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Yorkshire Dales Walks

Smearsett Scar & Giggleswick Scar

Date: 17th Jan 2015
Distance: 9.5 miles
Ascent: 1688 feet
Time: 4 hours 45 mins
With: Tim and Jack
Start Grid Ref: SE070911

Walk Summary:
A wonderful winter walk in the snow from Settle exploring the limestone features of Smearsett Scar and Giggleswick Scar.

Route Summary: Settle - Ribble Way - Stackhouse - Stainforth Lane - Little Stainforth - Smearsett Scar - Feizor - Feizor Thwaite - Giggleswick Scar - Schoolboys Cairn - Lord's Wood - Giggleswick Memorial Bridge - Settle

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Arriving at Settle station
A snowy scene at the River Ribble
The first break in the cloud came as I crossed the snow filled pastures on the way to Little Stainforth
Looking back along Stainforth Lane
Looking back along Stainforth Lane
A congregation of sheep greeted me as I approached Smearsett Scar
Smearsett Scar and Pot Scar
Looking towards Moughton from Smearsett Scar
Looking down on the 'Celtic Wall' from Smearsett Scar
The trig point on top of Smearsett Scar
Enjoying the superb view from Smearsett Scar
The Happy Valley
Smearsett Scar
The path leading to Feizor
Looking down on the small hamlet of Feizor
Footprints in the snow on the way to Giggleswick Scar
Some sheep on top of Giggleswick Scar
Looking along Giggleswick Scar and the line of the Craven Fault
The short dry valley on Giggleswick Scar where Kinsey Cave is located
The entrance to Kinsey Cave
The upper section of Giggleswick Scar outside Kinsey Cave
Watching a passing snow shower from Wall Cave
Wall Cave no longer has the wall across the entrance
The large cairn above the highest part of Giggleswick Scar
A glimpse of Pen-y-ghent from the top of Giggleswick Scar
Standing on the top of Schoolboys Tower
A very unusual looking cloud
The view across Ribblesdale towards Warrendale Knotts
The sheer sides of Giggleswick Quarry with Settle in the distance
The River Ribble in Settle

Walk Detail: With a forecast of snow showers mixed with sunny spells I was particularly keen on getting out for a walk in the snow. The only problem for me is that I'm really not keen on driving on snow and ice. Deciding to go somewhere accessible by train I'd originally considered heading down to Calderdale in the South Pennines before Tim convinced me to meet him in Settle instead.

It was a decision that I initially regretted when I disembarked from the train at Settle station to be greeted by a very unpromising looking day. It was cold, grey and dreary with the low cloud promising little in the way of views. As we set off it then began to snow as well. The next mile did little to dispel my initial pessimism but then, as we crossed the snowy pastures between Stackhouse and Little Stainforth, patches of blue sky suddenly began to appear overhead.

Apart from another couple of fairly brief snow showers the weather for the rest of the walk was simply superb. The difference compared with the hot and hazy summer day on my previous visit to Smearsett Scar back in 2006 could not have been greater. Due to the train timetable I had plenty of time to have a potter about. Unfortunately, Tim and Jack were a bit more pressed for time so while I made my way up to the top of Smearsett Scar they made directly for Giggleswick Scar.

Carefully working my way up to the top of Smearsett Scar I was rewarded by a superb panorama. The thick layer of snow on Smearsett Scar and neighbouring Pot Scar made the pair seem much higher in altitude than they actually are. The view was quite beautiful, especially the contrast between the white snow and the deep blue sky.

After drinking in as much as I could of the view from Smearsett Scar I carefully dropped back down to the path leading to Feizor. The sky suddenly went very dark as another snow shower approached from the west. It turned out to be less severe than it looked and by the time I had followed the bridleway from Feizor to Giggleswick Scar the sun was back out.

In over ten years of walking in the Yorkshire Dales this was, remarkably, my first time on Giggleswick Scar. It proved to be a fascinating place with lots of hidden nooks and crannies. The highlights of this section were the short detour to Kinsey Cave (where I sat and ate my lunch in the mouth of the cave), the extensive views from the cairn above Wall Cave, and the sprawling cairn known as the Schoolboys Tower. The latter is so named from the tradition of pupils from Giggleswick School placing a stone on the cairn on their last day at school.

From the Schoolboys Tower I finally left Giggleswick Scar by taking a path following a fence around the outside of Giggleswick Quarry. Some quarries can be really dreadful looking places but I have to say the deep, vertical sides of this particular quarry were quite spectacular. The walk concluded with a pleasant descent on a track winding down through Lord's Wood and into Giggleswick from where it was an easy stroll back into Settle.

This was a really fine walk - quite possibly one of my favourite winter walks to date.

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