A rather wet return to one of my favourite walks in Wharfedale featuring Conistone Dib and Conistone Pie before venturing on to the gritstone moor above.
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This is a walk I've done, with a number of variations, several times over the years. On this occasion I was joined by my group of work friends whom I'm walking the Nidderdale Way with in the summer and none of whom had previously done this walk. In nice conditions it is a cracking walk featuring some of Wharfedale's finest limestone scenery including Conistone Dib and Conistone Pie.
Unfortunately on this occasion it wasn't the best weather and it was a damp, murky morning when we arrived at Conistone Bridge where it is possible to park several cars on road either side of the bridge. On the other hand the overcast conditions did somewhat add to the atmosphere of Gurling Trough, the narrow limestone gorge that is encountered almost immediately upon leaving Conistone.
"The mizzly rain began to get heavier and was icy cold without quite turning into snow. With visibility now down to about twenty metres I also had to be careful that no one dropped back out of sight."
Having passed through Gurling Trough we walked up the dry valley of Conistone Dib up to its head which requires a short and easy scramble up limestone to exit. My original plan at this point had been to head up Bycliffe Road and then the Conistone Turf Road to reach the trig point near Capplestone Gate. However, with visibility low and the forecast set to improve I decided to do the route clockwise from this point and stay lower down for longer.
Therefore we crossed over Scot Lane to take a broad green path passing below a limestone scar towards Conistone Pie. A natural limestone outcrop Conistone Pie features a superb view of Wharfedale but with visibility greatly reduced we passed it by and continued on our path heading north. Eventually we reached the end of the top section of Swineber Scar. At this point I gave the group the choice of descending towards Kettlewell and returning by a back road to Conistone or carrying on up to Conistone Moor. Fair play to everyone, they all wanted to continue up on to Conistone Moor.
Almost as soon as this decision was made and we began a steepish climb up the limestone pastures the weather deteriorated even further. The mizzly rain began to get heavier and was icy cold without quite turning into snow. With visibility now down to about twenty metres I also had to be careful that no one dropped back out of sight.
After a steep climb up to a gate we turned right for an easy, fairly level section towards Capplestone Gate where we made a quick detour to the Conistone Moor trig point. No sooner had we left the trig point and begun our descent along the Conistone Turf Road the cloud began to lift and we were finally rewarded for our perserverance with some views.
The descent via the Conistone Turf Road on to Bycliffe Road and thence on to Scot Gate Lane was straightforward, the main highlight being a short detour to take some photos of some lovely limestone pavement just above the junction of paths at the top of Conistone Dib.
Despite the weather everyone enjoyed themselves. It was one of those days where good company and just being outdoors was the most important thing.