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Swaledale / 3 days / 51 miles (82km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 13 Jun 2003
Start / Finish:Hawes. Car park & toilets.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 30 Yorkshire Dales North & Central.

Day 1Hawes to Rogan's Seat17 miles / 4160 feet (27.4km / 1267m)
Day 2Rogan's Seat to High Carl18 miles / 2430 feet (29.0km / 740m)
Day 3High Carl to Hawes16 miles / 1710 feet (25.8km / 521m)

A backpack around the hills of Swaledale from Hawes to Reeth.

Day 1 - Hawes to Rogan's Seat

The first section follows the Pennine Way (PW) over Great Shunner Fell to Thwaite where the next objective Kisdon, a Marilyn, lies ahead. We continued on the PW to the path junction at 903985 and turned L steeply up the bridleway. Turning L along the wall at the top, there is a gate a short way along; make a mental note as this is the easiest way to rejoin the PW later. Turning R at the wall at 897993 the summit is quickly reached. We remember this top not for itself, which is unremarkable, but for a sad experience with a Swaledale sheep. Two-thirds of her body had sunk in a foul-smelling anaerobic bog and she was completely stuck. We couldn't leave her there so we downed our packs and borrowed some stones from the wall for support on the boggy ground. The temptation is to pull by the horns but apparently you shouldn't do that as they can break off. We each grabbed two large handfuls of fleece on her back and heaved; eventually her very heavy sodden fleece squelched out and we dragged her to dry ground. She was so exhausted she couldn't stand but started nibbling the grass while on her side, which was encouraglng. Then we noticed another bog a few yards away with a skeleton protruding from it, a dangerous hill this!.

View from Great Shunner Fell summit
View from Great Shunner Fell summit (13 Jun 2003__10:54:52)
NE from Great Shunner Fell
NE from Great Shunner Fell (13 Jun 2003__11:01:40)
Stone Man on Great Shunner Fell
Stone Man on Great Shunner Fell (13 Jun 2003__11:15:07)
Buttercup meadows near Thwaite
Buttercup meadows near Thwaite (13 Jun 2003__12:35:22)
Shippon in Thwaite
Shippon in Thwaite (13 Jun 2003__12:40:14)
Thwaite from Kisdon
Thwaite from Kisdon (13 Jun 2003__13:02:33)

Returning to the gate, an easy walk NE past a wall corner leads down to the PW which is where Kisdon gives its best, a great contouring path high above the valley.We collected good water from a tiny stream on the L somewhere around 903004. Leaving the PW at the footbridge by the falls, we took the track SE above West Wood and then the side track L to Crackpot Hall ruins. Another grand contouring path is reached high above Swinner Gill that leads to the old mines and a waterfall. The track climbs E to the moor and a shooters track turns L at 926012 which leads to Rogan's Seat.

Rogans Seat from Kisdon Side
Rogans Seat from Kisdon Side (13 Jun 2003__14:52:24)
Waterfall near Keld FB
Waterfall near Keld FB (13 Jun 2003__15:58:42)
The Swale from Swinner Gill path
The Swale from Swinner Gill path (13 Jun 2003__16:37:27)
Swinner Gill
Swinner Gill (13 Jun 2003__16:47:05)
Swinner Gill
Swinner Gill (13 Jun 2003__16:53:41)
Pitch on Rogans Seat
Pitch on Rogans Seat (13 Jun 2003__18:37:25)

Day 2 - Rogan's Seat to High Carl

Rogan's Seat has a history of access problems but proceeding to the gate near the top, we saw one of those standard notices attached that requests care not to disturb nesting birds etc.. This suggests that walkers are at least expected here now if not entirely welcomed. Heading NNE the trig point on Water Crag 668m is soon reached. From here we picked our way S across the trackless terrain to the obvious scar marked as 'Straits' on the OL map which marks the start of Blakethwaite Gill. Following this down on the L side the going quickly improves to give a lovely walk to the old lead mines.

Gunnerside (14 Jun 2003__09:21:07)

Taking the upper track S then E to Merry Field the scene changes, resembling a working aggregate quarry. Arriving at Level House Bridge 964014, we turned sharp L up a track by Flincher Gill where a group of people had driven their 4x4s and set up open marquees complete with barbecues. The track curves round E towards Great Pinseat, whose summit lies by the wall to the L, then heads SE to the minor road at 992006. Turning L on the road to Fore Gill Gate we crossed the stream and ascended the hairpin bend then took the track SE over the shoulder of Cringley Hill. Following the footpaths approaching Reeth is a hit-and-miss affair but the rule turned out to be simple: ignore footpaths on the map and keep just outside the intake walls to Skelgate lane 028997, which is a narrow path between walls leading SE to the road.

Notion Gill, Merry Field
Notion Gill, Merry Field (14 Jun 2003__10:24:43)
Cairn on Great Pinseat
Cairn on Great Pinseat (14 Jun 2003__11:12:50)
Cairn on Great Pinseat
Cairn on Great Pinseat (14 Jun 2003__11:16:03)
Buttercup meadow & shippon near Reeth
Buttercup meadow & shippon near Reeth (14 Jun 2003__14:06:59)

Restocking in Reeth we took the footpath S from Reeth Bridge to Grinton then the lane climbing SW from 047977. At 044975 an easy track leads W crossing Grovebeck Gill to High Harker Hill then descends to cross Browna Gill and eventually curves SW to Whitaside Moor below High Carl.

Evening sky on High Carl
Evening sky on High Carl (14 Jun 2003__17:15:18)

Day 3 - High Carl to Hawes

Taking the track NW to the minor road at 982964 we changed the plan, which was originally to follow the valley paths and climb Lovely Seat from the bridleway that terminates at 898966. Instead we decided on a high-level crossing, so we turned L up the road and walked to the highest point at 965943. The crossing to Tarn Seat 551m was awful going with unrelenting thick heather and tussocks. Past the trig point the going got worse if anything, then we noticed the grouse butts SW - surely there must be a shooting track that leads to the nearby road?. We picked our way down to them and there it was, an easy grassy track led W to the road at 944938.

Tarn Seat & Summer Lodge tarn
Tarn Seat & Summer Lodge tarn (15 Jun 2003__08:14:50)

We took the road SSE to the track that gave very easy walking W then N to the Beacon 924950. From here the crossing to Lovely Seat following the boundary fences was trackless but not bad and a great relief after Tarn Seat. Just before the ground rises to Lovely Seat the fence turns half-left through a very boggy area, we crossed the fence and continued directly to the easy eastern slopes and the summit. Trackless though easy ground led down SSW to Sod Hole Gill and Shivery Gill where an attractive walk SE along the limestone edge led to High Clint and the bridleway to Sedbusk. A footpath then leads back to the Hawes road.

View East from Lovely Seat
View East from Lovely Seat (15 Jun 2003__13:39:09)
View South from Abbotside Common
View South from Abbotside Common (15 Jun 2003__15:00:50)