Vanpacking In Wensleydale

There are times when things never seem to go to plan. Last week – October half-term holiday in Derbyshire – was one of them. What should have happened, was that Dixie and I should have walked the Six Dales Trail: a 40 mile route from Otley to Middleham, near Leyburn. We were going to do it in 4 days (10 miles in one go is more than enough for Dixie these days), backpacking for two of the nights and meeting Geoff with the van on the other two nights. The rest of the holiday would then be spent wandering the Dales together doing day walks.

What actually happened, was the Wednesday before half-term I injured my back. Not sure how, but I spent the rest of the week at school hobbling around full of pain killers. By the Saturday then, I’d reluctantly decided to scale the walk down by not backpacking, but doing it as a series of  day walks, meeting up with Geoff each night. Being a somewhat stubborn person at times, I was still convinced this plan would work when I got up on Sunday morning, but on taking Dixie out for her post-breakfast ablutions, had to finally admit defeat. Still hobbling quite badly, there was no way I was doing any walk with any rucksack.

Me being me, I was really cross with myself. I couldn’t do anything about it though, and I certainly hadn’t injured my back on purpose, so we moved on to plan C.

We don’t usually do caravan sites with the van much preferring to wild camp, but in the circumstances, where a lot of chilling on my part was obviously required, we checked in at the Leyburn site. Not a bad site in the end, as sites go, situated in an old quarry with loads of trees all around.

So, we pottered about for the week. Wandered around Reeth, Leyburn and Jervaux Abbey, and watched the whole of the first series of Psychoville on dvd. And slowly, the back improved. But as Geoff kindly informed me, I had to remember that as you get older, things take longer to repair……Thanks Geoff!

By the end of the week though, it was time to put a rucksack back on and get out there again. We chose a short wander (an easy 4 miles in total), up on to the moors between Wensleydale and Swaledale. It had been down to freezing the night before and was a cool day – only 4C as we set off mid-morning – but very pleasant in intermittent sunshine.

Our route was straightforward, following a track up to a hut where we would have lunch, then retrace our steps back to the van.

As we climbed, the views back into Wensleydale gradually opened out. We even had a brief snow shower at one point, and right in the distance could see snow on the higher tops over towards Ingleborough way.

A passing RAF Sea King added a bit of interest,

while Tilly found something disgusting to eat.

And on rounding a bend, a bit higher still, we suddenly caught site of our goal on the horizon.

By now, we were also picking up a bit of a lively breeze, which felt like it was blowing straight from the Arctic.

On approaching the hut, you realise what an exposed, commanding position it’s in, offering absolutely magnificent views down into the valley.

Inside the hut, it was a very welcome shelter for a spot of lunch. Obviously well looked after, with plenty of wood for the fire! I suspect it’s used as a shooting hut primarily, but there is a visitors book with a message saying that anyone is welcome to take shelter there, as long as they shut the door so that sheep can’t get in!

Geoff had a good look through the visitors’ book before writing in it himself, and came across an unusual entry from earlier in the year, by a certain James of Nottingham, concerning a toilet and a frozen cistern……?

The dogs found plenty of good sniffs – Dixie said she was sure she could smell Rueben – and then quickly decided that it was a very nice place to be for lunch and went into begging mode while we ate our sandwiches. In fact I don’t think Dixie was particluarly pleased when they were dragged out into the cold wind again a while later, to wend our way back down to the van!

And so, we retraced our steps back to the village. Not a long walk, but a very pleasant one and just right for a first outing after a hurty back – which, incidentally, was fine.

27 thoughts on “Vanpacking In Wensleydale

    1. Thanks Dawn, it was a good little walk that left you feeling as though you’d done more than you had really – must have been the effect of the expansive views and the windy moors!


  1. Sorry to hear about your back. But this little number sounds ideal for Big H who has recovered from a spot of hip bother and is getting bored of walks by the canal [as nice as they are…….] so might give this one a go next time we’re up ^_^


  2. Thanks for that, seems to be ok now thank goodness! Is Big H a dog or a husband???
    Dixie has trouble with her hips now (it was her birthday yesterday – she turned 11), and always ends up with a dose of metacam with her tea after any walk longer than about 4 miles.


  3. Bad news that you had to change your plans, but looks as though you made the best of it.

    That hut looks like a good find – one to be stored away in the memory banks should I find myself over that way.


  4. You have been in the wars this year. Still not a bad place to be pottering about and better than being at work. The huts looks rather nice, just had a happy 5 minutes looking at maps to try and work out where it is 🙂


  5. Hi Chrissie and sending you healing thoughts and energies. Brilliant post, as always. I really liked the sheep herder’s hut very much; great find! Happy Birthday to Dixie and a big kiss on the chops. Wyatt Earp the Boxer’s 7th birthday is tomorrow and a large box of “Scoobie snacks” treats came for him this afternoon. Take good care of yourself. Warmest wishes, Karen


  6. Bad luck there Chrissie, sounds a bit like Mary. She broke her ankle and because she ended up walking a bit oddly put her back out badly for a long time!
    I remember that bothy from one of James’s posts last year.


  7. I know that hut, though last time I saw it there was a lot more snow. That route you mentioned starting from otley sounds worth checking out, I was born about a mile from there.


  8. Ouch – sorry to hear you’re having back problems now. I think my toe’s more or less better now – at last! 🙂

    I’m not that keen on Wensleydale but your track looks nice and so does the little bothy. I don’t think I’ve actually ever been to Swaledale – keep meaning to go though as it looks nice. I’ve just missed all this sunny weather – was on nights. It does that every time – it’s sunny while I’m sleeping in the day and then, when it’s my days off, it goes dull and ‘orrid!


  9. Did not realise that you had buggered your back Chrissie, was wondering why you had not gone backpacking on your day off. As for that James from Nottingham and the toilet with a frozen cistern, hope he did not do anything embarrassing?


    1. I did tweet it, but it was at the beginning of the week when you were having fun on Jura so I wouldn’t have expected you to notice it! It was a bit irritating to say the least, after I’d got everything planned and packed, and Dixie was looking forward to it too; she’d seen that her food and bed roll had gone into the rucsac and it had made her go all skippy and excited!
      And as for that James from Nottingham – there wasn’t quite enough detail in the entry to work out exactly what he’d done – but it only took a bit of imagination to visualise it. Very embarassing I’d say……


    1. I have to say Alex that I was amazed it took over a week before I felt like carrying a rucsac again! Geoff must have been right about the age thing……
      There’s nothing like a ‘secret’ bothy for making you get the map out is there? I’ve spent hours looking for them after reading peoples’ blogs!


  10. We were looking at Middleham earlier in the year as a potential spot for a camping trip with the kids. Didn’t come off, but the idea is still on the back-burner for future reference. Interesting to see daylight photos of a familiar looking bothy!


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