Keep safe!

Keep safe!
You are responsible for your own safety and that of your dog. The walks listed in this blog are not detailed guides. Plan your route! Click the landrover image for safety advice from Bowland Pennine MRT.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pen-y-ghent and Plover Hill from Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Almost 30 years ago I walked most of the Pennine Way on a family holiday with mum, dad and one of my brothers. I say most because we did a cut down version to fit in to our 2 week holiday. Our trip that year started at the bridge over the M62 and (I think) ended around Housteads Fort at Hadrian's Wall. We did though walk between the two, which I was quite impressed with at the time. They say though that you always remember the sins of your youth and one of my memories is "not being bothered" whether we walked to the top of Pen-y-ghent or descended to what was probably an overnight stay in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Now, may years later I have to some extent made up for that omission and finally reached the top of what must be one of the most famous peaks in England.

It was thanks to Dave Brown (@KidstyPike) and his Wainwright Wanderings website that I ended up in the Dales on this particular day. Having tweeted to say I would be doing one of the many walks on his website this weekend I felt almost obliged to make sure I kept to my word rather than take the easy option of a short trip to the West Pennines, so thanks Dave for that.

Our route began at the car park at Horton-in-Ribblesdale were we followed the well signed bridleway out of the village and along a short stretch of quiet road before making our way out on to more open land. There were loads of sheep around so it was dog-on-lead as we followed the well trodden path up towards the limestone scars which crossed our route. It pays to be prepared on walks such as this and the flexi-lead was soon out of the rucksack to made the short scrambles a little easier!

The final stretch up to the summit is an easy scramble but could be awkward if your dog isn't used to the rougher aspects of the great outdoors. Small dogs in particular might need an occasional bunk up the limestone steps! The summit itself was packed with around 40 walkers, 10 dogs and a steady stream of cyclists participating in a 3 Peaks race. Undeterred we joined them up against a wall which provided a bit of shelter whilst I (I mean we) tucked in to sausage roll with apple sauce.

Well fed and watered we walked where Dave had not had time in the walk that inspired our visit, following the deserted and boggy path towards Plover Hill. With no sheep in sight the dog enjoyed a mile or two of off-lead walking before we reached the most difficult obstacle of our route, a 6 foot wooden stile. Our walks on Pendle Hill have perfected our approach to such stiles, dog lifted up, big strong wait command, both perched on top, me down, dog lifted down.....not fun with a muddy dog and a slightly dodgy back. This route is definitely not an option if you cannot cope with stiles like this as another followed 5 minutes later!

A steep descent followed with dog back on lead over the grouse moors followed by a couple of miles of very pleasant walking along a bridleway towards the impressive gaping chasm of Hull Pot. From there, our descent was easy, following the bridleway back down to Horton. Happily, the Pen-y-ghent Cafe serves tea and cake which I (we) thoroughly enjoyed. Happy but tired, it was back to the car for the hour or so trip home.

Although we really enjoyed this walk it won't be for everyone. If you can't lift your dog to shoulder height, perch on a stile with him and lift him down again (twice) then don't continue to Plover Hill. If you or your dog have trouble with scrambles then choose another walk altogether - there are plenty of lower level great walks to choose from around here.

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