Monday, 28 November 2011


Whernside from Bleamoor Sidings
Force Gill Aqueduct

Force Gill Aqueduct.  Ingleborough in the distance
It wasn’t supposed to be cold, wet and windy.  The forecast was for sun and a bit of a breeze. As we drove from Richmond, through Redmire and Hawes, the weather was lovely.  But as we left Hawes and approached the Ribblehead Viaduct, the weather turned.  The blue sky went black, the sun hid, the wind made the car feel like it had dropped a gear and the rain hammered the windowscreen.  All I could think was “That’s mean!” 

We parked near the viaduct and went to the back of the car to get our boots.  OH MY GOD!  (Except I’m not religious.) How cold was that wind?  The extra clothes we didn't need but dropped into the boot anyway,  were suddenly very, very necessary.  I ended up in 5 layers and 3 hats.  Waterproof trousers and ski gloves were donned.  It was so cold. 

Nameless tarn on the slopes of Whernside

A view from ridge up to Whernside Trig Point

The Ribblehead Viaduct from Whernside
Ribblehead Viaduct from Bruntscar
Darkness Descending on Ribblehead Viaduct
Commemorative plaque, from the Geograph Website.
 © Copyright Steve Partridge and licensed for
reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.  
Once dressed for the weather we started walking.  The rain came at us sideways - ice needles against the face.  After 100 yards I looked at Peter and asked.  “Are we really gonna do this?”  “Yep,” he sez “we’re here now”.   So, head down, off we went.

Now I have to be honest, I was looking forward to this walk.  Not because going up Whernside would mean I’d completed all three peaks, but because of the Ribblehead Viaduct.  I have always been fascinated by it, and wanted to get up close.  So now, here we were, walking alongside it, but the weather was so bad I couldn’t lift my head to look.  Very disappointing.  Peter pointed out that we would pass it on the way back, but remembered it would be dark.  I was quite disheartened.

Then, as suddenly as it started, the wind and rain stopped and the sun appeared.  It was just lovely.  We weren’t far into the walk, only at Blea Moor station house, and now we could get the cameras out. Unzipping coats and removing gloves, the walk became a pleasant experience.

From the station house, we went on to the Aqueduct, which I wanted to see and found interesting, and then the start of the climb to the top of Whernside.  Lots of lovely things to see, such as Force Gill waterfall, in full flow due to all the recent rain, a tarn with no name and the fantastic views from the walk along the top.

And as for the weather? It was like a teenage girl getting ready for her first date.  It couldn’t settle on anything.  The sun came out, and then disappeared.  The sky was clear, then full of black clouds.  The rain disappeared over the horizon and then came back suddenly, all cold and hard.  

And the wind.........?  Well the wind was usually trying to blow us over, and almost succeeding sometimes.  But then, just to be contrary, it disappeared entirely?  Trying to walk up hill with the wind against you makes an easy slope hard work.  Taking our gloves off meant that our hands started to feel frozen within minutes.   Every so often you felt a gust nearly knock you over.  It was exhilarating.  And cold!
So we got to the top of Whernside, ate a cold Cornish pasty with gloved hands, enjoyed the glorious views and then made the descent.  We knew we would have to get a move on, because it would be dark by four o’clock.  

We kept getting closer and closer to the viaduct, and I kept taking more pictures.  Finally we were there, and it wasn’t raining, or blowing a gale and I could have a good, but hurried look, because it was really getting dark.  An amazing piece of architecture I reckon, and I especially like the commemorative plaque beneath.  Eloquent.   
Our route
Despite the weather, it was a good walk and an interesting day.  I think I might like to do that one again sometime.  But perhaps in better weather 


  1. We were in the same neck of the woods (Pen-Y-Ghent, Sunday) and the weather was ...... interesting! I'll blog about it when I get chance.

    Glad to hear that you managed to make something of it, though. It's nice to get that sense of achievement - and huddle somewhere warm and dry afterwards!