Distance: 8.3 miles
Classification: Marilyn, Hewitt, Nuttall
Weather: Bright, dry, cold
With the nights drawing in, an early start was needed in order to get up to the Yorkshire Dales, climb Buckden Pike and be back down again before sunset. We may live in Yorkshire but are still a good hour and a quarter away from the likes of Grassington, Buckden and Malham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
We arrived in Starbotton and expected to find a car park and be on our way, but Starbotton is such a small village that there isn't really anywhere to park in the village itself. We asked a couple of the locals in the village who advised parking on the main road out of the village in one of the numerous passing areas on the small, country road (B6160). These are quite large so do appear to allow for parking as well. We didn't have any problems parking here so got kitted up and were on our way.
My Lowe Alpine Airzone 25 litre pack I had now realised was too small for winter walks for the Mrs and I, so I had just got a new, larger 35:45 pack of the same brand and it would be getting its first outing. It performed well, was as comfortable as I've come to expect from Lowe Alpine and easily fitted in our large load for this cold day in the hills. A good purchase I reckon.
We set off from Starbotton and ascended via the very good path of Starbotton Cam Road before throwing a left to join the appropriately named Starbotton Peat Ground. We had made good progress so far, but from here the ground became quite boggy and slowed our pace somewhat. In places it had frozen, which did help, but in others it meant a small detour around the bogs. Looking at the bogs, I don't think any would have troubled you any further than the knee, but I didn't fancy finding out, and we did go ankle deep a couple of times, but nothing major on this particular day.
This continued all the way past Tor Mere Top, past the views of Great Whernside and right up until reaching the Memorial Cross where the ground became much firmer. One interesting thing to note when reaching the Memorial Cross; the Ordnance Survey map has a path on the right-hand side of the wall to the summit of Buckden Pike, yet a newish looking sign has been erected with a 'suggested route to Buckden Pike' on the left-hand side of the wall. Take the left-hand side as suggested, as flags are starting to be put down on this side, whereas the right-hand side seemed to return to the boggy ground we had encountered earlier.
Despite the temperature hovering around 1°C, the steady ascent and the sun being out had meant we were down to just microfleeces, but once at the summit we certainly felt the cold. With the wind-chill the temperature was now down to -5°C, so on went the layers and the big gloves.
The views from Buckden Pike are spectacular. On a good, clear day as we had you have all three of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, as well as Great Shunner Fell, Cross Fell and we even saw Scafell Pike in the distance. We ate our lunch next to the summit cairn and took on some welcome, warm coffee. Due to the temperature and there being only about two and a half hours until sunset we didn't stay too long on the top before taking the good path to the north-west of the trig point to begin our descent into Buckden.
I cursed myself for once again taking my hefty binoculars and forgetting to use them, I did this on Ingleborough on probably the clearest day you'll ever get up there. I'd carried them all that way, taking up space in my pack and then forgotting all about them until we were making our way down!
The plod down wasn't too memorable, although we did see some interesting limestone formations, before we landed in Buckden and walked along the road back to Starbotton and our car.
Buckden Pike is a great hill. It's pretty tough on the way up, but enjoyable all the way. On a good clear day I can't imagine there will be many hills in this area that will rival the views that Buckden Pike can offer, it's up there with Ingleborough and certainly better than the views on offer at Yorkshire's other two of three popular Three Peaks, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside. I'd actually go one further and say Buckden Pike is overall a more enjoyable hill than Pen-y-ghent and Whernside, and is possibly on a par with the brilliant Ingleborough.
Go up and see for yourself.
|Not long after leaving Starbotton, and you're already gaining height|
|Sheep taking it easy as we get our first glimpse of Buckden Pike|
|The climb eases, but the terrain doesn't|
|Red grouse - plenty of these up here|
|An interesting stile!|
|Desolate moorland to the east|
|The part-flagged path near the summit|
|Buckden Pike trig - 702 metres|
|The Yorkshire Three Peaks, in one shot|
|The summit cairn|
|The view north|
|The path down with Whernside looming in the distance|