Sunday, 9 September 2012

Water Crag & Rogan Seat

Water Crag & Rogan Seat

... a circular walk from Tan Hill Inn...

(Approximately 12 miles)

A fine day was forecast and there was good visibility as we put our boots on. Today's objective (in the true sense of the word) was to 'bag' a couple of Yorkshire 600s. I would be lying if I proclaimed the first three miles of this walk 'fun', because it wasn't, unless your idea of fun is to trample up over calf-high heather moorland.
Bridleway from William Gill

It started off promisingly enough, for the first 50 metres or so... a clear track heading south-easterly. Fantastic... the map showed a bridleway. (The equivalent of walking on a motorway in the countryside) Having taken a bearing and estimated how long it would take to reach a certain position, we left the track and followed the non-bridleway. Heather, rough grass and hidden water channels slowed us down as we ascended the moorland. Negotiating our way down and up steepsided gills also proved challenging. All the time we were walking on a bearing with no discernible path (let alone a bridleway) to be seen. Eventually, we came to William Gill, a significant down and up. Across the gill, for the first time, was a feature recognisable as something approaching a path heading east - which we wanted. We were still heading upwards along Great Scollit Hill. The bridleway was boggy, peaty and squelchy, so we kept to the edge of it. A line of grouse butts sat on either side of it. We timed our progress along it as it eventually became a single person well defined track. Here the going was much easier. Sadly, we needed to leave this track just before we reached Annaside Edge.
Bridleway on Great Scollit Hill

We took another bearing which had us heading south, initially at the side of a watercourse. Once again we were heading upwards over pathless rough grass and heather. True grouse territory. Managed water channels were sunk into the hillside. With a certain degree of satisfaction, our bearing took us directly to the trig point on Water Crag. It was a flat plateau. To the east was a small stone wind shelter. To the west was a pile of stones. We really were in the middle of nowhere.
Pile of stones on Water Crag

After a quick cup of coffee, we headed for the pile of stones and handrailed our way along a fence in a south-easterly direction to Rogan's Seat. Here we came to a well made farmers shooting track.
A handy fence along our route to Rogan's Seat

We veered off it to reach the high point on Rogan's Seat which sat atop a peaty hag. A misnomer if ever there was one. (A small pile of stones - whichever way you looked at it you could not have described it as a seat) 
Rogan's Seat - pile of stones

We rejoined the shooting track. To our amazement, a man sat in an open-backed trailer with radio equipment and a massive aerial strapped to it. It seemed he had been participating in a 'radio' competition.
Moor track through peat hags

Progress along the shooting track was very quick as it curved between massive peat hags. Before very long we came to the track that served the Coast to Coast route. We headed west, eventually heading down East Grain and crossing the picturesque Swinner Gill over the bridge that once served the mine buildings. We continued onwards to Crackpot Hall, sadly derelict with its stones returning to the earth. With a view of the River Swale, we sat to eat our lunch in the sunshine.
Path down East Grain

We resisted the temptation to stop in Keld by the waterfalls, instead taking the Pennine Way northwards. The path climbed steadily and we soon gained height. We had excellent views of Keld from here. The Pennine Way passed through the non access land near to Frith Lodge.
Frith Lodge from the Pennine Way

 Once again we marvelled at its isolation high on the hillside near Low Brown Hill and its amazing 'driveway' from the West Stonesdale Road. The Pennine Way crossed Lad Gill by way of a gated slab bridge before climbing once more as it threaded through Stonedale Moor. It was with some relief that the way flattened out again and soon we had the Tan Hill Inn in sight.
Cairn on the Pennine Way

The walk had improved immeasurably once we could make rapid progress as the going underfoot was easier and we were on familiar territory. I wouldn't entertain the first part of the walk if it was wet and the visibility was poor. Compass and map skills, I would suggest, were essential. However, that's it... we have bagged two Yorkshire 600s in one day. Would I venture that way again? I would have to be persuaded.
The end in sight - Tan Hill Inn


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