Being there, cheerful company, succeeding against the elements, tired legs, glowing faces, pools of water on the pub floor at the end – this is what GOC winter walking is all about. And so it was for twelve brave souls and a dog who defied the weather forecast to meet up for our Penyghent walk in the Yorkshire Dales.
Not that we didn’t take precautions. Storm Ewan was on the cards for later in the day, so with ‘escape’ routes in mind we knew we could make the summit with a steady ascent. The ‘Brackenbottom route’ from Horton is by far the best. As we completed the final scramble, the weather began to turn and we huddled out of the wind behind the summit wall in the damp mist. A decision was made to descend, postponing the long high level plod to Plover Hill until another day.
Leaving the mist behind, we visited the intimidating 60 metre waterfall shaft of Hunt Pot, unknown to many walkers as they rush to get off the hill. From there we continued to Hull Pot. This huge chasm is truly awesome with a magnificent waterfall plunging to the boulder strewn floor.
The day still fine, we followed the Pennine Way to view the daunting shaft of Penyghent Long Churn, Red Moss Cave and finally the pretty wooded entrance to Birkwith Cave. It was there that our weather luck ran out.
Storm Ewan had arrived. More a cat than a lion, it was certainly enough to test our waterproofs, and the dog’s fur, as we pushed into driving rain across the fells passing Sell Gill Hole on the way. Bedraggled and with a sense of achievement, our party arrived back in Horton having enjoyed a strenuous, varied and spectacular walk.
The open fire in the ‘Crown’ at Horton was a delight!