Saturday turned into one of the best Dales days I’ve ever enjoyed.
The plan had been to tackle the Three Peaks walk but reasonably heavy snows late in the week put paid to that and instead, with great friend Dave, his colleague Paul and neighbour Ken, I walked out of Stainforth and over the moors to Pen y Ghent.
The conditions were stunning. The snow made the little scramble to the summit easier than usual and from the top of the hill the landscape was white from horizon to horizon and the clarity was mind-blowing.
The Howgills looked almost close enough to reach out and touch, and west of them the eastern and central Lakeland fells were better defined than I’ve ever seen them from any Dales peak.
Even more impressively, the summit plateau of Cross Fell, the highest point in the Pennine chain more than 80 Pennine Way miles and four days distant was a clear white stripe on the horizon. Neighbouring Great and Little Dun Fells could be made out with the naked eye.
The cold was sadly too much for my camera, which gave up the ghost after I’d snapped a few shots on the ascent and a few more on the summit.
We walked across from Pen y Ghent’s summit to the subsidiary top of Plover Hill marveling at the drifts behind the felltop walls which were up to five feet deep in places. In places we even had to break trail through the deeper virgin snow.
Dropping off Plover Hill was interesting in itself, as the usual route down to the lane scalped a snow-filled gully, along the top of which ran a precarious traversing path of little more that a foot’s-width. Instead of risking an accidental bum slide all the way down, we backed off and scouted out an easier switching-back route several hundred yards further east.
We returned to Stainforth along the Ribble, stopping for a couple at the Helwith Bridge Inn en route during which time the road re-froze and became a skating rink for the last half hour back into the village, where we dropped into the Craven Heifer for another.