Archive for the ‘old school bunkhouse’ Tag

Winter on Whernside   12 comments

Twas the weekend before the weekend before Xmas and friends from across the country gathered in the Old School Bunkhouse for a weekend of walking and gluttony.

The weather has been pretty poor for the past few years we’ve been heading up here. We were hoping for a small slice of winter and despite reports that there was nothing like the feet of snow we’d had in lowly Herefordshire things looked promising when we got up early(ish) for a walk on the Saturday



Even more surprising was the fact the kids also got up early and wanted to climb a mountain. I was underlined on the virtual sheet of paper and therefore the nominated hike leader so I chose Whernside on account of the fact I’ve only been up once, on a dreadful day in my University days


The ground was frozen solid and the paths and roads were treacherously slippery. Not a great combination when you have the Dangerous Brothers in tow


The clouds rolled in but rather than deliver rain as is the norm on this weekend it sent us some rather nice cloud effects on a pretty much still day


The steep path onto the ridge was very icy with snow depth increasing as we climbed. A chance to stretch on my microspikes and perfect conditions to use them. I was glad I had them and rather smugly reached the ridge ahead of the rest of the floundering party


We stopped on the ridge to throw a few snowballs and look at the icicles


From there is a was splendid rise up onto the ridge in ever-deepening snow, all powdery and clean




As the summit approached the pace slowed primarily as the kids were having fun in the snow. No problem for me. I get as much pleasure out of seeing other people enjoy the mountains in winter as I do myself. Watching the DBs have fun was infectious and put a smile on everyone’s face. I have to say I was in a pretty damned good mood on this walk. The pressures of work seemed a lot further in the past than 24 hours



This photo didn’t come out as well as I’d hoped but if you look closely you can a snow-bow. Very pretty


The summit ridge was proper winter, icy cold and deep snow with a thin mist and vague hints of a blue sky above



Inevitably, snowballs were the order of the day!



The DBs and their dad spent ages playing in/with the snow while the rest of us headed down



Snowballs in action!



The walk down seemed snowier than the way up


It passes by the rather nice waterfalls on Force Gill. I wanted to take a closer look but I was alone in that thought and the ground looked seriously boggy. Another day


The fields on the way back were full of large pools of frozen standing water. Cue more fun for the DBs. Despite the fact the water was likely only a foot or so deep, it still made us edgy as they slid about and the ice made rather worrying deep cracking sounds. These things never worry the DBs though. Wellies and boots full of water is all part of the days fun



The plan was to be back at the bunkhouse for lunch and then head up Ingleborough in the afternoon. The walk and its snowy fun had taken longer than expected so we called it a day and focused on the gluttony aspect of the weekend


A nice picture of the Ribblehead viaduct to finish off.


Cracking 8 mile walk


Normal weather service was resumed for the rest of the weekend. Sunday was awful, low cloud, wind and heavy drizzle until just after it got dark when the skies miraculously cleared. Monday when we had to drive home was clear and sunny.

Still, another great weekend with one excellent walk and much fun and laughter. The Jones family were not too disappointed with the wet Sunday as on Tuesday we were heading off to…….


The First Post (of 2017) – Above and Below Ground in the Yorkshire Dales   8 comments

It’s Christmas time and rather than mistletoe and wine, for us its a bunkhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with our little troupe of friends from years gone by. The Old School Bunkhouse has been our home for the past 3 years and despite the fact the weather has been largely miserable, we love it. Well the adults do anyway. Some of the kids now think we should be staying somewhere more sophisticated (more shops, Starbucks etc and less spiders and damp) or even possibly abroad (Amsterdam was suggested, can you believe). Back in the real world this place does us fine, loads of space and huge kitchen make for a very convivial atmosphere

Well this year we actually had a reasonable forecast. In the event there was a great deal of cloud (apart from EWH who always walks around in his own deluded blue sky sunny interval) but it stayed dry and that’s the main thing

On the Saturday a small group tackled Ingleborough while others lazed and went shopping. This included my partners in crime The Dangerous Brothers. I’m an honorary DB, less for my love of danger and more due to my calamitous, clumsy nature that finds danger where no-one thought possible (benign beaches, avocados that sort of thing).


It was an atmospheric day as cloud swirled around the summits and gave us occasional glimpses above and through to sunnier skies above.



The climb up the steep slopes to the plateau were taxing and we’d hoped we’d break through the cloud as promised, but promise was all there was. Once we pushed up towards the top that was the last we saw of blue sky and the end of the photos



The summit was actually bitterly cold, highlighted by the fact that DB Jr had come out with only a T-Shirt under his cag. Cue the comical sight of him wearing ED’s fleece over the top. The size differential is on a cosmic scale. To his absolute credit he barely complained and seemed in chipper spirits the whole day. It was a harsh day and I was mightily impressed how the young ones coped with the inclement weather and longish walk for them

The evening was the usual mix of stories and cooking, treated this year to catering by TBF and her sous chefs ( a very fine shepherds pie). I joke many times about the fact we re-tell many old stories but these gatherings are so important to all of us. Thirty plus years of friendships has given a huge comfort of familiarity. We all do our own things or group together depending on how we feel with no animosity if people feel the need for some “me” time. There is lots of gentle ribbing and mickey taking but no offense is ever taken.We do have some more serious discussions safe in the knowledge that we are all of a similar mind and on the odd occasion we disagree its never taken to heart. I can’t imagine starting my Xmas break without this weekend or indeed any other time of year when we regularly get together

Anyway, back to the outdoor stuff. The Sunday needed something to get the kids engaged (walks are “boring”). We decided to take them caving (after some small scale play in the Runscar caves last year) and all the kids gave it a go. We took the very sensible decision to rent lamps and helmets (a bargain at only £3 each) and it proved a masterstroke – they give off way more light than your average head-torch. ED had done his research and found a small cave just outside Ingleton, Skirwith Cave. It was an old showcave but sounded accessible. After a short while searching the hillside for the entrance (a steep slide down a concrete pipe) we were in. What can I say but it was great, easy walking and loads of interesting features and flow stones. Alas I forgot my camera so if you pop over to ED’s blog, he has some excellent photos

That first cave was enough for most, the delights of cake and carols proving tempting. However the oldies and the Dangerous Brothers wanted more so we headed back to Great Douk Cave. I messed around in here many years ago with GM and ED and my memory was of  a fun but short expedition. It turns out my memory let me down as I had no recollection of just how long, varied and feature packed it was. I did take some photos but they are, as you can see, a bit crap.






Again ED has much better photos over on his blog.

There was flowstone, waterfalls, roof openings and crawls and of course the now legendary “Pumffrey Back-Passage” (last time we were in here, GM got very excited thinking he dug out a whole new cave network until he realised me and ED were standing there looking at him as he burrowed back into the main passage . The DB’s were in their absolute element and despite the cold loved every minute (as did the grown-ups, lets be honest). By the time we returned to the exit the day was fading and we’d had pretty much a full day of enjoyment. More to come next year please, plans are already afoot

Interestingly whilst my photos came out badly, the video worked fine, there vare some clips in the brief slide show at the end

Another awesome weekend to kick off what has become our annual “leave home and the Xmas chaos behind” winter trip. We said our goodbyes and headed off to Luton Airport for another two weeks of fun in the sun

And the Sun it did Shine…   4 comments

The annual pre-Xmas gathering at Ingleton and a car full of wellies and waterproofs. The past couple of years here whilst great fun have been appallingly wet and pretty miserable. Saturday looked well set to continue the trend. Gloomy skies and the threat of rain ever hanging in the air. We convinced the kids to go out with the promise of caves to explore (we neglected to tell them it was an hour’s walk away – very remiss)

Well some of the kids (and adults) love caves and we had a great couple of hours messing about (although some of the party were bored within 10 minutes and wandered off back). Runscar caves are great for kids, no big pot holes or loose rock and wet enough for the Dangerous Brothers. You can in fact walk through from top to bottom but we weren’t really equipped for that. We made a solemn promise to return in summer, hire some proper gear and have proper explore. An ideal activity for a gloomy Yorkshire day although the long walk back in increasingly heavy rain was wearisome by the end. A hearty chilli cooked by yours truly aided by his sous-chefs more than made up for it. Needless to say a grey and rainy day combined with caves was not camera friendly so no photographs

Rather astonishingly there was actually a small amount of blue sky the next day. Despite this (there was food to eat and carol concerts to attend) only myself and Uncle Fester were keen on a walk. TJS was not feeling too well so again he failed climb the iconic Ingleborough with us.




The further we walked the brighter the weather became. Forecast was for very heavy showers and they were clearly all around but we seemed to be in a sunny spell. The walk through the Limestone slopes was a pleasure and even the boggy swampy morass that is Humphrey Bottom is now easy seeing as they flagged the whole stretch.





The steep section up to the edge is also less of a chore and when we reached the top the low angled sunlight was majestic. It was turning into a mighty fine day





As we crested the summit the wind suddenly found it’s feet and roared its greeting from the edge overlooking Ingleton. Not a day for stopping so we waved at the sun, congratulated ourselves on our grand fortune of a day of sun in this most miserable of winters and headed down.




UF wanted a quick retreat but the day was too good to waste. I went on alone along the path that skirts the edges. Its a superb route, airy with grand views over the valley and across to Whernside and Ribblehead. In my younger days I always followed the broad, boggy path up the middle of the “ridge”. Finding this path has been a real revelation.



I was worried that going off piste to get back to the bunkhouse would be tiresome and boggy but it was easy and dry (well, as dry as Yorkshire can be in the Monsoon season). It was even enlivened by meeting MM and EWO on my way down


More gustatory excellence was in order for the evening courtesy of UF. The following day we left early. We had a places to go! 🙂

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