Wednesday, 20 February 2013
It was a cold one on Sunday 17th February. I always feel the route from Chapel-le-Dale, especially in winter, gives the mountain a real Alpine feel. Not quite Chris Bonnington stuff, but we did have to cut steps in the ice above Humphrey Bottom. We met a couple from Sheffield with their nine year old daughter and they were going up the mountain for the first time. Being the limestone fanatics that we are, we made the journey into a round trip for them, coming back across Raven Scars. I'll say something about Raven Scars while I'm here. They offer some of the finest mountain views in the UK yet you never see a soul.
No sign of anything Icelandic at this point - but the Southerscales nature reserve is worth a day out with the camera in itself. Just look how literally 'groovy' the place is.
The Great Scar Limestone bench on which Ingleborough stands is about 800 feet thick. All the water running off the Yoredale slopes of the mountain (a sandwich layer of limestones, sandstones and shales with a cap of grit) makes its way through this main limestone layer and resurges once it meets the impermeable basement rocks beneath.
Such a hollow landscape causes dramatic funneling slumps, such as here at Braithwaite Wife Hole, reputedly the largest doline in Britain. If you slither down inside it, the echo is out of this world. Braithwaite presumably threatened to throw his wife down here once upon a time. What had the poor lass done wrong, you do wonder? Cavers are often trying to link the hole through to nearby caves such as Sunset Hole. This remarkable place is a little overwhelming and stops even the the most casual Three Peaks Walker for a good stare. If you have a good camera, the view out from the bottom is amazing indeed.
On this picture you can see the shadows of me, Joseph, Lucy and our walking companions on the brink of the hole. No picture can really give it a sense of scale - but the shadows help. I think I'm the big lump at the far end.
The climb up from Humphrey Bottom - the rough land at the top of the picture, is steep enough at the best of times - but you can see the steps we had to cut with our ice axes - whoops - with the toes of our hiking boots. This is my daughter Lucy - famous for climbing Ingleborough at four with her wellies on the wrong feet.
No she's not pulling up a sledge (top picture) - I think that's a rock!!! My son Joe is at top left (and above) shouting instructions to our friends in the middle. Who does he think he is - Sherpa Tenzing?
What a lucky girl. When I've copped it and lie in Weathercote Cave - she'll have a third of my photos and rock specimens ...... no wonder she's smiling. That's Twistleton Scars behind, by the way. I'll be heading there next month.
I didn't take a picture of us on the summit because it was
The Wind Shelter provided just that: wind - as there are a few holes in it here and there and little jets of freezing air blew down the top of your trousers and your back and everywhere else and it was awful. Either that, or I'm knocking on a bit.
As soon as we headed off the summit, however, it was like stepping in a hot bath. For those unfamiliar with the route, we have headed south from the summit cairn (the cold windy bottom bit) and are making our way down onto the route from Ingleton (from Storrs Common via Crina Bottom). This is a good way down and well cairned but has to be the most unexciting route up the mountain.
We have scrambled around the shoulder of the mountain (top right) and admired the famous landslip - clearly visible here - and now we are on Tatham Wife Moss. Our route now lies to the left and is pure joy with views to die for. Up at top left you can see the gritstone cap of the mountain and below it, the forbidding-sounding Black Shiver ridge.
The last thousand feet of the mountain, seen here, is composed of alternating bands of shale, limestone and sandstone formed by fluctuating sea levels between the ice ages. Deeper water, of course, allowed limestones to form, where shallow water was fed by rivers that washed in sands and gravels, forming the other rocks. The beds are known as Yoredales, from an old name for Wensleydale, where they are very prominent. The main limestone - or Great Scar limestone, forms the lower half of the picture but is covered here by a layer of glacial drift (known as till or boulder clay). We have to walk a touch further to see it revealed - and how!!!
This picture is not only beautiful, but a textbook bit of geology is on show. The gritstone cap, the landslip (at right), the Yoredale beds making up the sheer face, the layer of drift, and now - at last, the Great Scar limestone for which the area is world famous. No other mountain in the UK can equal its fascination.
The next port of call is the Raven Scars cairn. Wainwright calls it 'the cairn of a professional.' It sets off a picture of Ingleborough to perfection.
Finally as you do get to the end of the plateau beyond Raven Scars, the mountain is less of a cone and once again takes on that famous stepped profile. The series of cliffs running just left of centre are known as the arks of Ingleborough.