Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The Crummackdale Stadium Tour

East of Ingleborough is this magnificent English landscape, where the Crummackdale Glacier has, during the last ice age, scraped the topography down to the basement rocks and left some nationally famous feaures best remembered from O Level Geography!  I walked this stadium tour on remembrance day 2012 - a fitting silence if ever there was one.

These two guys were the first to greet me as I closed my car door in Austwick.  When you take a look round Austwick, you'll want to live there.

The first wonderful sight as we head up the west side of the stadium is Robin Proctor's Scar.  Robin lived in Austwick a long time ago and was rather over indulgent with the beer.  Fortunately he had a super intelligent horse who transported him home daily in drunken state and dropped him onto straw bales in the barn to sleep off his hangover.  One day, more drunk than ever, he picked up the wrong horse in the pub stables - and being unaware of his new master's destination, the horse dropped him over the edge of this precipice. 

Nappa Scars are beloved of geologists.  The lower of the two photographs above shows clearly the very ancient Silurian rocks (near to the camera) with a thin layer of limestone conglomerate in between, acting like a cement.  On top of course, are the famous Great Scar Limestones.  Hundreds of millions of years separate each of these three layers.  A similar picture of the rocks can be seen at Thornton Force on the Waterfalls walk.

Things get mega exciting as we retrace our steps from Nappa Scars and head up to the famous Norber boulders.  Note the reddish brown colour of these erratics which should of course, lie below the limestone.  Instead, they're on top!  The glacier has plucked them from the valley sides before riding up over the brow of the hill and slowly dropping them as it melted some 12000 years ago.

Course, they just get better ...

And better ....

And even better ....

They also have breathtaking views .. but then cometh the piece-de-resistance ...

Is this the most famous single rock in Britain?  He looks proud enough.  This I call the Norber Mushroom.  Let's go an have a better look.

He was left here by the glacier and, over thousands of years, weather and erosion has reduced the limestone pavement beneath him to a series of grass covered bumps.  The rain couldn't get beneath him, of course, so he's been left on three very precarious looking pedestals.  How they bear his weight is beyond belief ...

From this angle he's taking a walk ...

'Hey stop staring at my legs!'

In the vicinity are the Norber Dominoes - or the Giant's Book.  Which do you prefer?  That's the summit of Norber itself, just behind.

Heading up to the ladder stile (you can just see it in the corner of the field) note how ingenious farmers of yesteryear incorporated the Norber boulders into their walls!

Ever doubted you were walking in a stadium?  Well, just leave the rocks alone for a minute and take a look at this.  That's Moughton Fell in the foreground, the route of our return, with Penyghent peeping up behind.  Not a person - not a sound.  It's eleven now - so a very fitting spot to pay our respects to those who saved all this for us ...

As we head along the pathless ridge to the head of the stadium, views open on the left to Clapdale (near to Trow Gill) - and on the right Penyghent plays a disappearing act with the clouds.  This is one of England's loneliest places.

We then arrive at the great amphitheatre of Thieves Moss.  Presumably the haunt of robbers who tackled packhorse travellers here a long time ago.  Their screams would have been to no avail.  Only the curlews would have heard them.

The sheer amount of limestone here is amazing indeed.

You also meet the strangest weathered limestone phallic symbols

Ok then - the half way stage.  We'll eat the butties looking down over Crummackdale (see the view below) and we still have the Juniper forest of Moughton, The Stadium of Echoes and the Abandoned Waterfall to go.  Enjoy your lunch and we'll have part two tomorrow.

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