|Outline Map →||Route file →|
Date: 24 Jun 2003
Start / Finish: Sedbergh. Car park & toilets.
Maps: Explorer OL2 Yorks Dales West and Outdoor Leisure 19 Howgill Fells.
|Day 1||Aye Gill Pike & Whernside||15 miles / 3590 feet (24.2km / 1094m)|
|Day 2||Ingleborough & Gragareth||14 miles / 3420 feet (22.5km / 1042m)|
|Day 3||Middleton Fell||16 miles / 2510 feet (25.8km / 765m)|
A backpack of NW Yorkshire hills to the south of Sedbergh including two new Marilyns - Aye Gill Pike 556m and Middleton Fell (Calf Top) 609m.
From Settlebeck Bridge we took the A684 and the lane that leads to Side Farm 678912. A bridleway heads SE to the start of the ridge at 694898 and we followed the left side of the wall easily to the trig point on Aye Gill Pike, with good views of the surrounding higher hills. Easy walking continues E along the ridge to spot-height 483 at 750885, where we descended on the R of a plantation. We were first sandwiched between a wall and fence and when they converged we moved out R to easy grass. On reaching the bridleway we found the only awkward obstacle of the traverse - a barbed fence, but it wasn't too difficult.
The bridleway leads SW to Cowgill where we joined the Dales Way. In the gloomy plantation at about 748865 we collected very good water on the left of the path at a stream where it disappears underground. At 733858 some careful mapwork saw us on the footpath that climbs to meet the Craven Way. This winds around Whernside to reach Grain Head where a thin path turns W to meet the surfaced route from the valley. Surprisingly the area was deserted as we climbed above the tarn to the summit.
A grand morning promenade along the Whernside ridge ended all too soon and the descent path SE to the valley was in the process of repair. Arriving at the pub on the B6255 we took the standard route to Ingleborough, the awful midges in the still valley air providing some motivation to power up to the breezy top. Here was an unusual situation to be savoured: Ingleborough to ourselves in sunshine, though the views were very thick with haze. Descending the popular SW route past the first people we had seen on the trip, Ingleton was soon reached (public toilets).
Rather than face the hordes of people visiting the falls we took the footpath NW to Thornton Hall and then the lane to spot-height 292 (692757). From here a quarry track winds around to head NW near the trig point on Tow Scar amid attractive limestone scenery. We continued NW to meet the byway and turned L to a ladder stile at 679767 where a cavers path leads NW to the ridge wall. Following this up on the R side eventually a cross wall is reached where we turned back left to Gragareth. It then occurred to me that last night we were on the highest point in Yorkshire and tonight the highest in Lancashire.
Mist was rolling over Ingleborough and heading our way as we set off NW towards the waterfall at 675805, and it engulfed us as we crossed an intervening wall. Restocked with water we followed the cavers path to Bullpot Farm and the bridleway NW to Blindbeck Bridge. A woodland track leads W by Barbon Beck to the footpath at 632826 in the grounds of Barbon Manor. There is no sign of it on the ground, so just before the track bends round L to Barbon church we turned R and aimed to the R of Ellers Wood. At Eskholme we turned R up the steep slope to Devil's Crag and Eskholme Pike where the views opened out. The sheer size of Middleton Fell becomes apparent on this traverse, first passing over the subsidiary top of Castle Knott and then the summit Calf Top 609m, just 1m short of mountain status.
The path marches on and curves round NW and eventually diverges L from the boundary at 663883 as a track. Here we kept a close eye on the map looking for the side track at 648888. The terrain hereabouts is not straightforward as there are other faint tracks around but little height is gained or lost as the correct track winds around on the W slopes of Holme Knott. The track drops below rocky outcrops and leads N then NE above a plantation and turns abruptly L to meet the lane at 639906. Taking the lane E and footpath N we crossed the footbridge at 652913 and followed the Dales Way E to the Rawthey and the riverside path to Settlebeck Bridge.