CLAPDALE, THWAITE LANE & AUSTWICK from CLAPHAM

 


Summary

Date - 19th January 2011 Distance - 6 miles
Ascent -
700ft
Map - OL2 Start point - National park car park, Clapham (SD 745693)

 

Preface

Grizzly & Tetley, were sitting quietly reading, when their reverie was disturbed by the whirlwind of Allen hurtling into the room.

"More than two weeks of the year has passed, and at last we are to have a walk with Uncle Eric for company. I heard Dad on the phone and the walk is set for Wednesday.

"Where are we going too?, asked Tetley.

"Well I think you will be especially happy, as we are to do one of Uncle Eric's stock of Yorkshire walks, starting from Clapham and doing a round via Austwick."

"Great", replied Tetley. "We have walked in this area before but I never tire of the scenery."

"Neither do I", added Grizzly.

"Where's Shaun?", asked Allen.

"He and Little Eric are making up a flask of tea and getting the tuck tin", replied Grizzly.

"I hope they are not too long as I am gasping for a mug of tea", cried Allen.

Just then Shaun trotted in with Little Eric. While the tea was poured and biscuits selected from the tuck tin, Allen told them where we were to walk.

"I know you have walked this before, but it will be new ground for me", called out Little Eric excitedly.

 

The Walk

Wednesday dawned and we were up quite early to get the picnic ready and stowed safely in Allen's rucksack. Then as we heard Dad slam the boot of the car shut, we ran out to settle in the car, calling our goodbyes to Uncle Brian.

Our route was along the beautiful Lune Valley, then via Bentham to Clapham, meeting Uncle Eric at the large car park. Today it was nearly empty, but in the summer and at weekends in particular, it is often full, as there are many opportunities for walks from here, including one of the routes to Ingleborough, passing Ingleborough Cave, itself a very popular attraction, where stalactites and stalagmites etc can be viewed.

Clapham itself is one of the prettiest of Yorkshire Dales' villages, the typical stone houses, clustering along the Clapham Beck. It owes much of its character to the Farrer family of Ingleborough Hall. Victorian landowners, they fashioned their classical mansion from a farm and planted trees that now grace the beck side and clothe lower Clapdale in woodland. In 1833 the Farrers dammed the beck to create Ingleborough Lake, as a source of drinking water, and via a turbine, power for street lights and a handful of homes in addition to the hall. This was curiously apt, since electricity pioneer Michael Faraday (1791-1867) was born in Clapham.

We were to enjoy a dry day with sunshine, but at times the mist spoiled the views.

All ready, we settled in Dad's rucksack, and off we went strolling through the village passing the parish church of St James, with its rather squat but very sturdy tower. The earliest known reference to a church here in Clapham, no doubt a wooden building, is 1160. This and the rest of the village was burned during a Scottish raid following the Battle of Bannockburn in the early 14th century. The fine perpendicular tower is 14th century, the rest of the building dating from the 19th century.

Then crossing Clapham Beck, we had this fine view of Clapham Falls. They were constructed in 1837 by Oliver and James William Farrer, as part of the remodelling of the land around Ingleborough Hall. Fed from Ingleborough Lake, they consist of three separate tiers, of which only one is visible from the village.

Near the end of the village we turned right onto the bridleway that ultimately leads to the summit of Ingleborough. The track climbed gently with woodland to the right for much of the time. We were heading for Clapdale Farm, a substantial building that loomed out of the mist. Passing by this, the path continued down to the surfaced Clapdale Drive on the Ingleborough Hall Estate. We turned right, our plan being to follow the drive through the estate and passing the lake, to its junction with Thwaite Lane. However the sign by the taped up gate rather alarmed us.

We met a gentleman who had walked through having heard nothing, but we decided not to risk it, and anyway Uncle Eric did not have his shooting stick with him!!

"Whatever are we going to do now?", said Little Eric, rather disconsolately

"Never fear", said Shaun who was consulting the map. "If we take the bridge over Clapham Beck and then climb up to Long Lane, we can then follow this to its junction with Thwaite Lane and so get back on track."

"What would we do without you", replied Little Eric, sounding much relieved.

The beck was rushing down and made a nice picture.

As we neared the top of the slope, the farmer had arrived to give his sheep some fodder. They were all bunched up, but as the farmer spread the feed in a long line, so the flock were strung out too, making we thought a rather unusual picture.

We strolled on pausing after a little while to look back across the valley to where we had walked. Clapdale Farm loomed out of the constantly shifting mist, looking rather ethereal. Sadly the mist was to persist nearly all the way to Austwick, which was a shame as it hid the imposing views of the scars to the left.

Walking on, we heard bangs away to the right.

"That's gun fire", called out Tetley.

"Just as well we heeded the warning", said Allen seriously.

So eventually we reached the junction with Thwaite Lane. Here we turned left to follow this below the scars that were sadly lost in the mist, to a little way beyond Long Tram Plantation. Had the day been clear, as it was in February 2008, when we walked along here with Uncle Bob, then this is the view we would have had, of Robin Proctor's Scar with the fell Norber rising behind.

As we strolled along, suddenly Grizzly called out, "what's that on the verge?"

"A fungi of some sort", Uncle Eric replied. "A fine example too, and worth a photograph."

"We need to look out for a stile on the right over the wall", said Shaun, who was scrutinising the map again.

"OK", replied Allen. "I will keep my eyes peeled."

We had walked just a few hundred yards further, when Allen called out, "there it is."

The stile was climbed, and the ongoing path followed over the fields crossing more stiles, and so to a gate on to the narrow road that leads to the village of Austwick.

"It looks somewhat unusual with the tall stone gatepost with stone lintel to the other side", said Shaun.

"To me the gate seems to be more recent", replied Tetley. "I wonder if it replaced a previous tall wooden door?"

"You could be right pal", agreed Shaun.

Turning right the road was followed into the Dales village of Austwick. There are dwelling houses from different centuries right up to the present century, with many still remaining from earlier times; several dating from the 16th century. Here are some of the houses and the Gamecock Inn.

Strolling on we soon came to the cross in the centre of the village where all the roads meet. It was interesting to note that the signpost still referred to the old 'Ridings' that Yorkshire was once divided into. Austwick was in the West Riding. It also helpfully shows the OS grid reference. Our way was the road signed Clapham, and just a little further on, we came to the substantial stone and glazed bus shelter.

"Good place for lunch as we will be sheltered from the cold breeze", said Uncle Eric.

"Absolutely", said Allen, who with the rest of us leapt out of the rucksack as soon as Dad had taken it off.

"Get the sandwiches out", called out Grizzly,

"OK pal", replied Allen, slipping his rucksack off.

After, we posed while Dad took this shot through the doorway.

Refreshed, we settled back in Dad's rucksack, then proceeded on.

Checking the map, Shaun said, " we will shortly come to a path on the right, which we need to take and follow all the way to Clapham."

Sure enough the sign came into view and we passed through the gate beside it. The sign read 'Clapham 2m'. Beyond the path climbed over the grassy pasture to a stile, then on over another, to then pass a seat and round the remains of a small circular plantation. Then, the clear way led across more fields, the many walls surmounted by stepped gated gap stiles, like the one below.

In sight of Clapham village, we arrived at a gate, where the approach was just bog. Up till now Dad's boots were clean and quite pristine, but not so after he had negotiated his way through this gate - suddenly they were very mucky. The way now lead beside a fence, where there was a nice shot back to the trees surrounding the last gate and beyond to the path we had walked by the fence from the stile in the distant wall.

After another gate we joined a farm track, from which via a side gate the path brought us directly into the car park. It was interesting to note that the sign at this end read "Austwick 1.5m". Mysteriously we had lost half a mile somewhere.

So, a good walk over, Dad then drove Uncle Eric to Feizor and Elaine's Tea Rooms. She was surprised to see Dad, as he had only been there with Uncle Brian on Monday.

She exclaimed, "what are you doing here?"

Uncle Eric was introduced, and she was pleased to meet him having heard about him in our stories. Tea was enjoyed with a toasted teacake for Uncle Eric and chocolate cake for Dad. We had been in before, indeed on the very first visit by Dad with Uncle Bob. Barnaby, Lee, Grizedale & Ginger, always come along to see Uncle Eric when we go walking with him, so Dad took them in too, and they were introduced to Elaine and the staff. As always Dad had a good time here and Uncle Eric was very impressed too.

Dad then drove back to Clapham and Uncle Eric's car. Here goodbyes were said, for a few weeks, as both Dad and Uncle Eric had lots of commitments.

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