Leader : Ken Adair Distance : 8.5 miles.
Thirteen was the unlucky Baker’s Dozen of members who turned up at the EDW for Ken’s stroll around Arkengarthdale on a lovely Saturday morning. What to do? The choices were not good, it was either to shoot one member in Darlington or wait until we arrived at the CB Inn and hope others would arrive to rid us of the number 13.
The latter was the chosen option and as luck would have it we were saved from decision making when two more of our colleagues arrived on time. Which was more than could be said for your humble scribe who true to form managed to get lost en route with his two, very understanding, lady passengers more Brownie points lost dammit. However once united our gang set off from the environs of the famous Inn (more of which later) to explore the sometimes forgotten gem of the Dales; Arkengarthdale. Reputedly named after Arkil the 11th Century Norse Chieftain it is the most Northerly of the Dales and eventually will lead you to England’s highest hostelry, Tan Hill. But I digress.
From the little tarmac road we descended some 100feet or so to catch up with Arkle Beck bubbling along in its own merry way to eventually conjoin with its parent the Wharfe at nearby Grinton. The riverside walk was delightful although a number of eccentric stiles had to be negotiated on the way. Ere long we reached the little hamlet of Whaw where a lovely spot in the lea of the old road bridge provided the perfect place for elevenses. When searching for the origin of the name WHAW the following popped up. ˜World Homeopathy Awareness Week’ now that’s really interesting!! But with appetites sated and thirsts quenched we crossed the little bridge and headed off and upwards onto the open stretches of Whaw Moor with its beautiful bleak landscape scarred only in places by the remnants of the once busy and profitable lead mines. After almost an hour of gentle but steady climbing along rock strewn paths we reached the highest point of the day at just about 1900ft, a climb of some 0900 feet from Whaw. To be honest we were just a little higher than scheduled due to a slight route deviation, the discovery of which thankfully prevented us from eventually ending up at Little Punchard or even beyond..
Soon though we were back on piste and this achievement signalled a celebratory halt for lunch on a sheltered grassy bank adjacent scree spoils from one of the aforementioned mines.
Rested we moved on and the beautiful views in front of us seemed to indicate that the only way from now on was down. So we headed along distinct and indistinct tracks until we reached the little saddle where the Reeth High & Low moors converge and we commenced what was to be a slightly tricky steep descent along the banks of Fore Gill. Despite some interesting gymnastics performed by some of our geriatric members we all survived the 400ft drop and paused for a short while at the bottom to regain our equilibrium. Moving on we crossed the road up the dale again and headed down to re-join our erstwhile companion, Arkle Beck. A fleeting skirmish with Arkle Town then on to Langthwaite, the largest settlement in the dale and the one time central repository for all the explosives used in he adjacent mines. The Red Lion was bustling and inviting but alas we had more trails to follow before we could have glass in hand- but we were nearly there. A slight sting in the tail confronted us as we tramped over grass covered slopes, our progress interrupted on occasions by perspiring athletes of vastly differing ages all charging for glory towards the finish line at the village fete being held below.
We crossed the old bridge adjacent Scar House which was built as a shooting lodge in 1845 and paused a while to admire parts of its lovely gardens. A final push from here saw us on the Dales road again and very soon we were enjoying our liquid prizes for completing the course, outside the famous CB Inn.
The Inn is named after Sir Charles Bathhust, 1st Viscount Bledislowe. A British Conservative politician and one time Governor General of New Zealand whose family firm the CB Company, formed in 1656, dominated the lead mining activities in the dale until the slump in the price of lead forced its closure in 1911. An interesting end to an interesting and quite delightful walk.