Posts tagged ‘Enan’

June 5, 2016

Slackpacking Nidderdale

by backpackingbongos

For some reason Nidderdale was not included in the Yorkshire Dales National park. It is a fine Dale and I have no idea why it was left out. I could do some research and use this blog as a vehicle to inform and educate but I can’t really be bothered to do that. Go and look it up on the internet yourself dear readers, if you find out please let me know.

The cynic in me tells me it is because the surrounding moors are prime grouse shooting territory, the landowners probably did not want oiks crashing across their land. Unfortunately due to these grouse moors dogs are banned from the CROW land so Reuben had to be left at home. That was a shame really because the route was short (25 kilometres split over 3 days) and there was no wind, rain, heat or severe cold, all of which he is not a fan these days.

The car was left in the small car park at Lofthouse where after a bit of a picnic I set off into the hills with my friend Rae. It is probably a year since we had backpacked together so it was good to catch up.

The tarmac lane led up past How Stean Gorge where the owners charge you to look at the scenery, we gave it a miss and carried on. We were soon following a beautiful river path along How Stean Beck. The wild garlic was just beginning to come out. A month later and the whole place would have been a riot of green.

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We were soon climbing and once past the abandoned High Riggs farm we took a landrover track onto the moor.

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Landrover tracks are an eyesore but this one was a few years old and had blended well into the scenery. It ended at a shooting hut, one side of which was unlocked and would provide good shelter if the weather was bad. The nice section was locked so we pushed our noses against the glass to have a peer inside and imagine the lunch time feasts that take place during shooting season.

I had expected the walk across the moor and down to the Angram reservoir to be a bit of a rough and boggy slog. We were pleasantly surprised when we found a good path linking together the shooting butts. It made the walking a pleasure as it wound its way around the bogs.

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We soon arrived at a flat grassy area sandwiched between the soggy moorland and where the hill drops steeply into the valley below. It was breezy and exposed and there was rain forecast later that night. However it was a lovely spot, close to water and we were not sure that we would find anything decent lower down. The ground below us looked rather tussocky from a distance.

Tents were soon pitched and water the colour of tea was collected.

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I have recently swapped over from using gas to a lightweight alcohol stove for cooking. I have to admit that I am enjoying using it even though it is not as convenient as the Jetboil. If it was lashing it down with rain and the wind was strong I would want the Jetboil for speed, however for a relaxed camp you can’t beat cooking with alcohol.

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I am also trying not to rely on freeze-dried meals so much as I feel they are overpriced, especially if you are out backpacking every other weekend. My current cheap meal of choice is an ugly mixture of instant Smash, some Babybel cheese and a couple of veggie wieners. Very satisfying when eaten on a hillside.

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The breeze died down during the evening and when the rain arrived it was not too bad. The weather system totally cleaned the sky and we woke to warming rays of sunshine.

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Upon descending to Angram Reservoir it turned out there were plenty of decent spots to pitch a tent but I was glad we had chosen our lofty perch.

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The soggy path around the reservoir was reached and we squelched our way through the tussocks towards the footbridge that took us to the north shore.

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It’s a pleasant stroll along the path that would eventually lead to the car park below Scar House Reservoir. Once past the Angram dam we took the track that heads north over the moors and into Coverdale. There we got mobbed by a flock of sheep who thought we were providing them with dinner. The noise as they all ran over was deafening and it is a little unnerving to be followed by so many beasts.

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Sadly the track is a right old mess on the steeper sections, heavy use by vehicles has removed the top soil and the weather has done the rest, tearing deep channels which are difficult to cross. It was all left behind though on a trudge across pathless moorland to reach the unmarked and insignificant summit of Dead man’s Hill. The only reward you get for climbing it is a tick in a book and a boot full of heather.

Descending towards the reservoir we spotted a large flat area above some extensive quarry workings and pitched the tents. Water was provided from the tiniest of trickles off of the moor, it took an age to fill each bottle but there was no alternative.

It was an evening of threatening clouds building up from the west and we could see rain tracking across the hills on the horizon. It avoided us for a while but eventually the rain closed in and we retired to our tents.

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Soon after dark the sound of the rain changed. The usual sound of rain pinging of a taught fly sheet became muffled. I popped my head out into a white world, snow being driven in as soon as I unzipped the tent. As I went to sleep I hoped that we would wake to a white winter wonderland.

In the morning it was not the snow that was impressive (just a mere dusting) but the colour of the sky. It was of the deepest purest shade of blue. The sun however gave no warmth and the cold nipped my fingers when taking down the tent. The higher Great Whernside however had attracted much more snow and I imagine it would have been a splendid place to be that morning.

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The track down through the quarry took an indirect route, good for warming up the legs rather than plunging straight down steep slopes. The view up both reservoirs is pretty good as well.

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Whilst descending we were watching a group of walkers on the other side of the valley. We could not figure what was going on as they were really taking their time. An hour later we finally caught them up to discover they were a group of men engaging in what could only be described as a ‘niche’ hobby. They were each controlling a remote control car, slowly making their way up the track. They looked to be taking proceedings very seriously.

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The track took us across the moor to the village of Middlesmoor which is perched on a hill above Nidderdale. It’s a picture perfect place and we sat on a bench near the church to eat our lunch whilst enjoying the view in the sun. That just then left a short walk back to Lofthouse down through the fields and past a one eyed and very sad-looking dog tied to a gate.

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August 9, 2015

A backpack to World’s End

by backpackingbongos

The Panorama Walk is misnamed as it is actually a road that runs beneath the limestone escarpment to the south of Ruabon mountain. However it does offer some good spots to park the car and have a picnic with great views over the Dee valley, a popular past time on this hot and sunny day.

Total distance – 21 kilometres with 830 metres ascent

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I left the car amongst the picnickers and walked along the narrow strip of tarmac, following the route of the Offa’s Dyke Path. The views over rolling lush green hills was idyllic, the stature of the hills growing in the west towards Snowdonia.

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The road soon drops sharply to the left leaving the Offa’s Dyke Path to cut a sinuous path below the limestone cliffs. This must be one of the most scenic couple of miles in all of Wales, in comparison to the effort it takes to walk. A couple of times I sat for a while in the warm sun to watch the clouds cast shadows in the fields below. I could tell that the wind would be keen up on the moors and would need to seek shelter later on that evening when looking for a place to pitch the tent.

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It was tempting to follow the Offa’s Dyke all the way to World’s End but I wanted to bag the Dewey of Cyrn-y-Brain, a prominent hill bristling with radio towers. It was a steep drop down to the valley bottom and an equally steep climb up the other side. One particular field was teeming with hungry horse flies, one managing to bite me on the back of the hand. A week later I was still left with an angry itchy lump.

I played a game of fantasy house hunting when passing the isolated house called Glyn on the map. There is not even a track that leads to it, just a footpath. Despite this it looked like it is still used, possibly as a holiday cottage. I wouldn’t turn it down as a weekend retreat.

I finally picked up a hard track to the top of Cyrn-y-Brain, bagged the summit and quickly picked up a path heading east. Although the views are extensive it is not a very pretty place and I was glad to have it behind me.

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The path led to a minor moorland road which I crossed before heading towards some disused quarry workings high above World’s End. They gave some sheep cropped grass amongst all the heather and bracken, along with shelter from the wind. Unfortunately there was not much in the way of flat ground.

It was the first time that I had used the Enan and was surprised at just how easy it was to pitch. It is pretty snug inside but still enough room without feeling claustrophobic. It was a warm and muggy night, the sound of light rain on the thin flysheet soothing me to sleep.

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It was a warm and humid morning, the remnants of the nights rain in the air when I woke up. The first thing that I heard was the unmistakable sound of a quad bike, quickly followed by another. It soon became apparent that I was in the middle of four farmers who were rounding up their sheep by quad and dog. My heart sank and I prepared myself for a bollocking. I heard one say to the other, “bloody hell there is a tent there, I only just spotted that”. I popped my head out and waved and got a wave back. I was asked if I could zip myself back in so that their dog did not go for me (it was sniffing around and had yet to spot me). One actually said, “sorry for disturbing you, we’ll soon be on our way”. I was then left alone once more. A bit of a surreal experience at 8am on a Sunday morning.

I quickly packed and was soon walking along the edge of the moor with great views back to World’s End.

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Narrow sheep paths led through thick vegetation to the rocky little top of Craig Arthur. Although only a small pimple on the hill it overlooks the limestone escarpment, giving a bit of drama, especially with thick clouds drifting past.

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It was a heathery bash to gain the summit of Ruabon Mountain itself, really just a dull moorland lump. Heading west then south brought a succession of paths high above Trevor rocks and looking out over Castell Dinas Bran. Holes were quickly being torn through the clouds revealing patches of blue skies. The light was superb and I found myself frequently lingering, trying to put off the last short walk back to the car.

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I had previously only given this part of Wales a cursory glance when driving along the A5 to Snowdonia. I think that I will have to stop more often to see what the area has to offer.