Backpacking Walden – Yorkshire’s hidden dale

by backpackingbongos

West Burton is one of those picture perfect Dales villages, stone cottages surrounding a large village green. The only thing spoiling it was the long line of cars parked along the narrow road. I added to it, leaving the Doblo overnight as I headed up the Dale for a horseshoe walk around Walden.

I really want to call it Walden Dale because it is a Dale and a fine one at that. However the OS map simply has the words ‘Walden’ in the middle, so Walden I will call it.

Total distance – 26 kilometres with 800 metres ascent

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 20.38.20

It was one of those filthy late winter days, cold, grey and murky. The tops of the hills were invisible, much of the views obscured by haze even in the valleys. I set off along wet tarmac before squelching my way up a bridleway and onto Carlton Moor. There is a Carlton about half a mile away from where I live in Nottingham. Sadly there are no drystone walls, moorland grasses whispering in the wind or fresh invigorating air there.

IMG_0784

I caught my breath on the summit of Harland hill, just in time for the murk to part for a while. My weekend route was at my feet, painted like a faint watercolour, soft greens and greys, the sun providing no visual warmth.

IMG_0785

It’s a long moorland trudge following the watershed to the summit of Brown Haw. Instead I dropped down to the north and followed a landrover track as it wound its way through an increasingly snowy landscape.

IMG_0731

I eventually had to leave the comfort and security of the track and the easy progress that it provided. A thin sheep trod took me upwards and onto the summit . The views once again briefly opened up, this time with Walden widening out to the north towards Wensleydale.

IMG_0787

Brown Haw was defended from the north by a brand new and very sturdy fence. That in itself would not normally be a problem as without barbed wire fences are easily hopped over by the long-legged. The problem was the following garish sign that was posted every few metres, a big long danger zone snaking off into the mist.

IMG_0735

This provided me with a bit of a dilemma. Did I want to risk being sterilised as I attempted to step over? There was no stile or crossing point in view in either direction. As I child growing up in Suffolk one of the challenges we undertook was seeing how long we could hold onto an electric fence for. Therefore I took a deep breath and, nothing. There was no shock involved. In the end Brown Haw was a bit of an anticlimax.

With dusk arriving early I soon found a level pitch at the head of the dale, an area of limestone providing good firm grass. It soon got cold, a damp chill in the air and I was glad to get into a nice warm winter sleeping bag.

IMG_0788

A light snow fell in the night and I awoke to a thick mist, the snow emphasising the general gloom. It had been still, cold and humid leaving the inner tent dripping with condensation. I was warm and snug inside my sleeping bag but the warm air from my body had reached the outer which was soaked due to the dew point being reached.

IMG_0789

I love wild camping mornings, the ritual of waking up in the wilds and making a brew whilst snug and warm in bed. It was the first time I had used an alcohol stove for many years. I had decided to get a Flatcat Bobcat Jr to take to Colorado in the summer. On its first use I was impressed at just how fuel-efficient it is, although it is much slower than using gas.

IMG_0790

Once packed and walking the cloud level lifted for a while and I began to get hopeful that it would clear as forecast. Alas this was not the case and much of the rest of the day was spent walking with heavy snow blowing in my face, visibility often falling close to zero.

IMG_0791

IMG_0750

IMG_0792

Rather than climbing to the summit of Buckden Pike I stuck to the landrover track for a while before finally striking off up rough slopes to the summit of Naughtberry hill. From there to Wasset Fell the going was probably the least fun way of spending part of a weekend. A shooting hut was marked on the map at Wasset Fell but it was clear it had fallen down years ago. Instead I stood on the exposed fell and shivered whilst I wolfed down some food.

IMG_0793

Floutgate scar provides a bit of drama, the end of the high moors before they drop into Bishopsdale. In the distance I  could just make out Castle Bolton in Wensleydale, the castle itself illuminated by a brief shaft of sunlight.

IMG_0794

Spring finally arrived as I crossed the fields in the dale, the sun chasing winter away. The contrast between moor and valley could not have been greater.

IMG_0777

Once back at the van in West Burton the sun and clouds had a brief atmospheric battle before once again the clouds took control.

IMG_0783

Advertisements

10 Comments to “Backpacking Walden – Yorkshire’s hidden dale”

  1. I hadn’t realised before just how close you were to Buckden Pike on that trip. Looked fun though – in a cold, snowy, kind of way. 😀

    • Yes it was a bit on the chilly side, no visibility either! But always good to get on the moors for the night.

  2. Looks as if you did not have the easiest of trips there James! Cracking photos though.

  3. Another enjoyable trip no doubt, love the photos with a hint of snow and the variation in the colours of the vegetation, all with a bit of fog thrown in. I guess it was bit cold for the Enan, and how is the Bobcat going? Looking forward to the next adventure and of course your trip to the states.

    • Cheers Roger. I decided to take the Scarp as I was expecting a windy and snowy night, thought it would be more comfy than the Enan. Loving the Bobcat stove, a really nice bit of kit.

  4. Gorgeous pictures, James. A lovely write-up too Sir. I could feel the cold seeping into my bones as I read that!
    🙂

  5. Another great post; thank you. You may be interested to know (or you may not, but I’m going to tell you anyway) that it’s plain Walden, not Walden Dale, because the second element of the name (i.e. ‘den’) is Old English for ‘valley’. Anyway, I loved the post and as a local (well almost), have now been inspired to visit that area in the not-too-distant future.

  6. Cold and chilly looking post. I’m still a devotee of alcohol stoves, my Trangia still accompanies me on wild camps even though it’s more than 20 years old. Now vastly improved by by the use of bio-ethanol, no more stench of meths

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: