Date - 19th January 2008 Distance - 11.5 miles
Map - OL30 Start point - West Burton (SE 017866)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Wasset Fell 1650 503 SD 9894 8346
Naughtberry Hill 1881 573 SD 9770 8178
Buckden Pike 2304 702 SD 9607 7879
Brown Haw 1916 584 SD 9955 7991


The Walk

After driving over to Hawes and along Wensleydale passing through the village of Aysgarth, we then turned off right and shortly arrived at the pretty village of West Burton.

Uncle Bob arrived minutes later and we said good morning to him. The route over these hills was in a horseshoe, but the second leg was shorter, so to avoid a 4 miles walk along the road at the finish, a decision was taken to leave one car at the start and one at the end. So Uncle Bob followed us along the winding and narrow road to North Walden. This narrow valley has few houses and not knowing what to expect, just hoped we could find a place to leave the car. Mostly it had walls and fences on each side and one opportunity to park was still over a mile from the finish. We kept on and finally came to a gate where the road ended in a track to a farm. By the gate was a nice house and outside there was a place to park but not without permission. Fortunately the owner came out just then and Uncle Bob explained our plan, and he said it was OK to leave Dad's car here - a sigh of relief all round! Having told him where we were going he said, "that is quite a task you are setting yourselves", and he warned too that it would be wet underfoot. This was to be prophetic! We dived into Uncle Bob's car, then drove to West Burton and soon set off on the expedition.

Walking along the road out of the village and through a muddy farmyard, we then crossed a few fields and soon came to a signpost directing us over a small stream called Little Beck.

Over the bridge and taking the stile through the wall we then climbed up the steep bank beyond to gain the start of the ridge, passing the house called Forelands. We then followed the waymarks but the path disappeared. This was due to forestry operations where a large swathe of the woodland had been felled. The ground was a mixture of glutinous mud, tree stumps, roots and stones. Dad and Uncle Bob made their way as best they could over this awful terrain, but it was hard going, and we were glad for them that there was not too far to walk over this. Here Uncle Bob ploughs through the rough ground.

The woodland stretched away seemingly for ever on our left, and we now followed the wide green tract alongside. It looked like this might be easier walking, and to an extent this was true as there was a sort of path, but the ground was so sodden that at times they were literally paddling through mire and having to try to circumvent boggy pools. Eventually a stile was crossed and then the footpath was clearly signed left through the woods. We ignored this and went right through a wall gap and across rough ground and climbed steeply up Wasset Fell End to reach the ridge proper.

To catch their breath Uncle Bob and Dad paused at the top, where we all took in the views around. Ahead lay our route, but looking to our left we saw two hills and immediately recognised them as Penhill and Harland Hill. These were the ones we had climbed on our last walk in the Yorkshire Dales.

The way was now pretty level but trackless, making for hard going over the heather and tussocky grass. This led to the summit of Wasset Fell. In the 19th century there had been lead mines in this area, so we had to look out for any unguarded old mine shafts. We got safely through, and came across the remains of an old shooting hut used long ago by grouse shooting parties. From the state of the remains it must have been a very long time ago. Some enterprising person has made a fine cairn from some of the stone.

Walking on we soon passed the actual summit cairn of Wasset Fell, then we tramped on over more trackless and perpetually wet ground on the mile or so to the flat top of Naughtberry Hill. Uncle Bob commented to Dad that this was a walk for summer after three months of dry weather, and not for a cold January day after weeks of rain. Can't argue with that, and we were just glad again to be in the rucksack! No cairn adorns Naughtberry Hill so Dad found a convenient tussock at what appeared to be the highest point to mark we had done it. I doubt we will ever return.

The next objective was Buckden Pike, which we had climbed before in February 2007. It seemed distant as we looked along our route and indeed we had 2 miles of more wet trackless terrain, first down off Naughtberry, then gently and latterly more steeply to the summit. The saving grace was that for the last half a mile there was actually a track to follow. The summit cairn and trig point is reached by climbing the ladderstile over the wall. We were now at 2300ft and it was blowing a gale, so we could not sit on our own on the trig point. So, we asked Uncle Bob if he would kindly take our picture with Dad holding on to us. For once he is not wearing that silly hat.

Photograph courtesy Bob Woolley (Uncle Bob)

We now followed the wall along the top of the fell and soon reached the memorial cross.

This was erected to the memory of five Polish airmen who died when their Wellington Bomber crashed in a snowstorm on Jan 30th 1942. The rear gunner Joe Fusniak survived, as did the radio operator although he was seriously injured. Joe is said to have followed the tracks of a fox (hence the foxes head on the memorial), and eventually he reached the hamlet of Cray where he was taken to the White Lion Inn. It was not possible to go out that night to find the wounded radio operator, and sadly when they got to the wreckage the next day they found he had died. Much more detail can be found at www.buckdenpike.co.uk.

It was 2:30 now and as we looked over to the final objective of the day Brown Haw, we realised that there was just over two hours of daylight left and over three miles still to walk, but Uncle Bob and Dad have always got us down safely. The rough descent led to a bridleway that actually went straight to where Dad's car was parked and for a split second we considered taking this, but then Brown Haw would still have to be reached. Although not inviting, crossing the moor to the left of Windle Side would shorten the distance so we took the plunge. There were more bog and peat hags to negotiate, but Uncle Bob and Dad are veterans of this terrain, and soon we were safely across reaching the fence. This was then followed over yet more wet and boggy ground to Brown Haw. Climbing the fence and a couple of hundred yards across the peat hags, brought us to the neat cairn marking the top.

Have you noticed that Shaun always has to be on the top! Well he is the senior member of the club!

It was 4:15 now and the light was beginning to fade, so Uncle Bob took a bearing with his compass, and we used a patch of ground on the hill on the other side of the valley, to mark our line of descent. More rough grass first then a large flat area, and once over this all the valley came into view and we could see the lights of Kentucky House shining out. We were then soon safely down at the car just as darkness fell. The owner of the house came out. He and his wife had been watching for us coming off the fell, and he said we had done really well to complete the walk. It was 11.5 miles but with the terrain and wetness underfoot it had felt more like 15 miles or more. Still it was an achievement! Dad's boots were leaking so he had wet feet for most of the walk and we felt for him. New boots were bought before the next walk!

Dad then drove us to West Burton and Uncle Bob's car. Goodbyes were said and we all set off for home. Dad had planned to make a meal when he got home, but when we got to Hawes the fish and chip shop was open. For some reason the car swung into the car park of its own accord! While we were having our picnic in the car he went and had the Haddock Special - fish chips peas, bread and butter and pot of tea. Bit greedy we thought, but nevertheless deserved after all the effort!

We were all tired when we got home and slept very well after all that fresh air.


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