Post 234: 4 February 2018: The Inn Way, Rudland Rigg to Black Holes
At 7am (too early for a Sunday) I filled my Camel Pack with water, not realising I hadn’t screwed the cap on properly. Just after breakfast I noticed the kitchen floor was covered in water, which delayed me considerably whilst mopping up. Rushing to catch up as Sid the Yorkshireman would be banging on the door at 8am I then knocked a bottle of milk over. Sometimes you get a feeling it’s going to be one of those days!
The forecast had been for early snow at about 8am and then brightening up as we arrived at the car park, just after Ousegill Bridge, above Bransdale, at 9.00am. I could just see the location of my adopted trig pillar in the far distance on top of the escarpment. I will end up there one day with a Canadian walking friend who passed away far too young and asked to be placed there. I was not planning to go there soon but when we suddenly found Sid the Yorkshireman’s car sliding uncontrolled down a hill towards Spout House I began to wonder. Just as we were about to get our gear on a snow storm arrived. It was so bad and went on so long we thought we would have to abandon the walk and take a few photographs and go for a coffee somewhere. There are not many cafes in this wilderness! The roads deteriorated quickly but we decided to leave the car park.
When we reached a hill Sid the Yorkshireman drove very slowly and we thought with 4 wheel drive we would be okay. That was until the car started slipping and sliding down the hill towards Spout House. We were about to be spouted into a wall! I grabbed a car handle and braced myself for a crash as the car’s speed increased out of control and I could see some pretty hard stone walls directly ahead.
Sid the Yorkshireman managed to get control of the car again as it somehow came to a halt. It was time for a re-think again. We decided we couldn’t carry on ahead as there were more steep hills and so turned round and went back, The four wheel drive worked on the ascent of the hill and we headed back towards the car park. We decided that we couldn’t go further after the car park due to another steep descent and were in effect trapped.
At this point the Cavalry arrived over the hill as though it was a was a movie in the far west and we cheered!
Some locals then appeared in their cars so they must know what time the gritter comes round the North York Moors remotest valley on a Sunday!
Not only that, there was also some improvement in the weather such that, with an improving forecast, we decided the walk was back on. It was now 10.00am and so we had lost an hour, but at least the car and us were intact! Normal business resumed and we headed off walking along improving roads. Spikes were compulsory even for Sid the Yorkshireman.
We soon turned off the road to begin climbing to Rudland Rigg where we would rejoin The Inn Way from earlier in the week. There were fine views towards Bransdale
We then walked into low mist and all became grey again as we arrived at Rudland Rigg
As we descended the weather improved and according to the forecast there was less than a 10% chance of more snow. The views were fabulous as we descended towards the bottom of Bransdale. We discussed whether 4 wheel drive or winter tyres (I have the latter) are better on ice and snow. The problem is it is difficult to know until your in the situation where they are needed. Clearly both are best, but that is not always possible. Bransdale Mill came into view. This and much of the land hereabouts is owned and managed by the National Trust. This was to be an early lunch stop at just after 11.30am as there was a bench and shelter from the slight wind. The old water wheel and other artefacts are still there. The mill is one of the oldest in the North York Moors dating back to the 13th century. It was used to ground corn and oatmeal. William Strickland restored the mill in 1842. Whilst sitting having our lunch we could imagine the activities that must have gone on there. It is like stepping back in time and full of interest.
Climbing out of valley bottom after lunch, we passed a sundial with various inscriptions, my favourite being:
Time and life move swiftly.
How true as you get older!
The imposing Bransdale Lodge could be seen further up the valley.
Bransdale was named after the Viking settler Brand and is the most remote valley on the North York Moors. Perhaps some of my relatives lived here?! With narrow lanes and few car parks and tourist attractions, such as cafes and information centres, it has a uniqueness and remoteness of its own. On the whole of the walk we only saw one other person on foot, and that was a runner from a remote farm. My sort of place!
We soon ascended out of the valley bottom heading toward the ridge towards Bilsdale. There was now a long undulating ascent towards our next destination Black Holes. The name is enough to put you off!
The path through the heather was difficult to find and very tiring. There was an awkward stream and wet area to cross. It was not for the faint hearted or inexperienced walker.
Despite the starkness there was colour and occasional signs of spring low to the ground.
There was suddenly a scream and I looked back and Carol had taken a tumble. Not the best place as if she was seriously injured it would have been a helicopter air ambulance job!
However, fortunately as she had fallen she had a spasm of cramp and so there was no permanent damage. We stopped for a breather and a regroup in a nearby grouse butt. There is no A&E out here! I gave some body mineral supplement to Carol, which would reduce the likelihood of cramp. We still had a lot of walking to do! At nearby Black Holes it was now important to find our bridleway/track back towards the car.
Fortunately, the track was obvious but where it split I did take a compass reading to check the one we took was heading in the correct direction, easterly. It was now time for a bit of fun photographing tracks. As well as grouse, a mountain biker had left his tracks!
We headed towards Bonfield Ghyll
Where we were delighted to find a working Archimedian screw supplying hydro-electro power to the local 18th century farm, which has never had mains electricity. Owned by the National Trust it was the first of its kind being installed in 2007 to replace a noisy diesel generator.
We then continued to the ruins of Stork House with expansive views of Bransdale.
It was with some sadness that we viewed the ruins. There is an inscription on a stone nearby dated 1815!
Carol was in need of a tree hug.
Sid the Yorkshireman felt in need of a boot and spikes clean.
And I felt in a need of a pheasant. We just needed to find the transport home now. This seemed suitable.
Well it could be four wheeled drive and have winter tyres?!
A challenging and thoroughly enjoyable day!
Miles Walked 12.1
Calories Burnt 3,800