My favourite hill

As the title of this posts says….I thought I’d share some thoughts on Ingleborough. I’m often questioned about this special place – where to camp, what to see, why do I go there so often etc

Well, I really cannot put my hand on why I adore this most distinctive of hills. I suppose this lump of limestone and granite is really a culmination of many factors linked to my personality and interests in general, including outdoor pursuits.

It’s a joy to walk, the scenery is splendid from all sides and angles, the mood varies from hour to hour and season to season. There is alot of visual interest be it far ranging or up close. I enjoy exploring the limestone paving, seeking out rare flora, drinking calcium rich water from springs, watch darting hares amongst the many pot holes, seeking solitude out on the moors or from within crags and boulders.

Ingleborough has many facets to it’s personality that elevates itself to be somewhat the epitome of our hills through British history. One fine example of this is the hill fort. No one knows if it was a fort for sure (not yet) or just a temporary residence or even just a place of worship.

Whats very surprising to me is how the Yorkshire Dales National Park have never conducted a thorough and conclusive archealogical survey on the summit. For years, they have not done a great deal to protect of what remains up on the plateau. Former walls have been torn down, some even looted to make cairns and even shelters from the weather!

Walkers often march across it’s plateau not realising they are stamping across an ancient hut circle. That the large cairn by the trig point is not a cairn to mark the summit but is in fact the ruin of a former hospice! Nonetheless they continue to pointlessly pick up and throw stones on it further damaging anything ancient nearby.

But this summer things maybe about to change for I have been informed that the YDNP are to conduct a survey on Ingleborough – this is great news and can only go one step further in terms of protecting and recording whats up there before it’s lost forever.

Here’s some examples of what to see on the summit when and if you next go up there. Firstly, the large stone strewn cairn by the ordnance survey triangulation column. This is not a cairn as I mentioned before but in fact a ruined hospice. It was a construction paid for by a local landowner in Victorian times with the aim of being an elaborate summit shelter. Sure enough, back then such buildings were cropping up all over the UK due to tourism thanks to the romantics movement.

However, on its opening ceremony the large party gathered up there got carried away with the ole booze and mucking about and for some reason ended up pulling down and looting the shelter! Some things perhaps don’t change eh? But the landowner who paid for this shelter was livid with this raucous behaviour and refused to re-build the hospice. And so it remains today as a large cairn. But, upon closer inspection you can clearly see the foundations for this shelter including the steps to it’s entrance!

Nearby, in a westerly direction on the plateau edge one can find a depression with a nice patch of level grassy ground. It is believed by many that this was the quarry used to build the hospice. It is small and it was very possible the hill fort ruined walls were looted for construction, too. And come to think of it perhaps the modern day summit cross walled shelter also!

Now, if you wander in a southerly direction on to the flat land keep your eyes peeled on the ground. You will notice depressions here and there. Take a closer look and you’ll quite clearly see circles. Like round moats and with some kind of entrance. These will be one of the many many hut circles on Ingleborough. No one knows for sure how or why buildings were made on the summit but looking at them you certainly do get a sense of what past peoples life must have been like.

And then upon reaching the southern edge of the plateau and pretty much running along it’s length one can see what remains of the hill fort wall. Admittedly in places it’s just a hollow but in others (more towards Swine Tail) a wall is clearly seen. And again as always, upon closer inspection you really can see how it was constructed!

You can view large slabs of stone that have been quarried, raised and positioned to contain in-fill. But sadly, some parts of this wall have been severely affected by folk creating shelters.

I could go on but you can find a great deal more information from the following book and local archaeology group:

Ingleborough: Landscape and History

Ingleborough Archaeology Group

The book is an easy and very informative read and relates well to many other hills and areas in Britain, such is the character and history of Ingleborough.

The website is basic but again, very informative.

So, there goes some info on why I adore this hill. It’s not always about the views, but in this case you are in for a treat. Because Ingleborough is pretty prominent from other high ground, the views are far reaching and awe inspiring. Dramatic? Yes, depending on the weather, season and your opinion but make no doubt the scenery is first rate stuff. On most days you can see most Pennine favourites including Cross Fell, Wild Boar Fell, the Howgills, Kinder in the Peak District, Pendle Hill, even Snowdonia and of course the not too far away Lake District mountains. The latter always a peculiar view for me!

Many a happy trip I’ve enjoyed in that delightful and most scenic corners of England but to see it across a wide and open pastoral valley – crumpled like dry clay on the horizon? Peculiar point of view it certainly is and more so when the peaks are snow capped.

One of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced in a tent was on Ingleborough a year or so ago. That was one night to remember and then some! I’ve been drunk on the summit, got lost on it, you name it (well not all things!). Take a look and wander and you can find many nooks to pitch a tent in. Personally, I don’t pitch on the plateau out of respect for whats there though it is very tempting to do so. And note nearby some very handy springs, too! Great tasting water straight out the rock!

Ingleborough mountain may not be the highest but it’s a bigger hill than most in my book and much deserved of it’s fame and popularity. It’s just a shame that most people don’t understand the old fella like myself and others do.

He’s an old rogue but a loveable one. Show him ya tough side and he’ll respect ya! But you must show respect in turn cause he can still pull a few punches if needs be. Take a closer look at his weather worn face, get under his skin and know him better and see the world from his point of view from up high and maybe then….just then any one of you readers can begin to understand not only why I love Ingleborough but moreover my character as a person.

Heck! With that last line perhaps I should send my wife up there for a few nights!!


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