Friday, 3 October 2014

Yorkshire 2000s - Buckden Pike via Buckden Beck

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Route: Buckden, Buckden Beck, Buckden Lead Mine, Buckden Out Moor, Buckden Gavel, Buckden Pike, Memorial Cross, Starbotton Fell, Walden Road, East Side, Buckden

Date: 03/10/2014
From: Buckden

Parking: Roadside parking in Buckden
Start Point: Buckden village
Region: Yorkshire Dales

Route length: 5.2miles (8.3km)
Time taken: 02:05
Average speed: 2.5mph
Ascent: 513m
Descent: 519m

2000s on this walk: 
Buckden Pike (702m)

Additional summits: None

Other points of interest: Buckden Lead Mine, War Memorial

Buckden Pike is one of the higher fells in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and has views to match. It is, however, one of the less frequented of the higher peaks, often overlooked by the famous Three Peaks and the marginally higher Great Whernside a short distance away. This does not mean that it is not an interesting hill though, and this route is by far the most exciting and quickest way to the top.

I'd taken a day off work for a long weekend in the Lake District but the weather, as it is this time of year, had other ideas, focusing some intense rainfall over the Lake for much or Friday. Altering our plans slightly we decided we'd travel up on Saturday instead, leaving me with an entirely free day and nothing to do, so to speak.

In order not to waste a valuable non work day, I set my sights a little closer to home and picked up the trail of the Yorkshire 2000s that has gone a little cold of late. My most recent foray into the hills of the Dales was that of Great Shunner Fell some months earlier so it was nice to be back.

Not wanting a too demanding day out, I decided on Buckden Pike, the fell sat on the eastern edge of the park that offered a nice morning walk without too much effort. I've seen routes up the hill from Buckden that follow Buckden Beck and, scouring the map, it looked by far the most interesting way up the hillside.

I left the car on the road outside the Buck Inn, there's plenty of space for a few cars. The beginnings of the route pass by the left hand side of the pub, along a lane towards the obvious valley of Buckden Beck, and ignoring the signpost marking the route to Buckden Lead Mine.
The first sighting of Buckden Beck
After passing through a series of gates, the path reaches a Yorkshire Water owned treatment building, the supply to the village drawn directly from the stream (the actual intake is further up the hill). From here, the path follows Buckden Beck as it starts a steady climb.
The treatment building
Buckden Beck
After a short distance, the path reaches the first of a number of impressive, and seemingly impassable waterfalls. The first of the bunch gives a clue to the bypassing of the rest. Though not immediately obvious, prior to amphitheatre of the fall, the path turns back on itself and leads to a small cleft in the rock face, wide enough to climb up with ease. Turning right at the top and following the path once again, you will find yourself high above the first fall that seemed so impenetrable a moment ago.
The first waterfall - a miniature Malham cove
A look path along the path - the gap can be seen on the right on the rocks
The route up the cleft
Buckden Beck from the top of the waterfall
Above the fall now
This process is repeated for the second fall and (possibly) the third. Upon reaching fall number three, I opted to climb up a crack in the wall, directly next to the fall, an exciting little adventure. It's obvious, as I reached the top, that the path bypasses this climb but I'm not sure where the fork is. Something to investigate next time.
Rounding an outcrop above the first waterfall
Above the second waterfall
The third fall
Close up of the third fall
The crack in the wall I climbed up
Buckden Beck above the third fall
The third fall marks the last of the difficulties, from here the route is easy to follow, the remaining few falls being easily bypassed up their grassy banks. After a few short moments of steadily climbing, the path reaches the sad remains of Buckden Gavel Lead Mine, perched high up on the hill side.
The fourth waterfall
The path continues alongside Buckden Beck
The remains of Buckden Lead Mine
Spoil heaps
The mine was unique in Wharfedale in that most of its ore came from pipes and flats in the limestone instead of from veins. The Old Pipe was discovered at its northern end, near Bishopdale, by a mine called Blow Groves, in the 1690s. In the steep side gill, immediately below the tips from the level, are the remains of Buckden High Smelt Mill, which is where ore was smelted over 100 years before the level was driven. This mill had a single, bellows-blown orehearth and only worked for about eight years. A shooting hut on Water Gill, marks the site of Buckden Low Smelt Mill.
The entrance to the old mine
Track leading to the mine entrance
Bit of monochrome
More abandoned structures
It is still possible to enter the mine, through the small brick-built hole at the head of the valley. Subterranean activities are not really my strong point so it was back to the path and the final 100m climb across Buckden Out Moor towards the summit. This is the steeper part and the wind had started to get up, blowing the clouds in. Fortunately, they were content with whipping over the summit ridge rather than shrouding, making for an interesting spectacle.
A look back down into Wharfedale
Clouds on the ridge
The steepness abates as the path reaches the broad ridge of Buckden Pike, the lies a short distance to the north after crossing a drystone wall. A white OS pillar sits proudly on top, accompanied by an odd cairn with a post some metres distant. The summit also benefits from some fairly recently laid stone slabs to avoid any boggy parts.
Flagstones lead to the summit
A pillar marks the top
Along with a cairn and wooden viewing post
The trig pillar from the cairn
A windy day on the summit
The route continues on
Leaving the summit, travelling south this time, the stone capped path follows the wind-swept ridge for just under a mile before reaching another junction of drystone walls. On the other side stands a modest memorial, the final remnants of a remarkable story.
Boundary marker on the ridge
On Jan 30 1942, a crew of six Polish airmen from 18 O.T.U. took off from RAF Bramcote, Warwickshire on a training mission in a Wellington Bomber when, without warning, they flew into a bad snowstorm. In an attempt to find a suitable point of reference, the bomber clipped a stone wall on the ridge sending it careening into the hillside.

Sergeant Jozef Fusniak, the tail gunner, survived the crash when the rear section of the aircraft broke away upon impact. With a broken ankle, Jozef followed the tracks of a fox down to the village where he was rescued. Sadly, the other crash survivor, Jan Sadowski, did not survive the night.

Jozef was instrumental in getting the memorial erected in the 1970s, the current cross is perched on a substantial base in which parts of the wrecked aircraft are embedded. A bronze foxes head pays homage to the animal that undoubtedly saved Jozef's life.
The memorial to the crashed bomber
The fox's head is beneath the plaque
I was toying with the idea of continuing on to Tor Mere Top, the next high point of the ridge but, with the weather closing in, decided to begin the descent back to Buckden. A wide path meets the ridge at a boundary stone near the memorial, heading towards the start of Walden Road, a track leading to Starbotton.

Cutting a corner, I followed the wall around the hillside instead of dropping onto the track, and continued cross-country in a northerly direction until I reached the bridleway that leads down from the lead mine (the same path I recommended avoiding earlier).
Yockenthwaite Moor
Walden Road
From here, it is a straightforward stroll back down the hillside to Buckden, following the signposts for the village. It is accompanied by some tremendous views of Wharfedale and Langstrothdale backed by Old Cote Moor and Yockenthwaite Moor (ones for another day).
Wharfedale backed by Old Cote Moor
The view along the bridleway to Buckden
Buckden Pike is one of the larger hills in the Dales and has one of the more interesting approaches, certainly the route I took. I'm struggling to think of a mountain of similar stature that has an easier climb. I'm told the views from the top area among the best, mine were mostly grey, and this, coupled with its overall gentle nature, make it a perfect hill for budding adventurers to get started on. Or investigate further....