Posts tagged ‘Trailstar’

January 6, 2014

The best gear of 2013

by backpackingbongos

Only kidding.

Instead here is a photo of a Trailstar pitched on Pumlumon at dawn.

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April 28, 2013

Two nights on the moors – the sounds of spring above Allendale

by backpackingbongos

The drive to Northumberland was punctuated by a gear stop in a middle class suburb on the outskirts of Leeds.  A shiny new Trailstar was waiting for Rich at his parents house.  He sat for a while with the package on his lap as I drove north, putting off the excitement of opening it.  Curiosity soon got the better of him and the contents examined, the familiar grey silnylon in an orange stuff sack.  It would be put to good use on the North Pennine moors over the next couple of nights.

Day 1 – 15 kilometres with 620 metres ascent

Allendale 1

Allendale Town is a pleasant village and we parked opposite a cafe which we immediately decided would be visited upon our return.  We were soon crossing the River East Allen and heading up a series of steep lanes.  High on Dryburn Moor are a couple of chimneys with smelting flues made of stone running up to them.  Most of the flues have now collapsed but in places the stone construction is clearly visible.  It must have been a feat of engineering on this high and desolate place.

The views to the north were extensive in the cold and clear air.  We could see all the way to the Cheviot hills, a patchwork of low moorland and forestry filling the huge panorama.  Northumberland really is a county of big horizons.

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A series of tracks and paths led us down into West Allen Dale where we misread a path sign and bumbled right past the back door of a cottage.  The dog in the garden did not appear to be too happy about this, or no doubt the owner who came to the back door.  A bridge crossed the river at an idyllic spot so we took the opportunity to sit for a while, listening to the sounds of water with the sun on our faces.

The remote Wellhope burn was to be our destination for the night.  Looking at the map it looked like it would provide plenty of seclusion with flat pitches next to the river.  South of the Ninebanks youth hostel we crossed the Mohope burn and entered the grassy pastures at the foot of the dale.  The view was of grassy fields finally giving way to the bleak moors.  We decided that we would continue for a mile or so into the access land and pick a spot for the night.

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Sadly our plans of picking a hidden spot was not to be.  As we progressed up the valley a farmer was out tending his sheep on the opposite slopes.  He was too far away to go and ask permission to camp but too close to camp within full view.  We therefore had a bit of a dilemma what to do.  As there was plenty of daylight left we decided to continue to the terrace of barns at Wellhope, whilst he continued to buzz about on his quad bike.  Without a cloud in the sky the low sun cast a magical light on the moors as we climbed higher.

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The barns were dilapidated and the ground outside unsuitable for camping.  The only alternative was to climb higher onto the moors and search for a pitch on the edge of the plateau.  In the end we found an acceptable patch of rough grass and I pitched my Trailstar whilst Rich noted what to do so he could pitch his.  It took a while to set his up as the guys needed to be cut to length and attached to the shelter.  With the air quickly cooling and trailshoes soaked with boggy water, it was a painfully cold process.  The farmer was still driving around on the other side of the valley, so we kept our fingers crossed that we would not get moved on.

The air was alive with the sounds of moorland birds.   The pastures that we had passed through earlier had been filled with acrobatic lapwings with their distinctive cries.  The most lovely however was the lonely call of the curlew.  If you have never heard its cry whilst dusk falls on the moors then you have not lived.  Then there was the familiar cackle of the grouse, letting out a sound like a broken instrument.  All in all a good selection of noises to fall asleep to.

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Day 2 – 18.5 kilometres with 470 metres ascent

Allendale 2

It was a freezing cold night, frost forming on the insides of our shelters.  I also realised once in bed that the slope was greater than initially thought.  I kept slowly sliding out towards the entrance.  All in all it was not one of the best nights sleep I have had.

The sun was very welcome when it finally rose and provided some much needed warmth.  It was a pleasure to breakfast and then pack in good weather.  The air was once again alive with the sound of birdsong, this time also joined by a skylark.

The farmer had not left until after dark the night before and was back again by 8.00am.  It must be a tough existence farming on the uplands, especially after such a cold spring.  With height gained the night before we headed south towards the spoil heap and shooting hut on the horizon.  There were great sweeping views back the way we had come.

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I had heard that this shooting hut has a flushing loo so I was rather disappointed to find both the hut and outside loo firmly padlocked.  Even the knackered looking old winding house was locked.  It was a gloomy and rather forlorn spot.  A nearby shallow pond however was teeming with frogs busy procreating.  There appeared to be an amphibian orgy taking place in one corner, a tangle of froggy bodies and webbed feet.

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A waymarked bridleway led us to the far side of the valley giving views of moorland as far as the eye could see.  I love these wide open spaces.

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The bridleway continued upward before contouring below the summit of the Dodd, a hill that just breaks the 2000ft barrier.  The path gave backpacking perfection for a while, grassy and level with panoramic views.  A few miles of that would have been perfect.

Alas our route soon left the path and we squelched our way through bog.  For a while the going was a quaking nightmare, a wrong step being potentially dangerous.  An unlucky sheep had not picked the best route, only its head and top of its back visible above the morass.  We were pleased to get to the summit of the road and feel a firm surface beneath our feet.

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The going up Killhope Law was initially good, a feint path followed a fence, the peat firm and dry.

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However we were soon winding our way though a series of sodden peat hags, constantly climbing up and down them.  It was impossible to keep to a straight line.  It was exhausting both physically and mentally as the summit for ages did not appear to get any closer.  Finally we picked up a feint path once more for the final section to the summit.

The trig sits in a desolate wasteland of soggy peat, the cold wind making us none too keen to hang around for very long.  The summit is also marked by a large wooden pole, the purpose of which we have no idea.  It must have taken a considerable effort not just to carry it up but to actually erect the thing.

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The original plan had been to continue across trackless moors for a few more miles taking in another 2000ft summit.  However progress had been so slow and to be honest a little tedious so we decided to change our plans.  We headed to a dilapidated shooting hut and cooked some lunch whilst looking at the map.  It was good to get out of the wind for a while and get the stoves on.  You can’t beat a hot lunch whilst backpacking.

The Carriers way descends to near Allenheads so we decided we would take that.  A good gravel track that led us straight down into East Allen Dale, a relief after the bogs of Killhope Law.

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Down at the road a sign pointed towards a cafe a mile away at Allenheads, we were tempted but at the same time lassitude had set in.  Instead we trudged along the road for a bit and took the access track for Byerhope farm.  This turned out to occupy an enviable position at 460 metres above sea level.  A large whitewashed building with views across to Killhope Law and airy views down the glen.  In our minds we imagined what it would be like to live there.

The track continued onto the moorland plateau above, eventually a couple of shooting huts came into view.  Unlocked they gave a good opportunity to sit for a while out of the wind.

Our chosen spot for the night was near the abandoned Halleywell farm which was approached by a couple more shooting tracks.  The buildings sit in a lonely spot at the head of the Beldon burn which eventually flows past Blanchland.

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We wanted to hide ourselves away as much as possible so descended past the buildings to the stream below.  The ground next to a circular sheepfold looked to provide an idyllic spot but it turned out the grass was about two inches deep in sheep shit.  Not too enticing with a floorless shelter!  A bit of searching around found a grass enclosure which was sheltered from the wind.  We soon had both Trailstars up, Rich deciding on a Hobbit height configuration.

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It was a cracking spot and it was good to relax in the early evening sunshine.  There was once again a cacophony of moorland birds which were joined at dusk by the drumming of the snipe.  The first time I heard snipe was whilst camping on the West Coast of Scotland.  I have to admit that I found the sound a bit unnerving as I did not know what it was.  Now it is up there with the cries of the curlew as my favourite sound of the moors in spring.

Day 3 – 12 kilometres with 160 metres ascent

Allendale 3

I managed a whole night without sliding out of the Trailstar so had a good long and deep sleep.  This was full of vivid dreams, the like of which I only really get when camping.  Usually Rich is up at dawn, even he was still fast asleep on this grey and windy morning.

We had a slow and relaxed start, neither really keen to get going, the sky threatening rain.  Eventually we did pack and headed up past Halleywell and onto the track we had walked the day before.  We followed it for a while before joining a bridleway, looking particularly bleak on a grey Sunday morning.

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It was a simple case of following a few tracks and bridleways back to Allendale town and we were glad to find another unlocked shooting hut in which to shelter and cook lunch.  The wind was howling through holes in the corrugated tin roof and walls whilst we cooked.  A final tramp across the moors led us to a lane which we followed back into Allendale town.

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The cafe was indeed open and we piled in after a change of clothes, eager for a carbohydrate heavy feast.  Unfortunately it was not that sort of cafe so we made do with coffee and cake instead.  Rich had offered to pay in return for me doing the driving.  I was pleased that he had as the bill was rather substantial.  The village really is a rather charming place and we enjoyed exploring both the dales and the moors above.  The area had been pretty much deserted.  A place I am keen to return to sooner rather than later.

October 8, 2012

Escarpments, moors and mines – backpacking the northern Yorkshire Dales

by backpackingbongos

Day 1 – 11.1 miles with 710 metres ascent

Reeth is a thoroughly charming dales village, a huddle of cottages spread around a large green.  Although the village has a homely feel to it the surrounding moors still dominate.  It was a bright but cool early autumn morning when I parked outside the village post office.  I had my usual post drive faff before setting off across the green, Reuben in tow wearing his Ruffwear panniers.

We soon escaped the village, heading through fields next to Arkle Beck.  When we entered one field a horse that was grazing with some cows decided to come over and say hello.  Reuben although leashed decided that he would also say hello by jumping up.  The reaction by the horse was not a positive one and it reared up on its back legs.  With several cows in the middle of the field that would also need to be navigated I decided to backtrack and detour through a field with a stern, ‘private’ sign.  Rather the wrath of the landowner than being trampled to death.

Fremington Edge rose steeply above the Dale and a grassy path took us towards the isolated cottage called White house.  The views were soon opening up, the moorland lump of Calver hill catching my eye as we would be passing it later the following day.

I managed to get navigationally challenged just before the cottage and had to resort to a bit of fence climbing to get back on track.  Stopping for a rest near the cottage the owner came past in his 4WD.  I expected a telling off for my trespass but instead his attention was on Reuben who he thought looked magnificent in his panniers.

We continued steeply upwards above the cottage, this time on a well-worn track.  A narrow grassy trod then left it to follow the edge of the escarpment.  For the next couple of miles the walking was simply glorious, soft springy turf providing a luxurious carpet for the feet.  Steep limestone slopes fell away to the left, plunging towards Arkengarthdale far below.  I took my time on this section, sitting down on a couple of occasions on perfectly situated natural rocky seats.  The early autumn light was crystal clear, high fluffy clouds throwing shadows on the surrounding hills.

The path that I was following is unmarked on the map and it soon intersected the bridleway that links Arkengarthdale with the hamlet of Hurst.  My route north was then blocked by a sturdy drystone wall with no gate visible nearby.  It was easy to cross without causing any damage, Reuben proving the most tricky to get over.  There was an abrupt change in terrain on the other side, green limestone vegetation being replaced by deep heather.

The plan was to follow the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales north across pathless ground until we reached a track near St Andrew’s cross.  I noticed that about a kilometer away a shooting hut had a line of 4WD vehicles glinting in the sun next to it, voices drifting across to me.  Although I had seen no signs indicating that dogs were banned from this access land I was aware that this is sometimes the case.  I was glad to reach the track just as the vehicles began a long convoy in a different direction.  The deep trackless heather had been hard going and I enjoyed sitting at the edge of the track in the warm sun.  Soon the peace was shattered by a flurry of gunshots, the convoy of vehicles obviously finding some grouse to blast from the sky.

The walk towards the hut was a little confusing as the tracks on the ground did not relate exactly to those on the map.  We passed a couple who were confused to their exact whereabouts, I left them trying to work out a route to Hurst.

A climb through old mine workings and we were once again on the edge of limestone country, short-cropped grass above another rocky escarpment.  Being at the edge of high ground the views were once again outstanding.

A steep descent brought us below the scree covered slopes, perhaps part natural part due to the old lead workings.

I was aware that the day was progressing faster than I wanted it to and that it would be getting dark in a couple of hours.  I began to doubt that we would get to where I had planned to pitch for the night.  Although short on time the dry short grass was too inviting to pass by without a quick sit down and snack.

My revery was soon disturbed by a convoy of 4WD vehicles, probably the ones that I had seen earlier.  I received a friendly nod from each of them but what struck me was the how most of the occupants resembled George Osborne.  George Osborne in tweeds and with a very red face.  After they left me choking in a plume of dust I sat and thought for a while.  There is clearly a parallel universe that exists in our country that most of us will never visit, I’m fairly sure that even if we wanted to visit we would not be welcome.

We dropped down and crossed the Stang road below Shaw farm.  On the map the short walk down and across the valley of Shaw beck to reach a bridleway looked easy enough.  In reality I lurched down through boulders and waist high vegetation to the stream at the bottom.  It was actually a gloriously wild spot, the golden moor grass catching the low sun.  Climbing up the other side was even harder work, steep slopes being covered in man eating bracken.  The map mentioned a lead level and I suddenly had visions of falling down a hidden mine shaft never to be seen again.

Finally locating the bridleway it was clear that it is hardly ever used and it was with relief that I reached the road.  There was a brief moment of excitement passing the farm at High Eskleth when a small three legged dog took a dislike to Reuben.  His face simply said, “Get me out of here”.

A network of paths took us down to the valley bottom and along to Whaw bridge before a steep lane brought us to the main Arkengarthdale road.  I had planned to camp at the head of Gunnerside Gill, but it was evident that would be impossible unless I fancied walking across trackless moorland in the dark.  I did not.  Therefore as we started the walk towards Danby lead level I started to keep my eyes peeled for a suitable pitch.

I noticed that the hill above and on the other side of Great Punchard Gill was an oasis of green amongst the surrounding rough moorland.  I decided that it would be worth the climb to get a comfy pitch for the night and the views should be good.  We continued along the track and descended into the Gill, stopping at an old mine building.  I filled up a couple of water bags from the stream, the contents of which was the colour of tea.  It was a long slog up the hill, finally settling on a spot that was reasonable flat and out of sight of the surrounding farms.

It was dull, grey and windy as I started to pitch the Trailstar.  Reuben had taken himself off to build a nest to keep himself warm as he waited for his bed for the night.  Suddenly there was a shift in the clouds and the light transformed my surroundings, the hills being bathed in a warm glow.  The views to the north were absolutely stunning, with gently rolling moorland finally giving way to the North Pennines on the horizon.  There was no man made intrusion to break the horizon.

With the temperature quickly dropping I was glad to get out of the wind.  Wrapped in down I got dinner on whilst trying to keep Reuben off my sleeping bag.  Dressed in his fleecy romper suit he happily wolfed down his dinner and curled contentedly on the foam mat I had brought for him.

Before turning in for the night I took Reuben out to the toilet.  I stood outside for a while, a freezing wind biting straight through me, a bright moon lighting up the moor.  In the distance I could make out the A66 and it looked like vehicles were floating in the air.  The blue flashing light of an emergency vehicle looked totally surreal as it slowly drifted from right to left until it finally vanished.  Soon the cold was unbearable and I sought shelter once again.

Day 2 – 11.4 miles with 400 metres ascent

During the night the breeze dropped completely and the temperature plummeted.  The inside of my shelter and the outside of my sleeping bag was covered in condensation.  In some conditions it does not matter how much ventilation you have, you are still going to get damp.  You can’t get much more ventilation than inside a Trailstar!

I made a cup of coffee and stood outside for a while with Reuben, taking in my surroundings in the crystal clear air.  The corners of the Trailstar were coated in frost, the first of the season.  I was aware though of my proximity to several farms so I decided to pack up and head off early.  A landrover driving across the moor less than a kilometer away spurred me on.

To the north were gin clear skies and almost unlimited views.  However to the south the sky was hazy and milky and it looked like the promised weather front was arriving.  Right in front on me mist started to form on the higher slopes and soon we were walking through thick hill fog across trackless slopes.  The boggy moor reminded me that the season for unlined fell shoes is coming to an end, the freezing water filling them not being particularly pleasant.  We hit the track just before the Punchard coal level as the clouds shifted below us, a sandwich of clear air between clouds above and below.

The security of the track was soon left behind at the old workings and we continued along a narrow trod along the stream until even that fizzled out.  We climbed up and away from the stream through deep heather, the ground full of booby trapped holes.  The going was tough and the landscape exceptionally bleak, mist drifting past only adding to the foreboding.  Even Reuben was not his usual bouncy self as we lurched across the moor.

I spotted a line of grouse butts a few hundred metres away and decided to head towards them.  I reasoned that the George Osborne lookalikes the previous day would not walk too far from their vehicles to shoot a few grouse from the sky.  I was right and was soon walking along a firm track that was cunningly concealed amongst the peat hags.

This led to the head of Gunnerside Gill and a fantastically situated shooting hut which was unfortunately locked.  It looked like it would be a splendid place to spend the night.  The track contoured high above the Gill, giving splendid views despite the gloom.

A long line of walkers approached and they were all rather taken by Reuben in his panniers.  They crowded around him to take photos and he relished all the attention heaped upon him.  His owner found it all rather embarrassing!

A short climb and we passed the devastation at the inappropriately named Merry field, the ground scarred by lead mining leaving a desert of gravel and a few rusting pieces of machinery.  I like bleak but this is a rather charmless place, like a gravel pit stuck on the top of the moors.  a descent into Flincher Gill and another climb through Forefield rake brought us to another scene of bleak devastation.  Reuben was not impressed.

Great Pinseat needed to be bagged, but it was on the other side of a huge drystone wall which I did not want to risk climbing.  I did however manage to touch the trig by extending my pacerpole to its fullest extent and then leaning over the wall.  I think I can still add Great Pinseat to the list.

A track led easily across the moor, giving a quick and easy descent.  We passed a vehicle in a bog which had clearly seen better days.

Calver hill soon came into view with Fremington edge our outward route visible on the horizon.

We dropped down to the narrow moorland road, passing surrender bridge which was in the opening shot of All Creatures great and small.  It’s a lovely spot and would make an ideal place to spend the night in the Bongo.  A series of paths and tracks then led us easily back to the car at Reeth.

Reuben continued to gather many comments as we passed through the village, what had started off as a novelty soon became rather trying as every single person said, “I see you have got him carrying your stuff”.  Reuben however relished all the attention and greeted each and every person as if they were long lost friends.

September 24, 2012

An early blast of winter on a moorland camp

by backpackingbongos

I woke up confused in the dark, a panicked moment when I could not find my headtorch.  I must have dozed off shortly after eating dinner, meaning to rest for a minute before taking Reuben out to do what dogs have to do.  That minute somehow morphed into an hour.  Wet trail shoes were pulled back on, sucking the warmth out of my feet.  Outside the oversized half moon had risen above the horizon, giving the moor an eerie orange glow.  Reuben sniffed around for a few seconds before heading straight back into the Trailstar, business not attended to.  I stood for a while, the only sign of civilisation being the distant A66, beams of light floating silently across the moor.  As with Reuben the cold soon got to me and I dashed back into my sleeping bag, down jacket kept on in an effort to fight off the first frost I have experienced for a few months.

April 5, 2012

Backpacking the untrodden delights of Meugher

by backpackingbongos

Whilst researching a potential backpack in the Yorkshire Dales I came across the following entry on Wikipedia:

Meugher is a hill in the Yorkshire Dales, England. It lies in remote country between Wharfedale and Nidderdale, in the parish of Stonebeck Down less than 1 km outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The hill has a conical peak, which has been described as “perhaps the remotest and least inviting summit in the Yorkshire Dales”.[1]

It was the sentence, perhaps the remotest and least inviting summit in the Yorkshire Dales that got my backpacking juices flowing.  Meugher suddenly became a must climb hill and a route was planned that would involve a wade to its summit.  Although I wanted wild and remote I have to admit that I was feeling a little bit lazy so I settled on a short and sweet route mileage wise.

Day 1 – 7.7 miles with 490 metres ascent

Martin Rye was already settled into the village cafe when I arrived in Hebden.  A quick catch up and we then kitted ourselves up for a night on the hills.  Once again Reuben was not going to get away without carrying his own fair share so was fitted with panniers.  This caused a small amount of amusement from the builders eating lunch in their van.  As we walked up the main street it was evident that the unseasonably warm weather had come to a halt, a cold wind was blowing down the valley.

The walk up Hebden Beck is an easy pleasant affair and we soon left civilisation behind.  The lower reaches of the valley are idyllic with a combination of rocky outcrops and lush grassy banks alongside the river.  I would imagine it could be a popular spot for a picnics in the summer.

Further up the atmosphere changes as the track snakes its way into the higher reaches of the valley.  Old mine workings scar the hillsides and spoil heaps makes it feel much more austere.  A young couple approached us carrying a new-born lamb.  They had found it next to its dead mother and decided to take it to the nearest farm.  We confirmed that we had not passed any farm buildings and suggested that they try Yarnbury, only a mile or so away.  Nature can be pretty cruel at times.

A steady climb up above the chimney that dominates these moors and we passed though a lunar landscape.  With a grey sky overhead and the ground devoid of colour due to the presence of industry it was a bleak monochrome experience.

A long straight march along a shooters track took us onto the open spaces of Grassington Moor.  A bleak landscape but much more inviting than that which we had passed.  A large sheepfold next to the beck provided shelter from the breeze and we sat and had lunch whilst contemplating the best way onto the summit of Meugher.  The next few miles would be across the trackless moors.

A gap in the sheepfold had been bridged by a plank of wood on which had been placed a trap.  This was the first of many that we passed on the surrounding grouse moors.  The only place I have seen so many is on the Durisdeer hills in the Southern Uplands.  I find the trapping of so-called ‘vermin’ rather offensive to be honest.  One predator only being replaced by another with lots of money and a gun.  Unfortunately the traps are perfectly legal and probably should not be tampered with.  However occasionally small stones accidentally fall on them which unfortunately set them off.  Shame.

This made me think of one of the best wildlife encounters I have had on the moors.  A few years ago in Northumberland I was sitting having lunch in a small grassy clearing amongst the heather.  A rabbit suddenly ran out of the heather straight towards me, hot on its tail was a stoat.  The pair of them ran literally inches from my foot, unfortunately the encounter over in a couple of seconds.  Anyway I think it was a stoat and not a weasel because weasels are weasily recognised, whereas stoats are stoatally different………….

A feint sheep path was followed alongside Sleet Moor Dike, which had been reduced to a trickle.  Our objective for the day was still hidden behind the moorland ridge on the horizon.

The open moor gave surprisingly easy walking, the vegetation was low and the ground bone dry.  We left the winding stream bed and headed directly across the moor and onto the wide watershed.  We got our first glimpse of Meugher, gently rising above a sea of heather and peat groughs.

We were soon standing next to the trig point on the summit, the final grassy slopes giving surprisingly easy walking.  For a hill lacking in drama and ruggedness it easily makes up in terms of spaciousness and a feeling of isolation.  Even with the honeypots of the Yorkshire Dales only a few miles away I am pretty certain not many people stand at its summit.  There were a couple of patches of grass near the summit that would make good wild camping pitches.  It was tempting to stay the night but the wind was strong and it would have been a long walk to collect drinking water.

We lingered at the summit for a while before making a descent to the west, the bulk of Great Whernside filling the horizon.

The walk towards the watershed at Sandy Gate was tough going with deep heather and peat groughs putting up a good defence.  It would have been torturous climbing in and out of the groughs in wet weather.  We both managed to get across with only damp trail shoes, although large amounts of heather stuck to my socks.  Due to the rough ground any ideas of camping somewhere high en-route to Great Whernside were quickly dismissed and we descended down to Mossdale Beck.

We were spoilt for choice on places to pitch our shelters.  We chose an extensive grassy area next to the stream which thankfully was still running in the dry conditions.  Reuben made it immediately clear that he was tired, curled up in the late afternoon sun he was soon fast asleep.

We pitched our shelters and after collecting water enjoyed the last of the sunshine which would soon dip behind the surrounding hills.  We sat in our respective shelters chatting whilst we cooked dinner and relaxed.  For me the best part of the backpacking experience is when you have pitched and you remove your footwear for the first time.  I am usually happy to simply sit for a couple of hours, mug of coffee in hand whilst enjoying the view.  Simple pleasures.

Winter returned long before darkness had chased the light from the sky.  During a short wander I noticed that frost was already starting to creep from the ground to the corners of the Trailstar.  With every few minutes that passed the frost got higher and higher.  By the time that darkness was setting it both of our shelters were bejewelled by ice.

We had planned to take loads of photos of lit up shelters after darkness fell.  However the intensity of the cold took us both by surprise.  I only managed 10 minutes before the cold drove me back under frozen nylon, Martin did not stay out much longer.

Day 2 – 7.7 miles with 140 metres ascent

It was a cold night and I woke several times feeling the chill air penetrate my many layers.  Next to me Reuben was wrapped in his fleecy PJ’s and a blanket, only his nose poking out.  As the night progressed he slowly got closer, attempting to share my narrow mat.  I’m not sure how cold it got during the night but at one point the thermometer on my watch read minus 4C.  That was inside the Trailstar next to my head.  It may have been even colder outside.

Martin and myself were both up before the sun rose over the hills, the valley deep in shadow and full of frost.  My bivvy bag has a slippery base and I had slid half way down the Trailstar in the night, exposing the end of the bivvy to the elements.  It was covered in a layer of frost.

With a hot drink in my hands and freezing cold trail shoes on my feet I exited my shelter into a still and frigid world.  It was cold but beautiful.

The sun was just beginning to flood into the valley when we packed up.  My Trailstar had doubled in weight overnight, ice coating it inside and out.  A few shakes and the air was filled with falling ice crystals.

It was with relief that we climbed onto the track through the valley, the sun warming our cold bones.

Mossdale scar was still deep in shadows and we did not linger.  Mossdale Beck disappears underground by the cliffs and is the scene of a tragic caving accident.  I started to wonder why Reuben was making the effort of walking through the freezing cold water when I noticed his snout buried in dead rabbit.  Throughout the two days he always managed to find something disgusting to sniff or attempt to chew.  He must get fed up with me yelling at him every time he finds something nasty.  How he has the nerve to turn his nose up at the expensive dog food I buy him?

The track climbed slightly and at its crest we entered limestone country, the austere moors replaced by green pasture and drystone walls.  Wharfedale was spread below us as we descended into a classic Yorkshire Dales landscape.

Above the Dales Way long distance footpath sits an area of limestone pavement, one of my favourite types of landscapes.  We rested for a while in the sun calling our respective partners and snacking.  Martin was keen to get some shots of his new rubble sack Cuben pack for a future blog post so I spent time exploring the immediate area.

We picked up the Dales Way which passes above the limestone valley of Conistone Dib.  We still had the hills to ourselves but we could make out the first lot of day walkers climbing up the valley.

The Dales Way gave quick and easy walking on a path of short springy turf.  You almost glide across its surface and I would imagine it would even be a pleasure to walk barefoot.  We passed a backpacker with an enormous pack, a large day sack strapped to the top, the whole lot towering above his head.  It looked impossibly heavy and I cannot begin to imagine exactly what he was carrying.

We were soon walking the busy streets of Grassington and in search of coffee and fried food.  Reuben caused a bit of a stir with his rucksack and we received lots of comments.  This is the first time that he has worn it in a populated area and it was nice for him to receive lots of attention, however it soon got just a little bit boring and repetitive!  Strange really as without a pack many would view him as a mean Staffy but with it he suddenly became irresistibly cute.

Bellies satisfied we made our way back up through the village and took to a path across the fields to Hebden.  A short and sweet 24 hours in the hills but with some parts feeling surprisingly wild and remote.  It’s easy sometimes to forget just how good the Yorkshire Dales can be.

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