Yorkshire Dales Walks
Kirkby Fell & Rye Loaf Hill
Date: 5th March 2005
Distance: 12.3 miles
Ascent: 2307 feet
Time: 5 hours 55 mins
Start Grid Ref: SD900626
A fine expedition exploring a number of the heights, scars and caves between Malham and Settle.
Route Summary: Malham - Pikedaw Hill - Nappa Cross - Kirkby Fell - Rye Loaf Hill - Stockdale - Warrendale Knotts - Attermire Scar - Victoria Cave - Jubilee Cave - Gorbeck - Ewe Moor - Malham
1. Kirkby Fell and Pikedaw Hill
2. The top of Pikedaw
3. Malham Cove as seen from Pikedaw
4. Malham Tarn as seen from Nappa Cross
5. The remains of Nappa Cross
6. The summit cairn on Kirkby Fell
7. Matt on Rye Loaf Hill
8. Approaching Warrendale Knotts
9. The trig point and shelter cairn on Warrendale Knotts
10. Looking towards Brent Scar and the opening to Victoria Cave
11. The snowswept entrance to Victoria Cave
Walk Detail: The night before I'd been out celebrating my last day working in Armley (no more commuting - hurray!) so I was feeling a bit worse for wear and as a result found the first 6 or 7 miles quite challenging!!
Our first stop on our crowded itinerary was Pikedaw Hill. Topped with limestone pavement and a large cairn the summit provides a great view of the length of Malhamdale including the cove itself. From Pikedaw we took the bridleway to Nappa gate before making the small detour to see Nappa Cross. Not actually cross shaped it still commands a good view, particularly of the tarn which was hidden from us on Pikedaw.
Our next stop, Kirkby Fell, was a bit more challenging as we had to cross over a high snowdrift and then some quite thick heather and snow to get to the top. Kirkby Fell is a decent viewpoint and there were some dramatic views of Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough covered in snow. Apart from the small pile of stones marking the summit there was also a number of stone men on the south of the summit facing towards Flasby Fell.
From Kirby Fell we headed towards Rye Loaf Hill and had our first snow shower of the walk. We also experienced quite an amusing stretch where we were walking over knee-deep snow that often gave way gently underneath us. Rye Loaf Hill is quite a shapely top and commands some fine views though we did not linger due to the strong wind and the changeable conditions. Indeed one of the most memorable features of this walk was how you could be walking in clear sunny weather one moment and then in snow showers the next.
The descent from Rye Loaf Hill was quite steep and we had a little bit of difficulty getting over the barbed wire fence back on to the bridleway. We then made a wrong turn up an extremely windy side valley past a cordoned off shake hole. Fortunately it did not take as long to retrace our steps once we realised our mistake as we now had the wind at our backs.
Back on the right path it did we soon reached the impressive Attermire Scar and the incredible jutting rocks that make up Warrendale Knotts. We ate lunch in the shadow of the latter but unfortunately the pause stiffened up my knee that had begun to hurt again on the way down Stockdale. When we continued climbing up Warrendale the path began to peter out so we decided to just take the shortest route. This proved to be extremely steep and the mix of strong wind and slick ground ensured I went up very nervously on all fours. Once again the strong winds meant that we did not spend long at the top.
Next we headed down a gentler gradient back towards the scars and our next destination - Victoria Cave. On arriving at the cave I was a bit disappointed to come across signs warning people not to go into the cave and to make things worse it started to snow again. We did not stay and happily the weather cleared again for the next hour or so. This was a nice section of the walk with excellent views of Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent, as well as Fountain’s Fell and Whernside, all covered in snow.
The next stretch though, along what is known as the Gorbeck road, was fairly dreadful. Officially a green lane it was closed to motor vehicles while repair work was done to firm up the ground. From what we saw though it was only making things worse and we often had to walk through some really thick clay like mud which stuck to our boots. About half way along this lengthy stretch it started to snow heavily. To top things off my right knee was now causing me some real pain.
Eventually we reached better ground just south of Nappa Cross but due to the weather we saw little on our plod across Ewe Moor until we were just past the cove.
Despite my ongoing knee problems and the changeable nature of the weather this was a memorable walk with some excellent scenery on offer.