Icy clints and grykes at Mougton Scar

On Boxing Day we usually set off up the Dales to walk off Christmas Day.  This year I particularly wanted to go to Moughton Scar where there is a disused whetstone quarry and spectacular limestone pavements.  We set off from Horton In Ribblesdale, having parked near the station on the very scenic Settle Carlisle railway.

The drive up was rather edgy as the last few miles from Helwith Bridge follows the neautralised start of the Three Peaks Cyclo X race that I’ve competed in several times in the past:

Anyway, yesterday it was only our car to negotiate the S-bend in Horton, not 600 odd other cyclist.

Penyghent dominates Horton and looked particularly magnificent in the snow.

Up on top the limestone pavements worn into clints (limestone blocks separated by grykes (the long crevices between them).  This can be treacherous for  the walker, and even worse in snow.  I couldn’t help wondering why people do this type of silly thing that not only spoils the landscape, but could also mislead people into the middle of the clints and grykes thinking they are following waymarks:

All those sitting up stones have been manhandled into that position.

The pavement supports an endangered shrub which manages to survive in this very harsh environment, but is being propagated to increase its chances of survival

We got an unusual view of Ingleborough on the top

Then eventually we arrived at the edge of Crummackdale

We descended to the Whetstone Spring, which I was surprised to find unfrozen, but full of the beautiful whetstones for which it was once quarried:

I collected half a dozen suitable blanks  and then we retired to the ruined quarryman’s cottage for lunch

What a view there was:

That drystone wall, looks to me to have slipped down in parts, pushed by the scree, they are usually built in reasonably straight lines.

All in all a good walk in the snow

Acknowledgements: Robin Wood for alerting me to the existence of these whetstones, and Dan for his post of a similar (longer, warmer) walk.

6 thoughts on “Icy clints and grykes at Mougton Scar

  1. Richard,

    lovely photos and it brings back memories of my earlier days driving up in the snow and staying at the Hill (pub above Ingleton) and climbing Ingleborough in a whiteout before going back to the pub. The whetstones look very interesting – free stones probable appeal to my Lancashire half!



  2. Okay, new vocabulary and place names for this New Yorhuh:

    Dales, Scar, neautralised start, clints, grykes, waymarks, scree, Helwith, Boxing Day, Horton, Ribblesdale, Settle Carlisle, Penyghen, Ingleborough.

    Gimee a break, dude, what country are your from?

  3. Hey Tico! Yes some local words here. The area is known as The Three Peaks which are 3 hills called Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside, beside a tough cyclo X race they are also a challenging day walk which hundreds of hiker attempt every year. The X race has a car in front on the opening section and the racers are not allowed to pass it, supposed to make it safer (they do it on the Tour de France sometimes too). The Dales is a section of Yorkshire where more or less parallel river valleys run through beautiful countyside – you’ll have to see it live to appreciate it. Scars are inland cliffs and in limestone areas where the porous stone decays in rain and frost there is rubble or scree beneath the cliff. Very difficult to walk on, but some fell races around The Dales take delight in traversing extensive scree slopes. Boxing Day is a holiday the day after Christmas Day, it may take its name from 19th century tradesmen receiving Christmas boxes or gifts for good service through the year, some say it goes back to Roman times. I remember it as the day on which we were taken to see the start of a horseback fox hunt. The names of the places around here is a study all on its own, some like Pen-y-Ghent go back to Celtic times others are Norse from the Scandanavian invasions, others are geographical – Ingleborough has the remains of a Celtic or earlier settlement (or ‘burgh’) on its flat top.

  4. Nice post Richard

    Have you thought about getting in touch with The Dalesman? I’m sure they’d be interested in doing an article about you.

    Best wishes for 2011.

  5. Hi Richard,

    I was wondering how you prepare the stones for use. Do you cut them?

    Have a good newyear!

  6. Hi Erik!

    I’ve not cut natural whetstones before, but I have established that these are mud stone which is reasonably soft. It seems to cut OK with a hacksaw, and I put an old blade in my band saw and that seems to cope well with the thin trial piece but rather dusty. I’ve seen a photo somewhere of someone cutting them with a stock knife. I think I would need to make a blde especially for that as I’m not using the one I recently restored! They are easy to smooth with abrasive. I’ve tried a flat carborundum stone that was made for sharpening the old scissor action mechanical grass cutters on farms.

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