Wilful Wensleydale Wandering

31 01 2013

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!

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We’re not standing on anything! (Richard’s photo, I was too busy stressing)

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…

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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).

Buttertubs Second Hole

Buttertubs Chasms

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…

Buttertubs Hole & Pass

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…

Lit Grass, Buttertubs Pass
My manual film shot (above) Richard’s auto-digital shot (below)
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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.

Hardraw Force & Pool

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!

Hardraw Force from our Trespass

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.

Hardraw Force from Above
Top of Waterfall and Ravine

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From Across the Girder

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Richard pointed his camera over the drop

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!

Amorous Couple Rescued!


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25 responses

14 01 2014
7 02 2013
this is lemonade

Hmmmm you don’t seem to be much of a coward to me. At least not since the last time I checked the definition of the word in the dictionary… sound like really interesting places. I have so many places yet to explore! Thanks for the tour, I’d never have dared go near those holes!

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7 02 2013
mountaincoward

Well the most daring photos are taken by my braver (dafter) friend! 😉 And i wouldn’t have gone in those enclosures if I’d known new holes were appearing, that’s for sure! 😮

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5 02 2013
Dan Hudson (aka icemandan)

I think if I went to Hardraw Force as part of a pub crawl, I’d probably need the loo there.

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4 02 2013
Paul Shorrock

Great post Carol. Like SP I spent a good bit of my youth caving in Yorkshire, and at one point we used the Green Dragon as a base for our club – a drive out to the Buttertubs was a popular trip on a non-caving day!

I think the ‘pub-crawl’ idea is great – Richard is to be congratulated 🙂

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5 02 2013
mountaincoward

I told Richard all the guys would love his idea for a birthday present! 😉

I’m surprised you and SP don’t know each other if you were both in caving clubs down the same holes under the ground at around the same time! Or do you?

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5 02 2013
Paul Shorrock

Hahaha …. In our earlier years, SP and I have probably seen each other “across a crowded room” or more accurately in the chaotic boozy nights that were the Hill Inn or half a dozen other Dales pubs!

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4 02 2013
Susie

Apparently stage one of next year’s Tour de France will ride over the Buttertubs Pass so they obviously think it’ll hold up for another 18 months at least!

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5 02 2013
mountaincoward

After seeing that new hole opening up I’m not so sure it will! 😮 They’ll just have to go super-fast! Are they going from Wensleydale to Swaledale (i.e. downhill) or t’other way?

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7 02 2013
Susie

It’s counts as a mountain stage so there must be a fair bit of uphill.The stage leaves from Leeds and goes out through Otley, Ilkley and Skipton up north and then loops round easterly then back southward to End in Harrogate. My Yorkshire Dales geography is not strong but I think that makes it what say is the downhill way?

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7 02 2013
7 02 2013
mountaincoward

Hi Susie, that will be a hard mountain stage as it’s a very high pass through the hills – only just short of the top of them. That’s why it was so frosty up there when we visited – it was a lot warmer down in the valleys. Sounds like they’ll be going uphill over the bad bit as The Buttertubs are on the north side of the pass heading down towards Swaledale.

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3 02 2013
McEff

I once pushed a bike laden with camping gear over the Buttertubs pass. I’d like to say it was a happy memory but it isn’t. The pub crawl sounds much more enjoyable.

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5 02 2013
mountaincoward

I once pushed a fully laden pedal bike all the way from Attadale (western Scotland) to the top of the hill on the way to Bendronaig Bothy – about 3 miles up a 1000 feet or so of steep and stony track – don’t think I’d bother with the bike next time, I’ll just walk in!

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1 02 2013
fedupofuserids

The Buttertubs look interesting but Hardraw Force seems a bit of a let down, I suppose it would be more impressive after heavy rain ?

More importantly which pub kept the best pint ?

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5 02 2013
mountaincoward

I can’t say which pub kept the best pint, I’d have to ask Richard that… But I know who does great food and that’s my old favourite, The Maypole at Long Preston – unfortunately, the ‘to lease’ boards are up on that pub and the landlord leaves in March. As no-one has showed any interest in the last 2 years in leasing it, it looks like it may close

It had been quite wet weather before we visited Hardraw and I expected to see a lot more water in it. I think I have seen photos where it looks better than that though…

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1 02 2013
smackedpentax

Excellent post – enjoyed it immensely. Buttertubs pass is a superb road and at the bottom of ‘the Tubs’ is Crackpot cave which is the resurgence for the water – a superb trip! Didn’t see Kevin Costner at Hardraw then? – he filmed bits of Robin Hood there and at Aysgarth Falls where he fought Little John and got wet (the lady at the tourist office said he insisted having hot water piped into the pools in the falls to warm up the cold Yorkshire water)…Wuss!

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1 02 2013
mountaincoward

Maybe he’s the one who went through that new crevasse! 😉 I think they’ll be trying to keep Buttertubs quiet nowadays with the state of the collapsing ground – seriously scary place! I’ve heard of Crackpot Cave but didn’t know it connected to Buttertubs.

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31 01 2013
bob

Never Been to Buttertubs. Looks a nice area. Some lovely photographs Carol. I really like the one with the grass looking like glass with the light pouring through it. Always try for that effect myself. Rarely capture it though.

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1 02 2013
mountaincoward

I’d class Buttertubs as very interesting but very scary – I don’t intend to go near the place again after seeing all that collapsing ground – I think the road is going to end up down the hole pretty soon and i don’t want to be on it when it goes! 😮

Neither camera really captured what we saw with the sunlight pouring through the grass but I personally think my camera came nearest 🙂

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31 01 2013
Janice

Great read! i was at Buttertubs last year in August and it was wet and freezing then! Also I am envious of your off piste exploits at Hardraw. Recently found your blog and enjoyed reading about Skye and Arran. I know some real mountain cowards if you would like to meet one!

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1 02 2013
mountaincoward

What? you mean there are other mountain cowards out there? I do quite often join forces with other ‘waverers’ on the hills and we infuse each other with more confidence! 😉

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31 01 2013
johndburns

Wow those are some serious holes, someone should put a fence round them. Congratulations you are now officially “unwary.” (Only slightly dissapointed that the post wasn’t about cheese.)

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31 01 2013
mountaincoward

Yeah I suppose we shouldn’t really cross fences which are put up for our own protection – I didn’t realise how much the ground was collapsing though, I just thought they were there in case anyone fell down the obvious main holes!

I love Wensleydale cheese best of all cheeses – it’s wonderful stuff

By the way, Richard is asking if you used to work at Dunlops near Birmingham as he used to work with a John D Burns there?

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1 02 2013
johndburns

Never worked at dunlops sorry, must be soem other bloke using my name.

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