Yorkshire Dales Walks
Blea Moor & Cam Fell
Date: 28th August 2005
Distance: 15.8 miles
Ascent: 2665 feet
Time: 7 hours 35 mins
With: Matt and Jo
Start Grid Ref: SD764790
An extended walk taking in some of the less fashionable tops of upper Ribblesdale such as Blea Moor and Cam Fell.
Route Summary: Ribblehead - Bleamoor Sidings - Little Dale - Blea Moor - Dent Head Farm - Dales Way - Arten Gill - Wold Fell - Newby Head Gate - Ribble Way - Cam Fell - Cam End - Gearstones - Ribblehead
1. The Ribblehead Viaduct
2. Looking back down Little Dale Beck towards Ingleborough
3. One of the ventilation shafts on Blea Moor
4. Whernside from Blea Moor
5. Matt and Jo by the trig point on Blea Moor
6. Wold Fell from Blea Moor
7. Looking back down to Arten Gill Viaduct
8. Looking back up to Wold Fell from near Newby Head Field
9. Dodd Fell from Cam Fell
10. The summit cairn on Cam Fell looking towards Pen-y-Ghent
11. Presumably a bonfire was being prepared on Cam West End
12. Gayle Beck
13. Park Fell and Ingleborough
Walk Detail: I devised this route with two things in mind, firstly I had never visited each of the day's three main summits and secondly we needed a route that would be a good practice walk for the three of us, and Jo in particular, for the Three Peaks.
The weather was ominously bad as set off in Matt's new Land Rover but by the time we reached Ribblehead it had started to clear up and soon after we started up Blea Moor it came out beautifully and stayed like that for the rest of the day.
The path over Blea Moor tunnel, while damp due to the recent rain, was still an excellent route and commanded fine views of Littledale and Whernside.
After a brief detour to the trig point on Blea Moor and the modest Blea Moor crag we headed down the other side of the moor into Dentdale. At the foot of Blea Moor we entered a plantation that had a very muddy section to negotiate due to some fallen trees having blocked the main path. After coming through the woods we found ourselves just next to the northern entrance to the Blea Moor tunnel and by happy chance I managed to get a photo of a train coming out of the tunnel.
There then followed an absolutely delightful section in the company of Gill Beck (not named on the OS Map) with its lovely waterfalls to Dent Head Farm. As we were passing through the farmyard, which was full of chickens, turkeys and ducks, we met and chatted with the owner of the farm.
Between Dent Head and Arten Viaducts we followed the road and along the way caught a glimpse of Scow Force. Arten Viaduct itself is perhaps the most impressively sited of all the viaducts along the Settle to Carlisle line. Made of limestone known as Dent Marble it spans the deep valley containing Arten Beck and to add to the picture there are some impressive waterfalls tumbling beneath one of the massive arches.
The path up to and beyond the viaduct was stony but well graded and also gave some impressive views over sections of Dentdale. At the top of the path in the depression between Great Knoutberry Hill and Wold Fell we turned south for the latter. The initially damp path soon gave way to an absolutely delightful green way on a closely cropped limestone lawn.
We followed this path to the point where it officially becomes a bridleway and then climbed to the tabletop plateau and the indeterminate summit. The summit is not a particularly great viewpoint and there was not a cairn in sight to mark the highest point. This is always a bit disappointing but in all other ways it was a lovely fell.
From Wold Fell we descended down to Blea Moor Road and then crossed over and headed up Gayle Moor on what is the final leg of the Ribble Way. This was another lovely path; it was well graded, easy on the feet and also gave a feeling of being truly in the wilderness.
As we gained height there was also an abundance of the beautiful red tipped moor grass that was so prominent on Blaydike Moss. Once over 500m limestone scenery returned and on the north eastern side of the fell, looking towards Dodd Fell and Snaizeholme there was some smatterings of limestone pavement.
A modest cairn on marked the top of Cam Fell but it is set too far back from the edge to give really good views. Much better was the subsidiary top of Cam West End which had great views of Ingleborough, Whernside, Pen-Y-Ghent as well as Wold Fell and Great Knoutberry Hill.
Apart from a small pile of stones of its own this top also had a large pile of materials for burning piled up. Is this a site of a former beacon? Or is this where bonfires are lit every year in May to celebrate the birth of the Wharfe as mentioned on the Northern Earth website (exact page no longer on the site).
Cam Fell itself is rarely visited, except by Pennine Wayfarers, and is very much unheralded. However not only does it give views into numerous valleys, including some great views of Oughtershaw, Langstrothdale and Upper Wharfedale, but it is also vitally important as a Pennine watershed and is the birthing place for both the Wharfe and the Ribble.
We descended Cam Fell by the long Cam Fell Road, which was an excellent path down a gentle gradient that continued to offer great views throughout. This was an excellent walk exploring some of the less visited fells of the Dales.