A long but rewarding walk from Hawes over Drumaldrace and Dodd Fell featuring views of a number of valleys and including a detour at the end to Aysgill Force, one of the finest waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales.
|Parking:||Car park, Hawes|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
Give or take a couple of weeks it had been almost 12 years since I’d last visited the top of Dodd Fell Hill. In the intervening period I’ve climbed many of the other Dales 2,000fters a number of times. It was high time therefore that I revisited this particular hill. As with the previous two occasions I decided to also include a visit to Drumaldrace, the summit of Wether Fell.
This was actually my fifth visit to Drumaldrace and I decided to try a different approach on to the fell. Rather than using the good track climbing up from Burtersett I decided on a more direct approach from Hawes. Parking at the car park just below the Wensleydale Creamery I walked up the road and through the village of Gayle to take a path signposted just after the road leaves the village.
“Passing around the southern end of Dodd Fell the views changed again, this time to include sections of upper Langstrothdale and Ribblesdale. Meanwhile the unmistakeable outline of Ingleborough was almost ever present ahead of me.”
Crossing a couple of fields I then took an enclosed way, Shaw Lane, up past some barns to enter access land. A steeper section on a thinner path saw me slant up through a series of pastures to join another path just as it crosses Blackburn Sike. Already there were some fine, if slightly hazy views looking back across the valley and back down to Hawes.
After another steeper section the path finally joined up with the track climbing up from Burtersett. Turning right on this I continued on to a bifurcation in the bridleway. Taking the left hand option the path led me on to the Cam High Road. A public byway, the Cam High Road is an old Roman road that ran from the fort at Bainbridge over to Ribblehead and beyond. After views of Wensleydale I now had some glimpses down into Raydale including a section of Semerwater.
After a couple of hundred metres I spotted a thin path leaving the Cam High Road to my right. Following this it led me up on to the cairn on Drumaldrace, the unusually named highest point of Wether Fell. After taking the requisite photos I continued on along the thin path to drop back down to the Cam High Road just before it passes through a gate. Continuing on it was then a pleasant walk south-west along the track to reach Beggarman’s Road, the steep road climbing out of Gayle heading for Langstrothdale.
Turning left on the road I followed it to a sharp bend. With the modern road continuing on its way to Oughtershaw I turned right to continue along the Cam High Road. There followed a long stretch of road walking. However, as the road only leads to the remote Cam Houses there was no traffic. Passing around the southern end of Dodd Fell the views changed again, this time to include sections of upper Langstrothdale and Ribblesdale. Meanwhile the unmistakeable outline of Ingleborough was almost ever present ahead of me.
Eventually I reached Kidhow Gate. Passing through I then left the main Cam High Road to take the unimaginatively titled West Cam Road. Also coinciding with the route of the Pennine Way, the West Cam Road provides some absolutely superb views of the Snaizeholme valley. For those who are not interested in visiting the top of Dodd Fell then one can simply follow the Pennine Way all the way back to Hawes.
Dodd Fell however was my main objective on the walk. Therefore I followed the track to reach a gate. Passing through I then slanted north-east above the track to make a pathless climb up towards the summit. Part way up I veered somewhat to the right to investigate what looked like a large cairn. It turned out to be a fairly random pile of stones that had been collected on top of a gritstone boulder.
Finally arriving at the trig point marking the summit I stopped for a rest and a bite to eat. Dodd Fell is located almost in the centre of the Yorkshire Dales. As a result the panorama is extensive in all directions though there is little depth to the view from the summit itself.
Having enjoyed my lunch I set off heading north-west for a steeper drop back down to the West Cam Road. Enjoying once again the fine views down into Snaizeholme this next section was possibly the finest of the walk. Eventually the Pennine Way left the course of the main track and I did the same. Almost immediately I also temporarily left the Pennine Way as well so that I could pay a visit to the small tarns that can be found on Ten End. In addition to a number of small pools there are two larger tarns, both of which seem to be popular with the local bird life.
From the second of the larger tarns I made my way back to the Pennine Way to begin an enjoyable descent with great views of Wensleydale ahead of me. Initially on a fainter grassy path I eventually reached the top of the road called Gaudy Lane. A short way along the lane I decided to make my final detour of the day, this time so that I could visit Aysgill Force.
It is certainly worth a visit, indeed it is one of my favourite waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales. While it can easily be visited via a shorter walk from Hawes of Gayle I decided it was worth tagging on the end of this particular outing. To reach the waterfall I left Gaudy Lane to cross a couple of pastures to join another track. Turning right on this I enjoyed some good views of the side valley of Sleddale. Following a fork in the track I took the left hand option to reach a ford over Duerley Beck. Without crossing I turned left to follow a path past West Close Barn and on to the viewpoint for Aysgill Force.
From the waterfall the path continued above the stream to reach some fields above Gayle. Once back in the village it was a simple case of walking back down the road into Hawes to conclude what had been my longest walk of the year so far.