|OS Route Map →||GPX Route file →|
Date: 03 Sep 2003
Start / Finish: Kirkby Stephen. Free car park 774088.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 19 Howgill Fells.
|Day 1||Nine Standards Rigg & High Seat||9 miles / 2530 feet (14.5km / 771m)|
|Day 2||Little Fell & Baugh Fell||12 miles / 1970 feet (19.3km / 600m)|
|Day 3||Swarth Fell & Wild Boar Fell||14 miles / 1660 feet (22.5km / 505m)|
A very good circuit of the little frequented Mallerstang hills of the Upper Eden and we saw no other people at all.
Returning to the main street a lane to the R of the church leads E to Frank's Bridge where a surfaced footpath follows the Eden to a bend and leaves it to continue E to Hartley. This is the Coast to Coast route (CC), which turns R on the lane and climbs past the quarry to the road end, continuing as a track to a noticeboard with a map describing 3 routes to help combat erosion. There is a coloured CC route for different times of the year but we followed the fingerpost labelled 'Direct route to Nine Standards Rigg' which climbs E by Faraday Gill to the famous stone men, topograph and trig point.
Heading SW we joined the path that rounds the head of Dukerdale and skirts the limestone pavement at Lamps Moss, passing to the R of a small tarn then bending S past a larger tarn to the fingerpost at the B6270. Directly opposite the post a grassy track sets off SW, passing some shake holes and climbing easily to the ridge at High Pike Hill. This ridge track gives easy walking all the way to High Seat, the highest point on the route.
The track leads on around the dip of Steddale Mouth to Archy Styrigg. At this point it deserted us and veered off W, and we found the best line was to aim for the stone man SE where a path leads round to Hugh Seat. Following the fence S the walking becomes rougher and boggier but at one of the cairns near the col a path developed that left the fence S and climbed to Little Fell.
Descending W there are several roughly parallel stream ravines and tributaries and we found it hard to ascertain which one we were following - lower down, it became clear we were on Hell Gill Grains, where we collected very good water. However they all lead down to the obvious contouring bridleway track and we turned R towards Hell Gill Bridge where, according to the map, our desired track converges from the S. Actually the obvious convergence point is some way S of the bridge, and the track leads easily S to How Beck Bridge and Shaw Paddock Farm on the B6259. Turning R under the railway bridge, a sign directs L on a grassy track that climbs to a gate onto a bridleway, which contours S then climbs SW to another gate at 782941. A fine 2-day circuit of the Upper Eden could be made by turning R here directly to Swarth Fell on the ridge path. We wanted to revisit Baugh Fell for this 2½ day trip and we descended SW to the valley bridleway and followed it NW. The route is initially surfaced until past the farms and is still clear as far as Dover Gill, but then deteriorates and vanishes a little further on. Contouring the rough hillside we reached Rawthey Gill Foot where we turned SW up Rawthey Gill to the two tops of Tarn Rigg Hill and Knoutberry Haw.
Walking N on the huge flat grassy top, and avoiding the temptation to be guided by the proliferation of cairns and stone men, we arrived at the lovely and remote West Baugh Fell Tarn. Aiming ENE we descended over easy grass back to Rawthey Gill Foot and climbed alongside the wall to Holmes Moss, then steeply up to the Swarth Fell ridge path and L to the summit cairn. From here it is very easy walking all the way back to Kirkby Stephen.
A good path descends past a tarn and climbs towards Wild Boar Fell on the R of a fence. About half way up the path veers R along the rim of Aisgill Head, giving great views of Swarth Fell and the valley below, then arrives at the windshelter and collection of stone men on the E edge, giving more good views of the Eden valley and the High Seat ridge opposite. The path continues along the edge to The Nab, which has a fine view N over the sharp descending ridge. The path climbs over the small rise of another Little Fell and descends on the L of a wall. A side track forks L to cross Greenlaw Rigg to a minor unfenced road. Crossing the road we continued N to join the walled bridleway that converges with the railway and crosses it at a bridge. Taking the farm track to a lane we turned L to Bullgill and followed the bridleway N to Halfpenny House and Kirkby Stephen.