After a leisurely breakfast at The Traddock Hotel in the Yorkshire Dales, Northern England, my husband, James and I thought we were embarking on the leisurely 5 mile Norber Erratics Circular that would be a few-hour ramble past glacially transported sandstone boulders eroded from nearby cliffs about 150,000 years ago toward the end of the ice age. When we consulted hotel reception, the lady working the desk said we should consider taking a short detour by the Ingleborough Caves to get some nice views. And off we went!
We lost momentum rather quickly as soon as we entered the fields full of sheep enclosed by dry stone walls and couldn’t find our way onward. Where is that stone stile?! We were combing the walls and trying to interpret stones jutting out as a potential exit. Check out the photo below for a picture of what the stone stiles look like so you don’t start scaling random walls. After about a half hour of milling about, James realised we didn’t walk across the right field to begin with. Walking directions seem so straight-forward from your sofa and then suddenly so vague when you’re standing in the middle of nowhere looking for a stile, on a hillside of fields divided by stone walls as far as they eye can see.
After consulting our offline Google maps, we got back on track and made our way to Clapham Falls (slight detour at number 7 on the walking directions when we reached Clapham) and then paid the £1 per person toll to walk the trail to the Ingleborough Caves. Unfortunately, you can’t go into the caves without joining a guided tour and we had just missed one and didn’t want to wait around a half hour for the next one. Tours leave on the hour and take about 50 minutes and cost £9/adult + the £1 toll for the trail (carry cash). Caves are open daily 10am-4pm (5pm during holiday periods) except November to January when the caves are only open on the weekends or midweek by appointment. When you reach the foot of the cave, there’s a small café selling snacks if you forgot to bring your own.
Since we couldn’t go in the caves, we decided to continue the trail which had gorgeous and rocky scenery. When the trail started to ascend, we met an older couple who suggested we take a quick 15-minute detour to large fenced in pot hole. Well, that pot hole ended up being Gaping Gill, England’s highest unbroken waterfall.
After that we we’re off on the stone stairway to the summit which boasted gorgeous panoramic views of the Yorkshire Dales. So, I’m (relatively) young and (relatively) fit; however, I was panting and walking at an embarrassingly slow pace as we neared the top. My glutes were on fire!
After hiking back into Clapham, we picked up the trail to the right behind the church (number 7 on the walking directions) to complete the Norber Erratics Circular. We did the alternative path on number 10 to go back to The Traddock in the village. It wasn’t until after the fact, we realised we just spontaneously hiked Ingleborough Mountain (elevation: 723 meters), the second highest of the famous 3 peaks! In total the hike took us about 7 hours
After a hot shower, we headed straight out for a fantastic Sunday roast at The Craven Arms. We got two courses for £15.95 each and pint of local pale ale from the Settle Brewery to wash it all down.