Ski Club Autumn Walks - Saturday and Sunday 18 &19 September

Reporter: Helen Richardson

The Ski Club Autumn Walk, organised and led by David Miller, turned into a wonderful weekend of walks - so here I report on both. The walks started from Malham, set in beautiful limestone country, typified by cliffs, scars, caves, streams, sink holes, clints and grykes.

On Saturday, 18th September, nine walkers and faithful friend, Dolly, met just before noon for an afternoon circular walk of about 17km. The start of the walk was slightly delayed by two arriving late, due to having been stopped on their drive across a moorland road by a walker anxious to let the National Park Wardens know of a sheep stuck in a limestone pavement gryke, and a consequent detour to the Warden’s office.

Booted and clad to face the uncertain weather, we set off from Malham in a W, then NW direction, climbing steadily upwards from about 100m to about 490m, towards Kirkby Fell and Rye Loaf Hill, though skirting their summits. The grey cloud cover made for dull, though stable weather, and we enjoyed good views to the south and west over lunch, which was amply - and most enjoyably - supplemented by David’s delicious home-made granola bars. These, packed full of nuts and seeds, were a veritable feast. The recipe is here—they are well worth making!

Various caves were in evidence along the route, and several of the group made a short detour to one of these. Our walk, soon after, took us N for a short way then E past Langcliffe Scar and Gorbeck.

In celebration of a birthday, and not to be outdone in the home-baking stakes, Paul and Liz treated us to some luscious lemony-flavoured fruit cake! Replete with cake and coffee, and shortly after passing Langscar, we turned S and soon lost height, as we descended through a steep and narrow gorge with spectacular scars to our right, such as Ing Scar Crag and Raven Scar, and so back to Malham.

In the evening, eight of us reconvened for dinner at the Lister Arms Hotel, where we enjoyed various main courses such as slowly roasted lamb shoulder, ham shank or duck breast, followed by desserts such as baked chocolate cheesecake, washed down with fruity wine or guest beers. Another feast and highly recommended!

On Sunday morning, having lost one walker and gained six, fourteen of us, plus Dolly, set off, in heavy rain, in a S then E direction, beside the now fast flowing river to look at Janet’s Foss and the waterfalls at Gordale Scar, which were in full spate due to the heavy overnight rain. We learned that the area was ‘privileged’ to be the only area in the country to have a forecast of rain all day! There were no takers for David’s offer to lead a scramble up the scar in such conditions, as clambering across the stream bed promised at least ankle deep submersion. Instead, we retraced our steps a short way to Gordale Bridge, and took the footpath to the road, where turning N, we climbed steadily and steeply up a grassed hillside past New Close Knotts, to rejoin the route above Gordale Scar, where we peered down where we might have come up.

Our walk then took us N to Seaty Hill and our lunch stop by Great Close Plantation, when once again we were treated to David’s delicious granola bars. There was much mirth and merriment over David’s address (‘Upper Ramsbottom’) and surprise at its origin—which, we learned, has nothing to do with sheep, but refers to “the bottom of the valley where Ramson grows”—Ramson being a type of wild garlic abounding in the area. Another surprise was how a couple of wet dripping trees behind a stone wall can be a haven of comfort on a bare, open moorland in pouring rain!

After lunch, we continued N to Middle House Farm, before turning SW towards and around the east side of Malham Tarn. Continuing in a SW direction, we noted where water from the Tarn enters a sink hole, and, further south, at Malham Cove saw it emerge again. From Malham Cove, we continued in a SE direction back to Malham.

We ended a great day’s walk in the Malham teashop that ‘welcomes muddy boots’—which all of ours certainly were!

Our clothes were dripping, but we were all laughing—as we chatted over our two days walks, which were greatly enjoyed by all.

On behalf of us all, thanks very much to David for organising and leading the weekend’s walks, and for that great granola bar recipe!