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Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Dales High Way - The Return, August 2016, Day 5

Sunday 21st August 2016 - Stainforth to Ribbleshead
Distance:   11.5miles
Weather:   Overcast with signs of a blue sky at last but with scattered showers

I had an excellent breakfast of scrambled egg and salmon - a treat for the weather weary walker.  I met the fellow guest who was from Warwick and was heading up Ingleborough today.  My excellent breakfast was enjoyed in a delightful conservatory overlooking a beautiful walled garden - so civilised. 

Mrs C arrived and we were on the trail by half past ten.  She was to be my companion for the last four days of the walk.  We walked back over the damaged packhorse bridge had a quick look at the Force and re-joined the Dales High Way at Little Stainforth.  We were on our way to Smearset Scar which is another limestone delight.  We were in Feizor  as quick as you can say "a pot of tea and a slice of cake please" and soon enjoying those refreshments at the Feizor Tea rooms which we visited last time.  We had just finished our tea and cake when Co-op Alan appeared followed by his fellow Liverpudlian walkers.  There were introductions all round and best wishes for the day and then we went our separate ways.  We were now heading for Crummack via the pretty hamlet of Thwaite.  It was lovely walking with meadows, stone walls, woodlands, hedges full of rowan trees loaded with berries and wildflowers including thistle and cranesbill.  We crossed Austwick Beck via the Wash Dub Field bridge. 

Just before Crummack we were looking for a footpath to set us off on the alternative low level route to Ribbleshead via Selside avoiding Ingleborough (we climbed Ingleborough on our last trip).  This alternative route was fabulous:  on the left, Ingleborough brooding and its top hidden by low cloud, and on the right and ahead, acres of limestone pavements, crags and scars.  Crummack Dale nestled below us  and beyond, Pen-y-gent also brooded under its usual mantle of cloud.  We stopped for lunch by Sulber Gate and had time to enjoy the amazing views and what a fantastic spot this was to appreciate the limestone dales in all their geological glory.  We also spotted the Bronze Age stone wall mentioned in the guide book. 

Soon we were descending to Selside through sheep filled meadows where we startled a hare which tore off down the field ahead of us.  We passed the sign for Alum Pot which warned us we needed to pay 50p for the pleasure of entering the pot hole.  At Selside we saw a neat row of railway cottages and we crossed the Settle-Carlisle railway line with no trains within sight or hearing.  A bit of hair raising road walking and then we found the path rising over the fields towards more limestone crags.  At Colt Park we descended again to the road for another half a mile of road walking.  The traffic was light but it was fast and furious and there was not a lot of verge in places to escape the hurtling cars.  It was a relief to see the welcoming lights of the Station Inn and, more importantly, to see at last the grandeur and immenseness of the Ribblehead Viaduct.

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