11th February 2012
It really was a tough choice today, no chance of sunshine in the usual territories, but not a great deal of enthusiasm to travel further in search of clear skies. So I settled for some new ground and finally the highest fell top in Yorkshire and, for me, the last of the Three Peaks. Those who crave blue skies and sunshine should look away now.
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....
The Ribblehead Viaduct
Built from 1870 to 1874 by 1,000 "navvies" who made their homes in shanty towns within this barren landscape. At least 100 died at work and this is their memorial. I parked by the roadside and noticed the car thermometer reading -4 Celsius. Start time 09:42hrs, three minutes ahead of schedule. I'm watching the clock on this one.
Under The Arches
Every sixth pillar is wider and stronger than the other ones; this is said to be so that in the event of a collapse during construction, only five pillars would be affected. My walk goes under the viaduct and heads for Gunnerfleet Farm.
Having walked some distance south-west, the ascent path for Whernside is just the other side of Broadrake. This route up is the usual route down for Three Peakers.
Icy route, I put my WinterTrax on and luckily there is no doubt of the route as navigation could be difficult in these conditions.
Whernside doesn't win any awards for walk quality in normal conditions due to generally wet ground. So, I had this one in mind for a winter walk, but it would have been better if I could have seen more than a few yards.
Three intrepid walkers training for a Three Peaks event later in the year. They regretted, like many others, not having any slip reduction equipment. Without doubt, crampons should be worn in these conditions. I was offered a seat and a coffee, how about that?
The Summit Trig Point
Even Icier Fence
Previous visitors up here, especially in fine weather, will know how steep the eastern flank is. This is a real danger in these conditions with very slippy ground and poor visibility. Watch where you're putting your feet.
Blea Moor Tunnel
This is the southern portal of Blea Moor Tunnel. I chose to take lunch on the grassy bank just above the portal, you never know what might happen if you wait patiently close to a railway line. I wanted to be by the line by 13:00hrs. and it's just two minutes past at this point.
Southbound Service Train
70013 Britannia Class 7, Oliver Cromwell
Hauling a northbound Cumbrian Mountain Express, same train as last week, but different engine.
Full Steam Ahead!
I heard the engine a few minutes before the train came into view. Photographing trains can be a bit competitive. It's good to find a place to myself. If you ever see a man with a camera on a tripod near a railway line, whatever you do, do not stand in front of him!
I pondered for a moment about the irony of the dangerous work done by the poorly-paid navvies laying the foundations for the well-off tourists of today, travelling in dining class with nibbles and wine.
Blea Moor Signal Box
The original plan had been to trek across the moor to the north portal of the tunnel, but I decided that I could not cover the unpathed ground from Whernside to "Mossy Bottom" fast enough, and I'm sure I was right.
Almost back to the start, just as most folk are heading the other way.
Blea Moor Locomotive Works
An artist's impression of work during construction. Bear in mind that the locomotives for construction were brought to site by horse power from Ingleton.
And now the car temperature has risen to -2 Celsius.
Walkers: Just Me.
Time taken: 5hrs over a distance of about 8.5 miles. 1,760 ft of ascent.
Route: Ribblehead parking, under the viaduct, Gunnerfleet Farm, Ivescar, Broadrake, Whernside from south to north, down to Blea Moor Tunnel, then back along the track to Ribblehead Viaduct and the parking spot.
Weather and Conditions: Cloudy, cold, much of the higher territory in mist.
Greetings Count: No one else on my ascent route, but quite a few on top. Lots of folk around the viaduct at the end, many with big cameras and big smiles after the show of steam.
Richard's Refreshment Review: No cafes, but a wlecome brew on top of Whernside.
Try this link to a YouTube video for some footage of the above train near Selside, again by Austin.
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2012 ©