Whelp Stone Crag - SD 759 591 - 371m.
THE GLORIOUS TWELFTH? Perhaps my worst walk ever?
I can't allow qualification for the absolute worst - I would have to think about that, but today not the worst because the prime objective was a little gem.
Nearing completion of OS Sheet 91 trigs I have now identified those on 103 - this is the first. I had to visit the dentist in Kirkby Lonsdale and this little crag has been on my to do list for a few years.
I set off walking at 11:20 having plotted a circular walk taking in what looked like pleasant footpaths following Bottoms Beck back towards its source.
The footpath from Whelp Stone Lodge was hardly visible and over moderately rough ground, but it was only a short distance to the splendid summit and trig of Whelp Stone Crag - the last high point (with both meanings) of the day. In particular there is a panoramic view taking in all the Yorkshire Three Peaks (Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent) when one so often only sees one or two.
The descent, after thrashing through a field of tall reeds, took me into Gisburn Forest. Here I met three mountain bikers mending a chain. GPS told me the well made footpath was my intended one and happy to be on such a good surface I marched on for quarter of an hour. Then looking at the map and GPS I found I was in the middle of nowhere. It seems Gisburn Forest has been laced with purpose made mountain bike tracks with deliberate snaky bends and banking on the outer edges. As this was dawning on me a couple of mountain bikers came flying towards me and it was difficult to get out of the way and I realised I shouldn't really be there, after all one wouldn't walk round Brands Hatch when the racing was on. I had no idea where the track was leading but had no alternative but to press on.
I was beyond the point of no return.
I emerged on a proper forest road about a kilometre from the path I should have been on which arrives at Hindley Head (see map) so by now I was frustrated and in for a longer walk than planned.
At Hindley Head I passed some guys unloading a monster tree felling machine and then missed a footpath turning to the left walking on a few hundred yards before returning - the footpath departure was not obvious from the forest road. After another check ten minutes in I found I was again off the path marked on my map and spent another twenty minutes backtracking to find again anther non-obvious path branching off. After two hundred yards the whole forest was blocked by trees fallen in all directions.
I was becoming irritated and then telling myself to be resourceful and to rise to meet the challenge, something I have previously itemised as part of the "enjoyment."
Perilously I descended a very steep banking clinging onto and climbing over fallen trees to arrive at a stream. I followed this through waist high vegetation with indecision about which side of a wall to be on and more backtracking to eventually arrive at the path shown on the map skirting the edge of the forest. After three hundred yards this substantial track, not marked on the map, veered off east into the forest. My path, as marked was non-exsistent despite GPS telling me I was exactly on it. This absence of path on the ground continued for most of the rest of this walk and despite wandering back and forth and identifying my supposed location on the path with GPS I never found it. I was following Bottoms Beck but on a steep hillside of waist high reeds, huge tussocky grass and the stumps and branches of long ago felled trees half hidden in this melange of almost un-walkable terrain. Because the OS marked path was higher up the hillside I kept ascending steeply to try and find it and then descending again because lower down the terrain was marginally less formidable. There was nearly two kilometres of this stuff and my speed over the ground was hardly measurable, and distance more than apparent looking at the map..
Back home I measured as best I could the route I thought I had followed - 7.09 miles and 6.5 hours (including about ten minutes sandwich break) equals 1.09 MPH.
Near Fair Hill (marked on the map) I picked up a forest road and then a path leading me back over Whelp Stone Crag, and now weary and disillusioned, and much later in the day than I had intended I managed to take the path leading to Brayshaw rather than Whelp Stone Lodge adding a bit more to this unenjoyable walk. Without the gem of Whelp Stone Crag itself I would certainly put this in a list of say the ten worst walks ever.
|Whelp Stone Lodge - starting point|
|First view of Whelp Stone Crag. I diverted to investigate outcrop right of centre - it was not very interesting, thren I climbed onto and followed the ridge to the trig|
|The Yorkshire Three Peaks on the horizon|
|Back to Whelp Stone Crag just before I entered the forest|
|Tree fellers just arrived. Just beyond here I missed the path off to the left walking on, and then backtracking|