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A monumental walk around Mallerstang Heights.

A monumental walk around Mallerstang Heights.


Postby trailmasher » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:27 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: High Seat, Little Fell (Dales)

Date walked: 24/05/2016

Time taken: 4.11

Distance: 16.9 km

Ascent: 665m

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Before I became addicted to walking the high fells, mountains, etc, E and I did a walk that was just for a day out and was plucked from the book 'Walking in Eden'. That walk started from Dalefoot on the B6259 and took us up Fair Hill, High Pike and then on to High Seat from where this walk starts and continued on to Scarth of Scaiths which is south of Hugh Seat. That particular day was very hot and we covered 20 kilometres, quite a lot for us in those days and certainly was for E who was suffering from the heat and distance. The dog coped alright.

Our next attempt was early this year and again starting from the B6259 but this time from Outhgill a well presented and tiny village that sits more or less directly below the Nuttall of High Seat. The object of this exercise was to once again emulate what we had previously done years ago plus the Hewitt of Little Fell. That particular day did not look too good weather wise with a sky full of clouds that hung over Mallerstang Edge and also Wild Boar Fell to the west of us. We had just got onto the fellside when the snow started with such a force and quantity that I could hardly see E who was just a couple of metres away from me. We gave up and ended up having coffee in a café in Kirkby Stephen.

This report then covers the third time lucky scenario and the day we chose dawned dry, sunny, and warm with a smattering of white clouds that could maybe give some welcome shade as the day goes on. We parked up by the roadside on a very small patch of ground that has room for two cars and is opposite the road into the village and its green. Booted up, etc, we set off along the road into the village passing the first monument of the day, the Jew Stone which is a replica of the original one that was sited on Black Fell Moss below Hugh Seat and marked the source of the River Eden that was walked from its mouth to its source by a William Mounsey in 1850.
2 - The Jew Stone at Outhgill.JPG
The Jew Stone at Outhgill.

The story is that The Jew Stone stood on Black Fell Moss for 20 years until one Sunday in 1870 some navvies from the new Settle to Carlisle Railway came across it whilst out for a walk and being unable to decipher the Latin and Greek texts smashed it up. It was made of limestone that was known as Dent Marble, was just over 2 long and .180mm x .075mm in section.

Walking east through the village was a much more pleasant experience than the last time we were here as we climbed the short bank up to the gate that is next to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre, a building with strange coloured boards cladding its sides, maybe they are the new style plastic ones used for their durability here in this somewhat challenging weather area. Going through the gate we were straight onto the fellside with no obvious path until we arrived at a small beck that joins Headley's Gill/Outhgill Beck. From this point we followed a faint path over grass, climbing for now steadily uphill across Sloe Brae...
8 - Looking towards Trough Riggs-High Loven Scar-Hangingstone Scar from Sloe Brae.JPG
Looking towards Trough Riggs-High Loven Scar-Hangingstone Scar from Sloe Brae.

and then when the unrecognisable 'Ford' at Sloe Brae Gill is reached the path disappears altogether. From this point we were on our own as we climbed up the steepening fellside through rushes and long tussocky grass moving slightly northeast to gain the north bank of Headley's Gill.
13 - Coalwell Scars and Trough Riggs.JPG
Coalwell Scars and Trough Riggs.

14 - Wild Boar Fell and a view up the valley.JPG
Wild Boar Fell and a view up the valley.

We were still going in an easterly direction as we began the climb up the very steep bank, but this way is easier going than if we had stayed alongside Sloe Brae Gill. Above and in front of us right on the skyline we could see the cairn that we were aiming for but there is lots of rough, steep ground to cover first.

Above us and to our right we can see three old quarries to the left of Headley's Gill whilst on the other side of it can be seen the gnarled grass and craggy face of the beginning - or end - of Mallerstang Edge.

Leaving the gill behind the first, and now short grass and stone covered slopes aren't too bad as they rise up to a shelf alongside an old quarry. From this shelf the going gets really steep with heaps of old mine refuse piled up alongside the banks of the now dry gill. E is in front whilst I am toiling behind with bag for two on my back that feels so heavy that it almost pulled me backwards on a couple of occasions and but for a nifty bit of footwork would have succeeded in doing so. I swore to give her my last Rolo but this carrying for two up a 30° angled bank under a baking sun is stretching it a bit too far. Never mind TM, keep smiling.

The cairn is never out of sight…
15 - Our target is the cairn on the skyline.JPG
Our target is the cairn on the skyline.

as we worked our way over to the gill getting slowly higher until we reached a second level area that is alongside the highest of the three quarries that are on our left. From here we crossed over the gill - well E did - as I found it easier to climb up the dry gill…
17 - Alongside Headley's Gill.JPG
Alongside Headley's Gill.

until I got to within a few metres of the cairn which was then quickly reached by a short pull up the south side of the gill.
19 - The cairn and Wild Boar Fell.JPG
The cairn and Wild Boar Fell.

20 - Looking over to Cross Fell.JPG
Looking over to Cross Fell.

From the cairn the going got a lot easier as we crossed over short grass as we climbed the final 600 metres to the ridge. To do this we followed the line of a tracked machine but what they were doing here I wouldn't like to guess the reason why. Later on the answer may well be answered but it will only be supposition on my part.

Shortly after leaving the cairn behind we took a turn to the northeast to finally arrive at the more or less level top of the fell. We picked up a path running the full length of the ridge and followed it until we arrived at the cairn of small stones that marked the top of High Seat. In fact there are two cairns set fairly well apart but history tells me that we should visit both of them 'just in case'. We could see for miles from this viewpoint with Mickle Fell one of my last three remaining Pennine Hills walks left to do to complete their Hewitt's to be seen in the north. West is Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell - still to be done - Birkdale Tarn is to the east as is Great Shunner Fell. South we can make out Ingleborough and to the right of that is Whernside.
23 - High Seat summit cairn with Birkdale Tarn behind left.JPG
High Seat summit cairn with Birkdale Tarn behind left.

We have nothing to do now but follow the wide green track south from one summit to another with the first views mentioned not being added to on the whole journey from High Seat to Little Fell and then Sail as a throw in on the walk.
25 - Our way lies before us.JPG
Our way lies before us.

The green track is plain to see as it winds its way across the initially more or less level ground to then rise to the next target of Archy Styrigg…
26 - Looking towards Archy Styrigg.JPG
Looking towards Archy Styrigg.

and Gregory Chapel which is slightly lower. The ground is dry and the going is good as we made good progress and before too long we arrived at an area that had been stripped of peat. In fact there are quite a few areas of bare ground and we wondered if the track machine who's tracks we had followed was the culprit, and if so, why? One cairn consists of a few stones whilst the second one is a more substantial cairn built on a hump and surrounded by many stones of the same ilk.
29 - Elizabeth arrives at Archy Styrigg summit.JPG
Elizabeth arrives at Archy Styrigg summit.

From the ridge there are wide open views over the eastern moorland named Angram Common as we continued on to meet up with Gregory Chapel.
31 - Wild Boar Fell behind Gregory Chapel's cairn.JPG
Wild Boar Fell behind Gregory Chapel's cairn.

Further along the ridge there is a tall square currick like structure with a shelter cairn just lower down the slopes.
33 - Elizabeth at the currick.JPG
Elizabeth at the currick.

The track continues on southeast from this point as it goes over Gregory Band and Long Gill Head to arrive at a cairn by a fence but this is not the one we are after although a cairn is usually a welcome sight in any event.
35 - On the way to Hugh Seat.JPG
On the way to Hugh Seat.

From this low placed cairn we continued uphill once again following the fence as it swung around to the southwest to Hugh Seat our second monument and third summit. Hugh Seat lacks a cairn but is a landscape monument to a Sir Hugh de Morville of Pendragon Castle that now lies in ruins in the valley below. It was also one of the properties owned by Lady Anne Clifford whose main residence was at the castle in Appleby-in-Westmorland which is in the County Market Town of the same name. Sir Hugh was one of the four knights who murdered Thomas a Beckett in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

Continuing to walk to the southeast and lower down the fellside there is another monument, Lady's Pillar…
39 - Lady's Pillar.JPG
Lady's Pillar.

this being to the above mentioned Lady Anne Clifford who owned many properties, was quite a benevolent lady who built alms houses in Appleby where the widows of the time could live out their days in comparative comfort paying only a token amount for rent. There is a very beautiful little chapel built into one corner of the square that is formed by the houses being on all four sides with the only entrance being from the main town road. As then, as there is now, there are no men allowed to occupy any of the small but comfortable houses and permission has to be granted from the designated matriarch of the square before one is allowed through the entrance that is always open. If one asks politely it is possible to go into the square and have a look into the small chapel. The locals know better than to chance their arm.

The cairn is about a metre high, square in shape, and contains a stone with FHL1890 carved upon it that being the date and initials of who and when it was rebuilt.
37 - Lady's Pillar.JPG
Lady's Pillar.

From this monument we climbed back up the easy slopes until we arrived back at the track that once again followed the fence south to reach a fence junction where there was a small cairn that is probably just to identify the way to go. We are now on our way to Little Fell the lowest of all the fells that we are touching today but nevertheless is a Hewitt at 667 metres in height. From the cairn by the fence it seems a bit of a trudge up this last slope but on arriving at the summit all we found was a few, low, flat stones and a lonesome fence post just a couple of metres away from it. It seems as though someone has started to build a cairn, run out of stones and then not bothered to come back and complete the mission.
43 - Little Fell summit cairn with Sails behind.JPG
Little Fell summit cairn with Sails behind.

Not much further south there is at Ure Head the hill and summit of Sails and although one metre lower than Little Fell looks much higher than where we are stood just now. We decided to have a look at it and then walk down to the currick that stands on its western edge so off we went following the same grass track that we have been on since we arrived at the top of High Seat. From Little Fell we dropped down slightly to the damp Ure Head before climbing back up through a couple of peat hags to finally arrive at the summit cairn that puts the one on Little Fell to shame. This cairn is not much bigger but it is taller and can be clearly seen from a distance unlike the one on Little Fell. There is also a brass trig point set in a pad of concrete besides the cairn.
44 - Sails summit cairn and brass trig point.JPG
Sails summit cairn and brass trig point.

Well, apart from getting down off the fells that is job done but we still have a fair walk left to do before we reach Outhgill once again. Leaving Sails behind we now crossed over some fairly rough ground in a north westerly direction and heading for the large square currick that is overlooking the valley and affording a good view of Wild Boar Fell that lies directly in front of us. Once at the currick we had another of the many drinks that we've had so far but have yet failed to eat anything but that will soon be addressed when we reach the next landmark.

To get to the next point of our journey back we had to travel over some rough moorland that is covered in that ankle breaking variety of grassy lumps before reaching the large currick at Outer Pike.
48 - Elizabeth at Outer Pike currick.JPG
Elizabeth at Outer Pike currick.

It was about 2 hours ago that the sun had left us and although it was still warm there was a chill in the breeze and where we are just now it is stronger and colder, in fact it's looking decidedly like rain just now but we need it to hold off for a couple of hours just yet. We settled down on the side overlooking the valley and the opposite fells and whilst filling up with food and drink there was a flash of fur and a weasel/stoat/mink ran in front of us and disappeared down a hole between some nearby rocks. We kept quiet - which is quite an achievement for E - for a few minutes and sure enough there it was again romping amongst the rocks unless it was the first ones brother.

Right, wildlife show over we set off down towards the trees we could see way down near Hell Gill Bridge and once we had got away from the rocky area around the currick we came across some welcome but faint quad bike tracks running roughly west but near enough for us just now. We followed the tracks down by the north side of Jingling Sike that we had crossed over earlier to get to the currick on Outer Pike and looking at the profusion of wild cotton plants gives an indication of how wet this ground can get after a period of rain. Just now it's damp but firm enough with just the odd spot needing a work around.
52 - Thousands of Cotton Grass plants above Hell Gill.JPG
Thousands of Cotton Grass plants above Hell Gill.

As we got down to Sour Hill we could see that some tree felling had occurred in the head of the gully of Hell Gill Beck but for some reason been abandoned some time ago with the cut tree trunk logs stacked up with growing lichen and moss all over them. We have been here before but I am amazed at the bridge itself. This bridge spans Hell Gill Beck which is many metres below us and was built to carry Lady Anne Clifford along her coach road when visiting one of her many castles in the area. This bridge due to its location and site must have been difficult to build and fraught with danger so far above the rocks of the bed of the beck. To set up a former to carry the stone arch whilst being built must have been a hell of a job with no H & S rules or building inspectors to ensure the safety of the workers.

2,000 years ago this coach road was originally built by the Roman's so they may have had a timber bridge over the beck at this point and it is most likely a section of the Cam High Road Roman road that is near Hawes. The roman road originally went on to Brough and what is now the A66. From the bridge we now set off northwest along the now named Hellgill Wold Pennine Bridleway which is a good wide track for the whole of its length. After a good while the track turns north passing below The Riggs and is now named Old Road (Track) as it begins to pass under the great crags of Mallerstang Edge to our right. Just before the track begins to drop down we came across a large monument that suggested that it depicted a river running down the centre of the green valley that we can see before us. The sculpture is in fact called 'Water Cut' and is by a sculptress by the name of Mary Bourne and is one of a series of ten sculptures that are placed along the length of the River Eden between its source high above Mallerstang and Rockcliffe where it runs into the Solway Firth.

From here and looking up to Wild Boar Fell we could see the cluster of cairns on 'The Nab'.

This first sculpture in the series is called ‘Water Cut’ and is located a few miles from the source of the river Eden, high up on the eastern side of the Mallerstang valley. Like a huge milestone, it stands alongside the ancient green road known as Lady Anne Clifford’s Way. The space carved between the two vertical pillars creates the shape of a meandering river in the sky and provides a ‘window’ onto the real river in the valley below. It also symbolises the power of the river Eden cutting through the rock on its journey through East Cumbria and our own human journeys through the rural landscape and through life. Made from Salterwath Limestone, taken from a quarry near Shap, it also resembles the gate posts and stiles in drystone walls, which are so characteristic of the area, whilst it’s outer curve makes reference to the viaduct arches on the nearby Settle-Carlisle railway.
55 - The Water Cut sculpture.JPG
The Water Cut sculpture.

Once past the sculpture we are nearly down to the main road that will take us back to Outhgill. It is not pleasant walking along tarmac roads but is sometimes necessary and this is one such occasion. It didn't take too long to walk back to Outhgill but before we got back to the car we came across St. Mary's Church, which now the sun was shining again looked rather attractive. The church was founded by Lady Ideonea de Veteripont in the 14th century - about 1311 - and was largely rebuilt by Lady Anne Clifford in 1663.

In the churchyard is where we found our final monument, a stone dedicated to the workers and their families who died whilst helping to build the Mallerstang section of the Settle to Carlisle Railway line between 1870 and 1875. In all there are 25 unmarked graves. It is good to see that these workers and their families have been remembered in this way.
58 - Monument to the railway workers in St Mary's Churchyard at Outhgill.JPG
Monument to the railway workers in St. Mary's Churchyard.

Shortly after leaving the church we were back at the car after a good days walking in decent weather with sun for about half of the walk. The threat of rain remained only a threat with the sun appearing once again as we were nearing the end of our walk. Although we didn't walk along the actual edge of Mallerstang Edge we got a good enough view from below as we passed right under it.
56 - Mallerstang Edge from the Old Coach Road.JPG
Mallerstang Edge from the Old Coach Road.


The path that we took was further back and did what we wanted it to do, take us to the summits of the five tops that we visited but maybe we'll do the edge at some time in the future.
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trailmasher
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Re: A monumental walk around Mallerstang Heights.

Postby ChrisW » Sun Jun 12, 2016 5:21 am

Great interesting read and lovely shots as always TM, definately 3rd time lucky :clap: I like the 'water cut' statue it would make a great photo with the rock filling the frame and just the ribbon of landscape visible through it.
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ChrisW
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Re: A monumental walk around Mallerstang Heights.

Postby trailmasher » Mon Jun 13, 2016 12:41 pm

ChrisW wrote:Great interesting read and lovely shots as always TM, definately 3rd time lucky :clap: I like the 'water cut' statue it would make a great photo with the rock filling the frame and just the ribbon of landscape visible through it.


Never thought about the alternative shot with the 'Water Cut' :( may have to go back and give it a go as it's not too far from the road. The problem is on days like this one was is making your choice of shots and what to put on WH there are too many to choose from :? Thanks for your comments Chris :D
BTW, have you not been out for a while as all seems quiet from your neck of the woods lately :wink:
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trailmasher
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Re: A monumental walk around Mallerstang Heights.

Postby ChrisW » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:40 am

trailmasher wrote:BTW, have you not been out for a while as all seems quiet from your neck of the woods lately :wink:


I've not been since we came back from Vancouver Island mate, it's been hovering around 80 degrees for two weeks which for me is unbearable, but the heat has broken now and I'm eyeing up the hills for next week. I Built a new deck in the back garden and an Arbour round the front, got caught up on spring chores and chopped the tips off two fingers along the way so scrambling might be out for a week or two :lol: :lol:
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ChrisW
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Re: A monumental walk around Mallerstang Heights.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:37 pm

ChrisW wrote:
trailmasher wrote:BTW, have you not been out for a while as all seems quiet from your neck of the woods lately :wink:


got caught up on spring chores and chopped the tips off two fingers along the way so scrambling might be out for a week or two :lol: :lol:


Ouch to that :cry: my A-hole puckered when I read that :shock: :roll:
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trailmasher
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