Ingleborough…..a special place and one of my favourite of hills. I could go into details why but for now I shall not. Last weekend was my wifes birthday and so to get away from it all we booked a long weekend at a very nice holiday cottage in Ingleton.
Ingleton itself is a quaint and interesting place but for those who think like me it’s better still as it’s in spitting distance of a fine and varied route up to Ingleborough’s summit. This peak isn’t the highest in Yorkshire but it is the most popular and no doubt the most distinguished. You can find scores of books on the hill all of which enlighten the walker to the history of the place (the summit hill fort, for example)
Anyway, we arrived on the Friday and there appeared to be a good weather window approaching for the following day. Clear skies were forecast above 500 metres….I can’t remember what else it may have said. On that line alone I was already packing for a 3am ascent of Ingleborough’s wide and flat top!
Yep! You read that right! A through the night walk to the summit. Why? Well, it is quite fun night-walking and more so in unfamiliar terrain. It’s good for heightening the senses and navigation skills. Granted, I only got about 2 hours sleep when the alarm went off (to my wifes annoyance) and for a split second I nearly thought “Bugger that!”. But I did drag myself out of bed and promptly got dressed and was out the door in the dark 15mins later.
I was fortunate setting off under clear skies and a half-moon blazing it’s grey hue all over the place. It made walking and map reading much easier but I was mindful of the cloud that was due in of which would hopefully sink to valley level. Sure enough, once I reached about 300 metres, the moon dimmed and the cloud came eerily rolling in. It totally enveloped me making visibility with my headtorch next to useless.
The chill and moisture gave a bit of an edge to the walk along with only being able to see just a few feet in front of me and to top that off……terrain where the path or anything of it’s kind being non-existent on the ground. However, I did keep my thumb on my map counting the steps and eventually I found the main route and noticed a dim light reappearing.
Aye, I perservered and had ascended above the cloud and was now back to clear skies and the moonlight. It was a special moment. Always is when you top the cloud but more so as the moon shone it’s light over the tops and beyond. It was pointless having the head torch on and so that was duly switched off. Yes, it can be that bright…..you just never notice it living in urban areas. The light pollution from our towns and cities simply drowns out the moon’s bright glow.
I sat for a while and got the ole video camera out. I was hoping to collate some footage of the walk and surrounds for a new video effort. So, there I sat at about 600 metres, in the cold air taking in the scenery and recording it all onto tape (stills from the video I captured are embedded in this post)
After some time, I made my way towards the summit with my next intention to catch the sunrise. Quite a bit of snow was around on the crags in the lee of the prevailing winds. This made for some tough walking, to be honest. The snow had compacted really well and was becoming more and more of a death trap for those without crampons and ice axe. Of which I was one! I did however, have some spikes but these were no way ideal.
So, I had to make a careful and time consuming detour to reach the peak’s plateau. But all was well and good in the end and I spent a few hours on Ingleboroughs summit taking in the atmosphere, sunrise and noting the fort remains.
Theres not a lot else to say really…it was simply breathtaking…..the graduating and immersive colours of the sky as the sun headed upwards…the silence…..the crunch of the snow underfoot…..the clouds below….it was mesmerising and I frantically filmed it all.
It was certainly a glorious morning and come 9am the first of a few walkers appeared and disturbed my nirvana but I didn’t mind. By this point it was time for me to have some lunch (well, it was as far as my body clock was concerned!) and head back down. I promised the wife I’d be back for 12pm to spend the rest of the day sightseeing.
I’ll readily admit I was asleep that evening by 7pm, my eyelids giving into some invisible increase in gravity specifically focused on my eyes. But it was worth it.
It’s mornings like that, that you can ever enjoy if you set off in the dark or preferably wild camp.
It may not surprise you to hear that winter is my favourite time of year when out and about in the hills. For once, I’ve been taking my video camera out with me to capture the wintry scenes. I’m reluctant to do so at this time of year. It requires a bigger pack, the weight of the extra gear on top of my already “weighty” winter clothing etc….plus, batteries hate the cold and are slow to respond and condensation within my camera. Its just a pain in the arse, to be honest.
All said and done, it’s not been too bad so far and am now editing this footage into a short video of which some stills are embedded in this post. I’ve got some great footage and I shall leave it at that now until next winter. Now I can relax and not be mindful of filming scenes out on the summits.