An enjoyable walk in rapidly changing weather conditions from Coniston Bridge on to Kilnsey Moor and Malham Moor via Mastiles Lane.
|Parking:||Roadside, Conistone Bridge|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
This was my first walk of the year and though I didn’t know it at the time it would be, thanks to the latest coronavirus lockdown, three months until my next visit to the Dales.
I set off early and arrived at Conistone Bridge before the sun had properly risen over the hills so that much of the valley floor was still in shadow. The skies however were a brilliant blue and as the early morning sun reached the dramatic cliffs of Kilnsey Scar the lighting was quite beautiful. As I walked across the frozen fields the moon appeared in a little notch above the crag. Rarely have I seen it so clearly at that time in the morning.
"Across the stile I left the line of the path to slant up to the left to reach an old kiln. Just above the kiln is an area of limestone and a solitary hawthorn tree. It is, for me, one of the most picturesque trees in this area of the Dales. "
Upon reaching Scar Lathe I crossed the road to take a closer look at Kilnsey Scar before turning left and walking down the road to Kilnsey itself. Turning right just after the pub I took the lane leading through the small village. Passing through a gate I began a long stretch climbing gradually up Mastiles Lane. At a bend I looked back for a nice view of the village in the morning sunshine. Little did I know how different the view would be when I returned to the same spot nearly three hours later.
Continuing up Mastiles Lane I could see the upper slopes of Kilnsey Moor still had a thin covering of snow. I followed the enclosed lane until about grid reference SD954667 where I took a gate on the left on to access land. I wanted to visit the trig point on Holgates Kilnsey Moor and passing through the gate here rather than climbing the wall at the top of the track was an easier option. For those who aren’t bothered about trig points an alternative option is to continue along Mastiles Lane to reach Mastiles Gate before turning left to reach the junction with Malham Moor Lane.
I came across a faint track in the snow which I followed past some boulders. There were some great views looking back with Buckden Pike and Great Whernside looking particularly impressive. After staying fairly close to the wall on my right I eventually turned away from it to climb left on the moor. Passing the shallow lines of some old bell pits I eventually reached the trig point. To the east the skies were beginning to darken but to the west all was blue sky. The incoming clouds over Great Whernside enhanced the drama of the view.
From the trig point I walked due west to a bump of similar height before walking south above some modest crags. After descending the steep ground to the south of the crags I then made my way to a gate at around grid reference SD946656 to reach the bridleway between Mastiles Lane and Malham Moor Lane. Looking back up the dark clouds were now appearing over Kilnsey Moor itself.
Turning left I soon came to a junction with Malham Moor Lane. Continuing straight over I passed some Herdwick sheep at a feeding station to climb a brow and then descend towards Bordley House Farm. Before reaching the farm I turned left on a signed path. This led to a stile in a wall below a small limestone ravine. Across the stile I left the line of the path to slant up to the left to reach an old kiln. Just above the kiln is an area of limestone and a solitary hawthorn tree. It is, for me, one of the most picturesque trees in this area of the Dales.
Continuing east over patchy limestone pavement I passed through a broken wall to reach the top of Malham Moor. The 411m spot height is on a section of limestone pavement but is otherwise unmarked. The dark cloud was now lowering greatly restricting the views. As I dropped down to reach the public footpath it began to snow. Turning left I passed some belted galloways whose thick fluffy coats would have kept them warm in the increasingly thick snow.
On reaching another kiln I turned left on the bridleway to reach a gate on Malham Moor Lane. Crossing straight over I continued on in rapidly deteriorating conditions. Visibility was dropping and by the time the bridleway was passing below Green Haw Hill it was almost whiteout conditions.
Eventually I reached Mastiles Lane to begin a tricky descent back into Kilnsey. In the morning there had been quite substantial patches of ice on the track. These were easy enough to avoid in the morning but with a covering of snow to hide them they proved quite treacherous. Upon reaching the gate leading back into Kilnsey I relaxed thinking I’d avoided the worst. A few metres later I took a step, slid on some ice under the snow and landed very hard on my side.
Picking myself back up I made my way back to the car. The snow had fallen heavily at valley level too and the roads were also covered. The contrast between the morning and early afternoon couldn’t have been more different. It also made for a cautious but adrenaline fuelled drive home.
Despite the bad fall near the end and the tricky drive I really enjoyed this outing in one of my favourite areas of the Dales.