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The Leck Valley / 2 days / 17 miles (28km)

Outline Map → Map Route file →

Date: 22 Apr 2003
Start / Finish: Cowan Bridge on the A65. Village hall car park immediately on the left after turning NE off the A65 (small donation to the hall invited).
Maps: Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales West.

Day 1Ease Gill & Great Coum7.4 miles / 2040 feet (11.9km / 621m)
Day 2Green Hill & Gragareth9.6 miles / 200 feet (15.5km / 61m)

This short backpack around the Leck Valley turned out very enjoyable and would make a good single day walk, but fairly long when allowing time to explore the limestone features. I came up with this route when the physiotherapist showed me how to secure my knee in place with athlete's tape and advised me to resume backpacking with a very short trip and no long steep ascents or descents.

Day 1 - Ease Gill & Great Coum

A footpath leads NE off the A65 on the R of Leck beck and joins the lane by the houses to arrive at Leck Mill. A track continues (ignoring the R one that goes uphill) through Springs Wood and becomes a footpath that stays quite close to the beck to 653787. At this point it turns R uphill but we continued by the beck curving round L and climbing by a waterfall. Descending back to the beck, details would only confuse but we basically followed it to the Lower Kirk ravine, ascending to the R around it and curving back left into the dry gill. A short way further and to the R is a great enclosed limestone walled chamber.

Waterfall on Leck Beck
Waterfall on Leck Beck (22 Apr 2003__09:20:55)
Arched window in Ease Gill church
Arched window in Ease Gill church (22 Apr 2003__10:57:56)

Retracing steps a short way we climbed around the chamber on the L (an exit via the U-shaped hole is difficult, the height from the rocky floor to the bottom of the 'U' is about 5-6'). Following the dry gill bed to the next waterfall at 675805, it falls into a cave that is hidden until the last moment. After exploring we climbed up R to the top of the fall, crossed a sort of tied up gate on the footbridge and ascended the steep slope L to follow a path N by a fence. Just after a tiny stream it crosses the fence L at a stile and is marked by posts across the grassy moor. On reaching the wall before Bullpot Farm at 668815 we turned R on a thin path along the wall which veers L at a tiny cairn and gradually converges with the ridge wall near Crag Hill summit. Crossing to the L of the wall a little further on we arrived at Great Coum.

Ease Gill waterfall
Ease Gill waterfall (22 Apr 2003__11:43:33)
Ease Gill waterfall
Ease Gill waterfall (22 Apr 2003__11:44:41)
Above Ease Gill waterfall
Above Ease Gill waterfall (22 Apr 2003__12:45:16)

Day 2 - Green Hill & Gragareth

After a diversion to visit a stone man on the N edge, we followed the ridge wall round S and crossed to the W side for an easy walk to Green Hill and Gragareth. Crossing back to the E side of the wall it is an easy walk down to 677773 where a ladder stile gives access to a cavers path W to Ireby Fell cavern. There is little for the casual visitor to see though, just a scrappy elongated crater in the ground with a small hole at the bottom with a pole and rope. Returning to the stile the path continues SSE to Masongill Fell Lane which we followed almost to Masongill then turned NW to Stirragap. A combination of lane and footpaths lead back NW to Leck and the riverside path to Cowan Bridge.

Pitch on Great Coum  Howgills
Pitch on Great Coum Howgills (23 Apr 2003__06:28:33)
Stone Man on Great Coum
Stone Man on Great Coum (23 Apr 2003__07:32:42)
Green Hill & Gragareth
Green Hill & Gragareth (23 Apr 2003__08:01:19)
Calf Top & Great Coum from Gragareth
Calf Top & Great Coum from Gragareth (23 Apr 2003__09:45:18)