I did a very similar route to this walk with Martin Banfield a couple of years ago and I seem to remember that the two resulting blog posts – on Northernpies and Postcard from Timperley – were almost identical and with the same spelling a grammatical errors, almost as if they’d been written by the same person…..
It was different, though, this time.
Yesterday, I pinched the very last place in the village car park at Embsay, read the Craven Herald and Pioneer whilst waiting for the nephew, and, after he’d arrived we marched off to have a look at Deer Gallows Crag. This place is a small but perfectly formed gritstone outcrop in the middle of Embsay Moor. It has a few memories for me – we used to climb the rocks here and, I believe that Deer Gallows Chimney may well have been the first named route I ever climbed. DG Chimney is a narrow slit containing some chockstones. Its not really climbed as such. What you do is you insinuate yourself inside and wriggle upwards for about thirty feet and pop out of the top like a cork. The last time I did this must have been in the early 1980’s , and without the additional frictional benefits of a huge beer belly which on this occasion, acted as a safety device, preventing me from sliding down inside the chimney should I lose grip. It’s graded “Difficult” and, it’s a fairly easy difficult. I think you’re supposed to climb it outside the chockstones. I’ve never done this, always enjoying the cosy embrace, which turns slowly into a desperate upwards thrutchy struggle of the innards of this crack. I tried it again yesterday. I did get to the top eventually. There was much huffing, groaning, puffing and heaving and one hand lost a bit of skin. Phew. Its like potholing, but without the darkness.
So, after admiring Deer Gallows’ rocky pinnacle (also a Diff) – we continued to Crookrise. Crookrise was another stamping ground and I haunted the place occasionally from the mid 1960’s to the mid 1980’s, climbing the rocks, a night bivi where Neil’s brother set fire to a tree, and , generally mooching around the place. This crag has a rich history dating back to the times of Napes Needle, and it has secret howffs, one of which I only managed to find once, and then never again – a huge boulder with an overhanging capstone, underneath which there was a space, big enough for six or seven people to shelter and containing hurricane lamps and old bits of climbing gear. It’s whereabouts are a complete mystery to me, but sometimes I like to try to see if I can find it.
And then, after crossing Waterfoot Gill (misnamed on OS maps as “Waterfall Gill”, ) and lunch, when a few snowflakes fell, we wandered along to Rylstone Crag with it’s cross teetering on the edge - and Cracoe Fell, where more boulders were found to be too attractive to miss the chance of a little unthreatening mountaineering. You could have hours of happy fun floating up and down these rocks. They are beautiful, grippy and friendly……..
A long march back over the moor brought us back to Embsay, and so to Skipton for our tea.(Which was excellent by the way – ta, Bev.)
We’d done about twelve and a half miles with about two thousand feet of up, which is not bad for a walk we made up “on the hoof”. Bruno, unfortunately, is not allowed on these moors under the terms of the access agreement with the Duke of Devonshire’s estate. Boo! Wuff! Growl!