Sunday, 5 August 2012

Mallerstang Ridge Walk

Mallerstang Ridge Walk

8.5 miles

It promised to be an ideal walking day; not too hot and the clouds high in the sky. We found a parking space at The Thrang, just off the B6259.

Wild Boar Fell
Turning onto the Pennine Bridleway (part of Lady Ann's HIghway), we steadily climbed the fellside on a clear track. Glorious views of both Mallerstang Edge and Wild Boar Fell, the other side of the valley, were to be had. On the western side of the valley a train on the Settle to Carlisle line ran on schedule. On the fellside horizon ahead sat a monument being visited by a couple of other walkers. Lowland leg muscles gradually warmed up as we approached The Watercut. A stone monument of two halves, the space between resembled a river. Peering through, we were rewarded with a wonderful view of the upper Eden valley.
The Watercut

We continued along a levelled off bridleway to Hell Gill Bridge. Much to our surprise, from the south, came a steam train emitting great plumes of white steam. It must have been one of the occasional 'specials' that run at weekends. A bonus sight.
Hell Gill Beck

After crossing the bridge, we left the bridleway and followed the edge of Hell Gill Beck over rough ground. It was hard going... wet in places and at others the grasses were thigh high. We crossed a stile over a fence and followed it up the fellside. The terrain changed at Scarth of Scaiths with peat hags, cotton grass and bog-loving plants the order of the day. Carefully and fleet of foot, we picked our way through finding drier grassy tufts. We continued to follow the fence up steeper ground again as we headed north.
Scarth of Scaiths

On Hugh Seat we made our way to Lady's Pillar where we stopped for our picnic. To the north and east miles of fellside stretched out. To the west stood Wild Boar Fell. To the south we were surprised to see all three Yorkshire 'Three Peaks' in relief. Flat topped Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent's lion were easily identified. Whernside, from this viewpoint, seemed so much more impressive.
Whernside from Lady's Pillar

Our route was waymarked with cairns and the visibility was very good. Nevertheless, we took bearings and measured distances on our OS map to calculate ETAs to practise our skills. It wasn't long before we were at Gregory's Chapel. (pile of stones) Then we were heading north up to High Seat. (another misnomer) From here The Eden Valley was spread out before us in the valley below.
The way down from Mallerstang Edge

To return to the valley we headed west. We descended quickly for 350m before the ground dropped away very steeply at Trough Riggs. Far down down below, it seemed, we could see the wall of a field enclosure where we needed to join a track. I don't mind admitting I felt a little concerned about how we would get down. We reccied possibilities. Craggy rocks and waterfalls. Finally, we took the plunge and carefully zig-zagged our way down a steep grassy slope, taking time to lean into the hillside. Height was lost quickly and as we looked back at the ridge it was hard to believe that we had come down it. It had been quite exhilarating. We continued along an indistinct path until we reaced Outhgill. 
Mallerstang Edge

More treats were in store as we came across an Andy Goldsworthy 'cone' at the side of a cottage garden. We turned south onto the B6259. We passed the 'Jew' stone and a squirrel bridge as we returned to the parking spot.

We had passed just a handful of other walkers on the whole walk. A great walk.

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