We couldn’t have had more luck last week as the sun chased away all of the clouds and rewarded us with two beautiful days in the Yorkshire Dales. An unusual group: a mixture of the usual suspects and some ‘long lost’ individuals and new faces, we filled the Bullpot farm caving hut and maxed out on sunshine hours.
Saturday most of the group decided to join the “epic death bimble” option. The weather forecast was convinced that it was supposed to be the less enjoyable day, and these long walks always offer plenty of time for catching up. Plus, so many of us are out of the climbing scene these days that two days of back-to-back trad climbing would have been a real challenge. The death bimble was a 25 kilometre loop topping two of the Yorkshire Dales’ three peaks, Ingleborough and Whernside.
The walk brought back several memories for many of us: we had done both peaks separately on a weekend in February 2012 when we led a club trip to the region. Knee deep snow made that weekend exciting, and we reminisced about teaching navigation skills, practicing first aid responses and countless snowball fights. It was quite a change to see it all in the sun, snow melted, revealing the uneven rocks and formations underneath. As the dogs ran in circles around the group and sheep hid behind boulders suspiciously, we enjoyed the view.
The top of Ingleborough is surprisingly flat, the tallest point being either the wind-breaker construction or the triangulation marker which (as usual) we climbed as proof of our summit success. The panoramic views were stunning, although also showed us how far we had still to go. This only became a problem once we had scrambled down the steeper northern path down and had summited Whernside. The path down (heading west) was a long, long plod and stretched out endlessly in front of us. Motivation waned as clouds appeared in the distance and we realised with foreboding that we still had a long return journey ahead of us.
It was not surprising that everyone was well tuckered out after the walk, but we found the energy for a group meal, celebratory tea, and later, endless exclamations as the weather changed and it began to snow. I think I was once again the most excited by the weather phenomenon, and I went outside to enjoy the big, wet, flakes. The next day more people appreciated the snow covered hills- sparkling in the morning sunshine it looked absolutely breath-taking.
We decided on spending the day the Hutton Crags and were soon blessed with even more brilliant sunshine. From the crag you had the views both towards the Dales and the Lakes, both covered in (quickly melting) snow. Some of us relaxed at the bottom of the crag and enjoyed the view, others climbed routes of varying difficulty, and some did a combination. A naughty dog stole my lunch (and shocked us all, cheeky thing!) and I scrambled around on the rocks snapping photos. My accomplishment was that these climbs were my first outdoor climbs of the year- I top-roped both official routes, but had fun none the less!
When I arrived back in a warm house that afternoon, having slept nearly the entire car journey, I was still exhausted. But it was the best kind of exhausted- the one where no matter how tired you feel and look, there is still a smile permanently on your lips.