A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Two Out Of Three Peaks

When you are at the summit all directions are down but only one way will take you to your destination. This may be compared to someone standing on the North polar icecap; all directions are South but if you move in the direction you are facing you may finish up in Siberia while if you do an about turn you may end up in Canada. When descending we no longer have the strong directional aid which we had during our ascent. This, coupled with the relaxation following the achievement of reaching the top, often takes us off guard which accounts for many getting lost on the way down and often finishing on the wrong side of the mountain and many miles from their intended destination. (From Land Navigation: Routefinding with Map and Compass by Wally Keay.)

This is very true. I remember one hazy spring morning in April 1987 coming off Skiddaw quite unintentionally by a route (initially on shifting scree) that funnelled down to Tongues Beck and lonely Slades Beck and finally deposited you in Millbeck hamlet. It didn't matter in the end - but I thought for a while I was going towards Carl Side, rather more points north. And one foggy day in September 2003 I headed off Ingleborough in the absolute opposite direction to the one I'd planned - north-east on the Chapel-le-Dale path rather than south-west to Ingleton via Crina Bottom. It was only when I saw a distant Ribblehead Viaduct emerge from the mist that I realised my mistake. All this because I was simply too lazy to look at map and compass. Never mind, I had a fab if somewhat longer walk back to my Clapham starting point along an old Roman road beneath Twisleton Scars... I revisted Ingleborough on a fine warm day in early June this year because I wanted to see an unveiled view from the top for the first time. I was camping at High Laning Caravan and Camping Park in Dent. This campsite is usually busy at weekends and holiday times, but when I was there it was unbelievably quiet. I walked straight from the site down one of the narrow roads which connect gorgeous Dentdale with the outside world. A bridleway contours round Whernside's flank; then a path, intermittently flagged, leads directly up to the Whernside ridge. I ate an early lunch at the top, sheltering from the wind behind a convenient stone wall; switchbacked down into the valley and steeply up to a sun-kissed Ingleborough; then across to Horton through Sulber Nick over a mosaic of limestone pavements. From Horton, after refreshments at the Crown Hotel, I took a train on the Settle-Carlisle railway line back to Dent Station (still a 4 mile walk back to Dent Village from here!). Oh, and the view from Ingleborough? Terrific!

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