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Yorkshire Dales Walks

Ingleborough & Simon Fell

Date: 11th January 2014
Distance: 9.5 miles
Ascent: 1854 feet
Time: 5 hours 15 mins
With: Tim, Jack & Daniel
Start Grid Ref: SD764790

Walk Summary:
A fantastic walk from Ribblehead up on to Ingleborough and returning via Simon Fell and Park Fell with dramatic views during breaks in the cloud.

Route Summary: Ribblehead - Ivescar - Low Sleights Road - Southerscales - Humphrey Bottom - Ingleborough - Simon Fell - Park Fell - Colt Park - Gauber Road - Ribblehead

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

A cloud topped Whernside above Ribblehead Viaduct
Ribblehead Viaduct
The access road we followed from Gunnerfleet
Bruntscar below the slopes of Whernside
Limestone pavement at Southerscales
Braithwaite Wife Hole
Jack heading across Humphrey Bottom
Jack appraising the climb ahead
A glimpse of Simon Fell on the climb up
Tim and Dan on the climb up
The sun threatens to break out above the trig point on Ingleborough
The sudden appearance of Simon Fell
Ribblehead Viaduct
On Simon Fell
Approaching Park Fell
Looking back at Simon Fell and Ingleborough
The trig point on Park Fell
Heading along the road towards Ribblehead and Whernside


Walk Detail: When I first started hill walking, back in 2004, my first proper hill was Ingleborough. It was a wet murky day, I didn't have waterproofs and I couldn't even manage the climb up Little Ingleborough without stopping for a flask of soup to help me refuel. Remarkably I really enjoyed myself and I climbed Ingleborough another four times over the next two years, twice as part of the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk. However, prior to this walk I'd not been up there since December 2006 so when Tim from Bowland Walks asked me to join him and his sons for this walk I was definitely up for it especially as our starting point, Ribblehead, would allow us to return over Simon Fell and Park Fell - two hills I've only visited once before.

The forecast for the day could not have been better but it was clear from the amount of rain on the drive up to Ribblehead that the weather wasn't playing ball. In fact just as I was arriving at Ribblehead there was even some slushy snow on the road, a remnant of a brief blizzard earlier that morning. More promisingly there was also a lot of blue sky overhead, however the remaining cloud had settled on the tops of the hills and clung there tenaciously for most of the day.

After an easy couple of miles following tracks and access roads between Ribblehead and Chapel-le-Dale we left the sunshine behind to walk at first below and then into the cloud cling to Ingleborough. It was a remarkable transition, the ground below are feet was now low largely frozen or under a thin layer of snow as we got higher. Apart from a couple of tantalising hints of a view the visibility on the climb from Southerscales to Humphrey Bottom was severely restricted.

After walking across the flat frozen summit to the trig point we had our lunch in the shelter of the cairn. It was very cold and as there was still not much to see we didn't linger long. As we began to re-trace our steps there was one particularly dramatic break in the cloud where Simon Fell was briefly revealed to us along with stunning views across to Whernside and down to the Ribblehead Viaduct. It was a truly memorable moment, more so for being very brief. By the time we'd descended to the col with Simon Fell we were back in the cloud again.

The walk following the wall across the top of Simon Fell was done almost completely in the cloud. However, as we began to drop down off Simon Fell we finally left behind the cloud that was still clinging to the hillside. The sudden appearance of Park Fell was a welcome sight and for the rest of the walk we enjoyed some super views across Ribblesdale towards the likes of Whernside, Cam Fell, Oughtershaw Moss, Cosh Outside, Plover Hill and Pen-y-Ghent.

The steep descent from Park Fell was quite tricky, the combination of a muddy path and slippery grass meant that before long we'd all slipped over at least once. In the end Tim and his boys decided that sliding down on their backsides was more practical and more fun! Once we'd got down from Park Fell it was then a simple walk back along the road to Ribblehead. This had been a hugely enjoyable walk, the occasional bursts of a view more than compensated for the often limited visibility and if anything actually made the day more memorable.

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