Southey completes the Limestone challenge


Date - 25th March 2017 Distance - 8.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL2
Start point - Verge parking by B6255 at Ribblehead (SD 7680 7943)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Whernside 2416 736 SD 7385 8141



Allen was on the laptop, with Southey looking over his shoulder. "Dad got a good lot of pictures on the walk from Cartmel", commented Southey.

"Aye pal", replied Allen. "Certainly enough for a story, when Dad finds the time to do it."

"He has a lot on looking after Uncle Brian and keeping up with all the chores at home and in the garden", said Southey.

"Quite", agreed Allen. "I think we will have to accept that he will not have so much time for walking this year."

"I have already done lots of walks, something I never thought would happen when I was adopted", said Southey, "and the rest of you have had so so many adventures in the past."

"Too right", replied Allen. "We are such a lucky lot, thanks to Dad."

"That we are", called out Grizzly, as with Little Eric and Shaun, they arrived with the flasks and cakes.

"Tea" cheered Allen, "I'm gasping for a cuppa."

"No change there", laughed Grizzly

Allen and Southey went for the plates and mugs, then Allen lent a paw helping Shaun pour the tea.

"Bliss" breathed Allen, as he took a sip to the steaming liquid.

Little Eric announced, "Grizzly as made chocolate caramel shortbread, while I have made some chocolate covered flapjack."

We helped ourselves, Shaun saying, "mmm the flapjack is delicious."

"So's the caramel shortbread", cried Allen, promptly taking another slice.

Meanwhile Little Eric was reaching for another slice, when we suddenly said, "where's Tetley?"

"It's not like him to miss out on tea and cakes, despite what he says about me", laughed Allen.

Grizzly shut the lid on the tin saying, "the rate you lot are getting through the cake there will be none for Tetley."

Well our questions were answered just a few minutes later when Tetley came dashing in. "I bring news of a walk on Saturday, and you are going to be very happy Southey."

"Thanks pals", he went on accepting the steaming mug from Shaun and slices of cake from Grizzly. "Mmm the cakes are scrumptious. You never let us down Grizzly and Little Eric."

"So why am I going to be happy?", asked Southey impatiently.

"Dad's taking us up Whernside", he replied.

"Wonderful", cheered Southey. "That means I will finally complete the Limestone challenge. Oh happy days!"

Tetley had the book in paw and opening it, said, "the plan is to climb from the Dent side via the tarns. Wainwright shows there is a parking place by the Methodist chapel."

Shaun cautioned, "it is 47 years since the book was published so, we will have to keep our paws crossed there is still parking."

"Whernside was the first hill I climbed just the day after I was adopted", said Little Eric. "It will be good to get to the summit again. Here's to Saturday", he cheered raising his mug.


The Walk

We were to enjoy a glorious spring day with cloudless skies and it was surprisingly still on the summit.

Up early we all lent a paw making the picnic that was safely stowed in Allen's rucksack. Then later as we heard Dad slam the boot of the car shut for the last time, we dashed out to settle on the front seat.

Which way do we go?", asked Southey as Dad backed out of the drive.

"To Kirkby Lonsdale and then on up the Lune Valley and through the village of Barbon", replied Tetley.

As we drove through here, we all waved a paw to Mr & Mrs Williamson, who live opposite the church, and is where Dad gets his lovely homemade marmalades and chutneys.

Onwards then along the narrow road through beautiful Barbondale, with to the left the steep slopes of Middleton Fell, to drop down to Gawthrop and right to reach Dent village.

"Damn" said Dad. "I should have gone right just there."

Eventually Dad found a spot to turn round, only then to find that the lane was now blocked by a delivery van.

"Oh dear", said Southey worriedly.

"Never mind", went on Dad, "I'll just have to drive in a circle up the dale to get to the Methodist Chapel." Here Shaun's cautionary words proved to be true, as the chapel is now a house and we felt to parking space was probably the owners land. There was no other parking anywhere and frustrated Dad did consider giving up, but said, "I will not disappoint you Southey, what we will do is drive to Ribblehead and go up by the tourist route."

"It will be busy, being such a good day", commented Tetley.

"A procession, like it will be on Helvellyn", added Grizzly.

This fact was born out by the number of parked cars. Somewhat delayed by our troubles in Dentdale, Dad quickly got ready, Little Eric pointing, "there's our objective, Southey."

Quickly now we settled in the rucksack and Dad strode down the road, to bear right towards the famous Ribblehead viaduct, that carries the Settle-Carlisle line over Batty Moss.

For Southey's sake, Tetley said, "it took about four years to build this, being completed in 1875. A huge number of men were required and a number of shanty towns sprang up to accommodate them and their wives and children. Harsh conditions exacerbated by the harsh weather too. A network of light railways carried materials for the construction. That curved embankment there would have been one of the lines."

"Thanks pal", replied Southey. "I would never have realised it had you not pointed it out."

Pointing to a grassy area just to the right of our onwards path, Tetley then said, "this was the site of the Ribblehead Locomotive Depot."

"There should be a depiction on that information board, if I remember correctly", said Allen.

We went to look, but it had rather faded, so was not too clear. "Not to worry", said Dad, "I remember taking a picture of this when we climbed Whernside in 2008."

Striding out Dad marched on, the path climbing, then bending right with the slopes of Blea Moor to our right. Now close to the railway we first passed Blea Moor sidings...

and then pass the remote Blea Moor signal box.

Walking up by the viaduct we had seen a train going south, but the situation had been good for getting a picture, so it was with glee that Allen called out, "look another train, this time heading north."

Dad strode on to cross the aqueduct, from where we could see the entrance to Bleamoor Tunnel. Having primed himself with the information, Tetley said to Southey, "the tunnel describes and arc through Blea Moor hill and is 2629 yards long (2404 metres). If you look up the hillside (far top right of picture), you can see spoil heaps from digging the tunnel, removed by lifting it up shafts, that then later became ventilation shafts, the deepest being 360ft. It took from 1870 to 1875 to complete."

"Thanks pal for all the information", replied Southey. Then reflecting he said, "what hard work it must have been to dig all this out by hand and probably with little light too. A far cry from the massive tunneling machines that have been used in London for the Cross Rail project."

As we were looking at the tunnel a young lady called Lila stopped, to ask Dad about us, so not for the first time today Dad explained. "What a wonderful idea", she said. "Do you mind if I take their picture in the rucksack."

Knowing us Dad replied, "of course not!"

We thought we might see her later, but her young legs carried her up the hill considerably faster than Dad's.

About to set off, Shaun called out, "that's quite a dramatic shot of Ingleborough."

Continuing upwards, Little Eric said, "I think that waterfall on Force Gill will make a nice picture."

So soon now we came to a stile over the wall to the left, our direction to Whernside. From here the mostly flagged path led on and on and on rising to the ridge and then left towards the summit.

The ascent is steep, and Dad commented, "I can tell I have lost some leg strength, with not doing much hill climbing since last autumn."

Being so busy, Dad inevitably talked to other walkers. One couple who were training for doing the Three Peaks (Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough) in May. Then he talked to a group of three. Husband, wife and sister. They offered to let us go ahead, but Dad said, "I am bound to slow down on the steeper bits."

Away to the left lies Greensett Moss with its tarn that was shimmering in the sunlight, so Dad had the camera out again.

Finally, the ridge was gained and then followed the more gentle climb towards the summit.

"Those must be Whernside Tarns", said Tetley. "They are on the route we had to abandon today."

The last section to the trig point was in the company of another couple. During this Dad mentioned us, and when we had settled on the trig point she took our picture too.

While this was being taken a little girl came and said, "I love your Shaun the Sheep."

"Thank you", said Dad.

The gentleman then kindly offered to take Dad's picture with us.

"Yippee", cried Southey, "I have completed the Limestone challenge."

"Well done pal", we all said. "You deserve to have your picture just on you own", added Grizzly.

As a result, Dad then got talking to a young lady who liked that Dad took us walking. She had been a fell runner, but having had operations on both knees one just 6 weeks ago, she was just walking today. She told us that she had done the Three Peaks race seven times.

Dad said, "my you have our admiration".

Rather than running, she was just walking the 23 or so miles, over Pen-y-ghent Whernside and Ingleborough from Horton in Ribblesdale.

Dad said, "it's rather too busy for us today, we prefer the solitude and seeing as few people as possible."

"I'm the same", she replied.

The summit was crowded so we were anxious to get on along the ridge, but not before Dad took this shot looking south.

Soon the crowds were left behind as we headed towards High Pike.

Little Eric said, "how calm it is on top today. Quite the contrast to 2008, when the wind was so strong you could hardly stand up. Nevertheless I hung in by the trig point for my picture."

"That you did", said Allen. "You may be little but you are made of stern stuff."

Looking left Grizzly called out, "wow that's a superb view of Pen-y-ghent and Ribblehead."

At High Pike Dad made the steep rough descent, before taking the path left down to the valley. This is steep and due to heavy use has been repaired. Large section are stepped flags as well as some stones set on their edges.

"Oh dear", said Little Eric with sympathy, "this is going to be hard on your poor knees, Dad."

"Aye lad."

Dad admitted that his loss of leg strength was such that he felt they were going to give way at times, but we made it safely to the bottom. Care and concentration is necessary on feet placement especially on the rougher sections.

"This would be rather treacherous in icy conditions", mused Southey,

"A case of walking in the grass beside the path in that case", responded Dad.

"I need a rest", said Dad. "Lets sit by those rocks and have a bite to eat."

"I thought lunchtime would never come", said Allen, rubbing his tummy in anticipation.

Sitting next to Dad we settled on a large boulder, Allen slipping his rucksack off and passing round the sandwiches, while Allen and Shaun, poured the mugs of tea. "Mmm, delicious" said Southey. Cake followed. "I love this peach and apricot slice", said Tetley. All the while we had the view to Whernside.

So, all refreshed and Dad's strength having returned, we continued to the gate just a few yards ahead to pass a building and go left on the footpath.

This led across fields where sheep were grazing, including some Herdwicks, Dad snapping this one that will be about one year old.

The route led to Ivescar Farm, passing these trees bare against the cloudless skies.

From here the clear stiled way led to the smooth access road to Gunnerfleet Farm, where it was right across the bridge, to then follow the wide surfaced track that passes under the viaduct.

The condition of this was the reason put forward by British Railways to close this line, but thanks to a campaign by many ordinary people the then transport minister Michael Portillo intervened and the line was saved. Since then millions of pounds of investment has taken place to improve the line including the renovation of the stations. Repair work was done on the viaduct of course, and this monument acknowledges this.

Now it was just a matter of retracing our route to the car, Dad taking this to show how busy it was here today.

As Dad got changed, Tetley said, "time for refreshment."

"Yep", replied Dad

"And it must be Elaine's of course", went on Grizzly.

To get there we had to drive through Horton in Ribblesdale. "Never seen so many cars", commented Dad

The car park was full and all around the green as well as by the road towards Settle.

"Well we did meet a number of walkers doing the Three Peaks, which starts here, so maybe that is some explanation", mused Shaun.

As usual we went in at Elaine's. Dad just caught it right and although busy outside it was quiet inside. Sue said, "half and hour ago every table was full." We sat in the corner at Dad and Uncle Brian's usual table. He had tea with a bacon and cream cheese toasty and chips.

Jo was on, so Dad asked her about the trip to Disneyland, with her kids. They had all had a great time, even if there was the odd day of rain. Dad also talked to a gentleman at the next table who had recently retired to Settle. He had walked over via Stainforth and was returning over Giggleswick Scar. That was the walk Dad and Uncle Bob did on the day that they discovered Elaine's. Hundreds of visits have ensued.

We saw Uncle Jonathan, and Dad had a chat with him. There were some laughs regarding a video posted on Facebook, about the '12 days of marriage' that had come about as a result of a reception for two ladies who had got married.

So a grand day and we all went home a very happy group, especially Southey on completion of his challenge.


shopify analytics