk.

However, we didn’t make the final drop into the small town (or is it a large village?), famous for its cheese; instead turning right to start regaining all that lost height on a steep rise to emerge in a clearing. At one end of the clearing is a metal observation tower, which a good handful of us climbed to the octagonal viewing platform. This afforded some super views westwards over Cheddar and its oddly circular reservoir and beyond over the Somerset Levels to the coast to the south of Western-Super-Mare (or Western-Super-Mud as we’ve always joking called it). However, today, because of the miserable cloudy weather the sea couldn’t be made-out in the far distance. Looking more to the east though, there was a half-decent view (albeit a rather damp one) up the lower reaches of Cheddar Gorge and the famous cliffs.

20110918-07_(b+w) Observation Tower - Cheddar Gorge by gary.hadden       20110918-06_At top of Observation Tower - Cheddar Gorge by gary.hadden

20110918-04_(b+w) Cheddar Gorge from Observation Tower by gary.hadden

20110918-08_At a view point nr bottom of Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenOnce the handful of us had negotiated the descent of the tower, we rejoined our fellow walkers who’d patiently waited for us. At least the rain had now eased to a very slight drizzle and the optimistic among us had removed coats (the majority were pessimistic though and kept theirs on) and we again set off uphill. We were now following the southern edges of Cheddar Gorge, not that we could see much due to the trees and scrub hereabouts, but every now and then a viewpoint would afford some better views of the largest gorge in the UK.

20110918-13_Midland Hill Walkers above Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenAs we climbed higher, the views became more expansive, especially where side paths branched off to reach out onto the tops of the cliff bastions / buttresses protruding out into the canyon below. The rain had now restarted (the pessimists had been right this time) and keeping my 20110918-12_On the south side above Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddencamera dry became a difficult task and made me think I’d been right plumping for the Pentax K200D with its weather-seals. This couldn’t stop the lens being covered in rain-drops though and I’ve ended up with a disappointing set of images of the gorge, although I’ve kept a few just as a record of the walk (and to illustrate this diary post).

20110918-15_(b+w) Cheddar Gorge Buttresses and Reservoir by gary.hadden   20110918-14_(b+w) Above Cheddar Gorge by gary.hadden

At the top of the climb, we then had to negotiate a very slippery muddy path down through an area of woodland, not the easiest of tasks especially as the smooth limestone rocks had become treacherous in the wet; there were at least couple of people who inadvertently ended up sat on their bottoms in the middle of the path. This descent through the woods to meet the B3135  road (which runs through the bottom of the gorge) wasn’t too long in length though and we regrouped before crossing virtually straight over the B-road to enter an area known as Black Rock.

This steep sided valley is really just the top end of Cheddar Gorge, although much shallower now and has a different feel about it. There is a wide track in the bottom making walking very easy and the sides are covered in trees, the canopy creating a gloom and permanent dampness, perfect for 20110918-17_Mossy wall - Black Rock Valley (top of Cheddar Gorge by gary.haddenmosses and ivy on the stone walls and exposed rock here. It was towards the top end of this area that we stopped for lunch … I plumped for standing out in the open in the steady rain, whilst others headed under some trees hoping they’ afford some protection – to me I couldn’t see much difference, only the size of the droplets being much larger under the branches and leaves, only maybe fewer of them … either way we stood eating in the rain – a necessity, but NOT a pleasant experience! …. However, a nice treat was in store for us all, as Janet (my sister who’s birthday it was) took out two big Tupperware pots of home-made cakes to hand around :- Very nice Jan’ thank-you.

Once packed away, we set off again and soon emerged onto high almost level pastureland where the rain although still persistent seemed to have brightened – bright-rain rather than dull-rain. The walking had become easier again and the pace quickened and low and behold the rain eased back down to a drizzle. This was most welcome as the inclement weather had become really quite tiresome; I think my other sis’ Julie really wasn’t enjoying herself by now!

20110918-18_Midland Hill Walkers on West Mendip Way nr Gorsey Bigbury by gary.haddenAfter a while, we picked up a farm track (heading north) at Gorsey Bigbury and then, at its end, turned left onto a minor road heading east to Tyning’s Farm (a riding centre). We’d all got spread out somewhat along the road, and we used this as a regrouping place.We’d been walking on The West Mendip Way, but now (rather than continue on its route towards Shipham) we turned right up a muddy track, wire fenced on both sides to reach a pair of gates which in turn led onto an area of rougher land. We were now on Black Down, the highest place on the Mendips. There are various paths heading off in different directions here.

  • One to the right would lead to the highest point of Black Down at Beacon Batch (325m/1066 feet above sea level); this would be the A-parties route, but not ours.
  • A path to the left headed past what looked like a war-time bunker of sorts. It turns out that a decoy bombing town (known as Starfish) was constructed here in World War II in the hope of diverting bombing raids away from Bristol.
  • However, our path went straight ahead on a track heading out into rough grass, heather, bracken and gorse heathland.

20110918-22_Midland Hill Walkers Crossing Black Down - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenThe big wide open space was a pleasant contrast to the walk done so far, especially as the bright rain had now given way to dry and patches of weak sunshine breaking through onto the fields below us. However, it was very wet underfoot; all the recent rain filling the ruts and hollows of the track making us weave left and right to find a way ahead.

20110918-24_Midland Hill Walkers Crossing Black Down - Mendip Hills by gary.haddenAs we crested the rise, some super views opened up in front of us including, in the distance, the Severn Estuary and beyond this to Wales. As we dropped on the northern flanks of the hill, we then turned off to the left on a narrow track through an extensive area of waist high bracken, dropping gently to a conifer plantation at Rowberrow Warren. We now headed further north on a track and then hung left once again rising gently onto the hill of Dolebury Warren.

20110918-25 (B+W)_Midland Hill Walkers_Silhouettes Dolebury Warren - Mendip Hills by gary.hadden

20110918-26_Glowering Clouds and a patch of Sun - Mendip Hills by gary.hadden

20110918-28_Midland Hill Walkers - Silhouettes - Mendip Hills Walk by gary.hadden  20110918-27_Midland Hill Walkers - Silhouettes - Mendip Hills Walk by gary.hadden

At the western end of Dolebury Warren we had to climb the earth banks of an ancient hill fort (Iron Age) and then the route took us right through the middle of the sizeable fort cum medieval rabbit warren, to then drop through some woods to a minor settlement, crossed the A38 main road and then one final little rise to join a minor road (well access drive really) for the final drop down, (passing two pubs, one small and one large) to the A368 at Churchill, where we had to find the coach … turned out it was parked in a lay-by just outside the village.

20110918-33_Crown Inn - Winscombe - Churchill by gary.haddenAlthough the final stretch of the walk had allowed my clothes to dry, I changed into clean clothes, before joining my fellow hikers in the walk back up to The Crown Inn which we’d passed earlier (the small pub) which, from the outside, could quite easily be mistaken for a normal residential cottage. The inside was like a throw back in time – absolutely no frills, but the beer was certainly drinkable!

20110918-31_Kegs - Crown Inn - Winscombe - Churchill by gary.hadden

20110918-29_Happy Birthday in the Crown Inn - Winscombe - Churchill by gary.haddenSix more mini-cakes appeared from a ruck-sack …. They’d been carried for the entire length of the walk by my sister Julie, along with birthday candles, which were promptly lit and a rendition of the eternal “Happy Birthday To You” was sung to Janet. With smiles all-round. The toilets were as traditional as the bar areas – I mean they were in an outhouse in the back garden, next to a bunch of beer kegs (I’m guessing empty!) …. And then it was back to the coach for the sleepy drive back up the M5 to Kenilworth …. I can’t say it was the best day of walking I’ve ever had, rain does that to a walk! But – it’s a super area for walking and it was a good day nonetheless.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and my photo’s …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20110821_MHW_Fan Frynych – Corn Du – Pen y Fan – A-Walk

20110821_MHW_Fan Frynych – Corn Du – Pen y Fan – A-Walk

20110821-30_Me (Gary Hadden) - Pen y Fan Summit by gary.haddenWhen : 21st August 2011

Who : The Midland Hill Walkers – Walking Club

Where : Brecon Beacons – Wales

Maps used : Brecon Beacons National Park Map – 2x extracts of some kind given to me by a fellow walker – but I think 1,25,000 OS Explorer Map Sheet No.OL12 Brecon Beacons National Park (Western Area) covers the walk.

Start Point : SN 952,246

End Point : SN 995,260 … Village of Lubanas/Tai’r Bull

Distance : Approx  20.5 km (12.8 miles) (by WalkJogRun Route Mapping and my Memory Map 1:50,000 National parks programme)

Approx significant heights : Climb-1 = 330m (1080ft) + climb-2 470m (1540ft)

Summary : A-Party walk with The Midland Hill Walkers; taking in a couple of tops in The Brecon Beacons National Park. A very strenuous walk as there was a good distance involved as well as over 2,600 feet of significant uphill sections (and equivalent downhill’s) – A great walk !!!

If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream. There are also another ten pics in the set on flickr not shown in this diary post.

20110821_Fan Frynych - Corn Du - Pen y Fan WalkAs with all MHW [Midland Hill Walkers] walks, the coach left almost dead on 7:00 a.m. which had meant getting up very early to be out of the house by about 6:25 for the drive down the A45/A46 to Kenilworth. Rather than go through all the blurb about car parks, timings, etc. please use this link to see my earlier posts about the MHW and the MHW own web-site.

Once out of Kenilworth, we headed off for the longish journey to South Wales, to start the walk to the south-west of the town of Brecon which gives its name to the region we’d be walking in : The Brecon Beacons National Park. 20110821-01_Approaching Blaenbrynich by gary.haddenThe B-party were dropped off first and the A party continued on to be dropped off a little later by the side of the A4215 … in the middle of nowhere really. I’d decided that, because I’d never been up Corn Du/Pen y Fan before and although it’d probably stretch me somewhat, I’d do the A-walk. Given a decent weather forecast, I wasn’t going to miss out on the chance today.

Once dropped off and ruck-sacks hoisted onto backs, we started off with a little road walking down a quiet lane (towards Heil Senni) for about half a mile until we reached a turn off to  Blaenbrynich. Passing the farm, the path rose up a vibrant green grassy field dotted with a multitude of yellow starry dandelions highlighted 20110821-02_Nr Blaenbrynich-Below Fan Frynych by gary.haddenby the sun. This was a lovely start to the days walking as a small group of us at the back of the group discussed the dominance of the English cricket team during recent test matches. Ahead of us loomed the steep northerly slopes of Fan Frynych, looking quite daunting, but our route picked up a farm track onto which we turned right, to skirt along the baseline of the hill. The gravel track rose quite steadily with Fan Frynych’s ridge 20110821-06_Afon Senni Valley from western ridge of Fan Frynych by gary.haddenabove us on our left and a wide rural view off below us to our right.

After about a mile, the track steepened considerably as it swung round to the south, the views opening up across the valley below; a patchwork of green fields, hedgerows and areas of woodland backed by the hills of The Brecon Beacons/Black Mountains; beautiful. As we rounded the nose of the ridge, we turned almost a full 20110821-08_Midland Hill walkers Sihouettes on Fan Frynych by gary.hadden180 degrees to continue our ascent and then another half-right to follow a path still uphill, but now rising up the broad ridge. We now had about a mile of steady climbing to reach the summit of Fan Frynych. As with a lot of mountains, the views from the ridge were probably better than the actual ground we were on, but the views, they were just spectacular – The shapely hills, mountains and valleys offset against a beautiful vivid blue sky with one or two fluffy white clouds were simply perfect!

20110821-10_Cairn on Fan Frynych - Pen Y Fan + Corn Du Behind by gary.haddenAs we crested the top of Fan Frynych (part of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad National Nature Reserve) we were greeted by the twin tops of Pen y Fan and Corn Du dominating the sky line across the wide Glyn Tarell valley. I have to admit that, at least to me, they looked a very long way away, considering I knew that was where we were heading. Being at the summit meant the next section had to be downhill, so taking a path swinging south we 20110821-13_Pool between Fan Frynych + Craig Cerrig Gleisiad by gary.haddendropped steadily over more grassy moorland, with views all around, to reach a wide saddle with one or two pools dotting the terrain. We then had another small climb to reach the crest of Craig Cerrig Gleisiad, maintaining the superb views, especially to our left where the ground dropped away steeply into the Glyn Tarell valley. The hill top became a refreshment stop allowing us to admire a 20110821-15_Welsh Ponies on Craig Cerrig Gleisiad by gary.haddengroup of hill ponies grazing the upland area for some time.

Once sated, we set off again with a long descent over grassy moorland in a generally south/south eastern direction. There was a path of sorts “on the ground” but not so distinct to spoil the feel of remoteness of the area; the sweeping hills and valleys all conspiring to give a wild feel to the walk – Lovely in good weather like today, but I’d guess could be quite intimidating in 20110821-17_Descent off Craig Cerrig Gleisiad on The Beacons Way by gary.haddenpoor weather. We were walking part of The Beacons Way now and the pace fairly zinged along given the downhill nature, easy-going terrain and absolutely no stiles. I really enjoyed the walk across here, even as we neared the busy A470 and Storey Arms Centre. There were obviously a lot of people down there, virtually none of whom were on our side of the valley.

20110821-19_Midland Hill Walkers climbing away from Storey Arms Centre by gary.haddenAs we neared the car park at Storey Arms Centre, I could make out our B-party contingent starting a steep climb up the side of a coniferous plantation towards Y Gyrn. We soon reached the car park, dodged the cars trying to find a space, and instead of following the B-party’s route we turned right down the side of the A470 (southwards) until we reached another area of car-parking set back from the main road. This was absolutely teaming with people, with fast food and ice cream vans and a toilet block. After the remoteness of the morning walk this was not a very welcome area to be walking through and I was quite happy when we all moved off. I didn’t envy the leaders trying to keep count of all of our party in amongst the throng.

The route turned left on a major path, soon crossing a rocky river (Blaen Taf Fawr) via a substantial footbridge and then immediately steepened as the wide made-up path headed uphill climbing towards 20110821-21_On long climb up Corn Du by gary.haddenCorn Du. The climb was well over a mile in length and apart from the obvious physical exertion needed, another difficulty was the number of fellow walkers, mostly now descending – it was almost like a game of slalom dodgems at times. Our leader gave us carte-blanche to take our own pace up the mountain, eventually to all meet up again just under the final summit climb onto Corn Du. I felt really quite relieved when I reached this point, as this was by far the hardest climb I’d done for quite some considerable time. I think it felt worse than it might have done because of the unrelenting gradient, there didn’t seem to be any respite at any point on the climb.

20110821-24_Final pull up onto Corn Du by gary.haddenPerversely, the final rockier, steeper climb up onto the summit of Corn Du somehow seemed easier; perhaps the short rest and then change in gradient were all that was needed for the final push to the top. The views from the top were absolutely stunning –  in all directions; especially to the north where the mountain dropped away, almost sheer, into the huge amphitheatre of Cwm Llwch.

20110821-25_On Corn Du-looking over Llyn Cwm Llwch by gary.hadden

20110821-27_Our back marker - Silhouetted on Corn Du by gary.hadden

20110821-29_Corrie or Cwm Face of Corn Du by gary.hadden

The next top of Pen y Fan was only a short distance away, reached via an easy descent to a shallow saddle and then another little climb, all following the edge  along the mountain top. The summit of Pen y Fan is marked by a pile of stones set in a wide circle leading up to a small national trust marker giving the height at 886 metres above sea level (that’s  2,906.8 feet) which I believe is the highest place in South Wales. It’s not every day you get to the top of a fantastic mountain with the weather to match and this just had to be marked by some group photo’s

20110821-33_Taking Photo of Midland Hill Walkers on Pen y Fan Summit by gary.hadden   20110821-32_Midland Hill Walkers - A-Party on Pen y Fan Summit by gary.hadden

20110821-36_Crybn + Beyond from Pen y Fan by gary.hadden

20110821-40_Obelisk + Pool below Corn Du by gary.hadden… and then after another short time drinking in the views, it was back over to Corn Du for the second time before dropping north westwards along the edge above the cwm to reach a small obelisk. From here we took a path now dropping slightly right and then arching further round to the right and then to the left in a large zig-zag above the dark waters of a small corrie lake “Llyn Cwm Llwch” (sorry mixing my Scottish and Welsh nouns for the mountain hollow …. or maybe you know this physical feature as a cirque?, from the French language!).

20110821-42_Descent to Llyn Cwm Llwch below Corn Du by gary.hadden   20110821-43_Descent to Llyn Cwm Llwch below Corn Du by gary.hadden

The route was virtually all downhill now, following the Cwm Llwch valley from the highland area and into more enclosed gentler farmland. I love being on the big wide open spaces of mountains where you can reflect on how small you are in the landscape and in the wider world as a whole (very philosophical don’t you think); 20110821-46_Dropping through Cwm Llwch Valley by gary.haddenI also when walking try to stay as high as possible for as long as possible, but, I also like the more intimate contrasting feel of dropping down to the tree line and pasture lands …. just as well really, as it’s gotta be done at the end of every mountainous walk at some point!

Anyway, the path reached the bottom of the valley, where, after a short distance on a farm track, rather than swing right to join a minor road we turned off left (continuing more or less 20110821-48_Afon Tarell near Libanus by gary.haddennorthwards) to cross a few fields, passing Llwynbedw on route, to pick up some minor country lanes, crossing the Taff Trail at one point (route map) and later the Afon Tarell (river) just before our finish at Libanus on the A470. The coach was waiting for us by the side of the road and after getting changed and a very welcome pint (or was it two?) in The Tai’r Bull Country Inn, it whisked us back up through southern Wales to the M5 and a 20110821-49_Mike de Courcey Coach - Tair Bull Inn - Libanus by gary.haddensnoozey journey back to Kenilworth.

A simply brilliant days walking! Strenuous? Yes … Tiring? Definitely! But brilliant none-the-less.

…. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel welcome.

T.T.F.N. Gary

20080618_Mellbreak from Buttermere Village Walk

200806218 : Mellbreak from Buttermere Village Walk
When : 18 June 2008
Who : Just me
Where : Lake District – England
Approx distance : 9 km 5½ miles
Significant height : 660 m
Parking : Car Parks in village or side of road above chapel.
Public Transport : Yes but limited times

Route Summary : Buttermere village ; Buttermere Dubs ; Scale Force ; Mellbreak ; Black Beck ; Crummock Water return via Buttermere Dubs.

This is the first of four walks I did on a short break of 4-days (3-nights) in the North West area of the Lake District. If you’ve read my post “20080618-21 Lake District – 4 Day Beak” intro you’ll already know a bit of background, but it’s not essential to what follows here.

I’d left home in Warwickshire fairly early in the day and the trip up the M6 had been OK, at least traffic wise. However, the weather had been atrocious most of the way with wind, rain and lots of horrible spray. The enforced concentration and moderate speeds did force good fuel consumption and according to the on-board trip computer I averaged over 52 mpg. Perhaps there’s a lesson there somewhere about how to drive all the time.

I arrived in Buttermere village around about lunch time, having driven over the Newlands Hause pass, which is a super little road, worth driving just for its own sake. There’s a car park at the top of the pass, close to Moss Fall waterfall, and there are some super views of the surrounding fells as well.

The weather had improved and the Sun was actually peeping through the clouds as I arrived in Buttermere (the rain had finally stopped as I was crossing Shap on the M6). I pulled in at the top of a long line of cars by the side of the road, just above Buttermere’s little chapel and before reaching the junction with the B5289. After a 5-minute peruse of my map, I decided to climb Mellbreak out to the north-west, standing proud above Crummock Water. There was no way I was going to waste this little window of half-decent weather.

The easy drop down the road, past the little chapel into Buttermere village was instantly recalled as if I’d never been away and after negotiating the right hand bend in the B5289, I turned left (not crossing the bridge over Mill Beck) to pass various buildings including the The Bridge and The Fish hotels (I think that’s what they’re called anyway). Picking up one of the bridleways, I crossed the flat meadowlands that separate Buttermere and Crummock Water Lakes.

 

The track soon reaches Scale Bridge, with it’s classic stone arch, to cross Buttermere Dubs which is a little river (or big stream if you like) joining the two lakes together like a sparkling umbilical chord, Buttermere constantly feeding Crummock Water with its supply of water. This is a lovely spot with a really gentle feel … perhaps it’s little bit of serenity is exaggerated by the rough fells around about.

 

Once across the bridge, I turned right and picked up the roughening path heading low level towards Crummock Water. After a short while, instead of staying low all the way to Crummock Water, I branched left on a distinct path angling up and across the low fell side. This path swings around in a big loop, ever more westerly, eventually picking up Scale Beck where it emerges from the deep gash of Scale Force. If you do this walk, on your away around the low fell side, don’t forget to look back at the views across Buttermere, to High Snockrigg, Robinson and onwards to Dale Head. Also from here, the views across Crummock Water to the Grasmoor massive are superb. If you’re lucky (as I was) the lofty top of Grasmoor, and its lower attendants of Whiteless Pike, Wandhope, etc. will be free of cloud, although I believe they are often shrouded in mist and low clouds.

    

Do make the very short detour into the bottom of Scale Force’s ravine. The falls despite being in permanent shade are worth a closer visit and can be absolutely spectacular. Looking back out from the waterfall, the southern flanks of Mellbreak rise steeply across the valley and appear much more imposing than its relatively lowly height suggests from the map.

Leaving Scale Force behind, my route took me west for a short while, heading for the quiet head of Mosedale and it’s wide boggy bowl underneath the shapely Hen Comb. However, instead of heading into Mosedale, I soon turned north, down a steep bank to cross Black Beck and then rising steeply, I picked up a distinct but not eroded path heading up Mellbreak itself. After a bit of a dog-leg in the route, this path turned more or less due north directly and steeply up the grassy pass through the bracken covered slopes.

I had slowed considerably, feeling particularly unfit; and I was beginning to struggle. My legs had obviously forgotten how to walk rough paths and mountains. There’d been a change in the weather too and although it was still dry, I had a feeling that was about to change. Despite these things, I was not going to back-off at this point; I dug deep and forced myself onwards. I followed my own advice that I tell my kids: pick out a spot a little way in front, such as a rock or a tuft of grass; then put one foot in front of the other till you get there; have a breather for a few seconds; and repeat the process … it works … it’s amazing how you can rise up a slope doing this. The views were fantastic and a couple of breather stops were extended with the good excuse of taking a photo. Eventually, after what seemed an age considering the distance covered, I reached the broad southern summit of Mellbreak.

The top of Mellbreak is stretched out for more than a kilometre. The southern top being some 3 metres higher than its northern partner. There’s a lower saddle between the tops and I was contemplating whether there was time enough to press on north, but looking westwards at the gathering clouds, I decided against this and instead took the advice of a lone walker I’d spoken to earlier on my ascent. I headed easterly to where the broad fell top begins to fall steeply down to Crummock Water. I’d been told how fantastic the views were, looking up the Buttermere Valley all the way to Dale Head and Fleetwith Pike. I didn’t get to see these views at their best though, because soon after leaving the summit, the first drops of rain appeared and within minutes the whole valley was enveloped in a great driving sweep of rain. Everything turned an uninspiring, uniform, flat grey colour and the views rapidly disappeared into the gloom. It was incredible how quickly the whole area had been taken over by the rain and I quickly “cagged up” with waterproof jacket and over-trousers. I promptly started to retrace my steps down from where I’d come. The ravine of Scale Force was now very indistinct just across the valley, all clarity gone behind the sheets of rain.

My legs again started to complain, this time about the steep descent. However, I dropped steadily, eventually picking up the first bridle track coming out of Mosedale heading towards Crummock Water. This path is relatively easy going, generally following Black Beck towards Crummock Water. As the fell started to level out nearing the lake, I branched right crossing the stream and passed some old but substantial sheepfolds being over- taken by some quite rampant bracken. From here the path swings round, heading pretty much parallel to the lake for a while, eventually rejoining the outward path to Scale Bridge, to re-cross Buttermere Dubs and the meadowlands back to Buttermere village.

I’d found the whole day quite physically taxing, because of my lack of fitness, and the very inclement weather. Apart from that it’d been a super little walk and I’d certainly “do” Mellbreak again perhaps as a more extended route taking in Loweswater.

I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk = 20080619, Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks, Links = https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/20080619_fleetwith-pike-haystacks/ and https://tothehills.wordpress.com/2008/10/03/fleetwith-pike-video/

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