Stereotypes aren’t always negative.
Have you ever been to a place that fits its stereotype to the absolute letter? For me, car dealerships are the first one that comes to mind. The myriad of people, plate glass windows, grotesque adverts, interest rates that make me gurn at the over-eager salesman; the list goes on, but if you put them all together and close your eyes, you can pretty much describe any car dealership with a high degree of accuracy just by using this stereotype.
Now describe to yourself what the stereotype of the Yorkshire Dales would present. Rolling green hills, hidden V-shaped valleys with barely a rock face in sight and babbling brooks here and there – more akin to that Windows XP wallpaper than anywhere else on the British isles. So, imagine my surprise when, during my first visit to the Yorkshire Dales and Ingleborough, the expectation didn’t really match up with the reality!
However, the stereotype soon bit back; my next route through the Dales was one that would take in The Calf, the highest point of the Howgill Fells.
Starting in the centre of Sedbergh, the route takes the back roads at first, seeking out that all important access land. As soon as you find it, get your lungs and legs ready for the steepest climb of the day, following a myriad of tracks and then cutting straight up to Winder, the first peak of the day offering views back down into Sedbergh, and of the rest of the days route.
Another period of pretty steep, but easy on the feet climbing, rewards you with the summit of Arant Haw. At this point, you quickly realise that the entire way up, despite the brutal steepness of some of the route, your boots haven’t left luscious green grass once. It’s beggar’s belief that this vegetation will survive with such brutal and exposed conditions, while my houseplants will show suicidal tendencies if I even look at them the wrong way. So that’s part 1 of my stereotype fulfilled, the rolling green hills did not disappoint.
As you approach the final mini plateau of Bram Rigg Top and The Calf, the highest points of the day, you’re rewarded with one of the best ‘reveals’ Britain’s geology could offer. On a relatively over-cast but clear day, the views stretch from here to Morecambe Bay, with glances of the ever-so-slightly more dramatic lake district to the North West.
With the climbing out of the way, a quick descent into a tight V-shaped valley is next, hiding a babbling brook deep within it. The banks of the brook serve as a perfect spot for lunch, before feeding you through and spitting you out into the shadow of Cautley Crag, with a few waterfalls cutting into its face, ripe for anyone armed with a camera.
The rest of the route takes you gentle back towards Sedbergh, following the right-of-way along the banks of the River Rawthey into the town centre.
This route really met my imagination when it came to the Yorkshire Dales; but it did not disappoint. With Wales on the doorstep, with all of its dramatic, slate peppered scenery, it was very pleasant to enjoy the other side of the British countryside. That said, I definitely needed the roast & pint that swiftly followed!
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