Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Run From Settle


Settle is the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales and some very good running country. Almost all the competitors of the famous 3 Peaks fell race would have passed through here on their way to the start at Horton in Ribblesdale. Although having done the race in my younger days and run the route on numerous occasions it was not my plan today.
There is plenty of parking in the town centre and a few very good cafes The Old Naked Man on the main street being the most popular. It is possible to see nearly every type of bike from mountain to carbon fibre dream machines that would not look out of place in the Peleton in Paris. There are also a couple of very good running gear shops and a cracking bike shop.
The run starts at the market place in the centre of the town SD 819636 and the route takes the narrow back road to Langcliffe. At NY 821637 a small limestone track climbs to the left between high limestone walls. From here I started the long leg burning climb that eventually joins the road at a stile under Clay Pits Plantation. SD 829653.

Up From Settle

Once through the stile, after I had taken in the view over to Ingleborough. I took the obvious track to Jubilee Cave. This is one of those annoying tracks that is good running but after the climb I had just done the gradual incline was hard going until my body rhythm ‘s got back in balance.

Over to Ingleborough

Jubilee Cave SD 837655 is really quite an interesting though far from spectacular little cave. Named of course after Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and shares this honour with Victoria Cave named obviously after the Queen herself and is few hundred metres away on Attermire Scar. Apparently human remains from the Iron Age as well as evidence of Romano British and Celtic occupation have been found in Jubilee.

Track up to Jubilee Cave

Jubilee Cave

From Jubilee it is really good running on a very good track. Keeping the dry stone wall on my left the path is a joy with a fantastic view of Penyghent  the first of the 3 peaks in the race.

Looking towards Penyghent

The track has had a lot of improvement since I first ran on it years ago. Then sections of it were really boggy and a favourite of trail motorcyclists who churned into more bogs. I was once with a good friend John Serjeant when one of these lads sank to his handlebars in one. It took all three of us to pull the bike out and amazingly its engine started on the first attempt after its deluge of soggy peat. Now its hard work getting your feet wet on the well drained well made surface of the track.

On Our Way Home

At SD 851658 the track bears right at the path junction and rises and falls over the moorland to NY863657 where it bears right again at another path junction and climbs up to a gate at SD 875651 and it is here the spectacular views over the limestone country above Malham come into sight. Its at this point the path degenerates into its muddy old self but it’s fine as it’s a good bog jumping run down hill to the road at Langscar Gate SD 888648.

Malham Tarn from the path to Langscar Gate

I crossed the road at Langscar Gate and dropped down into the Watlowes Valley and from here things got really spectacular. It also got a bit greasy under foot as wet limestone matches ice as a medium to break your neck running on.

The Watlowes Valley was formed when the glacial ice of the last ice age melted and a great river ran through the now dry canyon. Gradually the water carved the valley into it present size but then as the ice sheet fully decreased the amount of water through the valley lessened and started to percolate into underground caves. Eventually the water disappeared all together underground but still flows out below Malham Cove witch stands at the far end of the valley. Cavers have proved this by putting dye in the stream where it goes underground and finding traces of the dye appearing from under the cove.

Watlowes Valley

It is easy to imagine the long gone river as I ran down the valley floor being a roaring torrent. It is probable that there would have been no vegetation, only the bare scoured limestone emerging from its icy prison and the pure silence that now enveloped me would definitely be shattered.

However at this point in the run the reason for the deafening roar is not yet apparent. At the end of the valley I reached the limestone pavement that is the top of Malham Cove and it is not a surface to sprint across.

Limestone Pavement

A harsh lesson in leg breaking could easily be learned here and the 80 metre vertical drop that appeared in front of me could in mist lead to definite death.

It is not advisable to stand close to the edge of Malham Cove unless the words head for heights are applicable.

The pavement, which is quite common in limestone areas is formed by the acidic action of rainwater eroding vertical cracks in the limestone. The cracks have often created a micro- climate within them that support their own vegetation and insect and animal populations.
I gingerly made my way across the pavement to the footpath that climbs down the right hand side of the cove looking from the top. It’s a steep man made staircase and was very slippery but at the bottom the reason for the once glacial deafening roar is obvious.

Malham Cove

Once the huge river that carved Watlowes Valley plunged over this massive scar in indescribable fury. It must have looked like England’s Niagra and the noise would have been heard for miles. Now the small stream that emerges is what remains of that river. This is one of the major tourist attractions of the Yorkshire Dales and thousands of visitors arrive here every year to see it.

It seems a world apart from when I rode here on my bike with a lad called Paul Kelly in 1963. We camped for a week and the only other people camping were two lads from Bradford. How the car changed the world!!!

It’s was a pleasant run into the village a beautiful little hamlet with good pubs and cafes. It was also the home of the now deceased Pete Livesey one of the best all round athletes of his generation he was an expert climber, fell runner, orienteer, cyclist and excelled I every other sport he attempted. It’s a case of read about Pete and simply say wow!!

At the Visitor Centre SD 900627 I took the path marked Pikedaw Hill that climbs between high limestone walls turning left at SD 899629 then forks left again at SD 895631. Eventually a stile appears on the right and once over it I began the long climb first though fields and eventually on a rough trod that leads near to the site of the old mine workings and tips of Pikedaw Calamine  mine SD 875639.

Old Shaft Pikedaw

The mines were dug to extract Calamine in the 18th Century. Calamine is zinc carbonate and was used in smelting brass and as a cream for rashes. It was when the mine was in full production that the miners broke into a series of caverns that run under the fell. These are accessible to experienced cavers via a trapdoor into the old mineshaft. Not the one in the photo.

The trod joins the main footpath to Stockdale Lane and it was fantastic running. It’s a very fast downhill on good ground climbing slightly only when I passed Stockdale Farm on the left. The tarmac of Stockdale lane is a bit of a knee shaker but it was still downhill and fast until SD 847638 where I left the lane and took the path that leads under the high escarpments of Attermire Scar and Warrendale Knotts.

Warrendale Knotts

There is a small mound at the foot of Attermire with some steel plates that once were used as targets for the army rifle range. All I can find is references to it being a rifle range but all I can say it was one big rifle that made these holes.

Target Plates

The Plates are almost 1.5 metres long so it’s pretty easy to see the size of bullet that made these.

The route had a final sting as it’s a short and not very steep run to SD 825.641 but at this point the legs were complaining and I was pretty tired. However once over the top it is a fantastic very steep descent back to the start. I love descending fast and this section certainly allowed me to do that. The view was pretty good too.

Sunset over Settle

Technical Bit

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