Saturday 19 May 2018
A circuit of Crummack Dale, below and on Moughton Scar from Austwick
Words and photos cannot describe how wonderful this walk was.
Leader: Kerstin Nagel
Photos: John Jones
Leader Kerstin Nagel. On a beautiful cloudless day 11 walkers and the faithful dog Bess set out from Austwick and headed for Oxenber and Wharfe woods. Austwick Beck was crossed on the stone slab bridge and Oxenber woods entered from Wood Lane.
To our joy we discovered a carpet of Blue Bells dotted with a profusion of wild flowers - Orchids, Primroses, Cowslips, and White and Pink Wood Anemones to name those we recognised. We slowly ascended the wood marvelling at the wonderful sight about us and enjoying the bright sunshine. Pausing at the summit we then descended through Wharfe wood still accompanied by the same profusion of Blue Bells and wild flowers.
On leaving the wood the sharp outline of Pen-y-ghent appeared against the cloudless sky. We crossed Wharfe Gill Sike and on reaching the hamlet of Wharfe skirted it on its northern side, passing a tiny cottage featured in Wainwrights’ “Limestone Country” to join White Stones Lane. This is the old track between Wharfe and Horton in Ribblesdale which later becomes Moughton Lane.
We encountered a number of runners and dog propelled joggers undertaking a Peter Bland Challenge from Clapham to Horton and back, and marvelled at their efforts on such a hot day. To provide more pleasant walking and to avoid the runners we took to a parallel field path through pleasant meadows to re-join the track near Crummack Farm.
The day was now hot and frequent water stops were made.
At the head of the dale the track passes a ruined shooting box and Moughton Whetstone Hole (a spring) before ascending Moughton Scar. At the top of the ascent there is a prominent cairn where we stopped for a leisurely lunch in the hot sunshine (hats and sun cream obligatory!) and admired the far reaching views south over the dale.
After lunch we carefully continued along the edge of Moughton Scar and followed an indistinct path to join the well-defined path down to Begger’s Stile – a safe route down through Moughton Scar back to the valley. After a short discussion it was agreed to extend the walk slightly by going up to Sulber Gate and taking the high level path above Crummack to Norber, rather than down Begger’s stile and return via the dale bottom.
At the top of the ascent to Sulber Gate a brief stop was made and the group photo taken.
Continuing along the open high level track (between Clapham and Selside) we were accompanied by Skylarks and saw a pair of Buzzards. After Passing Crummack Farm a short ascent and a narrow high level path above the intake wall took us to the top of the Norber Erratics enclosure.
Descending through the unique erratic bolder field we once again marvelled at the size and shape of the “dark Silurian rocks” which contrast so markedly with the surrounding “Carboniferous Limestone” (Wainwright sic). At the bottom of the enclosure we passed beside the unusual limestone formations of Nappa Scars to reach Norber Brow and cross Crummack Lane.
Field paths, crossing Norber Sike, returned us to Austwick to end one of the most memorable days out that we have had in recent months. Many thanks to the leader for a well-planned, engaging walk – assisted by glorious weather. Statistics – 9.4 miles, 1400 feet of ascent.
John Jones 20 May 2018