Saturday, 23 June 2012

Walk 9 - Buckden Pike incl War Memorial. Approx 7 miles

Buckden Pike sits high above the village of Buckden in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales.  We did this walk last year whilst on holiday and promised to come back and do it again hence this blog. Buckden sits in Wharfedale between Kettlewell to the south and Hubberholme to the north.

This is the first walk on our adventure that we have had to do without Milly, our chocolate lab.   She injured her leg whilst swimming so we are having to rest her for a few weeks.  She will soon be back, don't worry.

This walk is very steep in places and can be very hard work so a decent level of fitness is recommended otherwise it may not be as enjoyable as it could be, it also involves a bit of scrambling down rocks as well.

The start point is in the car park in Buckden, as with most car parks in the Yorkshire Dales, be prepared to dig deep into your pockets as the cost of parking over 2 hours is very expensive - £4.20.

As you stand in the car park facing the village look right to pick out the path.

Go through the gate and follow the path as it rises steadily up the hill.  Its a gentle climb that goes around to the right as you get through the trees. As you come out of the trees, look back towards the car park for a terrific view of Wharfedale.

The terrain, for a short while anyway seems to flatten out a bit, dont be fooled though as the climb starts again very quickly.  

As you approach the top of the track you come to a gate, the track then turns into a path that sweeps to the right, it is signposted so it is easy to pick up, you start to head across the face of the hill to the right.  The path is well trodden so not too difficult to follow, it does get a bit boggy in places and can be hard work but its worth it just for the views across to Cray and Hummerholme (looking to your left).  

Its now you start to climb albeit quite gentle to start but believe me it does get harder.  Before the going got tough I thought it time to top up with water:

Obviously drinking water straight from a stream isn't recommended but as my bag gets pretty heavy with all my camera kit and Diane's waterproofs, the thought of carrying litres of water with me doesn't appeal.  A couple of years ago I invested in a water bottle called the Travel Tap to take to Malaysia with us , it looks just like a normal plastic water bottle but it has a built in filtration system that allows you use any source of water apart from salt water.  

I have used it many times from all sorts of water sources including rivers, cattle troughs, muddy puddles, all sorts and I have never been taken ill.  They are widely used by the Red Cross.  If you are fed up with carrying drinking water water everywhere, get yourself one of these

As you can see from the photo above the path continues gently up and across the face of the hill.  The path actually heads for a drystone wall in the far distance.  Its when you reach this wall the fun starts!

When you reach the wall the path goes right, and its straight up and its steep:

Take a look at the photo above, to get a feel for how steep this path is look at the angle of Diane's right foot as it sits flat on the ground.  This stretch of the walk is lung busting but the upside is it only goes on for about 7-800 metres.

There is one point where you actually think "when I get over that hill I'm there thank God".  Hmm thats not strictly true, its one of those climbs where you get to the top of one rise, only to be faced by another.  

You know when you are at the top when you see the Trig Point and the Cairn:

You can see the delight on Diane's face as she finally reaches the top.

When you reach the top have your coffee sat by the Cairn which is the sticking up bit to Diane's far left, the pole attached to the Cairn is for winter walkers.  The top of Buckden Pike in winter is normally under a very thick blanket of snow and the tip of the pole that pokes through the snow lets you know you have made it to the top.

I would normally show photos of the view from up hear but I think it's worth encouraging you to walk up here to see for yourself.  Trust me, its amazing. Oh go on then!

Whilst up here don't be surprised to see the odd RAF Jet skimming through the Dales below, yes you read right, below.  RAF jets on training exercises are often seen here, we have seen them ourselves, its weird looking down onto the jets as they fly past and its very noisy!

After your well earned rest at the top its time to move on.  We always walk across the top of Buckden Pike to the Polish War Memorial thats dedicated to the crew of a Polish aircraft that crashed on the top during the second world war.  The memorial is about 3/4 of a mile along the top so just have a walk over there to pay your respects.

Opposite the Trig point there is a stile over the wall (can just be made out in the photo above where Diane reaches the top) the stile was the way to go to get to the Memorial but the last time we did it we had to turn back because the peat bog was so bad and impassible.  There is now a new path with signs that recommend you dont go over the stile to get to the memorial, please take heed of the signs as it seemed worse this time we went.  

So, dont go over the stile, instead with the trig point behind you turn right and walk alongside the drystone wall:

As I said above the Memorial is just 3/4 of a mile along the top so after the climb, this bit is a doddle.

You cross over the first stile and carry on along the wall until you get to a second stile which goes over the wall you have walked along, the Memorial is just over the other side:

The concrete plinth the memorial sits on encases some of the remains of the aircraft which crashed here all those years ago, some bits just sit loosely by the side.  It looks like the Memorial gets many visitors which is a good thing.  We owe a lot to these young men who gave their lives for ours and their countrymen's freedom.

Now its time to get back on track.  Go back over the stile and head back towards the top of Buckden Pike.  Walk along the wall this time keeping to your right.  As you get closer to the Cairn you come to the next stile. Dont go over it but turn left along the wall and pick up a very faintly trodden path that sweeps to the left away from the wall.  The decent now starts.


The path is there but it is difficult to spot in places as not many walkers come this way.  As you get lower, the path becomes more prominent and it heads for a gully to your left.  Its here you get your first sight of Buckden:

You can just make out Buckden in the valley below and if you look closely you can see the path to follow.  At the bottom of the photo near the right corner pick up the line of lighter grass the goes across to the left, this is the path you need to follow.

As you enter the gully the path becomes much more obvious and much more difficult.  The path skirts along the top of the gully and it has a very steep side so care should be taken:

This is the view looking back up towards Buckden Pike, you can see here how narrow the path is, the drop doesn't look too bad here but believe me, if you fell where the rocks are you would be pushing up daisy's thats for sure.

This path takes you right into the top of the gully, here you can't miss the ruins of an old lead mine, the entrance to the mine is actually still there but we chose not to investigate, this was our spot to take on some water and a snack.  Its a nice spot and very sheltered:

Ruins of a mine that was probably in full production two hundred years ago

The entrance to the old mine

The next and final phase of the walk is down the gully, heading back to Buckden.  This phase is by far one of the most picturesque walks we have ever done.  This time the weather wasn't very kind to us so it wasn't as gorgeous as we have seen it in the past but still breathtaking.  The path downwards goes past the front of the ruins (above) and follows the beck all the way down.  At the start the flow of water is pretty mellow but the further down you go, the more inlets feed the beck therefore you come across some pretty amazing waterfalls.

The path continually swaps from one side of the beck to the other, therefore be prepared to jump and scramble across if you find the path coming to a dead end so to speak.  Eventually, as the beck grows bigger so does the path and it soon becomes obvious where you need to be.

Here are a couple of photos of a small selection of waterfalls you will see on your way down:

There are many on the way down and on a nice sunny day you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a picnic spot.  This is such a beautiful gully and its totally unspoilt.  Obviously the nearer you get to Buckden the more evidence you will see of people but by-enlarge you feel like you were the person to discover this place 

You follow the beck down into Buckden, as you reach the outskirts of the village the path becomes well trodden and you see the odd person out and about but take a final look up the beck and try to trace back your route down:

 From this point you can just make out the top of Buckden Pike in the distance.

From here, head down alongside the fence/wall that runs beside the farm. when you come to the large gate on your right go through it and immediately through another one.  This path leads you around the back of the village and conveniently brings you out at the village Bistro where the cakes and Earl Grey tea are to die for.  Dogs are not welcome inside but there is safe seating outside.

After the compulsory cakes and tea (yes, they are compulsory on this walk - my blog, my rules) Take a steady stroll across the road and you will see the car park where you took out a second mortgage to park your car!

My final photo was taken from the road heading back to Aysgarth, we stopped to take this picture to give you all a good idea of what Buckden Pike looks like from ground level:

This is a really good walk and probably sits quite easily in our top three walks we have ever done.

I like it so much I am prepared to drive up to the Yorkshire Dales from Chesterfield just to do this walk then drive back!  Thankfully though, we were on holiday so the drive back was only 30 mins!

I would love to read comments from other people who have done this or who are interested in doing it themselves.  As always, feel free to ask any questions you like about the walk.

Until next time..... (which will be very soon as we did a lovely walk around Lathkilldale today, I will write it up as soon as I can)

By the way, feel free to browse my website for more photos of waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales.  (I have a thing about photographing waterfallls!)

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