Friday lunch time I was pondering what to do at the weekend, for once I had no firm plans or commitments – so what better than a spontaneous camping trip! The destination of choice – the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.
That evening Tom and I loaded up the car ready to head to Malham the next morning. We were up early and on the road in no time, making significant progress… Shortly after this, I realised I had left my bag (with ALL my kit) outside my front door -oops! So after a minor detour to pick it up we were off again! The rest of the journey went smoothly, and soon we had left the sunny skies of Sheffield for the far windier, greyer skies of Malham. Luckily after a bacon sandwich, this seemed to brighten up.
The plan of attack was to park at Gordale Scar and walk up to Stoney Bank for a bit of sport climbing. The approach to this climb has to be one of the coolest ones I have done yet. Gordale Scar was the inspiration for Rivendale in Lord of the Rings and walking through it; you can see why – I could totally imagine it being the location of elves and battles!
Once you walk round the corner of the valley, you are met with a fairly sizeable waterfall – little did I know this was included in the approach to our climb. In fact had I know I almost certainly would have worn a waterproof! The combination of the amount of rain we have had and the massive gusts of winds meant I was drenched by the time I had scrambled to the top – still, it was amazing fun. Unfortunately, in all this excitement, I may have only skimmed the guide book picking out a few routes but not spotting that there was a bird ban on at Stoney Bank (facepalm).
Scrambling up Gordale Scar:
We quickly made a new plan to head round to Malham Cove to climb! The slight setback didn’t matter at all, the weather had brightened up, and despite the high winds, it was lovely. We reached Comb Hill Crag just above Malham Cove with plenty of time and light left. Here is not quite a high as Malham Cove but has a real range of interesting routes. This was perfect for blowing away the cobwebs as I have not been sport climbing for a while. It was also great to be back on limestone – I enjoyed the crimpy holds and tiny ledges after all my practice smearing grit slabs in the peaks!
After a great afternoon climbing, we headed back to the car to look for somewhere to pitch the tent for the night. As it turned out there was a beautiful campsite at the foot of Gordale Scar that had plenty of room for us. Not only were the views stunning it worked out a bit of a bargain (£12 for two people and a car). There are a few quirks (slightly dated facilities), but I would recommend staying here if you are nearby and looking for somewhere to camp. After quickly pitching the tent we headed to Settle for dinner. By the time we arrived we were both starving so headed straight into a friendly looking pub, The Lion, and ordered the biggest thing on the menu – the Settle Pudding (tender braised beef with a suet lid). It did not disappoint, by the end of the meal I was stuffed.
Mucking around with the camera that evening:
The next day we were up early and raring to get out on the mountain bikes. The previous night I had downloaded a few free routes from ViewRanger to choose from. We picked out a 20km ride that looped around Langcliffe Scar. This turned out to be a fun route with some great views – it was not quite as technical as I had hoped for but the riding was fast and fun. The start out of Settle onto the Pennine Bridleway is pretty steep and certainly woke me up! Any further sleepiness was soon eradicated when I landed face first in a massive muddy puddle after slightly misjudging its depth!! The rest of the ride consisted of fast limestone tracks and a massive headwind – I was surprised I was not blow off my bike. We returned to Settle in one piece in time for some tea and cake at the Singing Kettle before heading back to Sheffield to start a busy week.