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6 December, 2008

Walk/Cycle ride: Bentham-Ingleborough-Lancaster

Today's weather was cold but cloudless and particularly clear, so was an excellent opportunity to play in the snow on Ingleborough.

Though the main roads in Lancaster and Bentham were fine, the lane to Ingleton hadn't been gritted at all, so was far more dangerous than I'd anticipated. Seeing a car approaching along the narrow lane, I decelerated and moved aside – on totally invisible black ice. The resulting fall was trivial but made me nervous, so when another car was following a little too closely a few minutes later, I chose to pull off the road to let it pass. Unfortunately, the fresh-looking snowdrift I'd expected to slow me safely was days old and had refrozen to solid ice – hitting it at speed flipped me off immediately.
This time it did hurt, and I was very glad of a helmet when my head bounced off the frozen verge. My leggings were torn at the knee and for the following fortnight the base of my thumb was badly bruised, with occasional loss of sensation. [Update 9/5/09: the scars on my knee are still colourful after five months.]
It could have been far worse, and I wasn't injured, so after cleaning myself up in Ingleton, I went on with the planned walk. At least the blood trickling down my leg kept it warm.

Leaving the bike at Skirwith Quarry, I crossed the fields to Fell Lane and on to Crina Bottom. A thin crust of ice on snowdrifts then 'proper' ice on the track forced me to walk slowly, to the extent I thought I'd have to turn back simply because I wouldn't have time to reach the summit and return in daylight. As it happened, though the round trip took ~90 minutes longer than usual I managed it with about half an hour to spare, so was on well-gritted roads before dark.

There weren't many people on the path from Crina Bottom to the summit, but I was amused when one person I'd seen struggling uphill ahead of me carrying a huge rucksack then unpacked a parachute and jumped off the edge of the summit plateau. It must have been a great day for paracending.

The views from the summit were wonderful in the clear air, and I took several photos (including of fascinating ice structures left in the snow by high winds), but it was far too cold to leave my gloves off for long, and I soon headed back to the bike; as I said above, I reached Skirwith by sunset but cycled as far as Burton in Lonsdale before the light completely faded, leaving me in darkness for the final 24 km to Lancaster.

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