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A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.


Postby trailmasher » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:09 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Black Fell, Thack Moor

Date walked: 13/07/2016

Time taken: 4.28

Distance: 18.23 km

Ascent: 638m

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Thack Moor and Black Fell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


The long range weather forecast had advertised a good day for today - Wednesday - and true to its word, it was. There is a cloudy sky, but there is also plenty of blue sky showing allowing the sun to show itself and raising the temperature to a healthy 16°c which is not too bad for 7:30 am. This is not an early morning start to a walk but merely a case of having to have my car at the body shop for 8 am after I caught the nearside wing on the side of the very narrow gutted Chapel Bridge as I was leaving from walking the Newlands Round. The trouble with this bridge is that if you don't get it square on whilst driving a big car this is what happens. After dropping the car off I had an appointment with the bone doctor for some treatment on my right knee, coffee at Booth's, so all in all not an early get away,

For this walk we decided to start at the small village of Renwick that has a few houses both old and new and a working farm that is passed as the main road is followed to our parking space alongside the Methodist Chapel with its small spire.
1 - Renwick Methodist Chapel.JPG
Renwick Methodist Chapel.

We first of all drove up the A686 Alston road and then turned off for Renwick on the minor road that runs from Twotop Hill to Renwick and beyond to link up with the B6413.

By the time we had got ready to walk it was quite late, but at least the sun was shining as we set off up the narrow tree lined tarmac road that is signposted for Outhwaite opposite the Methodist Chapel and passes the church that is behind some trees on the left of the road. As the road turns right we continued straight on up a wide dirt track to leave the trees behind to follow it as it rises gently uphill passing a large farm building that was to our left. The track remains wide, good, and dry as it passes between walls and fences that are with us until we nearly reach the open fellside beneath Thack Moor. The track continues to climb and whilst mostly at a gentle gradient there are a few steeper sections to contend with.
5 - Thack Moor ahead.JPG
Thack Moor ahead.

At about the 310 metre mark we turned off the main track that leads on to Great Stockdale Beck and the old mine workings to climb roughly north along another well made and old mine track. This track would lead us along an initially dirt track slowly becoming a track with ruts and then as we got nearer to the open fell it became a green lane. We passed through a couple of gates with the last one of metal allowing us onto the open fell proper following a dry stone wall that was on our right that soon became a wire fence until that too eventually left us as it did a right turn to cross over Renwick Fell.

I haven't mentioned the views yet but can now say that they are magnificent in all directions, apart from north where the large mound of Thack Moor fills the space on that side. Blencathra is plain to see as are all the fells that surround Keswick and further afield as they run in a large semi-circle from east to south to west with the same fells, and more, only promising to become more in evidence as we reach Thack Moor top.
7 - Looking to the north western fells from under Thack Moor.JPG
Looking to the north western fells from under Thack Moor.

8 - Old drinking trough and a view towards Fiend's Fell.JPG
Old drinking trough and a view towards Fiend's Fell.

So far the way has been dry but as we left the green lane to now walk on a narrow track through long grass it steepens and becomes wet and boggy in the lower stretches as we passed a couple of large shake holes and a disused mine tip.
9 - Ascending the higher slopes of Thack Moor.JPG
Ascending the higher slopes of Thack Moor.

10 - Elizabeth ascending Thack Moor.JPG
Elizabeth ascending Thack Moor.

The further we went the steeper and drier the path got until at the steepest bit just above the old tip the glory beads began to sprout forth from the extra work load and heat of the now past noon sun.
11 - A view from Thack Moor's south flank.JPG
A view from Thack Moor's south flank.

The steepness soon comes to an end though as the slope lessens and we were walking once again on easy ground over short, green, and mixed moorland grass to reach the OS trig column that is sat by the side of the wire fence where it buts up to the summit dry stone wall. This is the wall that we followed southeast for a short while as we made our way towards Watch Hill and Greystone Edge.

13 - A view from Thack Moor OS trig column.JPG
A view from Thack Moor OS trig column.

As mentioned the views are brilliant from the summit of Thack Moor and we can now see over to Black Fell, Hartside Café is shining in the distance with Fiend's Fell, Cross Fell, and many more to be seen. Grey Nag and Tom Smith's Stone is also showing in the east. Below us to the north we can see Croglin Water of which we shall cross over the head of later on today as we make our way to Black Fell.
14 - Watch Hill and Black Fell from Thack Moor.JPG
Watch Hill and Black Fell from Thack Moor.

As the aforementioned wall turns northeast there is a sheepfold built into it and this is where we stopped for our first break of the day. Fifteen minutes later we were on our way again as we continued southeast for a few metres to reach a stile in the wire fence…
17 - Step stile-Watch Hill-Black Fell.JPG
Step stile - Watch Hill - Black Fell.

that after climbing over we continued on a welcome quad bike track in an easterly direction to Watch Hill/Graystone Edge with its large mound of partly collapsed stones that has a square, red sandstone and engraved block on its east side that has an unusual name carved into it that reads something like 'J. LOWTIII A \ JIIIII - 1865.
20 - Black Fell behind Watch Hill summit cairn.JPG
Black Fell behind Watch Hill summit cairn.

22 - Memorial stone in Watch Hill's summit cairn.JPG
Memorial stone in Watch Hill's summit cairn.

Leaving this enigma behind we walked for but a short distance to arrive at a short ladder stile over a wall with the gate propped up besides it. This we tackled to follow more quad bike tracks over grass to the next wall and ladder stile from where we had a good view of our next top and also an unusual sheepfold that we could see in front of us and warranted an investigation. Once over the wall we circled to our left and climbed the easy slopes to arrive above and behind the sheepfold that turned out to be not only a large and complex arrangement of folds but also incorporated a small but tumbledown shepherd's bothy.
29 - Looking southwest from the old sheepfold and bothy.JPG
Looking southwest from the old sheepfold and bothy.

If only it could talk I would have loved to have a conversation with it and get to know the history of who built it, what were the conditions like, what were the people like who used it? Whoever it was they must have been hardy people to stay a few winter nights in that abode.

Questions left unanswered we left the bothy behind and continued our climb south…
31 - Looking back to Watch Hill and Thack Moor.JPG
Looking back to Watch Hill and Thack Moor.

swinging slightly left to meet up with a wire fence come wall come fence etc and following at times some faint quad bike tracks over rough grass although it was dry underfoot. After a while we crossed over a tumbledown dry stone wall where we turned left again to follow the now well built wall sometime fence to eventually arrive at the large flat summit…
33 - Black Fell summit on the horizon.JPG
Black Fell summit on the horizon.

where we had to climb a fence stile to reach the Black Fell OS trig column that has the company of a wooden post and a few rocks strewn about its base. Apart from a couple of damp spots whilst climbing Thack Moor and the odd peat hag just before the summit of Black Fell the whole journey so far has been virtually dry underfoot.
35 - Elizabeth at Black Fell summit with Grey Nag behind left.JPG
Elizabeth at Black fell summit with Grey Nag behind left.

39 - Cross Fell-Fiend's Fell-Melmerby Fell-Hartside Cafe from Black Fell.JPG
Cross Fell - Fiend's Fell - Melmerby Fell - Hartside Café from Black Fell.

The views from Black Fell are more or less the same as from Thack Moor so there is no point in repeating myself. It was quite breezy at the top and the dark clouds are beginning to pile in so the intimation that we may get rain has just got to be a reality as we took ourselves away from the summit to follow the wall south as it crosses over Little Daffenside and at 661 metres this is where we had our second break whilst sheltering from the wind behind the wall. Whilst we were sitting there the rain started to fall, or rather flow across on a horizontal plane and we were just pleased to be behind the east side of the wall as the strong wind was blowing from the west. The wall is quite high so that when we got on our way again there was only our heads - well mine - showing above the wall top.

Hartside Café is clear to see as we dropped off Little Daffenside and even though we have just had a break there will be an empty table waiting for us when we arrive there. The way is good, dry, and clear as we made rapid progress to meet up with a stone step stile through the wall about 2 metres from its end and a round topped boundary stone that is at the end of the wall. Once over the wall we then followed a wire fence all the way down to Hartside Café but having to make a couple of wide diversions to miss some rather large areas of bog that could be identified by the bright green colour of the moss and abundance of perimeter water. These were the only areas where we had to do a work around and this must be one of the driest Pennine walks that I have done.

The path leads directly to the brown Hartside Summit - Altitude 1,903 feet sign so there is no mistaking where one is especially as the café is straight opposite and just across the main road.
41 - Hartside summit.JPG
Hartside summit.

The rain has stopped as we go in for a soft seat and a table - E attends to her hair - but we didn't linger as there was still a long way to go back to Renwick.

Leaving this mecca for motorcyclists we crossed the car park and still moving south to pass down the old tarmac road that cuts right down the hillside from the café to the main road below the hairpin bend. On the opposite side of the road there is a gate that leads onto a track that passes in front of a small white painted cottage/bothy that has been renovated and goes by the name of Little, or, Small Cottage (I can't remember which).
42 - The white cottage or bothy.JPG
The white cottage or bothy.

Just past the cottage the track morphs into a green lane that is very wet and boggy in its upper reaches and only getting drier as it gets well down the hillside. It's deeply rutted and near swamped by rushes that begin to thin out as the valley below us opens up to reveal the sun covered plains with its trees, villages, and farms all going about their business.
43 - The green lane to Ricker Gill and Selah Bridge.JPG
The green lane to Ricker Gill and Selah Bridge.

It hasn't been cold today at all and as we were still wearing our waterproofs we were beginning to warm up rather quickly especially as we were now out of the wind but as the ground is so wet and there are still some ominous looking clouds about we elected to keep them on just for now. As we descended down the green lane the evidence of mining now begins to appear and we are presuming that what we are now walking along was one of the mine roads that originally linked up with Alston, Nenthead, etc. After a fair distance we came across a bridge that crosses over Ricker Gill.
44 - Ricker Gill Bridge.JPG
Ricker Gill Bridge.

A bridge that had been renovated between 2011 and 2013 and was opened by the Tory MP Rory Stewart and is quite a significant structure lending credence to our theory of this track being for the transporting of mine materials and the rich spoils that were so back breakingly won from the quarries and mines of yesteryear. On our right, across the valley and behind Loo Gill there is an old lime kiln to be seen with its front archway now half buried by the passage of time and build up of new ground.

Continuing to walk ever downhill we passed an old tumbledown cottage that is without a roof and is surrounded by sheep pens…
47 -  Cottage ruins.JPG
Cottage ruins.

before passing through a gate to reach a minor tarmac road and Selah Bridge. A few metres after crossing the bridge there is a lane to the left with a sign telling us that it would take us to Five Lane Ends. The lane levels out somewhat as we approached the area of Swarthgill Beck that runs through a small valley that is covered in tall plants and reeds, etc that are endemic to low, wet areas. From Swarthgill we were supposed to follow a footpath to Haresceugh but we couldn't locate it so we continued on for about 50 metres to take a lane that runs alongside Kiln Beck to arrive at the tarmac road once again just to the southeast of Raven Bridge.

From Raven Bridge we could have taken a footpath through How Wood a much more pleasant experience than road walking, but that is exactly what we did, followed the road back into Renwick taking the easy option to arrive back at the Methodist Chapel and the car.

This has been a straight forward, good, and fairly long walk over mostly good ground in mixed weather conditions that didn't give us any problems at all. The inclines are well graded and the only steep bit really was two thirds of the way up Thack Fell. The climb up onto Black Fell from the old shepherd's bothy is a bit tedious as is the walk from Hartside back to Renwick but at least the views are good and interest is kept alive by the various things to look out for, and at.
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trailmasher
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby ChrisW » Mon Jul 25, 2016 6:20 am

That's a good distance TM but across some nice undulating country with some cracking views to take your mind off the distance :wink: The incident with the car must have taken the shine off the Newlands round :roll: I'm not entirely sure about doing 18km after seeing the doc for a dodgy knee though :lol:

Great camera work to maintain beautiful interesting shots throughout, it can be tough getting good shots on these open rolling lumps :clap: :clap:
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby dav2930 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:53 pm

Nice one TM - a great way to ease the pain of a scraped nearside wing, if not a sore right knee! This is a lovely walk, one of my favourites in the Northern Pennines. I like the stretch along Greystone Edge in particular, and then of course there's the café to call into on reaching Hartside - perfect! :D
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby john923 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:11 pm

Good report, tm, and nice to hear that the conditions underfoot on this one aren't too bad. Like you, we've already bagged Grey Nag and Tom Smith's Stone from the east with the deliberate intention of doing these as a pair and avoiding the bogfest in between. This route looks perfect for the job.
Cheers, John. :)
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby Broggy1 » Tue Jul 26, 2016 2:12 pm

john923 wrote:Good report, tm, and nice to hear that the conditions underfoot on this one aren't too bad. Like you, we've already bagged Grey Nag and Tom Smith's Stone from the east with the deliberate intention of doing these as a pair and avoiding the bogfest in between. This route looks perfect for the job.
Cheers, John. :)


Great report TM and yes as mentioned above - far better to do these two together and leave Grey Nag and TSS for a seperate walk.

The stretch in between Black Fell and TSS is as bad as it gets imo.
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:41 pm

ChrisW wrote: The incident with the car must have taken the shine off the Newlands round :roll: I'm not entirely sure about doing 18km after seeing the doc for a dodgy knee though :lol:


Being a Yorkshire man it took the shine off my wallet as well Chris :( and it's worth a bit of pain to get on the fells plus you have to keep things moving :lol: Thanks for reading and comments :D
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:45 pm

dav2930 wrote:Nice one TM - a great way to ease the pain of a scraped nearside wing, if not a sore right knee! This is a lovely walk, one of my favourites in the Northern Pennines. I like the stretch along Greystone Edge in particular, and then of course there's the café to call into on reaching Hartside - perfect! :D


Thanks dav :D and I have to agree that this is a great walk and one of the best that I've had in the Pennines so far :) I was surprised that the views were so good from Watch Hill/Greystone Edge :D Thanks again for your comments :clap:
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:53 pm

john923 wrote:Good report, tm, and nice to hear that the conditions underfoot on this one aren't too bad. Like you, we've already bagged Grey Nag and Tom Smith's Stone from the east with the deliberate intention of doing these as a pair and avoiding the bogfest in between. This route looks perfect for the job.
Cheers, John. :)


This is a good way to go John :) and we skipped the Black Fell route from TSS after hearing many horror stories about the conditions :crazy: a long drop off to Renwick from Hartside but plenty to see and the views are great :D Thanks for your comments and go for it mate :clap:
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:57 pm

Broggy1 wrote:
john923 wrote:Good report, tm, and nice to hear that the conditions underfoot on this one aren't too bad. Like you, we've already bagged Grey Nag and Tom Smith's Stone from the east with the deliberate intention of doing these as a pair and avoiding the bogfest in between. This route looks perfect for the job.
Cheers, John. :)


Great report TM and yes as mentioned above - far better to do these two together and leave Grey Nag and TSS for a seperate walk.

The stretch in between Black Fell and TSS is as bad as it gets imo.


Thanks very much Broggy1 :clap: and I see that you get about a bit :lol: It was a wet start to the day when we did Grey Nag and TSS so wouldn't have attempted the other two anyway :roll:
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:24 pm

Looks like a good way to bag these two, an excellent report as ever TM
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Re: A fine day out on Thack Moor and Black Fell.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:01 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:Looks like a good way to bag these two, an excellent report as ever TM


Go for it JKLL you can't go wrong on this one :) and it's clean 8) Thanks for your comments :D
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