All good things happen for a reason right? Absolutely!
As I sit here on Saturday night writing this out (rock and roll!) I should be out in town celebrating with Wayne having a few birthday beers with him. As it turns out, after organising a night out Wayne announced he’s “off the pop” for a month! Never mind, a plan – rather than heading out – lets head to Yorkshire for a bit of a walk – and so a plan was formed….
We would drive to Horton-in-Ribblesdale after work on Friday, walk up Ingleborough by the power of torchlight and bivvy on the summit. Head back to Horton in the morning, drop off the bivvy & sleeping bag and then head up Pen-y-Ghent and back via Hull Pot. Sorted.
We set off from Nottingham at 4.30pm ish and parked up the van in Horton at around 8pm, faffed around for half hour packing / re-packing and eventually set off for Ingleborough summit.
Walking through Horton it was still and quiet with a few of the streetlights shining the way towards the train station where we would pass into the blackness of the night. To light the way, we were both using a Alpkit Muon (I picked up one for Wayne’s birthday and have had one for a while now for trusted dog walking duties). We soon passed the station & started the climb into the darkness, it was a crisp, clear still night. Not a single jot of wind around and when we stopped the silence was deafening. We moved slowly but with purpose up the mountain stopping every once in a while to admire the crystal clear skies that allowed us to see the millions of stars you do not see in a city (or most parts of the UK for that matter!)
Progress was slow but purposeful, the lights doing the perfect job of showing a few steps in front, occasionally you’d look to the side they would pick up the alien green eyed glint of the sheep staring back at you through darkness.
At around 11.30pm we reached the summit and had the whole mountain to ourselves – to think during weekends the peak is visited by literally hundreds completing their Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge and here we were – the only 2 people for miles having not passed a single soul on the way up.
We set up the bivi bags in the lee of the summit walls, got the stoves on the go and brewed up a delicious hot chocolate. At this point I was tinkering with my compact camera and was able to take a couple of shots to try and show the stars & moon with a 15s exposure.
As is passed midnight we settled into the bivvies in front of the wall (thank goodness for decent air mattresses inside the bivi for comfort!) just as the wind started to pick up – it was going to be a cold one!
As we lay in the bags looking upwards, we were well and truly blessed with the conditions and the timings. The Orionid meteor shower was putting on the most magical display above our heads in front of the greatest canvas money cant buy. I think I lay there for a hour just with my own thoughts until I was aware of a noise, Wayne had nodded off. Time for me to also get some shut eye. Who needs a 5 star hotel when you can have a 5 million star hotel for free…
We slept as well as we could in zero degree weather (the water in my bottle had ice inside) and were woken through the night with cold spots on our toes so had to wiggle them to get some blood flowing to warm us through.
7am and I was ready to rise, the view from my bag suggested the sun was not up yet but was starting to rise…
as was the cloud….
We struck camp and made porridge, by 8am the sun was up (not that we could see it) and we weren’t blessed with the same inversion we went to bed too. At around 8.10am we saw the first walkers on the day arrive on the summit.
Fuelled and now being joined by a steady stream of people, we headed back on the descent back to Horton so we can drop off the bivis in the van and to head to the café for our second breakfast of a full English!
The lower we got, the warmer it got and the layers were placed back in the bag. We saw a few people on the way down – much fewer however than if we’d have gone for Pen-y-Ghent 1st as for many this is traditionally the first peak to be walked.
The walk back was strange, we walked the same route as what we came up on but it was completely different. Walking with a headtorch means you only see a small selection of the landscape but by the cold light of day we got to see all the undulations, scars and puddles!
We were soon in the valley, past the train station and into Horton-In-Ribblesdale. We headed straight for the café and ordered a full English each (extra toast and crumpets too!) and enjoyed a lazy breakfast. We got to the café for around 10am. This meant we missed the scores of people off bagging the 3 peaks and could walk through Horton (and subsequently up pen-y-Ghent) un-hindered by the various parties.
Breakfast demolished, we walked back to the van, a quick freshen up and re-packing the bags (taking out the sleeping gear) and we were back out walking for 12.30pm. We yomped quick style up pen-y-Ghent only stopping for a single photos and to put my jacket on near the top.
The last 100ft or so is a great scramble up pen-y-Ghent – from the picture above you walk to the ridge line on the right hand side and go straight up, in places its incredibly steep its almost a climb!
As we reached the summit, the cloud rolled in – fortunately for us it did not hinder the view towards Ingleborough and you could also see the RIbblehead viaduct & Whernside in the distance (the last few times I have climbed this I have never had a view!)
The plan was to walk off via the other path and down the bridleway into Horton. We decided to detour slightly and take in Hull Pot – an old underground cave that has collapsed leaving a great scar in the landscape. On very wet weather days, the water flows right over the edge into the hole before disappearing underground into one of the many underground rivers and caverns.
And then we headed back to the bridleway and walked home on the most Yorkshire of Yorkshire lanes…
walking down this lane we passed a poor soul who was searching each rock / grass verge and puddle. His poor wife had put her car keys in her coat pocket without zipping it up. Along this somewhere she then tied said jacket around her waist, and yes, you guessed it, somewhere along here they went missing and we looking for them. (He had a friend bringing a spare set from wherever they lived but he was foolhardy looking). We looked on the way down but weren’t able to help – I wonder if he’s still there!
Back in the van the kettle was put on and a coffee and snack of noodles was had. Clothes changed, food eaten, coffee drank. We set off home.
So, would I rather be in town drinking right now? Not at all – we had the perfect microadventure!