Posted By : admin On 2015-10-25 14:15:00
Welcome to the Dales Active Blog.

Activities in the Yorkshire Dales

Articles will be posted by members of the Dales Active team and guest contributors from around the Yorkshire Dales (and beyond)!­

With over 60 Fell Races, 20 Sportives, MTB, Trail, Potholing, Triathlon, Canoeing, Climbing, Orienteering, Riding, Windsurfing, Walking, Swimming and Paragliding Events taking place or passing through the Yorkshire Dales every single year, whichever way you look at it, one thing is certain, there is an awful lot of it going on out there!

Check out articles by Ultra Runner Matt Neale & others Here!

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Suilven the Magnificent!
Posted By : admin On 2017-10-08 09:49:00
Suilven – 27th Aug 2017,   
08:11am – 14:25pm,  13 miles,  3448ft,  
6hrs 12m

Suilven should need no introduction other than a list of superlative adjectives such as, magnificent, spectacular, awe inspiring, gob smacking, beautiful, mysterious and stunning etc. 

If you are in Assynt, then you can hardly ignore it's presence as it imposes itself upon the landscape with all its glorious pomp and majesty.  Looking like some abandoned afterthought this magnificent and dominant mountain whilst not a Munro, certainly deserves to be considered for honorary membership!  

Suilven as seen from a NW approach

Having walked Ben More Assynt and Conival the day before and with two large heel blisters to prove it, I was determined to add the scalp of Suilven before driving home later in the day.  Formed of Torridonian sandstone and some 500 million years old, this is certainly one that you do not want to miss!

 Seven miles from Inchnadamph Lodge, an early start helps to ensure a place on the limited parking available on the road/track from Lochinver towards Glencanisp Lodge (now in the hands of the comunity owned Assynt Foundation).  

A short walk from here takes you through the landscaped estate of the foundation which can boast amongst many other things, one of the few honesty shops still to be found in the UK!

Honesty Shop, Assynt Foundation
Honesty Shop at the Assynt Foundation

Suilven, Assynt
A glimpse of the beguiling Suliven as it draws you in!

This North Easterly approach to Suilven enables you to take advantage of a recent joint project between the John Muir Trust and
 Assynt Foundation to upgrade the footpath.  The stoic efforts of numerous volunteers now helps to ensure that as you meander your way through the normally sodden peat moor to the base of the climb you can almost keep your feet dry!

Track to Suilven
Here, a steep and sustained climb follows the obvious Bealach Mor gully which leads directly up onto the ridge.  Care needs to be taken nearer the top as the footpath can be a bit crumbly in places.  Once on the ridge though, take a well earned rest and enjoy the magnificent views!

View from the ridge on Suilven

 From here, you can bear east along the ridge towards the obvious peak of Meall Mheadhonach.  However, this ridge is quite exposed and I understand, a bit hairy at times.  With low cloud and slippy conditions I opted for the ‘safer’ route to the West and onto the higher Suilven peak and the aptly named Caisteal Liath (Grey Castle in Scottish Gaelic) which stands at 731m.  

Even this route requires care at times especially when the clag is down!  Some of the narrower parts are still a bit vertiginous and certainly not for the feint hearted.  However, as with many other fine ridges, some people positively embrace these challenges with a certain relish and gusto whilst others like me, treat them with nervous trepidation and just inch towards the summit!!

Narrow path on Suilven
The path narrows towards the top

 After a number of smaller rises, you eventually climb the last summit to reach a comparatively broad plateau where the final cairn awaits. 

Suilven Summit Cairn
The Final Summit Cairn

On a fine day I can imagine that the views of the Western Isles from here are quite spectacular.  As it happened, I was able to see very little apart from this wonderful pair of ptarmigan who seemed quite oblivious to my presence. 

Ptarmigan on the summit plateau

The distinct lack of views did not detract however, from the immense pleasure and sense of achievement that you must surely feel after having climbed this magnificent mountain.

 To return, simply retrace your footsteps, tentatively in my case but still better and faster than envisaged!  There are alternative ways off if you wish to extend the walk but unfortunately I now had the delight of an 8 hour drive to look forward to.  Such is life!

 Route Profile
Route Profile

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Ben More Assynt & Conival
Posted By : admin On 2017-10-07 10:38:00
Ben More Assynt & Conival - 26th August 2017   08:00 – 14:44,  12 miles,  4156ft,  6hrs 44mins
Arrived at my base for the next couple of days to be greeted by some pleasant late evening sunshine and a warm welcome from the staff and visitors already there.

View from Inchnadamph Lodge

The View from the Lodge

Inchnadamph Lodge
Inchnadamph Lodge

The Inchnadamph Lodge has excellent facilities and is ideally placed for tackling both the Munros and Suilven which is best reached from Lochinver some 7 miles away.  I am more than happy to recommend this establishment but would suggest that you book early as it is obviously very popular and in great demand!

The forecast for the following day was cloudy but dry up until around 3pm when rain and thunderstorms were due to set in!!  With that in mind I was up and away by 8 0 clock as I set out along the track that conveniently runs past the Lodge. 

The track heading off towards Conival
The Track heading off towards Conival

After passing the ‘Glenbain’ holiday cottage, the track eventually peters out onto a good footpath which then later forks.  The right path heads off towards the Traligill Caves, the largest cave system in Scotland, whilst the left follows the gentle climb up Gleann Dubh.

It is quite boggy underfoot at this point and during the ascent it’s best to keep to the left of Allt a’ Choinne Mhil where the ground is slightly drier.  Steeper ground is then encountered on the final approach to the col summit and 'hanging valley' above.

Traligill Caves
This way for the Traligill Caves
The path leading up to the hanging valley
    Keep left up to the ‘hanging valley’
Once here, head for the bealach beyond by bearing slightly over to the right which will take you across a rocky band scattered with a few small cairns that act as waymarkers.   In good visibility they are not difficult to see but if the cloud is down then it could be a problem and an accurate compass bearing is recommended.

Now head in a southerly direction up through the scree slopes to reach the ridge above.  Again, if low clouds persist, navigation might be difficult as the way ahead is not always that clear.
Ridge to Conival
Fellow walker on ridge to summit of Conival
Follow the ridge onto the summit of Conival (987m) where there are fine views of Loch Assynt below.  In the opposite direction you can see the beckoning scree slopes of Ben More Assynt, the second munro of the day. 

I stopped for a quick coffee and met the only other walker I was to see that day who was also looking to do both Munro’s.  
After a brief chat we continued down the scrambly ridge to the intervening bealach where some deer seemed to be enjoying the peace and quiet of the early morning.

Deer on Conival
Deer basking in the .....?

  Once on the bealach, it’s easy to follow the well defined path to the base of Ben More Assynt where a further scree ascent awaits.  Apart from being steep, it is pretty straightforward and once on the summit, the views are again spectacular.  However, I was only able to catch them in short glimpses as the rolling clouds continued to drift in and out.  At 998m, this is the highest point in the Assynt area and affords the best and most stunning views.   It took just a little over 4.5 hours to reach.

Ben More Assynt Summit
Summit of Ben More Assynt  

Ben More Assynt Ridge
On the final Ridge!

From here the return route was simply a matter of reversing the route I had taken.  Again, in poor visibility, this would not be straightforward as I was soon to find out.  With low cloud swirling in and out, this barren rocky landscape looks remarkably samey and I was grateful for the small breaks in cloud cover which allowed me occasionally to see the way ahead.

Looking back to Conival
Conival From Ben More Assynt

Conival in low cloud
   Now covered in cloud!

Once safely down and within half a mile of the Lodge, as forecast the rain started.  Fortunately, it was light to begin with and rather refreshing following what had been quite an arduous walk.  However, almost as soon as I'd reached the warmth and safety of the Lodge the heavens opened and the thunderstorms began!  It was definitely not a time to be out on the fells and I certainly felt for those who were still out there!

As it happened, a group of fellow guests had been tackling Suilven at the time and arrived back well and truely soaked but apparantly none the worse for wear.  Later that evening the storms did pass and the sun came out once more to provide us all with a spectacular sunset.

Sunset at Inchnadamph 

Evening sunset at Inchnadamph

Views from the summits!

A fitting end to what had been a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable 6 ¾ hour round trip!  I would happily recommend the excellent Inchnadamph Lodge to anyone wishing to spend time in this magical area! 

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A Winter's Traverse!
Posted By : admin On 2017-10-07 07:00:39
A Winter’s Journey – by Ultra Runner, Matt Neale
It was decided amongst us, that after a year of fully supported ultra distance running, we should have a crack at a decent winter unsupported run.  This strips away the comfort and safety of knowing that you’ll be meeting someone fairly regularly at a predetermined location, for the purpose of taking on food and drink. 
Our run would see us travelling from Ingleton to Grassington, covering roughly 60 miles with 12000ft ascent.  8pm on a Wednesday night in early December, saw three of us ready to go at Ingleton community centre.  There had been several days of sub zero temperatures and little snow, meaning the normally wet ground was much firmer.  We were carrying sufficient food and drink for 24 hours.  Which in my case meant three banana malt loaves, a bag of yoghurt covered raisins, 15 Tracker bars and a litre of water.!

The start at Ingleton!
  The start;  Jess, Matt & Chris enjoying soup at -5.0c
 We made  a steady start, reaching the sumimt of Ingleborough in about an hour, the night sky being fantastic.  It was a still night, so we made good progress reversing the usual three peaks route onto Whernside.  By the time we headed south west off the summit, the temperature was probably now somewhere near -10, as my water bottle had frozen solid, and was useless.  It went inside my thermal top in an attempt to soften the ice.

Whernside Summit
Whernside summit  10pm
Crossing Kingsdale beck, and passing Yordas Cave we had good climb up onto Gragareth and then made time along the frozen ridgeline north onto Great Coum.  From here we dropped into Dent where the plan was to brew up in the bus shelter. The gas eventually warmed up and after 20 minutes we were fully brewed up and on our way.  It had got painfully cold, so a good run along the road out of Dent was welcome, along the climb up the Craven Way.  We peeled off east to eventually reach Blea Moor trig point.  A fine and seldom visited summit.  Hydration was a slight problem; my bottle was still frozen, so I was seeking unfrozen streams for the remainder of the run, which was nice!
We dropped back into Dentdale to Stonehouses, up Arten Gill and onto Great Knoutberry, We backtracked and then contoured  across to the road at Newby Head.

Great Knoutberry Haw
Chris & Jess on Great Knoutberry Haw
A trog up Snaizeholme Fell, then onto the Cam Road and the Pennine Way for  a short stretch before making for the trig point on Dodd Fell.  From here, we turned south east over towards Fleet Moss, where we encountered first light.  The dreaded Moss was frozen nicely, so we headed straight over the bog, winding our way to the trig point on Yockenthwaite Moor. 
Fleet Moss
First light and bitterly cold…somewhere near  fleet Moss
Daybreak bought some cloud which steadily increased as the morning went on.  By the time we dropped off the watershed to Cray, it had started snowing and had got quite windy.  Next call was Buckden Pike and in a short space of time, the ever increasing wind was driving heavy snow into our faces.  I put my goggles on, but Jess had forgotten his and suffered.  We came off Buckden Pike down towards Top Mere road and by this stage, he had lost the ability to focus his eyes properly. I gave him my goggles, but was stumbling all over the shop and couldn’t really continue.  We packed him off down Top Mere road, ricocheting off the walled lane down to Starbottom, where he sought refuge after knocking on  a few doors in the hamlet.  In the meantime we had organised someone to pick him up.  Chris and I were still running, so continued to cross the road at Park Rash and then up the final ascent, Great Whernside.

Great Whernside
Matt on Great Whernside
Battling through the snow we ran off down to Capplestone gate, continuing to Yarnbury and finally down the road to Grassington.  The café was a welcome sight.  It had taken us just over 19 hours.  All in all a cracking run out.
Nb Once out of the wind, it took Jess about 7 hours to regain his normal vision.  I’ve only heard of ‘wind blindness’ once before in similar weather conditions.  He was checked over the next day and has suffered no long term problem as a result.  
Matt Neale 
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