07 March 2023

Spring swamp hike 2023: day 1

The day came to get into my car and head for the Yorkshire Dales! So I did. I had checked the route on Google Maps and I was off. It didn't seem complicated. And it wasn't! I once had to stop to get some fuel for the car and refuel myself as well, but otherwise I just drove straight to Ingleton. The others said they would be a bit later for reasons of traffic. So I had a coffee in the café that was our meeting point, had another look at the map, scouted a bit for potential parking spots, and went back. And then they appeared! It was so good to see them all. This year it had been Roelof, Viking, Henco and Maaike who ventured west.

Close to where we met

I figured Roelof, who had driven the entire way, probably wanted at least a coffee now. And that was true! He also wanted lunch while he was at it anyway. It was good that I had looked a bit at the map. We might be setting off later than I thought! And we sure did. Some of us had ordered some quiche, but something had gone wrong with it in the kitchen, so the staff apologised and asked us to order something else. It took a while before we were done! But then we paid and finally set off. Initially, only to a parking lot where we could leave the cars for the duration of the hike. But then for real. Viking took first map duty and lead us out of town. Initially on asphalt, but a few kilometres out of town we ventured onto a path. It was grey weather, but that was okay. It was a swamphike, after all!

Off we go!

My bag looks heavy (pic by Henco)

I did remark at some point that I would find it a bit embarrassing to confess to my 17-year-old me, who would just have met Roelof and Viking, I still consider myself therapist fodder. I think I would have hoped that I would have my stuff sorted out by now! And it is not as if it is uncommon to have therapy at my age, but Roelof remarked that he did think his 18-year-old self would be quite chuffed with how his life had turned out so far. And in spite of what can still be improved in my life, I totally agreed! I think that overall, fresher me would be quite impressed. It would be nice to be able to tell her about all that.

The landscape was very wide and open. Very empty, as well, but very clearly distinct from Snowdonia. And that first day, which we started rather late, the only thing we did was basically walk into Kingsdale, a valley almost due north from Ingleton. We were first on a path on the east side, and then we crossed the valley. That was a bit nerve racking; the stream we had to cross for that was bone dry. I know this is the Yorkshire Dales, and rivers might very well go underground at any moment, but still. I like having access to water! But when we got to the narrow road on the other side and followed it for a while, the water came back. We quickly made sure to refill our bottles before nature changed its mind again.

Empty landscape

Crossing the dry Kingsdale Beck

All sorts of weather (pic by Henco)

Later it had water

My plan had been to find a place to camp somewhere in this valley, so we just kept walking until we found a good spot to pitch up for the night. It was quite windy, so the thing we were mainly looking for was shelter. And we found a little copse with a stream in it: Wet Shaw. That would be it! Roelof found a particularly beautiful spot in the copse and we decided to pitch our tents right there.

Our camping spot

I did my usual thing of first pitching the tent, and then going for a wash. The stream was very shallow, so I used my mug to throw water on myself. And all the men followed suit. Maaike is not really that way inclined! And Viking had brought beer for the first night (it's very heavy to carry, but he knew the first day wouldn't be long) so after my bath I could enjoy a lovely Belgian beer. Very good!

Roelof was the first one to cook dinner: vegetarian butter chicken. Quite an achievement. It was amazing! And I was peckish again (after that pub lunch) just in time.

It was great to catch up, but it was also cold and dark and damp so we didn't stay up late. First day done! 

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