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Great Knoutberry Hill, and Wold Fell, because it's there.

Great Knoutberry Hill, and Wold Fell, because it's there.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:14 pm

Hewitts included on this walk: Great Knoutberry Hill

Date walked: 06/04/2017

Time taken: 3.06

Distance: 12.6 km

Ascent: 409m

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Great Knoutberry Hill and Wold Fell Top.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Now that the days are getting longer I am showing an interest in the South Yorkshire Dales again, a place of great beauty and hills galore and with this only my third visit to the Southern Dales I was more than looking forward to a re-visit. My plan for today was to tackle Great Knoutberry Hill of which I had read a few reports of very bad ground, and to then climb to the summit of Wold Fell Top that lies further to the south. Two very contrasting hills with the former being covered in the typical brown, rough grass of the grouse moor whilst the latter standing out as a great green mound sitting above the large areas of rushes and peat hag scarred lower slopes of Arten Gill Moss.

Thursday the day of the walk dawned cool and cloudy but there was a promise of decent weather for the day and as I drove along the A66 I could see patches of blue sky opening up over to the east and south above Wild Boar Fell and the far hills. First turning off onto the A685 for Kirkby Stephen and then left at the traffic lights onto the B6259 for Nateby I now had a clear road running along the Mallerstang valley passing the ruins of Pendragon Castle and then through the small village of Outhgill from where we accessed the walk along Mallerstang Edge last year. I soon passed below the face of Wild Boar Fell as it towered above me on the right, spotting the numerous curricks that adorn the edge of the crag. A few minutes later I was at the road junction with the A684 and the isolated Moorcock Inn on the left.

From there I took a right along the road that leads into Garsdale and then Dentdale but as I passed under Dandrymire Viaduct I was only going on for a few metres more before turning off at the first left that would take me past Garsdale Station and the long, lonely drive up and across the wild moorland of the area passing many areas of worked out pits and mines with the now grassed over but obvious spoil heaps to indicate their industrial heritage. As I was driving along I saw the ominous signs of clag dropping down onto the top of the fells to my right, just where I am heading very shortly. A bit of a bummer really as in all other directions the sky is a mixture of high cloud and blue sky.

The road is quite narrow in places but despite the danger of not keeping my eyes on the road I couldn't help but keep looking at the wide open landscape that was unfolding before me. I could see part way down into Garsdale and Dentdale with the massive bulks and silhouettes of the surrounding fells. I wasn't quite sure where the parking spot was so I stopped to switch on my GPS and following its directions soon arrived at the small parking area that is on the left hand side of the road at SD779 880. The reason for my confusion as to the start was that I had convinced myself that it started at the highest point of the road at the 537 metre line and when I had started to descend again thought that I had missed the parking area. In fact the car park is some 30 metres lower as the road begins its fall into Dentdale and from where Dent Station can be clearly seen.

The car park is a small affair with an access gate opening onto the old mine track that runs easily around and above the top edge of the steeper and lower west and south slopes of Great Knoutberry Hill to eventually meet up with the Pennine Bridleway at the head of Arten Gill. There is room for about 8 cars if parked sensibly but taking care not to block the gate access as it is also used as a drove road by the local farmers/shepherds.

After having a quick drink and getting changed I set off past the one other car that was parked up and passed through the gate where there is a fingerpost pointing the way to Stone House and Widdale to walk south along the well made track that gently rises for a while before easing off and then slowly descending to soon come across a number of small sheep pens on the left just before reaching a gate that lies across the track. Whilst I have been walking along the track I have been privy to some most amazing views, even at this relatively low altitude, of some of the immediate fells. The clag that was short lived has now disappeared and although it was quite hazy in the distance the views are not bad at all. I could see into Dentdale with Rise Hill and Aye Gill Pike standing guard over it whilst towering behind those and also to the north there is the bulk of Knoutberry Haw and Tarn Rigg Hill - Baugh Fell - to the west is Calf Top with the Howgills sitting behind and right, moving around to the south there is Great Coum etc, with Whernside directly to the south. Moving on I had a glimpse of Pen-y-ghent and once on top of GKH I just know that I will be able to see them at their best, weather and haze permitting.
6 - Whernside and Pen-y-ghent from Green Bank.JPG
Whernside and Pen-y-ghent from Green Bank.

The way to go now is through the sheep pens onto the immediate fell from where a gate in the right hand fence is accessed to follow this fence east and upwards along its right hand side. As I started to climb the easy grass slopes along a narrow path I espied a number of cairns/curricks on the first discernible skyline at around 580 metres so as I got nearer and having passed over Pikes Edge I took a swerve to my right and worked my way upwards until I reached the small group of 4, or maybe 5, piles of standing stones the purpose of which there is no clue apart from the available fantastic view into Dentdale. But what a view this is. Now I could look along the dale with the aforementioned fells/hills in plain sight. I could even see the faint outline of the Lake District mountains in the background.
9 - Dentdale - Calf Top - Howgills from the four cairns on the slopes of Great Knoutberry Hill.JPG
Dentdale - Calf Top - Howgills from the four cairns on the slopes of Great Knoutberry Hill.

10 - Whernside - Pen-y-ghent - Ingleborough from the four cairns on the west side of Great Knoutberry Hill.JPG
Whernside - Pen-y-ghent - Ingleborough from the four cairns on the west side of Great Knoutberry Hill.

Tearing myself away from the view I made my way back to the path and continued upwards on the still easy slopes. The ground was dry and firm and the track, although faint, was easy to follow. There was the odd soft spot but at no time did the water get more than an inch up the side of my boots and once the lower slopes were seen off it was a dry run all the way for the remainder of the walk.

Within 35 minutes of leaving the car I could see Widdale Great Tarn some distance away and over to the northeast and 5 minutes later I was at the summit with its short, stone built trig column, junction of three fences, a stone wall and a stone built shelter wall. A few lumps of timber strewn about that have been used to reach the trig column that looks as though it regularly sits in a pool of water compliment the scene of isolation on this very large, rounded top. With the surrounding fells being the only the other things in view the isolation is complete, and this must be one of the only fell tops from where there is nary a dwelling or communication mast in sight. The views are amazing and extensive as to the south there sits Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough, east is Dodd Fell Hill and Drumaldrace, west there is Calf Top, the Howgills, Baugh Fell, north Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang Edge is to be found, with once again the distant outline of the Lake District mountains. What a wonderful array of hills from the top of this rather insignificant looking Hewitt.
11 - Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang Edge from Great Knoutberry Hill.JPG
Wild Boar Fell and Mallerstang Edge from Great Knoutberry Hill.

The weather is fine with a mixed sky of blue and grey clouds but the wind is cutting and I was pleased with my choice of coats today as I was wearing my down filled one for today's walk. I thought that I had earned and deserved a short break so parked up behind the short shelter wall using the built in stone seat on its south side sheltered from the wind.
12 - Great Knoutberry Hill summit.JPG
Great Knoutberry Hill summit.

A quick drink and a biscuit later I was off to have a look at the two tarns, Widdale Great and Little Tarns over to the north. I was going to have a look at these pair of tarns and Wold Fell as the walk over this hill barely warrants a drive and mileage that I have done to get here as it's only about 3½ miles - 5.5 kilometres - of a walk so I added these two on to make it roughly 8 miles - 12.5 kilometres - and double the height gain to make more of a day of it.

I left the welcome shelter of the wall and made my way over the fence stile to walk the easiest line possible northeast over pathless ground first heading for Widdale Great Tarn, a fair sized chunk of water sitting at about 640 metres and just to the west of the head of Tarn Gill that does not obviously feed off WGT but probably does by way of underground seepage. There is a small watercourse connecting the two tarns but as both tarns are at the same level with some low ground in between it wasn't really possible to tell which tarn fed the which.

The ground is fairly rough between the summit and the first tarn with large clumps of rough grass and a peat hag or two but at least it was dry underfoot and I soon arrived at the first and largest of the tarns, Widdale Great Tarn, the south one.
15 - Widdale Great Tarn.JPG
Widdale Great Tarn.

This tarn sits on an area of flat ground with the fell rising to the east and falling away to the west with the whole of the surrounding area consisting of a lovely shade of brown coloured grass. After a couple of photos I passed it by uneventfully over still dry ground and now made my approach to Widdale Little Tarn…
17 - Widdale Little Tarn.JPG
Widdale Little Tarn.

and although a lot smaller was a lot more interesting. The only 'feature' of the larger tarn was the old fence that runs into the tarn from its south side but the northerly and smaller tarn has a couple of things going for it.

First off it is set in a hollow with Millstone Brow sat to the west of it and this is probably the reason why there are a couple of peaty 'beaches' with a scattering of millstone grit that actually make it quite attractive looking, a change from the large swathes of brown grassland that abound in this area.
18 - Widdale Little Tarn.JPG
Widdale Little Tarn.

The second and most unusual feature of this tarn is the circular grouse shooting butt that is set squarely in the centre of the tarn complete with paved walkway across to it. There are two dry stone walls, one running towards the tarn northwest and the other in the opposite direction southeast both more or less terminating on the banks of the tarn which would intimate that at one time the wall ran straight across the fell before the tarn was born and then this was used to build the water bound shooting butt on it, the wall from the northeast being used as the walkway.
22 - Shooting butt in Widdale Little Tarn.JPG
Shooting butt in Widdale Little Tarn.

Well of course I had to go and have a look at it from close quarters and made my way across with the strong wind trying to dislodge me on the loose and uneven slabs whilst blowing large ripples of water onto the south side of the slabs with the water on the east side being as calm as a millpond. Once across, the assassins hide was found to have a firm but damp and sticky floor to it and my hopes of using it for my most unusual canteen facility to date was shattered as it was too wet to sit and too cold and windy to stand and eat in comfort so grouse shooting butt No. 10 was disappointingly abandoned to search further afield for a somewhat more mundane yet more comfortable place to eat.
24 - Shooting butt island in the centre of Widdale Little Tarn.JPG
Shooting butt island in the centre of Widdale Little Tarn.

25 - From inside the shooting butt.JPG
From inside the shooting butt.

Leaving this unusual tarn feature behind I walked around the north end of the tarn and followed its east shore around to the dry stone wall which I followed uphill and then crossed over it using a tumbledown section to head south back towards the larger tarn. Upon reaching the tarn I then moved over to the dry stone wall that I would follow as it curved its way downhill across the east and then roughly south sides of Great Knoutberry Hill.
26 - Great Knoutberry Hill from the tarns.JPG
Great Knoutberry Hill from the tarns.

The ground is pathless but once I had reached the highest point of the climb I left the rougher grass behind and found that I was now walking over more even and short grass covered ground and I made good time as I worked my way downhill avoiding a few wet and boggy areas without any problems at all. As I descended I had a very good view of my next hill that was straight across from me, Wold Fell or Wold Fell Top and at 558 metres is only some 114 metres lower than GKH. Wold Fell was laid out in front of me, a large flat topped mass of green, a stark contrast to the brown of its lower reaches and surrounding fells.
29 - The green of Wold Fell.JPG
The green of Wold Fell.

Its north slopes are a haven for the masses of rushes that just love the wet ground of Arten Gill Moss, whilst a little higher there is a bank of peat hags but that is ground that I will stay clear of as I made my way down to the Pennine Bridleway that was still some distance below me. As I descended I passed a number of stone borrow pits from where the stone was dug from just below the surface for use on building the dry stone walls and probably quite a lot of the local dwellings also.
30 - One of many old stone borrow pits used to get stone for the walls.JPG
One of the many old stone borrow pits used to get stone for the walls.

I also had a good view of Snaizeholme Fell…
28 - Looking across Widdale towards Snaizeholme Fell.JPG
Looking across Widdale towards Snaizeholme Fell.

to the east across Widdale with Dodd Fell Hill and Drumaldrace - or Wether Hill as it is also known -
27 - Looking towards Dodd Fell Hill and Wether Hill or Drumaldrace as it's known.JPG
Looking towards Dodd Fell Hill and Wether Hill or Drumaldrace as it's known.

looking down on the valley at their feet. Just after passing the borrow pits the ground is littered with large stones and to cut a corner off I left the wall at about the 550 metre contour and made my way southwest across and towards the gate that lies across the PB. As I neared the gate I heard a voice and thought that some other walkers were descending from the summit by the footpath that lies alongside the fence leading down from the summit trig column, but no, it was a lone man who periodically gave a shout and sang a few words of something unknown to me. Not wanting to be seen by this gent and his unusual way of indicating his exuberance at being on the fells I hung back until he had passed by and then kept a respectable distance between us as he walked on along the Pennine Bridleway in the same direction as I was going to go.

The PB is a good and clear track that runs all the way west…
32 - Whernside and Calf Top from the Pennine Bridleway below the south side Great Knoutberry Hill.JPG
Whernside and Calf Top from the Pennine Bridleway below the south side of Great Knoutberry Hill.

down to the Arten Gill Viaduct from where it soon connects with the Dales Way but also turns south at the four lanes junction at Arten Gill Moss to run easily along the side of Wold Fell to then connect at the junction of the Dales Way and the Ribble Way.
34 - Well signed at Arten Gill Moss crossroads.JPG
Well signed at Arten Gill Moss crossroads.

From the Arten Gill Moss gate and junction I took the PB over to Wold Fell but first of all I found a sheltered spot in a hollow against the adjacent wall, not much of a view but it was warm and I was sitting in sunshine. Whilst I was having a bite to eat I could hear the dulcet tones of the lone walker ringing out in the distance to be followed by the snarl of engines as 5 blokes on scramble bikes came roaring down the PB from the Widdale area and upon reaching the gate promptly slid around to then race along past me and up the PB and around Wold Hill, full throttle and kicking up the track as they went along as fast as they could. That is why our paths, tracks, and ways are getting into the bad state of affairs that many of them have now been reduced to. They were soon to be followed by two lads on mountain bikes themselves skidding and having 'fun' loosening up the surface of the track.
Whilst walking the Northern Fells a couple or so weeks ago the once good and green lane that ran from Great Lingy Hill hut and right the way along to Hare Stones has been ruined by off roaders and just a week later there was an article in the local paper condemning such activities.
49 - War on the off roaders in Cumbria.jpg
War on the off roaders in Cumbria.

An excerpt from the article reads as:-
"There have been complaints by residents and farmers following an increase in off-road activities in recent months, particularly at weekends, in the Caldbeck and Uldale area.
It is an offence to ride a motorbike or drive a motor vehicle on a footpath, bridleway, or restricted byway, or on land that is not forming part of a road, without the landowner's permission.
As a result of the illegal off-road activity, areas of land had been chewed up and motorcross bikes and 4x4 vehicles driven on footpaths".

This is the sort of selfish behaviour that wrecks the beautiful countryside and one of the reasons why so much time, effort, and money has and needs to be spent on footpath repairs by the many organisations that manage the fells throughout the country. It's surely come to something when the police and rangers have to resort to using drones to police the fells.

Now, back to the walk.

Once having refuelled I set off once again following the well made stony track of the PB as it climbed quite steeply for the first few metres and then turned into a lovely green lane as it evened out to a more amenable pitch on its steady climb up to Swineley Cowm from where it more or less levelled out before descending slightly to pass through a long, grass covered hollow. Shortly after exiting the hollow the track arrives at a gate and as I passed through it I immediately turned right climbing up the short rough grassed bank to arrive at the small moss covered cairn of Wold Fell Top at a height of 558 metres.
36 - The summit cairn of Wold Fell Top with Great Knoutberry Hill behind.JPG
The summit cairn of Wold Fell Top with Great Knoutberry Hill behind.

The top of Wold Fell is almost flat and apart from the short green grass that covers the top there is also an abundance of limestone pavement along with quite a few dry stone walls. Once again the views from here are far reaching, but only of the accompanying fells as the top is too large and flat to see beyond its edges and into the valleys below.

The weather was holding out good enough although the clouds are now dominating the sky with no blue in sight but the cold wind hadn't given up its attempt to turn me into a walking lollypop as it's still as brisk as ever.

My return route back to the PB at Arten Gill Moss is to walk across the top of the fell until I reached the wall which I then climbed over and followed until it met up with the bridleway at Swineley Cowm and from there back to the gate at the crossroads. Once back at the gate and crossroads I took the track immediately in front of me climbing north up the initially steep and rough track following it as it swung to the west under Cross Pits Colliery from where it was then a lovely green lane for most of the way back to the car park. I passed over the site of Cross Coal Pits with the length of Dentdale strung out below me and Whernside just across the way to the southwest. Just a few metres from the bend where the track turns west, 4 large boulders have been laid across it therefore blocking the access for any 4x4 off-road drivers seeking a short cut joy ride along this lovely green lane with its magnificent views. The gate to the track going down to Arten Viaduct already warns such drivers that access is not permitted as due to a serious washout it has recently been completely reinstated with a new track surface, a whole new drainage system, stone cobbled fords, culverts, and walls.

I made good progress along this very good track that varies little in height along its length, savouring the views as I went along and wondering when I would get a good view of the less famous than Ribblehead Viaduct - Arten Gill Viaduct - that is not as long, but is higher than its more famous neighbour of the Settle to Carlisle Line.
44 - Arten Gill Viaduct.JPG
Arten Gill Viaduct.

At last the viaduct appeared way down in the valley to my left, but it looked small, very small, too far away to get a decent picture of it just now so I was hoping that as I progressed along the track a better position could be found to get what I wanted. I took pictures from a number of positions and places but I found that the best places were between Brant Nook and the fellside above Brant Side. Once I was above Brant Side I left the track to walk down the fell for a few metres which gave me a good position and an ariel view of the viaduct plus a fair length of the railway line running south, and with a very close look the Dent Head Viaduct can just about be seen just as the line begins its curve towards Bleamoor Tunnel.
45 - Arten Gill Viaduct on the Settle to Carlisle line.JPG
Arten Gill Viaduct on the Settle to Carlisle line.

A little further on is where I stopped for a short break whilst looking along the length of Dentdale with its green fields reaching up the sides of the valley as it stretched out before me and curving around behind Aye Gill Pike with the green running into the lower slopes of the Howgills. Calf Top is the highest point to the left.
47 - Dentdale with Calf Top left - Howgills centre and Aye Gill Pike right.JPG
Dentdale with Calf Top left - Howgills centre and Aye Gill Pike right.

I could follow the route of the railway line as it made its climb up to Dent Station from where it then disappears into the trees and Risehill Tunnel.

I sat against the wall whilst looking over this beautiful countryside, but I soon had to move on as there was no shelter from the cold and persistent wind, the only element that tended to put a spoiler on my chosen place for refreshment. It was now but a short walk of 20 minutes back to the car park.

Despite the cold wind and the less than favourable distant air quality this has been a good walk, one of the easier ones as the slopes walked have been gentle in all directions with the added bonus of mostly dry ground conditions for most of the route. Even where there were some wet, boggy areas on the middle slopes of my descent from the tarns they were easily got around and the bog horror stories that I had read about Great Knoutberry Hill made my thoughts of a hard walk totally unfounded. Maybe the hill can be a bit rough after rain and maybe I caught it on a good day but there are no hags, groughs, or bogs to contend with, just good paths, tracks, and a couple of short, easy sections of pathless ground. I've had sunshine; I've had cloud and a mixture of both. The cold wind was, well, cold, and kept me moving to keep warm, moving me on far too quickly on occasions as it would have been nice to linger longer around the tarns and have a bit more of a stroll about on the top of GKH and Wold Fell than I did. But I'm not grumbling as this has been an excellent walk and well worth the trip with the drive along Mallerstang and the distant hills whetting the appetite for the walk ahead.

As I travelled back I just had to stop and take a picture of Dandymire Viaduct even though it was not a part of my walks itinerary. I just had to stop to take a photo - I'm not a train buff by the way - as its smooth lines and low arches seamed easily into the adjoining landscape its long, level top sort of complimenting the roundness of the hills that sit behind it.
48 - Dandrymire Viaduct just north of Garsdale Station.JPG
Dandymire Viaduct just north of Garsdale Station.
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Re: Great Knoutberry Hill, and Wold Fell, because it's there

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:52 am

That looks a really nice way to approach GKH and some other nice additions to the walk. That shooting but fills me with visions of toffs falling into the Tarn on there way to some casual slaughter, it must have happened once or twice :-D
Shame about encountering the Muppets on off road mopeds, hopefully a few will get caught and have there toys confiscated.
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Re: Great Knoutberry Hill, and Wold Fell, because it's there

Postby trailmasher » Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:37 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:That looks a really nice way to approach GKH and some other nice additions to the walk. That shooting but fills me with visions of toffs falling into the Tarn on there way to some casual slaughter, it must have happened once or twice :-D
Shame about encountering the Muppets on off road mopeds, hopefully a few will get caught and have there toys confiscated.

Yes JK, a nice easy walk :D and re the shooting butt, can just imagine the scene. Gun under arm, hip flask to the lips, one small slip = one big splash :lol: :lol:
Trouble is with the 'muppets' JK is that they never do seem to get caught :crazy: :roll: :( . Thanks for reading and comments :D
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