An autumn day in The Dales: Buckden Pike and Great Whernside

Despite running more in the last year than is usual - I still think of it as more of a winter thing - with one exception I have done little in the last couple of months. A fine autumn day in The Dales seemed a good opportunity to redress the balance...
...and leaving Kettlewell I set off along the Dales Way, following the River Wharfe towards Buckden, intent on taking in both Buckden Pike and Great Whernside before returning to Kettlewell via the beautiful valley immediately south of Hag Dike.
A gentle start, enjoying the sunshine in the valley and a nice warm up for the climb that followed - approx. 500m over 3km - to the summit of the pike.
Looking north from the top, towards Naughtberry Hill, Carlton Moor in the distance and Crag Brea just visible to the east of Walden Head.
Passing the summit I moved quickly along the ridge, the warmth of the sun stolen by a chill wind, pausing a moment as always when here, to reflect upon the memorial cross raised in tribute to the Polish aircrew killed when their Wellington Bomber crashed in a severe snow storm (30 January, 1942). Joseph Fusniak, the rear air gunner, survived the impact and with a broken ankle, crawled, slid and fell through the storm to reach the village of Cray. His story is told here BBC WW2 People's War: Polish Survivor of Tragedy in The Dales, contributed by Richard Fusniak. From the cross I followed the ridge south - classic bog trotting - toward Cam Head, before turning east towards the steep climb of Nidd Head.
Looking back towards Buckden Pike, my route following the skyline from right to left, then cutting back across the moor to start the climb of Nidd Head and Great Whernside...
...and west across Fountains Fell, the sun still strong but the wind bitter before plodding on, eyes streaming, to the boulder strewn plateau above.
Another brief pause on the summit of Great Whernside, Buckden Pike the high point on the left looking gratifyingly distant.
It was a fast descent - a mix of soft peat, bog, tussocks and finally the winding path along the beck falling to Kettlewell - and sheltered in the valley floor, gentle birdsong and the smell of wood smoke hanging in the still air gave an idyllic finish to a fine autumn day in The Dales.

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