Simon, Carmen, Margaret, Peter, Jenny, Jennifer. This year's Chair's Walk covered part of one of my favourite routes, taking in Crackpot Hall, Swinner Gill, and Ivelet Wood. We started off from Keld, soon passing the impressive falls of Catrake Force (an advantage of the heavy rains of the previous days was that all the waterfalls were particularly spectacular). We soon arrived (as did the first hail storm of the day) at the ruins of Crackpot Hall, an old farm which has now been partly restored and stabilised. Am I alone in regretting the recent tendency to restore these remains in the Dales? The old mine buildings in nearby Gunnerside have been similarly repaired, with the resulting loss in atmosphere and authenticity. All part of the heritage industry; it would be better in my view to let these things gradually return to nature. But I digress...
Rather unimpressively, everyone but Jenny and me opted to miss out the excellent scramble up Swinner Gill. What a bunch of wimps, albeit dry and warm wimps! Meeting up at the top of the gill, just as it was starting to snow/hail again, we ignored the 'path closed due to landslide' notice and continued to traverse around the side of the dale. The landslip when we got there was relatively insignificant (though a fall wouldn't have been pleasant), since it had occurred a couple of years ago so the worst of the loose earth has been flattened by now.
A gradual descent followed through delightful Ivelet Woods, before we arrived in Muker at the Farmers Arms for lunch. Here we met up with Peter, who had been delayed due to having to find petrol, but still managed to get from the car park to the pub before the rest of us. "Mmmmm, beer". A leisurely lunch followed, as we watched a succession of hail and rain showers pass by outside. We finally decided to make a move, just after a particularly heavy period of rain, when Tom arrived, having cycled 50 something miles from York through rain, hail, snow, and gales, and over high passes just to get there. So naturally we left him there and continued the walk (sorry, Tom).
We followed the Pennine Way on the way back, over the eastern flank of Kisdon, and were back at the car within the hour.
A disappointing turn-out due to prior engagements, last minute illness, and a poor weather forecast. But those who managed to get there were rewarded with mostly good weather, a fine meal, and the abiding memory of Tom standing dripping by the bar.