Around Pen-y-ghent

Not so much the 3 Peaks; more the 3 Dales. 35km and approximately 700m of ascent, the majority off road with often difficult conditions, this was a route with a bit of everything and then a bit more.
From Horton in Ribblesdale, a quick spin on tarmac and then the start of the climb to gain the southern flank of Pen-y-ghent. A hard frost had thawed beneath a gentle spring sun, the surface of the track lacking any traction: hard frustrating work...
...things improved higher up and I sat awhile soaking up the sun, view and gentle beauty of the day.
The curlews have arrived on the uplands again; so too the lapwing with their distinctive crest, call and charismatic flight.
Heading north now, another short stretch of tarmac and then a superb descent to Foxup at the head of Littondale. I made the most of it, knowing that the next section would be the toughest of the day.
The climb from Halton Gill to Horse Head is steep and unrelenting: 320m in just over 1km.
I took a break at the top and looking back was gratified to note that Pen-y-ghent was now a distant lump on the horizon.
Expectations were high for the next descent into Langstrothdale.
It started well enough but quickly deteriorated, thick treacherous mud on steep slopes gave rise to a few out of control slides but no falls.
Arriving in Yockenthwaite I followed the infant Wharfe, this far upstream a gentle beck dropping over miniature limestone falls. It is a beautiful and relatively quiet part of the Dales and today, with not a breath of wind on such a gentle spring day, it was perfect.
Climbing gently, the track rises and falls through the conifers to reach Birkwith Moor...
...from where a long fast descent eventually leads back to Ribblesdale...
...and with a view of the western crags of Pen-y-ghent, the loop is closed and the 3 Dales bagged!

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