Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Wintry Swaledale - Muker, Keld and Crackpot Hall

The forecast for the weekend was brilliant, but due to both of us feeling under par, we couldn't take full advantage. But we did manage to get out for a Sunday afternoon meander of just over 6/12 miles.
This included paths we'd not walked before, gained a little bit of height, and wasn't too far a drive from home.  Perfect! And on a wonderfully sunny day in December, how could we go wrong?  A picture paints a thousand words, so here we go................

We decided we needed hats, gloves and layers as we set off from the car park in Muker.  Once we were all wrapped up, we took the left path out of the village to make our way up Kisdon Hill.

Swaledale east of Muker in the crisp clear sunlight  
Looking west towards Great Shunner Fell.  
The torrential rain of previous weeks made itself obvious as sheet ice across the paths and tracks.  Despite the sun of the last two days, frost and ice had not melted.  Making walking rather precarious sometimes.  Luckily, despite a few slippery waivers, neither of us actually landed on our behinds at any point.

The white of the frost was quite beautiful across the top of Kisdon Hill.
We never reached the peak of Kisdon, our path took us around the west side of the hill, heading north towards Keld.

Looking back to Great Shunner Fell
 The place names sound like something Tolkien thought up.  Below us, to our left, the little Skeb Skeaugh beck, and across the little valley, Angram, Crag Hall, Aygill and Thorns Green.
Sunlight and frost white.  Crag Hall on the left, the houses making up Greens on the right.
We made our way to the north slope of Kisdon Hill. Everything around us sparkled or glowed in the afternoon sun. 

Winter wonderland
Warm glow on frosty ground.  Looking over to Keld
Cold, crisp frosty shadow. 
At Birk Hill we turned left (west) to reach the footbridge across the Swale.  The slope down to the footbridge is quite steep and very icy!  I'm hoping the National Trust re-inforce the fence soon.  It only just held me up as I carefully picked out non slippy footing on the way down.
(I should also tell you that the first time Peter and I came here, it was a thick sheet of wet, slippery ice all the way down.  We never actual made a step, just slid, holding onto the fence with grim determination and using it to control the speed of our slide as well as prevent the thud of derriere on hard, packed, ice.  You could hear us laughing for miles.)
So for anyone else visiting in snowy, icy conditions, may I suggest crampons and an ice axe!
Definitely winter here. 
Over the footbridge is Catrake Force,  just above the point where East Gill meets the Swale. 

From there we turned East, following the track that would take us to Crackpot Hall.  
The frosty and noble looking lump of Kisdon Hill from the path above West Wood
The wonderfully dramatic slopes of upper Swaledale.  
As we approached Crackpot Hall, the sun was beginning to set and we didn't have much time.  But we decided to go see anyway.  First I nearly fell over this:
This landmark guards the track entrance to Crack Pot Hall. 
Before we reached Crackpot and Peter took these brilliant photographs.  I love the one looking along the the tumbledown wall of the ruined building into Swaledale. 

As we left this iconic site, the sun was just about set and the air beginning to cool, so we made quick work of the last stretch of the walk from Crackpot Hall to Muker.  Well, as quick as we could bearing in mind we had to negotiate the sheets of ice everywhere.  You can liken ice skipping to bog hopping.  You end up covering three times as much distance as you try to pick a route through the none slippy bits. (It's gonna be muddy when that lot melts.)

It was just dark when we got back. A wonderful afternoon and a really lovely walk.  Somewhere to visit again I think

Our route.