Sat 12 Jan 2013
Me and Richard behaving badly in Wensleydale! Mind you, when you read the link at the foot of the post, we weren’t behaving anything like as badly as the couple in the news article at the end of this post who were in the same area – we missed it unfortunately!
It was Richard’s birthday in January and, as he is a bit of a ‘guy-who-has-everything’, I didn’t know what to get him so asked him for suggestions. His suggestion will probably be a popular one amongst guys reading this site – he said he wanted a pub crawl!
For those who are into ‘real ales’ (beer made and kept properly) this is a list of his essential pubs on our 100 mile pub crawl in the northern Dales:
Royal Oak Inn at Dacre Banks, Drovers Inn at Dallowgill, The Bruce Arms at Masham (while I was eating lovely cakes in a cafe), Coverbridge Inn at East Witton, The Three Horseshoes at Wensley, The Fox & Hounds at West Witton, The Green Dragon at Hardraw, Helwith Bridge Inn and finally, for our tea, The Maypole in Long Preston. I was feeling excessively ill with my stomach all day due to the severe cold so only went in the Wensley, Hardraw, helwith Bridge and The Maypole pubs. The speed Richard downs his drink meant I wouldn’t have even started mine so I just stayed in the car for most of them while he rushed in and out.
Our first touristy stop was over the Buttertubs Pass to Swaledale as I wanted to see ‘The Buttertubs’. As we drove over the pass, we could see no sign of them and, on the way down to Swaledale, decided to turn round in a convenient layby and go back to Hardraw. I noticed when I stopped the car that there were fences just over the wall and asked Richard to go and see why. The next minute he was calling me to get out and look – we had inadvertently found them!
I thought I wouldn’t be long so foolishly didn’t put a coat on – as we were near the summit of the pass and it was icy and with a very cold windchill, I ended up making my poor cold stomach much worse.
Now, the fences were obviously to keep folks out but neither Richard nor I generally take much notice of such things as you are generally too far away to get decent photos so we both clambered over the first fence – I noticed it didn’t have much of a hold in the ground and was swaying badly – I was soon wishing I hadn’t clambered over… As well as the icy ground, I noticed a new chasm was opening up just before the main Buttertub – there was even a sunken footprint right on the edge of it showing how hollow and ready to collapse the ground we were standing on was! I was absolutely horrified as, peering into the darkness, I was looking down an apparently bottomless rift!
Of course, we still weren’t near enough for decent photos so we cautiously carried on towards the huge hole ahead – actually, Richard wasn’t being cautious as he doesn’t really have much of a sense of danger. Anyway, these are the photos of the first hole with the little waterfall plunging into it – the photos had to be taken into the light so they aren’t great – as Richard’s digital handled these better than mine, and as he dared get nearer and lean over the hole more, the first photos are his…
I then crept back past the newly-opening void and clambered back over the swaying fence. There is another set of chasms, fortunately more stable ones, in another fenced enclosure which we clambered over to next and took more photos. Apart from the risk of slipping on the icy and wet limestone, these didn’t bother me as much and mostly didn’t look as deep (my photos now).
It was a bit unnerving to see that the road was passing over the top of the collapsing area though! Also, judging by the red barrier, a motorcyclist or similar had obviously gone through the road fence and down the huge drop off the side! I found the whole area pretty unsettling and was glad to leave – I was also frozen to the bone by this time…
We were glad to get back into the car and drive back up over the pass. On the way down the other side, the sun was now so low it was shining through the spiky grass and the fence wire and turning them into a golden sheen. Although it was pretty good to the eyes, neither my manual film camera, nor Richard’s ‘point-and-shoot’ digital made a good job of the photo. I’ll put them both in so you can see the difference though – the digital one is the second one which looks to have auto-averaged out the light and made it pretty bland. Mine is either under-exposed or more contrast than the camera/film could handle – not sure which – click on it for full resolution though…
We then headed off to the pub at Hardraw which is the entrance to Hardraw Force – the pub has to be passed through as they collect a fee of £2 to visit the fall. We paid our money and set off along the track, expecting a spectacular fall and a nice walk. As soon as we passed around the corner, there was the fall – already – and it didn’t look very spectacular to me! Its main claim to fame is that it is apparently the highest single-drop waterfall in England, having a 100 foot uninterrupted drop.
After we’d taken quite a few photos, me having to just put my camera down onto its lowest settings (so I should have used a tripod but don’t have one) as the light-meter said there was no discernible light at all, we noticed there was a path on the other side of the river. Richard said all the bridges to it were closed off. We decided, however, that as we’d paid £2 for the privilege of such a short walk and a non-spectacular fall, we’d go off on a little exploration/trespass.
We headed back to the first bridge and side-stepped all the keep out and danger notices and barriers and slithered over to the other bank. The bridge was lethal with moss and it was a good job there was a handrail or we’d have been flat on our bums!
The path went along the far bank and had, in several places, collapsed into the river – it was pretty low down at this point though so there was no real danger. At the end of the path I found an exciting looking set of very-collapsed steps up the steep side of the ravine and headed off up. It was pretty crumbly but there was enough rock embedded in the hillside to clamber our way up carefully – in places there were even rotting metal handrails – not attached to much mind!
We soon arrived at the top of the falls where I saw there were iron girders crossing the beck just near the top of the fall… I had to continue… Richard kept telling me off and reminding me I’d just had a year off due to multiple broken bones but I just ignored him. He refused to continue over the ‘bridge’ so unfortunately we had to find another route back.
We found that the original path had looped back away from the river at the top of the gorge so we followed that back. It was mossy, damp and slippery and, in places, the whole ravine side had tried to collapse but it wasn’t totally lethal – I think these things get closed more due to avoidance of being sued than real danger. We found another set of steps down to another bridge at the other end and these were still in good condition so we headed easily back to the pub for a drink and a warm just as darkness fell…
After our drink we headed back via Horton-in-Ribblesdale to home via our final two pubs. However, on that very afternoon, however, while we were pub-crawling and trespassing, a couple were doing this!