Kettlewell, birds of prey and back to Kettlewell

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2010-11-17

It was an earlier start than usual, 9.30 a.m. for the walk from Kettlewell, over Great Whernside, down to Starbotton, up and over to Littondale and then up and over again back to Kettlewell. I was so concerned about the early start that Len, Graham and I had time for a second breakfast in the little cafe by the car park as we had arrived by 8.50 a.m. The sun was shining and everything looked set for a great day. We were joined by Ian, Mark and Bruce, and of course Jess, at 9.30 a.m. on the dot so off we went on our ’Strenuous’ walk.  We hadn’t gone very far when we stopped to admire a group of hawks and their owners, obviously out for a day’s exercise. There were Harris hawks, Red-tailed hawks and a Goshawk. Luckily for us Bruce was able to identify! Little did we know at that point that we were all to meet again later.


The path led gradually up the hill and the view slowly opened out as we gained height. We were blessed by a fabulous view; Wharfedale spread out below us, onwards towards Lancashire and Pendle Hill and eventually Pen-y-ghent,  Whernside and Ingleborough in all their glory. It was good to see those three from a different angle and perspective. I’m used to seeing them up close and personal!


On our way to the top of Great Whernside, we passed the Ben Rhydding scout ‘hut’ and its beautiful little chapel with those very inspiring words ‘ mine eyes unto the hills..’ The top of the hill demanded a quick coffee stop but not for long. We had taken so much time over the birds, the views and the chapel that we needed to get going. But what is a good walk for if you can’t take in all the interests as you go along? We strode along now making easy going to cross the Carlton to Kettlewell road and on to the Starbotton Cam Road. We stopped for our first lunch, trying to find some shelter as it was a little breezy here but then gathering ourselves together to walk on down to Starbotton. Who should we meet towards the bottom of the hill but the hawkers with their fabulous birds, now so much closer to us that we had a really good look! Beautiful, stately creatures, very proud.  One of the Harris hawks took a rather dim view of poor old Jess. She was of course, being perfectly behaved  but the bird decided to shriek at her at the top of its voice which was very disconcerting and not only for Jess! A super moment for us all though.


Starbotton whizzed by, the path leads up through the wood below Moor End Fell and onto the top of Old Cote Moor then it drifts down towards Littondale stopping  for a second lunch overlooking Arncliffe and the fells further west. Here, Len had been walking so fast that we lost him for a while but he came back to find us like the good shepherd he is and we all set off on the last leg. This is always the hard bit because as one gets to what one expects to be the top, it isn’t and the path leads through Byre Bank Wood and up and over Middlesmoor Pasture before descending, with a bit of a scramble, to Kettlewell. Yes, a strenuous walk but great variety, good weather and perfect dales views spread out all around. The Racehorses pub and pints, and a cup of tea, beckoned  before  the journey home. Thanks to everyone who came on this most interesting walk.

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