Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Through Conistone Dib up to The Dales Way

An impromptu walk and a very good one at that. I had thought of going up to Kettlewell and heading off up the bridleway to Top Mere but whilst driving through Conistone, I recalled coming down to the village from the Dales Way many years ago. After a quick look at my Dales Maps (which I always keep in the car), I decided to go back up there via the Dib as I hadn't been through it before.

The signpost for the Dib is next to the last house in the hamlet and the beginning of the walk doesn't really prepare you for what is to come. Near the bottom of the Dib there are several deep rock shelves that the path crosses before ascending quite steeply into a narrow limestone gorge whose river bed was eroded by the huge torrent of glacial melt water at the end of the ice age. As you ascend you can see the shape of the old river channel and in one place in particular there is a large dome shaped alcove in the rock wall where there was a whirlpool and the shape was worn by boulders spinning round and round trapped in the whirlpool.

As you progress the terrain widens out to a grassy valley with limestone scars for about half a mile and then you come to a signpost with an option of heading further up the valley and into the top section of the Dib or veer right on to another track which takes you up into open limestone countryside and eventually down to Grassington. I took this option but instead of keeping on the main Grassington path, I took one which cut across to the top of the Dib and up on to the main Dales Way Path. The views down in to the Dib were quite spectacular and as I reached the highest point of the walk I could see the Mastiles Lane going over to Malham from Kilsey, one of the oldest tracks in the district. Also there were good views across to Littondale and farther up in to Langstrathdale.

Looking at my map I can now see that if I'd have carried on, I would have had three options;
  • going either way on The Dales Way, 
  • heading higher up and on to the tops and then either heading for Great Whernside (704m) or
  • staying on the old Bycliffe Road and finishing up in Nidderdale but I don't really think I'm quite up to that these days! 
Anyway, I had enjoyed what I had done and had the opportunity taken lots of nice photos. I had wanted to take a good one looking back down the Dib but the clouds were building and the light wasn't playing game. It was getting a tad chilly so I donned a jacket and just strolled back down via Scot Gate Lane (which I presume was originally used to bring the limestone back down to the dale). On the way back I passed romantically named places such as Wassa Hill, Wassa Laithe, Haugh Laithes and Davy Dimple, all place names on the OS map which are just beckoning further research.

Limestone wall, Conistone

Lower section

Lower section

Into open countryside

Limestone Scenery

The upper section of the Dib

Path to The Dales Way

Above the Dib

Nearing The Dales Way

Looking back down The Dib

Limestone escarpment

Looking up Wharfedale

Start of Scot Gate Lane

Scot Gate Lane

Scot Gate Lane

Barn, Conistone


A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...