Notes from Alf




'Challenging Walks' for Thursdays
Three down (Yorkshire Three Peaks, Coledale Round and Bowland Cuckoo) and five to go in this ad-hoc programme of walks, which will take us to the end of the year. Numbers have been small - three (Alf Short, Jean Lyon and John Plumb), two (AS & JL) and four (AS, JL, Gordon Stone and Carole Engel) respectively, but we've enjoyed three great days out which were all completed just as darkness was descending.
The Three peaks (10 November) was originally to be 'in reverse' but since this was to be John's first completion of the full round we went in the normal anti-clockwise direction; Pen-y-ghent - Whernside - Ingleborough. The rain kept away and it was mild, though the mist covered all three peaks while we were on them, but cleared as we departed - what is known as sods law. Relatively uneventful and a good work out, Of note, and this comment could could be a hostage to fortune, is that we think we now have the optimum route from Pen-y-ghent to Ribblehead.
Glorious unseasonal good weather for the Coledale Round (17 November) - which we modified and extended to make it a full day. Starting from Braithwaite we climbed Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head and Whiteside before taking the tricky and rocky descent to Lanthwaite Green Farm at the north end of Crummock Water. The plan at this stage was a cafe stop in Buttermere, if open, but time was in short supply so had our butty stop at the foot of Rannerdale Knotts. The rest of the walk took in Whiteless Pike, Grassmoor, Crag Hill, Sail, Outerside and Barrow - before dropping down to the car home. I estimated the walk to be a relatively short 18mls, but this deficiency was more than made up for by over 6000ft of ascent. Marvellous!  
The third of this teriffic trio was the Bowland Cuckoo - an old challenge walk, which I last did in 1999. We didn't actually cop any rain, though it never seemed far away. What I'd forgotten, though Jean and Carole hadn't, was just how much bog and mud there is. Lots of bog trotting then, but all good fun. To my surprise, Gordon clocked over 5000ft of ascent on his gps. Carole told me about a strenuous variant on this walk called the Bowland Dozen which I'll be getting details of for a future occasion.
Please note, if interested, that the next walk in the series, The Dales Traverse from Kilnsey, may take a bit longer than these three so I'll be starting it at 7.30am.
Alf Short
Forest of Bowland near Whin FellThe intrepid four at Totridge
Thursday Walks 4 - 6
A brief summary of walks 4, 5 and 6 (of 8) in the series.
Just two of us (AS & JL) for the 4th in the series, 'The Dales Traverse' on 1st December. Instead of starting from Kilnsey we switched to Kettlewell - better parking. The weather was mixed; mostly it was dry, but with rain closing in towards the end of the day. A good track up to Cam Head where we picked up the Fellsman route (though in reverse) up to Buckden Pike - which neant wading through the usual mud - up to my knees a time or two. Then down to Buckden for the first buttie stop. A good climb across Birks Fell and descent into Litton, then a stroll along the river to Arncliffe. Then into the pub for a well earned pot of tea. With the rain and darkness approaching, and me being frightened of the dark and Jean not wanting to get her hair wet, we opted to bypass the loop towards Malham Tarn which would have returned us to Kilnsey via Mastiles Lane. Instead, we went direct to Kilnsey, across to Conistone and back to Kettlewell. First into the carpark in the morning and last out at the end of the day.
Only myself for the 5th walk on 8th December. It was intended to be the 'Mallestang and Nine Standards Romp', but the weather was appalling, particularly on the tops. Since I only had myself to please I parked Mallestang for another time and did a 20ml walk from my house. I still managed to find plenty of mud on a poor day for weather so it wasn't all bad.  
A cracking day however for walk 6, the 'Hope, Moors and Tors', scheduled for 15th December but brought forward a day to the 14th. Only three of us (AS, JL and Carole Engel) but we enjoyed sparkling weather (though a little draughty and chilly at times). This is a current challenge walk starting from Hope in the Peak District, taking in Cave Dale, Mam Tor, Hollins Cross and down into Edale. From here the longish and steepish climb up Grinds Brook, including a waterfall, to the plateau. East along the edge for 3mls or so, down to Edale youth hostel, then the final climb back up to Hollins Cross and on to Lose Hill summit for the descent back to Hope. Just 20mls, but 3,700ft of ascent and with the weather and terrain we enjoyed just about the perfect winter's day walk.
Alf Short