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9 June, 2007

Walk/Cycle ride: Bentham-Ingleborough-Lancaster

Ingleborough again this week; I seem to have visited the Yorkshire Dales a lot recently.  This time was slightly different, as rather than the summit being my main objective, I wanted to explore the extensive area of potholes on Ingleborough Common, the shoulder of the hill above Ingleton.

As usual, I caught the train to High Bentham by 11:30 and cycled across to Ingleton, then followed the Ribblehead road to the start of the most direct Ingleborough path, just outside the village. Safe bike parking was a problem, but I found a secure fence post some distance from the road, inside Skirwith Quarry. If anyone's counting, this was 8½ km (5¼ miles) from Bentham station, and took 27 minutes.

I started the walk at 12:10 by passing Skirwith Cave, a disused show cave, now with limited surface expression. That was a common characteristic of the walk: several potholes are unremarkable small holes in the open moor, and less than photogenic above ground.

Joining the main path, I realised the day was hotter and even more humid than I'd anticipated; fine for cycling cooled within one's own flow of air, but more sticky on foot. I wouldn't be walking quickly.

I left the path at Crina Bottom, heading straight up the slope to the crest of Ingleborough Common/Dowlass Moss. My next realisation was that in the absence of any tracks or landmarks, it'd be difficult to find specific pot holes – or any potholes, as I couldn't distinguish grassy hollows from level moorland from more than 20-30 m away, never mind spot the cave entrances themselves, typically less than 2 m wide. As the accompanying photos show, I found a few, but it was a little frustrating to be unable to identify them. In hindsight, this may have led be to take foolish risks, precariously balancing over vertical drops to get good camera angles. If I'd fallen, no-one would have known where to look for me.

I eventually rejoined the Ingleborough path somewhat disappointed. From long experience, I'm very aware how difficult and hence slow it is to walk across nominally flat moorland; meandering wildly and stopping frequently, it had taken me two hours to travel about a kilometre, with very limited success. I had a quick look at Quaking Pot, a hole I could find and the entrance of which I could readily access, then I climbed Ingleborough itself, if only as an opportunity to stride along a decent path again.

The summit was rather crowded (I even met work colleagues, who were attempting the Yorkshire Three Peaks route) and the views slightly masked by dense haze, so I made one complete circuit of the plateau edge, then returned to my bike. For the record, the decent took ~55 minutes.

After a 15-min break for a bottle of Coke and a banana, I cycled home by 17:35, taking 1 hour 48' to cover the 41 km (25.5 miles), at an average speed of 22.7 km/h (14.1 mph) (23.8 km/h until the final climb from Moor Lane Mill!).

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