Date - 12th April 2009 Distance - 12 miles
Map - OL30 Start point - Kettlewell (SD 969723)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Firth Fell 1991 607 SD 9259 7483



It was Friday night. The phone rang and we heard Dad say, "Hi Bob."

Our ears pricked up as a conversation with Uncle Bob usually meant a walk was being discussed.

We heard Dad say, "Another top we haven’t done in Yorkshire. Sounds a great walk for Sunday."

So the conversation went on ending with, "right Bob, we'll meet you in Kettlewell at 08.30 on Sunday."

Great we thought!

Shaun then asked Dad, "So we are walking with Uncle Bob on Sunday."

"Yes lad. He has been looking at the map and has discovered a summit we have not climbed."

"What is it called, and where is it?", Grizzly then asked.

Dad replied, "Firth Fell, the summit being at 1991ft. It is the high ground between Littondale and Wharfedale."

Tetley had got the map and opened it up. "Ahh, here it is. So, I suppose we will be starting from Kettlewell, then from the summit join the bridleway and make the descent towards Buckden, returning via the Dales Way that roughly follows the River Wharfe."

"Yes lad that's the plan."

"Not only does it look to be a long walk, but the drive to Kettlewell is long too, so we had better have an early night on Saturday", said Allen.

I plan to set off about 06:45", so we will have to be up around 05:30", replied Dad.

"We had better make the picnic the night before and put it in the fridge to save time then", suggested Grizzly.

"Here's to Sunday", cheered Little Eric, "and another great adventure with Uncle Bob for company."


The Walk

Dad was true to his word and we were on the road about 06:45, leaving Uncle Brian still tucked up in bed.

First up the Lune Valley to Ingleton, and then the familiar road via Ribblehead to Hawes and on along Wensleydale.

Passing Aysgarth Shaun said, "we want the next right to pass the village of West Burton and then continue along delightful Bishopdale."

Allen pointed, "there's the rising ridge that includes Naughtberry Fell. That was a really arduous walk."

"Yes pal", agreed Tetley. "It was January 2008. I recall that a large area of woodland had been felled leaving the ground all churned up and muddy. Very hard going for Dad and Uncle Bob."

"Not one we are likely to ever return too", said Grizzly.

Looking ahead, Little Eric commented, "the view makes it look impossible to get out of Bishopdale."

"Yes pal" agreed Shaun, "but the narrow road makes the steep ascent of Kidstones Bank before descending to the hamlet of Cray.

At Cray Tetley piped up, "there’s the White Lion and those stepping stones we crossed on the walk to Yockenthwaite Moor".

"That’s right" replied Allen. "And that's another summit we are unlikely to return to."

Soon we were into Wharfedale and passing through the village of Buckden. "There's the car park the start point for the walk to Yockenthwaite Moor walk and another to Buckden Pike", pointed Shaun. .

So, onwards through the pretty village of Starbotton. "What a lovely name", said Little Eric.

"According to the local website, the name is thought to derive from 'Stamphotne' (Domesday Book) or possibly 'Stauerboten', 12th century old English meaning 'the place where stakes are got', "informed Grizzly.

Then in a couple of miles we arrived at...

Tetley said, "being early streets are very quiet, but when we get back it will be packed, as it is one of the very popular tourist places in the Dales."

"Look there's a cafe open sign", pointed Little Eric. "That is bound to be Dad and Uncle Bob's final destination."

"Of that there is no doubt", laughed Allen.

Dad was soon ready and we jumped into his rucksack ready for the off.

Shaun said, "we go over the river following the main road."

"Aww", called out Grizzly. "Just look at those two lambs. I know you are not keen on sheep pictures Allen, but they are a must."

Just beyond we reached a gate. "That's our route up the stony path", instructed Shaun.

Passing through we strolled along the track beyond, soon gaining height, where we paused to look down on Kettlewell nestling in the valley. "The walled track rising left is called Top Mere Road. One of the routes that can be taken to Buckden Pike", said Shaun.

"That is such a typical Dales landscape with the fields divided up by a maze of stone walls", commented Tetley."That distant fell behind is Great Whernside that with Buckden Pike we climbed from Kettlewell in February 2007."

Walking on we climbed to come beside the ridge wall that we then followed to continue the ascent.

Soon we came to the trig point at Middlesmoor Pasture. "Not at a summit", commented Little Eric.

"Not all trig points are", replied Grizzly. "But as you can see it is a fantastic viewpoint, and so was ideal for the Ordnance Survey, when the trig point system was in use."

"Although not a summit, will you take our picture sitting on top?", asked Allen.

"Of course lad."

We include this more general picture too.

In the foreground behind the rock you can just make out a round depression. "Grizzly said, "that is the remains of a bell pit."

Then reading from his notes he told us, "of the extensive mining in the Yorkshire Dales, the earliest process was the digging of bell pits, which appear today as circular depressions in the ground occurring at intervals along straight lines. Lead ore usually occurs as vertical veins. Miners identified these veins at the surface in flat areas and dug a hole to expose the ore. As they dug deeper they reached a limit when it became difficult to remove the waste by shovel and the walls of the pit became less stable. So, they dug vertically down into the rocks opening a small shaft and ultimately a bell shaped chamber underground, removing waste by use of a hand winch (a jack roller or windlass) with a bucket (known as a kibble). As they reached the limit of ore, or the limits of practical working, they would move along the surface following the vein of lead and start new bell pits. Spent bell pits were often sealed off with wood and then back filled to stop sheep falling in but this process has left a dangerous legacy as the wood has rotted." (Copyright may exist for the image above. Please do not share or copy)

We saw many of these today and because of Grizzly's last words, Uncle Bob and Dad were careful to avoid crossing the depressions.

Well after viewing all this archaeology, Shaun said, "we had better be getting on to Firth Fell."

The ridge itself was not too steep but it was a long 3.5 miles or so. "I'm beginning to wonder if we will ever get to the summit", sighed Little Eric.

Passing a large pond Allen exclaimed, "it's full of frog spawn."

The trudge up the ridge resumed, and eventually the wall turned at a right angle ahead. "Cross the ladderstile", said Shaun.

Beyond the terrain changed from grass to rough moor with heather and it was boggy in places too. Seeing another wall to the left Shaun instructed, "we need to head for that and walking on will bring us to the trig point marking the summit of Firth Fell."

A little while later, Tetley called out, "there it is."

"Here at last", cried Grizzly.

Jumping out of the rucksack and on to the trig point, Little Eric called out, "come on Dad, take our picture"

Meanwhile Uncle Bob was settling down to have his lunch. We then joined him. Grizzly said, "Shaun, Tetley, Little Eric and I want to say how much we appreciate the fact that on each walk you carry our sandwiches etc., in your rucksack, Allen!"

"You are welcome pals", he replied slipping his rucksack off and getting the sandwiches and cake out and passing them round. "Here are the flasks Shaun. Will you fill our mugs please?"

"Sure pal."

This top is quite amazing for the views all round, and Uncle Bob and Dad reeled off the names of all the fells they could see. We were pleased and not a little proud to be able to say that we had climbed them all. Of these here is Pen-y-ghent one of the "Three Peaks", and to the right Plover Fell.

"I well remember the day we had climbed those", said Allen. "Freezing cold with snow and ice underfoot."

"Time to be off", said Uncle Bob, "there is still a long way to go lads."

"If we follow the wall, we will very soon join the bridleway. This long clear path will leads us all the way down to the valley, and the road on the outskirts of the village of Buckden", advised Shaun.

"Well, this time we can see exactly where we are going", said Little Eric.

The road crosses the River Wharfe via this charming bridge. Grizzly said, "it probably dates from the 18th century."

Shaun called out, "we do not cross the bridge, rather take the path right by the river that is part of the Dales Way. It will lead us all the way back to Kettlewell."

First the path meandered along by the river, but then swung away under the towering ridge above. A number of feeder streams running off the fell were crossed, including Step Gill. "That's a pretty scene", said Tetley. "Just look how thick the moss is on the wall."

We were now walking back under that long ridge we had climbed earlier, so as you can imagine it was quite a distance. "This section seems never ending too", sighed Little Eric."

Then finally Allen called out, "look there is the tower of Kettlewell church. Not too far now."

The path now rejoined the river, and reaching the road we crossed the bridge into the village.

The end of the excitement for the day we thought, but suddenly a paraglider swooped down.

He passed directly over us before disappearing over the buildings and into the field behind.

We all, Uncle Bob and Dad included said, "phew, rather him than us."

Coincidentally the building he flew over was The Cottage Tea Room.

"Refreshment time?", asked Tetley.

"Certainly lad", replied Dad as we headed there to find a seat.

"It is not the first time here", went on Allen. "You and Uncle Bob visited on the day we climbed Buckden Pike and Great Whernside."

"Not surprised you remembered that", laughed Grizzly, being such a tea belly like Dad.

A nice slice of lemon torte and a refreshing pot of tea, was the order today. It was Dad’s treat, but then Uncle Bob bought ice creams and they sat by the river enjoying the rest and reflecting on the walk. We were having our own picnic, in the car and talking amongst ourselves about the adventure.

"Another wonderful day", said Shaun.

"Aye pal", agreed Tetley, "it has been a grand day out."

Again we were the lucky ones, as while we relaxed in the car, Dad had to concentrate to drive us home. On behalf of us all, Grizzly said, "thank you Dad as always."

Before leaving Uncle Bob told us, "I am going to be very busy with work for the next month, so I will be able to do any walks."

"Oh that's a shame", replied Allen, "We will certainly miss having your company on our walks. Still I'm are sure the time will soon pass by."


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