Yorkshire Dales Walks
Date: 19th March 2011
Distance: 10 miles
Ascent: 1794 feet
Time: 6 hours 10 mins
Start Grid Ref: SD978675
A lovely walk in Wharfedale with a distinct ornithological flavour to it.
Route Summary: Conistone - Gurling Trough - Conistone Dib - Conistone Turf Road - Capplestone Gate - Langcliffe - Kettlewell - Highgate Leys Lane - Swineber Scar - Conistone Pie - Davy Dimple - Conistone
1. Kilnsey Crag from Conistone Bridge
2. The entrance to Gurling Trough
3. Conistone Dib
4. Matt climbing out of Conistone Dib
5. By the trig point on Capplestone Gate
6. Looking down Wharfedale to Cracoe and Thorpe Fells
7. Buckden Pike
8. Birks Fell and Wharfedale from Langcliffe
9. A curlew
10. Swineber Scar
11. Limestone pavement below Swineber Scar
12. The view of Wharfedale from the top of Conistone Pie
13. Matt on Conistone Pie
14. Littondale joins Wharfedale as seen from Davy Dimple
15. The Davy Dimple cairn
Walk Detail: The upland limestone area between Conistone and Kettlewell in Wharfedale is one of my favourite areas in the Yorkshire Dales. Not only is there some fantastic limestone scenery and great views but it is also a great place to see some of my favourite birds, including the lapwing and curlew.
Matt had recently purchased an Olympus LS-11 PCM Recorder and as we knew that lapwings, in particular, congregate in certain areas at this time of year we picked a walk where we knew we were going to see and hear them and give us the chance to try and capture a recording of their distinctive call.
Beforehand though we first of all enjoyed the fine limestone scenery of Gurling Trough and Conistone Dib, a classic example of a dry limestone valley. From the head of the Dib it was then an easy walk up the limestone pastures along the Conistone Turf Road to the trig point on Capplestone Gate.
Capplestone Gate is a minor moorland bump and cannot really be classed as a proper summit. It is however a fine place with widespread views which include Simon's Seat, Cracoe Fell, Pendle Hill, Rye Loaf Hill, Fountains Fell, Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough, Whernside, Birks Fell, Buckden Pike and Great Whernside. The other notable feature of Capplestone Gate is that it is part of a modest gritstone edge that sits just above the substantial area of limestone below.
From Capplestone Gate we headed north along the gritstone edge, past some old mine workings, before descending back into limestone country. We had already seen and heard a number of lapwings but it was not until we reached the pastures of Langcliffe that Matt got out his audio equipment and we tried in earnest to record them.
Although there were plenty of lapwings making lots of noise the task proved more difficult than anticipated as the lapwings were often just out of range whilst at the same time there was also the sound of steady breeze to contend with.
Having descended the pastures of Langcliffe we barely touched the outskirts of Kettlewell before heading south along the Dales Way. In the second or third field along I spotted a curlew having a rummage about in the grass. Using the digital zoom on my camera I managed to get some wobbly video footage though we were unable to capture the curlew's song.
However, a bit later, while walking along Swineber Scar we heard a number of curlews just below us and so stopped again and Matt was this time able to make a couple of recordings.
For the last section of the walk we visited the limestone outcrop of Conistone Pie, another favourite of mine which features a fantastic view of Wharfedale. We then crossed over to the south side of Conistone Dib so that we could visit the prominent cairn on the area of the map marked as 'Davy Dimple'. Again there was an excellent view especially as you could look up both Wharfedale and Littondale. From Davy Dimple it was a simple descent back to Conistone.
This was another lovely walk, indeed the paths in this area are as easy underfoot as one can hope to find. The objective of the walk though was to make a first attempt at capturing some bird calls. The results can be heard below (files may take a few seconds to download).
- Listen to recording of lapwings
- Listen to recording of a curlew (startled)
- Listen to recording of a curlew (classic curlew sound)