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Release from lockdown - Gragareth 3

Release from lockdown - Gragareth 3


Postby Alteknacker » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:39 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Calf Top, Gragareth, Great Coum

Date walked: 28/05/2020

Time taken: 8.75

Distance: 21.5 km

Ascent: 1149m

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Alleluia! The restrictions on travel and the time allowed for exercise have been lifted! (at least they have in England!!!).
Image
Like countless others, no doubt, I’ve used time in lockdown to work out possible routes for the post lockdown world that are appropriate for my reduced respiratory capacity. Since Wales is still restricted, I’ve concentrated on England, with some routes in the Lake District, some in the Yorkshire Dales. Medical appointments mean I can’t get out immediately, but the fantastic weather we’ve been having is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, so Thursday is going to be the day. My only concern is the heat: it’s forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, and with lugubrious timing, Dr Frank has told me just a couple of days ago of a chap who’d collapsed in the heat while doing a charity walk, and only survived because there were a number of paramedics with him!
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And he, Dr Frank, isn’t going to be with me this time… :roll:

Of the two areas, the Lake District is the more likely to attract the larger numbers, so I decide to start with a round in the Dales. I also decide to go for one of the shorter routes given the lack to time I’ve had in the hills so far this year; which is this:-

our_route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


With an eye to the forecast temperatures, I plan to do the round clockwise so as to get the steepest climb out of the way at the start of the day while it’s still cool. So getting away at about 3.30am I arrive at my destination: Blindbeck Bridge in beautiful Barbondale – which I’ve never visited before – at just after 6.30am.
Image20200528-064825-2.
A sign informs the world that the new footbridge was built in June 2016 to replace the previous one that was damaged by floods which devastated so many areas of the North West in December 2015.

It’s an absolutely perfect morning, with the rising sun bathing the East-facing slopes of Middleton Fell in the clearest sunlight, and casting long shadows behind every tall rock and tree.
Image20200528-064800. Looking up north west at the first climb to Castle Knott at the south end of Middleton Fell.

I park up, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast just luxuriating in the wonderful peaceful surroundings. The only other sign of people is a cyclist who rides past just before I set off.

It’s just over 350m ascent to Castle Knott, but I take it slowly and steadily, stopping frequently to catch my breath and enjoy the views to the East and South East. The going is easy on close-grazed turf. The last two Hewitts of the day – Great Coum and Gragareth – are visible throughout.

Image20200528-074926-2. The view looking west south west from close to the top of the Calf Top Ridge

Image20200528-074926-2-labelled.

Image20200528-080339-2. And now on the ridge, looking north west towards Castle Knott. There are so many corvids gathering into a feeding flock that I feel like a potential victim in "The Birds"!
Image
Within about 5 minutes of my taking this pic they all fly to an East-facing hillside just below the ridge and start feeding. I've no idea what's attracting them to that particular spot, but later I notice a plague of creatures that may well explain it.

Image20200528-081119. Looking roughly west from Castle Knott back along the ridge towards Morecambe Bay. What a superb day! It's just a pity that there's a slight heat haze, so the Bay isn't very clear to see.

Image20200528-081248-2. Ahead along the ridge, to the north east: Calf Top. The track is pretty clear so, bearing in mind it's a ridge, it would be difficult to get lost, even in dense clag.

Image20200528-083555-2. Looking back south west along the ridge as I near Calf Top. Notwithstanding the dry weather over the last 2 months (at least where I live) there are odd slightly boggy places interspersing the track, and I could imagine the ground could be pretty soggy in damp weather.

Image20200528-083656-2. The slight ascent to Calf Top...

Image20200528-084446. ...which is crowned with a trig point. To the left one can just see the Howgills peeping out from behind the shallow shoulder of the hill.

Now the plan is to do an out-and-back to Barkin Top in order to get a clear view of the Howgills.

Image20200528-085311-2. On the way, looking to the East there are great views of the upper end of Barbondale and beautiful Dentdale.

Image20200528-090929-2. Walking a couple of hundred metres north of Barkin Top I get over the convexity of the summit to be treated to the superb view I've been hoping for: Sedbergh and the Howgills; and to the right, a flat-topped hill that I take to be Wild Boar Fell (someone please correct me if I'm wrong in that supposition).

Image20200528-090732-2. Same view slightly zoomed.

Image20200528-091114-2. Now back towards Calf Top. My plan is to walk about 400m beyond the summit, and then descend perpendicular to the valley slope alongside a dry stone wall into Barbondale, since no path is shown on the map but there's usually an unofficial path or track of sorts alongside walls like this.

However, about halfway to Calf Top I lose patience and decide simply to cut down diagonally across the valley side; when, once into the descent, I realise that another part of my original thinking in wanting to descend by the wall had been to avoid any possible heather, boulder fields, etc.! Too late :roll: .

Image20200528-094021. A couple of hundred metres of slow rough descent through quite deep heather gets me clear of it and on to turf.
This pic gives a fair idea of how steep the descent is, and also the ascent up to Castle Knott at the start of the walk.

Image20200528-094846.jpg I'm heading for the small beck at the extreme right of the pic, where the white car is parked (Short Gill Bridge). The hill in the background is Crag Hill; Great Coum is obscured by the upper convexity of the top of the hill.

Once at Short Gill Bridge, I take a rest in some shade. A goodly number of cyclists are now taking full advantage of the good weather and we greet each other as they pass. Then it's off towards Crag Hill. But which side of the beck? I choose the right hand side, which, once up the first steep bit of ascent (where there should be waterfalls according to the map, but are none since there's no water running in the beck) I find is the wrong choice, landing me as it does in an extensive bracken field. On the other side of the beck it's just turf, so I cross over. I clearly have been dreaming, because the bracken is clearly visible on the pic above, and indeed it's also clear that it then transitions into heather!!!
Image
As I’ve been looking for a good way to cross over, I’ve gradually become aware of a persistent three note bird call coming from the lower part of the hillside I recently descended, vaguely reminiscent of a gamebird call, but not one I’ve heard before. Now I stop and, getting out my binoculars, slowly and carefully scan the hillside around the direction from which the call seems to be coming. And bingo! There, clear as one could wish in the optic is a red-legged partridge! Brilliant!

https://uk.video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=AwrJQ4wI1tNeyxQAvi5LBQx.;_ylu=X3oDMTB0ZTgxN3Q0BGNvbG8DaXIyBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=red+legged+partridge+call&fr2=piv-web&fr=yfp-t-s#id=5&vid=411d2599a6a8819d82ed245a63bba6a4&action=view

Image20200528-101914. Looking across Barbondale to where approximately the red legged partridge was.

Now it's just a slow trudge up towards Crag Hill across roughish ground that would undoubtedly be quite boggy in many places had it not been for the long dry spell.

Image20200528-105933-2. Looking back north west towards Calf Top/Middleton Fell some 20 minutes before reaching Crag Hill.

Image20200528-105933-2-labelled.

Image20200528-121813. And the same view from Crag Hill summit.

Image20200528-122005-2. Crag Hill trig point, viewed looking more or less west towards Morecambe Bay.

Image20200528-122033-2. And east towards Great Coum - a full 5 metres higher than Crag Hill!!!

Walking along the track, I encounter the first fellow walker of the day - fortunately on the other side of the wall :roll:. We exchange a few words, and I comment that I wasn't really expecting to see any other walkers. She replies that she's just come from Gragareth, and so far has met 6!

For the entire day so far, every time I've stopped, or had occasion to look down at the ground, I've invariably noticed many many small caterpillars moving at astonishing speed through the grass. And now I see this: hundreds of the little fellahs sunbathing!!! Later I find a large regurgitation, from some bird I suppose, comprising almost entirely hundreds of these little caterpillars - it looks as if whatever it was ate, and ate, and eventually over-ate.
Image20200528-122513. Perhaps this is what the corvids were feeding on...???
Anyone have any idea from what moth or butterly the caterpillars come???

Image20200528-122726. View looking south east shortly before Great Coum summit (if there is such a thing!)

Image20200528-122726-labelled.

Image20200528-123459. On reaching the approximate location of the summit, I'm hard put to actually identify it. This little cairn seems to be on the wrong side of the wall by which I'm trying to locate the summit. There's another small cairn on the "correct" side of the wall, but it doesn't seem to be on the highest piece of ground... No matter: it's near enough for me! I hunker down alongside the wall to get a bit of shade, eat my lunch (the statutory cheeze-salami-and Branston Pickle sarnies); and then doze for 10 minutes or so. Just wonderful after having been away from the hills for such a long time.

Eventually, though, I have to bestir myself. Not that I'm facing anything very strenuous: as can be seen from the pic below, it's an easy stroll of about 4 km along the watershed via Green Hill, to Gragareth.

Image20200528-130400-2. Pano looking south along the ridge towards Green Hill and Gragareth, with Ingleborough in the left background.

Image20200528-130438. Same view, zoomed somewhat.

Image20200528-132148-2. Looking back north from Green Hill towards Crag Hill (left) and Great Coum (right): easy relaxing walking. Not exactly the Alps, but just perfect today all the same.

Image20200528-132204. ...and ahead, southwards, from more or less the same point, towards Gragareth.

Image20200528-140904-2. Somewhat featureless, perhaps, but the wide vista from Gragareth summit has its own attraction - this looking back north.

Image20200528-140904-2-labelled.

Image20200528-141042. Leck Fell House is not visible from the summit, so I take a quick bearing, and then head due west down the hill, following one of a number of minor paths that radiate from the summit, passing the 3 Garageth men...

Image... of which there appear to be 8: 2 in groups of 3, and 2 standing alone :?: The equivalent of neolithic graffiti perhaps...?

... and Leck Fell House, before turning north west to follow the long wall adjacent to the house that runs in that direction.
Image20200528-143010-2. This stretch is a tad boggy in places, so I guess it would normally be a veritable swamp.

In the background now I'm hearing one of the most romantic of hill sounds, one that takes me right back to my childhood in the dales, where this was the daily accompaniment to life...
https://uk.video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t-s&p=curlew+call#action=view&id=8&vid=304f5444b476a9ae1da267bcfc905a10
These birds seem to have become quite scarce in recent decades except on the coast, so it really adds the icing to the cake of what has already been a wonderful return to the hills.

Image20200528-143307. Looking back at Leck Fell House. I couldn't resist taking this, since I'd noticed an eyesore on the side of Gragareth as I climbed Castle Knott at the start of the day, and now I can see it close up. Quite surreal: a superbly attractive newish stone-built house, bracketed by two of the ugliest farm sheds one could imagine, and no trees to ameliorate the aesthetic treat! Hard to understand why someone would put such an attractive and undoubtedly expensive house in such a location...

As I expected, there's the trace of a track near the wall, which takes me down to Ease Gill. Here I cross over the beck and follow a track up the opposite side of the valley, which joins the main track to Bullpot Farm on the edge of a small dry valley that leads north to the farm.

From Bullpot farm there's a good track that takes me over the hill and back to Blindbeck Bridge, where I'm parked.

Image20200528-153247-2. The view from here gives a better impression of how steep the valley side up to Castle Knott is.

When I get back to Blindbeck Bridge, every bit of verge space contains a parked car, and 30 or 40 people are sat on camping chairs next to, or splashing in the beck. What a change from this morning!

Since all establishments of cultural, historical and architectural distinction are still locked down, I have brought a can of minerals-rich tonic, and I sit in the sun and enjoy it for a quarter of an hour, before heading back home.

ImageHeight-Profile-Gragareth-3.

Image3D View of Route.

It's great to be back in the hills again :D .
Last edited by Alteknacker on Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Alteknacker
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Re: Release from lockdown - Gragareth 3

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:59 pm

Great to see a fresh report, makes me feel less guilty for my trip out on Sunday (I know I've no reason to but that's the way it feels). I think a lot of people are heading to hills away from the Lakes and the Three peaks country, on my trip out I saw more people in one day in the Howgills than I've seen on all previous visits combined. An entertaining report as ever and I look forward to your future wanderings.
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Re: Release from lockdown - Gragareth 3

Postby litljortindan » Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:29 pm

Looks positively Himalayan compared to what I've seen in the last couple of months.
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Re: Release from lockdown - Gragareth 3

Postby martin.h » Thu Jun 04, 2020 6:15 pm

Great report, it's nice to see one about the Dales especially as they're only an hour or so up the road from us :D

That looks an interesting route, one that gets you out and away from the usual well trodden parts of the Dales. I keep threatening to have a trip up Calf Top as it's one we've not visited before, might just do it your way :D

I like the title, it does feel like a "release", we've been chomping at the bit just recently :lol: we've been out but it doesn't feel quite right at the moment :roll: so we're looking at the more remote/less popular parts just to get out for some fresh air and hopefully abide by the rules :D

Cheers
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Re: Release from lockdown - Gragareth 3

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:39 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Great to see a fresh report, makes me feel less guilty for my trip out on Sunday (I know I've no reason to but that's the way it feels). I think a lot of people are heading to hills away from the Lakes and the Three peaks country, on my trip out I saw more people in one day in the Howgills than I've seen on all previous visits combined. An entertaining report as ever and I look forward to your future wanderings.


Thanks JKLL. Yes, I was initially shocked to see just how many folk had accumulated at Blindbeck Bridge while I'd been walking. But I guess it's been really tough for those who don't have easy access to the green outside.
My plan in the near future is to stick to the Dales, and take routes a bit off the beaten track...

litljortindan wrote:Looks positively Himalayan compared to what I've seen in the last couple of months.


:lol: . But judging from your reports, you definitely seem to be making the best of it; and once travel restrictions are lifted, you're only an hour or two away from t'ills!
And you have the good fortune - as do I - to be able to get out into the countryside more or less from your front door. Every time I go out, I think of those unfortunate city dwellers, especially those in high rise.

martin.h wrote:Great report, it's nice to see one about the Dales especially as they're only an hour or so up the road from us :D

That looks an interesting route, one that gets you out and away from the usual well trodden parts of the Dales. I keep threatening to have a trip up Calf Top as it's one we've not visited before, might just do it your way :D

I like the title, it does feel like a "release", we've been chomping at the bit just recently :lol: we've been out but it doesn't feel quite right at the moment :roll: so we're looking at the more remote/less popular parts just to get out for some fresh air and hopefully abide by the rules :D

Cheers


Thanks Martin. As regards release, the new rules do allow what I did (and what you're doing, judging from your recent two reports). And generally, even if there'd been 10 times as many people along the route, it would have been easy to maintain physical distancing. I'm in the "should be shielding" category, but from all I read, and advice from the medics in the family, being outside in a remote place presents an infinitesimal risk. Not much point in living if you have nothing of what makes life worth living!!! :roll:
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