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A winter scene in the Dales. Looking towards Ingleborough from Sulber Nick. Climbs of Ingleborough start from Horton or Ribblehead. We run these walks throughout the year.

Wharton Hall in the valley visited on walks from Kirkby Stephen. A favourite venue for many easier walks.



Weekends 2004

Please click on the links below to read the full reports

10/11 January Annual Dinner Weekend
26-28 March Hexham, Northumbria
27-31 August Woolacombe, Devon
22-24 October Macclesfield, Cheshire



Falcon Manor Hotel, Settle - 10/11 January 2004


In the absence of our usual Reporter, I am afraid I was "persuaded", after having had the odd glass of red wine to pen this report. The plan was for the 'A' party to walk some 15 miles from Hellifield to Settle for the dinner, but, true to form, Arriva did their best to mess things up. Almost half the party gathered on a grey morning at Settle station to catch the train from Carlisle which was due to arrive at Hellifield one minute before the train from Leeds. Imagine the consternation when we discovered it was half an hour late. What do we do now? By the time we had bought our tickets and thought about it, abortively tried to phone on mobiles, and watched the B & C parties depart, our train appeared. Fortunately our leader realised what was happening, and left Lewis and Martyn at Hellifield to meet and guide us. Lewis has never been known to walk so fast at the start of a walk, with only the coffee stop imminent (Martyn's gps reckoned we averaged 3.75mph!). As a result the two halves were united for coffee at Otterburn. Thereafter we proceeded at a more leisurely pace for a lengthy lunch break at Kirby Malham, before tackling the redoubtable Pikedaw. Unfortunately by now the cloud had descended, and little groups of ghostly figures were seen appearing out of the mist as we staggered up the hill. It also meant that we arrived in Settle feeling rather damp, but not at all dejected, for we had had a good day walking and dinner to look forward to. All our thanks to the leader and back up who coped well with the little problems thrown at them.

Martin Housley


Red wine certainly played a big part in this particular member of Dales Rail promising Trevor after the Annual Dinner to be responsible for writing up the Settle Circular walk .If I had know previously, I would have popped paper and pencil into my already cluttered ruck-sack as my knowledge of the Yorkshire Dales is not as good as seasoned walkers who know them like the back of their hand.
Here goes, start at the beginning, Settle Station was very busy due to the fact that the down train from Carlisle was 30 minutes late. How a train on tracks with nothing in front of it can be delayed for this length of time is a mystery. Fortunately the up train from
Leeds arrived nearly on time. 'B' group assembled, Brian Hall counted us out of the station 18 in all and we set off in the direction of Giggleswick. We quickly came to a halt because Alan gave a little lecture saying he was leading and nobody was to wander in front of him. This was O.K. as Alan has a knack for setting a perfect pace.
We visited a lovely church named after a saint whose name began with A (now you know why I needed paper and pencil). The interior boasted beautiful stained glass and an unusual Royal Coat of Arms,
Walking then began in earnest skirting Langcliffe and then ascending. Quite a lot of people had heeded the dire warnings of the previous evening's weather forecast and were kitted out in full waterproofs completely unnecessary as it turned out fine. A stop was needed to remove a layer or two, then more ascent to a deep disused quarry for a coffee/tea break. Walking on through pretty scenery, we ate lunch then climbed to a valley and started to descend. An interesting feature was a disused set of lime kilns built in a huge circle. The Dales have certainly provided a lot of employment in the past. Reaching Stainforth was a welcome relief; proper toilets are always a luxury! Then homewards towards Settle Market place where everybody dispersed to cafes and pubs. A pleasant day, lots of chatter and good company.

Terry Housley


The 'C' group, led by Glennys Ash and backed up by Dave Reid, set off from Settle Station, crossing the footbridge over the swollen River Ribble and accidentally met up with the 'B' group on the outskirts of Giggleswick. Both groups walked together, but not mixing, to the bottom of the climb to Giggleswick Scar. Here the 'C's stopped for a short break. At the top of the climb, a path not shown on the O.S. map, led to a dry stonewall!! (Pity about the thick mist as any views were completely obliterated). A GPS fix suggested turning right, but a majority decision opted for left, picking up the path along the edge of the Scar. When the group eventually joined up with the intended path, one lady said she was finding the going too much for her and Les Crooke gallantly volunteered to escort her back to Settle. Lunch was taken at Feizor and to everybody's surprise and delight, Glennys produced plastic cups and a large flask of hot mulled wine!! From here, the path led up and then down to Little Stainforth and the river at Stainforth Bridge. A coffee stop was taken to admire the falls of Stainforth Force, in full flood. The riverside path was then followed all the way back to Settle, the final stretch marred by a heavy, soaking drizzle, but all agreed it had been an enjoyable day and thanked Glennys for her leading and Dave for bringing up the rear.

Trevor Grimston

Following the walks, the Annual Dinner itself was attended by approximately 80 members. Shortly before the meal was served, a special presentation was made by our chairman to George Thompson in recognition of his long service to the organisation. George retired from the committee in November 2003. Please click here to view the photo of the presentation.

Sunday 11th January - Slaidburn Circular

Following tradition, a small group set off from Slaidburn car park on Sunday morning to walk off the excesses of the night before. In previous years we have gone North, West, and South, so this year we went - you've guessed - East. The forecast promised a strong wind with sunshine and showers, so we were wondering what we had let ourselves in for, especially as the planned route involved climbing up over Waddington Moor. Within 15 minutes we were stopping to put on full waterproofs as the sky blackened, and the hail bounced down. The leader had decided to take his first 'escape' plan and carry on down the valley, but at the turn off point the clouds had cleared and the sky was blue, so we carried on as planned but would definitely take the second 'bale out' route. However at coffee, in the shelter of Padiham Barn, things didn't look too bad, so up onto the Moor we went. Our perseverance was rewarded by glimpses of the Three Peaks through the storm clouds, and lunch in the shelter of Swan Barn (where, surprisingly, there were no
owls). We squelched our way back through Harrop Fold - the best-kept hamlet in Lancashire - and Harrop Lodge, one of the dirtiest farms I have had the pleasure to pass through. So much for our complacency, for with ten minutes to our refuge, the heavens opened, and the hail cut into our faces whenever we looked up to see more than two paces ahead. However we were soon rewarded with the comfort and refreshments of the Hark to Bounty, which, in retrospect, finished off another great DalesRail weekend.
Again, many thanks to those who organised it so well, and to my long suffering back up - Terry.

Martin Housley



Travellers to Hexham on Friday took various routes and pleasures on the way but all arrived to a very warm welcome at the Beaumont Hotel, where good food and drink were excellent and the service impeccable. Receiving news of our adventures for the next day in an alcoholic haze all seemed possible.

Saturday 27 March

A leisurely walk along Hadrian's Wall or another magical mystery tour for Dalesrailers? 'A' party 12 miles, 'B' party 9 miles. What?
Having been told that there would be ups and downs the first few miles seemed suspiciously flat and easy. And weren't we tearing along at rather a fast pace? All was revealed at coffee time. Forget the last three miles, that was a warm up, this is where the walk starts. Right then.
'A' party were allowed to go ahead so that their morale was not too seriously damaged and they soon encountered the promised undulations. These seemed to get steeper each time until at last a trig point was reached. Views to the north and south were splendid and far-reaching and if it hadn't been for the chilly breeze we might have been tempted into shorts- well, some of us might.
Entertainment came in the form of the GPS owners comparing information. Did we really walk at 3.7miles per hour? Do we have 7.7 or 8.09 more miles to go? Will we get there at all? The level of historical interest was high too as milestones marking the Wall were carefully read and nervous looks cast over the shoulder as strange figures appeared over the horizon - but it was only the 'B' party not the Romans on a raiding spree. At last the immortal cry of 'It's downhill all the way from here' was heard and shortly afterwards, sure enough, we were climbing steeply up again. Must have been imagining it. A cruel temptation was put in their way when the coach appeared 4 or was it 5 miles from the end. Only pride prevented a full-scale rush but backs were stiffened for the final assault on Greeenhead and its welcome pumps. The GPS registered 15.4 miles as the crow flies but the collective wisdom of aching bodies would like to think it was nearer to 17.5
'B' party had a more chequered history. They, too, did the preliminary warm up walk, read the historical notes and clambered up and down the steep steps of the Wall. An independent seven decided to take their destiny into their own hands and left the main party for a long sojourn at Twice Brewed (Once Brewed, Twice Brewed, Thrice Stewed?) The remainder of the party kept going until their rightful pub came into view and they thankfully dived (dove?) inside.
Saturday evening brought the usual conviviality and even the thought of losing an hour's sleep did not daunt us - not until Sunday morning that is.

Sunday 28 March

Sunday dawned bright and sunnyish and chessboard manoeuvres were executed in extracting cars from the hotel car park. Everyone booted up and ready to go when a bright eye spotted a puncture. Immediately a knight in shining armour sprang to the rescue and with a 'it'll only take me ten minutes' effected an amazing
Le Mans-style wheel change to the delight of the assembled crowd. It was the best entertainment of the day. (See acknowledgement elsewhere) After that things slowed down.
Both 'A' and 'B' parties set off in opposite directions to test the delights of the countryside south of Hexham. 'A' party managed to lose themselves initially in a baffling housing estate. Fields and lambs eventually appeared though and soon they were deep into the countryside making for West Dipton Burn through a delightful wood. After an encounter over a stile with 'B' party the path was followed to the picturesque valley of Devil's Water. The contrast with the previous day's scenery was stark and it did not take much imagination to see what a riot of colour and greenery there would be in a few weeks time. Although muddy in places, the onward track through farms, fields and woods was beautiful. We even passed a waterfall and ruined castle at Dilston before following an ancient trackway leading from Corbridge to Hexham.

Douglas Robinson, who had been "volunteered" to lead the 'B' walk (ably backed by Derek Little) had been led to believe the route was 'fairly undulating'. After some slight confusion finding the way through the houses, the rather steep climb up two fields on a full 'English breakfast', was far from undulating! At least the views over Hexham and to the north were worth the effort. From here the path led down through picturesque woods to a scenic, narrow wooded valley with babbling brook, at Hole House. A deer was seen leaping over a fence and at the coffee stop a number of ladies received nettle stings necessitating a hasty search for dock leaves. At Diptonmill the 'A' group was met head on and were informed that they were going in the right direction! Further along, a hazardous section of the path came right down on to the rocks along the stream, followed by a steep 'undulation' out of the valley for lunch at the top, in a rather draughty field. After passing Hexham race course, a few members dropped out - one with a bad ankle. The rest pressed on up the lane, then a pleasant descent, albeit along very muddy bridle ways, to Low Gate, where a further seven opted for the short cut back to Hexham. Douglas and his depleting party stoically pressed on with Douglas determined to explore one of his beloved abandoned railway lines. All arrived safely back after an enjoyable 'undulating' day. Thanks to Doug and Derek.

All were re-united at the Beaumont Hotel before dispersing to various parts of the globe to visit families or just go home. Some stayed to enjoy even more delights. A very enjoyable weekend in a really well managed and efficient hotel. Well done Lewis and Yvonne for the research and Pat for sorting out the bookings. Good luck in the future! Thanks to all who led or backed up and those who contributed in other ways which I haven't already mentioned.

Diane Exley/Trevor Grimston



Devon Coastal Path Devon Cream Tea
(courtesy Jean Grimston) (courtesy Eric Bottomley)

On Friday, fifty excited DalesRailers lurched and swung down the motorways to Worcester where they stopped to explore the delights of the home of Worcester Sauce, Elgar and a certain kind of pottery. Some were led on a town trail round the haunts of King Charles 1 and Oliver Cromwell and some took up independent exploration or just enjoyed a good lunch.
On the way again the scenery gradually took on the characteristic red hue for which Devon is famous. Everyone had plenty of time to study the countryside in detail, even individual blackberries, as many other people had had the idea of going to Devon for a holiday. However, under dire threats from the coach driver that he would have to stop the coach for forty five minutes if we didn't reach the hotel by 7pm, we raced through the final narrow lanes to arrive at Woolacombe with two minutes to spare. We had had visions of abandoning the coach and our luggage to walk the last part if necessary but luckily no such sacrifice was required.
The hotel greeted us efficiently and we were soon queuing up at the dining room to be allocated our table for the next few days. Views over the sea were splendid and we basked in the late evening sunshine. Service was of the help yourself variety and we soon got the hang of that, although we didn't always manage to synchronise wine with food. Never mind, let's just get on with it and see what tomorrow has to offer.

Saturday dawned rather cloudy and windy and those of a delicate disposition did not bare their legs, preferring to see the colour of the sun first. Both parties took the coach south eastwards, 'B' party debussing at Great Cornham and 'A' party going on to Simonsbath or thereabouts. The previous evening 'A' party had been promised a 'good' 12 miles of walking - as if we believed that! - and in order to fulfil the strenuous requirements a 4(?), 5(?), 6(?) mile loop had been added to the intended 'B' walk. This proved to be a beautifully undulating journey along valley and river sides. The amount of water on the paths bore witness to the torrential rain which that area has experienced lately. In the fullness of time we came to Great Cornham and proceeded to follow the Two Moors Way. At least we thought that was what we were doing until we discovered that maps were at variance and a diversion had been perpetrated. We were soon back on course but diverted a little to brave an unexpected raging torrent - just an excuse to get our boots wet really. Our photographer at the front left his camera on a bridge and sped back to retrieve it. We knew he'd catch us up and when he did we started on the switchback route to Lynmouth culminating in a seemingly endless slide downwards just in time to catch the coach. The evening was brightened for some by a tour of the local pubs and for others by a turn on the dance floor - never mind the aching legs!

Diane Exley

Leaving the hotel at 9-30, the coach negotiated narrow, winding, undulating lanes with occasional tight squeezes with horse boxes and large motor homes. About 20 members of the 'B' group debussed on the B3358, with views of heathland, rolling green hills and hidden valleys stretching into the distance. The weather dry with broken cloud, sunny spells and a cool breeze. Led by Brian hall (doing the walk 'cold'), we set off across soggy grassland on the Two Moors Way. The open grassland soon gave way to a descent of a steep, narrow gully, some ladies needing guidance across the stream at the bottom. Coffee stop here. Climbing out of this gully, (with wild ponies seen on the horizon?), the path then led down another, with a stream in full spate, to be crossed by the Hoar Oak Tree. While umpteen solutions were being suggested to the leader, a group of 4 Dutch walkers (must be impressed by the hills) came down on the other side. The 2 long, legged chaps probably used to jumping over water, were soon across but their ladies needed help. Somehow, Philip got across and with Brian on 'our' side; they helped most of the party over, while a small group found a way over further up stream. A gentle climb up and along Cherton Edge followed, with a distant view of the Bristol Channel. This raised hopes of a pleasant, gentle descent to the coast, soon to be dashed!! Descending through the hamlet of Cherton, the route led down through a pleasant wooded valley, to Hillsford. A short rest on the bridge was followed by a stiff climb, in hot sun, up through the woods to a ridge, 'Myrtlebeery Cleaves', with views of the coast. Walking along this ridge the path soon started to descend steeply and appeared to lead to our destination, great! The illusion was soon shattered when it started to rise again, practically to the same height we'd come from and did this three times before we reached our goal, Lynmouth!! At least, there had been some super views and arriving in good time, in glorious sunshine, to sample the scrumptious 'Devon Cream Teas' and pay a visit to the Lynmouth Disaster Memorial Exhibition. The effort needed by the coach to climb out of Lynmouth, made one realise just how steep those last 'ups and downs' were!! A good day, well led.

Trevor Grimston

Sunday saw the power of the wind ratcheted up a notch and even the hardies had sweaters on to begin with. We left 'B' party at Woody Bay and started to walk the coastal path from Lee Abbey, leaving several members with important things to do to catch us up. The going at first was deceptively easy and we reached the Hunter's Inn, complete with peacocks, for a leisurely lunch and the opportunity of seeing our leader trying to dive into a dog's waterbowl. The steep hill following lunch rather interfered with the digestive process but the sea views more than compensated for it. The sense of balancing above the dramatic rocks and the churning sea below makes coast walking unique and we revelled in it. And then we met the 'B' party. For a time leaders were interchangeable and independent parties set up but all seemed to clear as a violent shower of hail assaulted us. Not stopping to admire the broom and the heather we ploughed on to Sherrycombe and Great Hangman where, once we had conquered the vertical mud, we could once again admire the splendid views. Little Hangman followed and then the tantalisingly tortuous path in to Combe Martin where we had time to go for a cream tea and watch the 'B' party arrive back, bloody but unbowed.

Diane Exley

"B" walk led by Douglas backed up by Glennys and Brian.
26 walkers descended on the restored railway station at Martinhoe Cross and the station master rubbed his hands at the thought of 26 x £2-50 passengers travelling the 10 minute journey up the track! He soon realised his mistake when everyone made a beeline for the toilets. From there we followed the road to Woody Bay where we joined the beautiful South West Coastal Path with views across the Bristol Channel to Wales
The path was not for the faint hearted, it was very close to the edge of the cliffs, with nerve tingling drops, and we were grateful for the onshore wind to help us negotiate the hairpin bends.
The 30 odd miles between Minehead and Combe Martin (of which we only did a small section), form England's highest section of coastline; with cliffs rising to 1420ft., the hogbacked hills make for some fairly strenuous hiking as a lot of us discovered the next morning!
Some had lunch under the trees sheltering from another shower, while others climbed yet another combe to dine at the top, with views of the heather covered valley.
As we were having afternoon tea, we were joined briefly by the "A" party. After exchanging pleasantries, off they went at great speed taking with them 10 of our party. Were they volunteers or prisoners? We then experienced a deluge of hail/rain, but undeterred we pressed on.
The steepest and most gruelling combe was saved until the last. We could see the "A" party and their additional walkers at the other side, they were very small indeed which didn't look good for us, but like stoic walkers that we are, we all arrived at the cairn at Great Hangman's Point (1043ft) with the comforting feeling that it was all down hill from here. The 2 mile decent was anything but easy but gradually Wild Peach Bay and Combe Martin increased in size, and there we were at sea level again. We were met in the car park by the "A" group to be told we had another mile to walk to the coach!!!.. For me the walk was one not to be missed and the memory will stay with me for a long time to come. Thank you to the leaders and back ups and of course, the fellow walkers in the party.
Two things I learnt on this weekend, one was that the definition of a combe was not a mis-spelling of the article you use to tidy my hair, but a steep sided valley with knee crunching descents and lung searing ascents. The second was the difference between a boat and a ship. "You can't put a ship on a boat but you can put a boat on a ship!!" Simple when you think about it, thank you to all informants.

Jean Grimston

Monday was a definite bare legs day and 'A' party coached to Combe Martin to begin the walk back to Woolacombe. After an initial bit of road walking we straggled across the Watermouth foreshore to reach a steep upward path, a feature which was to recur many times during the day. Once again coast views were splendid and we soon reached the fleshpots of Ilfracombe where we lunched and did a bit of local history. The walk continued with our home-grown photographer - he of the electric legs - skiing up to the top to take pictures of us looking knackered as we puffed uphill and various members joining and leaving the main party at will. Cormorants, oyster catchers and gannets sailed below us on the wind and we lost count of the flights of steps which lifted us to the commanding cliff heights. GPS conferences were held en route and heights and distances were carefully compared and compasses re-calibrated. And then, rounding Morte Point, we could see the fine expanse of Woolacombe Bay stretching out before us. All proceeded at their own pace, some to drop off at the Golden Hind, others to climb the hill to the stately pile that was our hotel and one, for reasons best known to himself, shot past Woolacombe and met himself coming back!

Diane Exley

Safe in the knowledge that they had somehow surprisingly but yet easily survived the rigours of the two previous escapades on Saturday and Sunday, 26 cheerful, optimistic walkers set off from the hotel down the hill towards Woolacombe. After all it was only a 'B' walk, it was only a Woolacombe circular. How could 26 sensible, responsible, adult, grown up people have been so naïve?

Leading the foray into the Devonian hinterland, (ah, so that's where we went), was that intrepid explorer, Alan Jagger, followed by his motley crew.

It was a beautiful, sunny morning as we walked south along The Esplanade above Morte Bay until we reached Putsborough. Taking to the Coast Path, we skirted around Baggy Point and then headed down towards Croyde Bay. The tide being conveniently on the ebb we crossed the beach to regain the Coast Path at the other side, climbed the cliff and lunched overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, or more to the point, the Bideford Bay part of it.

After lunch, we're still on the Coast Path, now heading south-east towards Saunton, overlooking a wonderfully long sandy beach full of Bank Holiday revellers, the sun is still shining from a clear blue sky and the temperature is steadily rising.

Eventually we turn inland to climb steadily through open grassland, then descend through fields and along footpaths to arrive in the village of Croyde. The way forward is now, sadly, by road for a couple of miles to Georgeham and then for another couple of miles by a very narrow road congested by traffic, some trying to get to the beach at Putsborough, which is where we were heading, others trying their best to make their exit with the 'B' walk in between surrounded by high hedges, no footpaths and acting as temporary unpaid Traffic Wardens.

At last, as we descend through the petrol and diesel fumes, the welcoming sight of Putsborough appears and we take to the beach in an attempt to cover the final two and a half miles to Woolacombe quicker than the advancing tide.

The opinion of the majority of the walkers was that whilst it was an excellent walk, the mileage indicated in the brochure appeared to be ever so slightly understated.

Brian Hall

Tuesday was predictably the best day for weather but not for coach travelling. However, we managed to escape more quickly from Devon than we had entered it on Friday and we were soon in Tewkesbury where we lunched, explored the medieval bits and listened to an organ recital in the Abbey church. The journey thereafter was speedy and we arrived in Leeds at 5pm to everyone's surprise. A very good weekend in a beautiful part of the country where the choice of walking is wide-ranging and never boring. Our thanks to all the leaders and backups. You did not have an easy time and deserve much credit for taking on the job. A special thanks as usual to Lewis and Yvonne for their organisational skills and the way they enable not only the main walks to take place but also help those who wish to 'do their own thing.'

Diane Exley



Although known as the "Macclesfield Weekend" the actual venue, "Hollin Hall Hotel", is in the small town of Bollington, a mile or so north of Macclesfield. A large, converted Victorian house with a modern bedroom wing to the rear and a large conservatory style dinning room to one side. It is well hidden and all found it rather difficult to find, but a find it is!!
After the jollities of Friday night, the serious business started after breakfast, Saturday morning. Booting up on the entrance steps, the 'A' party started directly from the hotel (see report below), while the remaining 30 members, mainly 'B' grade walkers, led by Brian Hall (doing it 'cold') and ably backed up by Pat Wilson, were taken by coach to the start, for once at the top of a hill, at the Teggs Nose Country Park. A cool breeze, dry and overcast. The route followed something reminiscent of a roller coaster - a succession of ups and downs - passing reservoirs, across soggy fields and along muddy paths, one of which was literally a stream. Innumerable gates and stiles caused the large party to string out. The steepest 'up' was the 1600ft. "Shuttlingsloe", with a rock scramble on the last pitch. From the top what would obviously be a superb 360 degree view was spoilt by low cloud and the onset of light rain. The rain persisted on the descent through a forest and on the long steady slog up to the finish and the coach. What is undoubtedly an excellent walk was marred by the time restraint and terrain on a quite demanding route, 11.5 miles. Many thanks to Brian and Pat.

Trevor Grimston

Despite dire warnings of bad weather, the A group set out from the hotel in fine sunshine and were immediately faced with a stiff climb to the top of the Kerridge ridge and a folly known as White Nancy. Then descending to Rainow followed by another climb up to Tegg's Nose Country Park. Here our leader gained points by organising coffee at the Visitor Centre. Views from here contrasted: to the West we looked over Macclesfield and Manchester; to the East there was nothing but fields and moor. Again our leader scored points by stopping for lunch by a pub, where a few took advantage of the unexpected refreshment. The afternoon saw two further climbs and descents with excellent views. The final couple of miles followed Shell Brook and the Macclesfield Canal feeder. This was very muddy and took a slight edge of a great day. The leader now lost all the points he had earlier scored by finishing in a village with 3 pubs, none of which was open! By now rain had started, but the bus soon turned up to take us back to the hotel for hot showers and beer. Thanks to Lewis for a good day.

John Crouch

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