The Land of the Lune

Chapter 4:  Upper Rawtheydale

  The Introduction
  The Previous Chapter (Western Howgills and Firbank Fell)
  The Next Chapter (Lower Rawtheydale and Dentdale)
fell end clouds

From Fell End Clouds towards Cautley Crag

The River Rawthey ...

from baugh fell rawthey Force Left: From Baugh Fell over Rawthey Gill to the Howgills
Right: Rawthey (or Uldale) Force

Like the Lune, the Rawthey first flows north (as Rawthey Gill off Baugh Fell) and then swings west and south. Baugh Fell is the largest mountain of Loyne, in terms of volume, that is, not height, occupying the huge expanse of high ground between the A683, the A684 and the Rawthey-Grisedale valley. It is one of the least visited of the peaks of the Yorkshire Dales and understandably so, because it is surrounded by many more attractive challenges.
      It is pudding-shaped, with the unappealing characteristic, for a walker, of being relentlessly uphill from whichever direction you tackle it and of having a top that is always over the horizon. There is little of interest above 400m. And when you reach the top, you cannot be sure that you are there. The trig point at Knoutberry Haw is, according to the OS map, 2m lower than the unmarked, gentle summit at Tarn Rigg Hill (678m).
      Some would say that Baugh Fell is pudding-textured too but that is an exaggeration. Yes, it tends to be wet and there are peat mounds to negotiate but there’s plenty of grass and the top is a rough, stony plateau. Still, it is one of those mountains best tackled when the ground is frozen solid and there’s a layer of snow to hide the desolation.
      Baugh Fell is not the most exciting fell but it does provide a magnificent view in all directions: circling from the north Wild Boar Fell, Mallerstang, Great Shunner Fell, Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle, Ingleborough, Whernside, Great Coum, the Lakeland Peaks, and the Howgills. The views of Whernside and Great Coum are particularly striking. From other directions they appear unremarkable but from here they have majestic profiles.
      After 3km Rawthey Gill turns a left angle, becoming the River Rawthey, to run through a limestone gorge and over a series of waterfalls, one of which at least deserves a distinctive name. Some call it Uldale Force but Uldale seems to be the area north of Holmes Moss, with Uldale Gill further north still. What’s wrong with a simple Rawthey Force? Anyway, the 10m waterfall is quite the equal of more illustrious waterfalls that we will meet later.

needle house barn Left: Needle House barn (spot the dog)

      Whin Stone Gill, Blea Gill and Needlehouse Gill (which begins as Uldale Gill) join the Rawthey off the western slopes of Swarth Fell, which is one of those underrated hills that suffer by comparison with a near neighbour (no, not Baugh Fell – Wild Boar Fell to the north). At 681m, Swarth Fell is higher than the Howgills and Baugh Fell and, with a flattish top and crags to the east, has the characteristic shape of the peaks of the Yorkshire Dales, although it is only half within the National Park.
      Swarth Fell also has the distinction of lying on the ‘national divide’ of England. From its southern ridge, waters to the east flow (via the River Ure) to the North Sea and waters to the west flow (via the Lune) to the Irish Sea. The eastern boundary of Loyne forms the national divide for about 8km, over Widdale Fell to Great Knoutberry Hill and Wold Fell.

lower rawthey falls Right: Lower falls of the Rawthey near Needle House

      Needlehouse Gill runs in a narrow valley, over waterfalls and past caves, by Needle House and Uldale House, two of a line of farmsteads among the small conifer plantations on the northern slopes of the Rawthey. There are actually two rather fine houses at Needle House and surely the only barn we’ll see with a belfry. Uldale House farms 2500ha on Baugh Fell Common and the farmer there, Harry Hutchinson, is the chair of the Federation of Cumbrian Commoners, formed in 2003 to help ensure that policy-makers understand the importance and complexity of farming on common land. Currently, there is concern that the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, which pays farmers to greatly reduce sheep numbers in order to enhance the environment, will threaten the commons sheep grazing tradition.
      Rawthey Cave, in which have been found human remains from about 1500 BC, is on the south bank of the Rawthey, on the slopes of Bluecaster. The old track across the flank of Bluecaster drops down to the river, where, as you would expect, there used to be a bridge – a bridge of some importance, it would seem, since in 1586 Queen Elizabeth wrote to those responsible for its upkeep saying that “she marvels at their negligence in the execution of her former orders concerning the rebuilding of Rawthey Bridge.” Perhaps the word ‘execution’ spurred some action.
      The old bridge is no more but there’s a fine newer one 50m downstream, built in 1820 with a single semi-circular arch. There’s a minor puzzle here. It is said that two children’s faces were carved in the bridge. There seems to be space for a rectangular display on the two sides of the bridge but perhaps the displays have fallen out. On the west side there is a face, but that of a bewigged gentleman, it seems to me. On the east side, there are what, if viewed generously, could be two eyes and a nose. What it means, if anything, is a mystery.
      Just below the bridge the nicely named Sally Beck enters the Rawthey.

Sally Beck

Sally Beck arises 4km north in the fields above Studfold. Under normal conditions, it receives numerous becks flowing from Harter Fell on the west but nothing at all from Fell End Clouds on the east. This is because the Clouds are formed of limestone, into which rainwater disappears.
      The limestone does not really form terraces like we saw on Orton Scar because it is too distorted. It occurs as small cliffs and scattered, rocky outcrops. There are two well-preserved limekilns, with evidence of old mine workings, and in the middle of the Clouds there’s an intriguing enclosed field containing the ruins of old walls (shown in the photograph at the beginning of this chapter). The Clouds have been made a Site of Special Scientific Interest, mainly because of their flora, which, because the Clouds are heavily grazed, is largely restricted to the recesses of the grikes. There are, for example, seventeen species of fern, including the rare rigid buckler fern, holly fern, and green spleenwort.
      To the south of Fell End Clouds, Clouds Gill makes a brave effort to cross the limestone to reach Sally Beck. Most of the time it fails but sometimes, judging by the erosion, it succeeds with a vengeance. It flows from Sand Tarn, a perhaps unexpected oasis just below the Wild Boar Fell trig point.
sand tarn

Sand Tarn, with Harter Fell (with its Five Gills) beyond, and beyond that Green Bell, with Randygill Top, Kensgriff and Yarlside to the left, and with the Lake District hills in the distance.

The Top 10 lakes in Loyne

(Are there 10 lakes in Loyne?)
      1.   Sand Tarn, Wild Boar Fell
      2.   Greensett Tarn, Whernside
      3.   Sunbiggin Tarn
      4.   Whernside Tarns (could count as four?)
      5.   West Baugh Fell Tarn (a good view, at least)
      6.   Kitmere (but can hardly see it)
      7.   East Tarns, Baugh Fell (another five or more?)
      8.   Terrybank Tarn
      9.   Island Pond, Quernmore
      10.   The Lake, Clapham Beck (but it’s artificial)
(Only just.)

wild boar fell Right: Wild Boar Fell trig point, looking towards Cautley Crag

      At 708m, Wild Boar Fell is the highest hill we have met so far – and the most dramatic, although admittedly most of the drama is on the eastern slopes, which are within the Eden catchment area. The broader, western slopes drain to the Lune, via the Rawthey.
      Wild Boar Fell has a flat top, with many cairns. Those on the eastern rim provide marvellous views into Mallerstang and across to the hills of the Yorkshire Dales. The trig point is on the western edge and provides a unique viewpoint down onto the Howgills, giving a wonderful impression of the rolling contours.
      Wild Boar Fell is so called because the last English wild boar fell here, or so it is said. In case you should be sceptical, we are given a date and perpetrator for the deed: 1396 and Sir Richard Musgrave of Hartley Castle. If doubts still remain, then we’re told that his tomb in Kirkby Stephen church was found to contain a boar’s tusk. But your clinching counter-argument is that there are wild boars in England now.
      As Clouds Gill passes the limestone it reaches an appealing high-level road that was the original road but is now a quiet by-way above the A683. It is open to the fell, has wide grassy verges, and has a line of farmsteads most of which are being revitalised as holiday homes. Cold Keld, for example, offers guided walking holidays. To the south is Fell End bunkhouse, which is owned by the Bendrigg Trust, a charity offering outdoor activities for disabled people. Foggy Hill, however, is a tractor outlet, judging by the score or more shining new in the yard. By the road there is a paddock with a signpost announcing “Quaker Burial Ground”. It is completely empty (on the surface). This takes the Quaker’s unfussy approach to burial close to its logical conclusion, which it would reach if the signpost were removed.

sally beck Left: Sally Beck (centre) joining the Rawthey (running from right to left)

      A farm name of Streetside and one further north of Street Farm and the name of Bluecaster will provoke speculation that this is the line of a Roman road. As far as I know, there is no evidence on the ground for this, but on the other hand it is certain that the Romans had major and minor roads, as we do, and it would be surprising if they did not take a short cut through Rawtheydale to get between their forts at Brough and Over Burrow.
      On the fell opposite there’s a rougher track that goes up to Sprintgill and Murthwaite, home of the Murthwaite fell ponies, except that, being semi-wild in the Howgills, they hardly have a home. Their owner, Thomas Capstick, is a renowned photographer of fell ponies.
      As Sally Beck makes its way to the Rawthey we might pause to reflect on the significance of what we have seen on Baugh Fell, Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell. The craggy tops differ from the rounded hills of the Howgills. They are of millstone grit, below which is a layer of shale and sandstone above a limestone base. The limestone gives rise to caves and potholes, which are absent from the Howgills. Clearly, the geology of Baugh Fell, Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell is different to that of the Howgills. As we concluded when we similarly reflected at Orton, we must be on the line of a geological fault. In fact, this is the line of one of Britain’s most well known faults, the Dent Fault.
      The Dent Fault is the most important geological feature of the Loyne region. It runs north south for some 30km roughly between the two Kirkbys (Stephen and Lonsdale), splitting the northern half of Loyne in two. To the west are the rounded Howgills of Silurian rock (about 420 million years old); to the east are the horizontal limestone scars of the Dales (some 100 million years younger).
      The line of the Dent Fault is, of course, not a hypothetical line like the equator that one might imagine standing astride. It is a line of weakness in the earth’s surface that, over a long period about 300 million years ago and with tumultuous forces, caused the rocks to the west of it to rise about 2km compared to the rocks to the east. It is considered the best example in England of a reverse fault (as opposed to a normal fault, where rocks move down). In the eons afterwards the western rocks have been eroded to roughly the same level as the eastern rocks. But along the fault-line there were and remain complex distortions of the rocks. This explains also the line of quarries along the fault, as various exposed minerals were mined.
      We will cross the line of the fault again later as we follow the Clough River, the River Dee and Barbon Beck.

Walk 8: Fell End Clouds, Wild Boar Fell and Uldale Gill

Map: OL19 (please read the general note about the walks in the Introduction).
Starting point: A large lay-by on the A683 near Rawthey Bridge (712978).
      Cross the bridge, walk 400m along the A683, take the footpath left up to Murthwaite and continue to Sprintgill (with views of Wild Boar Fell to the right). At Low Sprintgill, drop down to cross the A683 and take the track past the ruins of Dovengill to reach the by-road. Walk north and 200m past Cold Keld take the track passing between two prominent limekilns. Continue up the track past the enclosed fields to Dale Slack to reach the fell above the limestone.
      Now it is a long, pathless walk to the top of Wild Boar Fell, gently sloped apart from the sharp climb above Sand Tarn. Aim to the left of the two cairns on the horizon. From the trig point there are views across the rolling Howgills to the Lake District peaks. Stroll over to the cairns on the precipitous eastern edge and admire the breath-taking view into the Eden valley of Mallerstang. To the right, you can see Pen-y-Ghent, Pendle, Ingleborough and Whernside.
      From Wild Boar Fell head south to the saddle below Swarth Fell, with a small tarn. Turn west to follow Uldale Gill down, keeping high on the northern bank, to avoid too much up and down. Cautley Crag is straight ahead. Just before Grain Gill joins, a beck can be seen issuing from a cave halfway up the south bank of Uldale Gill.
      After crossing Grain Gill, keep to the right of the wall that takes you southwest. Follow the wall to the right of a small plantation to reach the road. Turn left and follow the track across Needlehouse Gill. As the path swings down among trees, look out to the right for a footbridge across Needlehouse Gill (there seems not to be a footpath sign). Cross the footbridge and follow the footpath that goes through Needle House, New House, Tarn and Wraygreen. Follow the road back to Rawthey Bridge.

Short walk variation: Walk through Murthwaite and Cold Keld to Dale Slack, above Fell End Clouds, as for the long walk. Now follow the contour south for about 3km to reach Grain Gill and the wall north of Needlehouse Gill. Then follow the last part of the long walk through Needle House to Wraygreen and Rawthey Bridge. If the walk south along the contour seems to be loo long, it is always possible to shorten the walk by dropping down west to The Street and following it southwest to Rawthey Bridge.

The Rawthey from Sally Beck ...

As the Rawthey swings south it passes Murthwaite Park, the only sizable area of ancient woodland in the Howgills. The scrubby birch, hazel, ash and alder are still home to red squirrels although perhaps for not much longer as on two recent occasions I think I glimpsed grey squirrels as well. But perhaps I am unduly pessimistic: I understand that the present cull of grey squirrels is beginning to bring red squirrels back to the Howgills area.
      Many becks from the eastern Howgills and West Baugh Fell join the Rawthey as it continues south through luxuriant green pastures. Wandale Beck runs from Adamthwaite, an isolated farmhouse that has the honour of being the habitation nearest to the Lune’s source, just 2km southeast of Green Bell. The next significant tributary, Backside Beck, runs, appropriately, from the back side of Green Bell. All the Howgills, therefore, except for a small part northeast of Green Bell, is within the Lune catchment area. The farmstead of Mountain View, above Backside Beck, is abandoned, but what can you expect of a place called Mountain View? It has to be something like Cobblethwaite to survive up here.
      Wandale Beck and Backside Beck are notable for exposures of fossil-rich Ordovician and Silurian rocks along their beds, of great interest to geologists. According to the Site of Special Scientific Interest description “the Cautley Mudstones of Rawtheyan age are of a dominantly dalmanellid-plectambonitacean assemblage”, which is more than I could ask for.
wandale hill

Looking across Backside Beck from the slopes of Yarlside to Wandale Hill

      Within the Rawthey valley there are a few farmsteads, a garage and the Cross Keys Inn. The inn was originally a farmstead called High Haygarth (Low Haygarth continues nearby as a horse-breeding farm). It is older than the date (1730) newly installed over its door. An earlier owner’s wife, Dorothy Benson, a Quaker who had been imprisoned in 1653, was later buried (after she died, of course) under what is now the dining room. High Haygarth became an inn in the 1800s, probably after the road was re-aligned in 1820 to run past it rather than over Bluecaster. It was converted to a temperance inn in 1902 and left to the National Trust in 1949.
      Below the Cross Keys Inn, Cautley Holme Beck joins the Rawthey from within the great bowl of Cautley Crag and Yarlside. The becks that run east from The Calf create Cautley Spout, a cascade of 200m in all, with a longest single fall of 30m. Some guides assign various superlatives to Cautley Spout – for example, that it is England’s highest waterfall. It would take an odd definition for any such objective claim to be sound. It is safer to be more subjective, by saying that Cautley Spout provides the best long-distance view of any English waterfall – from Bluecaster, for example. However, from afar, you see only the last of a series of cascades. The full set can be seen only from the slopes of the unnamed hill south of Yarlside. Dominated by grass, the Howgills are generally of little botanical interest but the Cautley Spout ravine, well-watered, sun-facing and protected from grazing, has a number of unusual plant species, such as alpine lady’s mantle, otherwise restricted in England to the Lake District. Perhaps the protected bowl around Cautley Holme Beck encouraged the Iron Age settlements for which, for the only time within the Howgills, the OS map uses its special font for antiquities.
cautley spout

Cautley Spout (centre, to the right of Cautley Crag) from Foxhole Rigg

The Top 10 waterfalls in Loyne

      1.   Cautley Spout, Howgills
      2.   Black Force, Howgills
      3.   Rawthey (Uldale) Force
      4.   Thornton Force, Ingleton
      5.   Gaping Gill, below Ingleborough
      6.   Force Gill, Whernside
      7.   Ibbeth Peril, Dentdale
      8.   Docker Force, Birk Beck
      9.   Taythes Gill, Baugh Fell
      10.   Clough Force, Grisedale

cautley crag Right: Cautley Crag - and, beyond Cautley Spout, Bowderdale

      Cautley Spout is at the northern end of the 1km cliff face of Cautley Crag, formed by the erosion of an Ice Age cirque. The crag face is too unstable to be walked upon or climbed but it is the most impressive cliff in the Howgills. At close quarters, the cliff face is less fearsome than it seems: it is not as vertical as it looks from a distance and the ominous dark is due to heather, not rock, which is a pale grey, as the scree slopes show.
      The tributary of Ecker Secker Beck, like all the becks that drain west off West Baugh Fell and cross the Dent Fault, has eroded deep ravines and formed a series of small waterfalls as it crosses tilted, fissured rocks. The unusual exposed rock formations in Taythes Gill are well worth a visit, even for the amateur geologist. For the professional, they are essential; for it is here that the fine detail of upper Ordovician rock (420-440 million years old) may be unravelled. The trilobite fossils first found here are used as the standard by which the same layers are identified elsewhere.
      Some expertise is also required to appreciate Ecker Secker Beck’s other notable feature, the meadows near Foxhole Rigg that have been made a Site of Special Scientific Interest because they are a rare example of unimproved, traditionally managed grassland. The list of herbs and grasses that grow here reads like the index to a botanical encyclopedia. If you can tell a hairy lady’s mantle from an opposite-leaved golden saxifrage, then this too is worth a visit. Lacking geological or botanical expertise, we may simply enjoy the views across to the eastern Howgills, with Cautley Crag centre stage, and count the great spotted woodpeckers, which, on a bright November day, seemed plentiful.
      Further south, where Hebblethwaite Hall Gill crosses the Dent Fault, the line of the fault is indicated by a series of shakeholes. As these form in limestone, the fault must run just to the west of the line of holes. To the east of the fault, on a plateau between the rough sheep grazing land and the green cow pastures, some of the exposed rock strata are almost vertical, indicating the geological stresses of long ago.

alpaca Left: Alpaca at Ghyllas, with Knott and Fawcett Bank Rigg beyond

      Hebblethwaite is an ancient name for the district. A Richardus and Agnes de Hebletwayt are listed in the Poll Tax of 1379 and a will of 1587 refers to “the Mannor or Graunge of Hebblethwaite”. Hebblethwaite Mill was built in the 1790s and was one of the first to use the new wool carding machines, powered by a water wheel. The Woodland Trust now manages Hebblethwaite Hall Wood, which is a 1km long strip of ancient oak and ash woodland alongside the beck that tumbles in a deep, dark ravine over many small waterfalls. A permissive path by the beck provides a short walk, best appreciated on a winter’s day, when the leaves have fallen.
      If you follow the path down from the hall you may need to rub your sheep-sated eyes as you approach the farmstead of Ghyllas. What you see are not sheep at all but alpaca. Ghyllas is leading a Why Not Alpacas? campaign – and, if the farmers are happy, why not indeed? Alpacas certainly have more spirit and charm than sheep. They make a soft humming noise and if in the mood they orgle (an orgle is a kind of orgasmic gargle). More to the commercial point, alpaca fibre is valued for the lightness and warmth it brings to winter clothing.
      Shortly after the Hebblethwaite Hall Gill merger, the Rawthey passes under Straight Bridge and after a further 200m, the major tributary of Clough River joins the Rawthey.

Walk 9: The Calf via Great Dummacks

Map: OL19 (please read the general note about the walks in the Introduction).
Starting point: A lay-by opposite St Marks Church (691946).
      We have nearly completed our circuit of the Howgills and I have not yet provided a walk to its highest point, The Calf (676m). Since The Calf is at the centre of the radiating ridges, many walks are possible. The two ‘tourist routes’ (not that there are many tourists) are from Sedbergh over Winder and from Cross Keys Inn past Cautley Spout. Our expedition is intended to provide a greater variety of walking than is usual on the Howgills.
      Before setting off, note the ridge on the western horizon: that is your immediate objective. Walk 200m north along the A683, cross the footbridge at Crook Holme, and take the higher of the two paths north to reach the CRoW land. Walk north for a short distance, past gorse bushes, and then cut diagonally back to reach Fawcett Bank Rigg.
      Now it is relentlessly uphill along a grassy ridge but not too steep for comfortable walking. There is no hurry: stop often to admire Rawtheydale below and Wild Boar Fell beyond. Continue to the edge of Cautley Crag, and not one step further: the best view in the Howgills is suddenly revealed. Skirt the edge a little distance and then make your way across to the Calf trig point, visible 1km to the west. This involves a little scrambling up, down and over grass tussocks.
      From The Calf follow the main ridge south for 3km to Arant Haw, below which you swing south off the path to Crook (1km distant), where there is a large cairn. Descend the slope south: it is steep but not too difficult. Look at the fields below and compare carefully with your map to identify where the public footpath begins: there’s a stile in the corner of the field (666931).
      Then take the path northeast through Ghyll Farm, Stone Hall, Hollin Hill, Ellerthwaite, Thursgill and Fawcett Bank (noting the fine bridge over Hobdale Beck). A further km beyond Fawcett Bank you reach the path back to Crook Holme, the footbridge, and the starting point.

Short walk variation: Follow the long walk as far as the edge of Cautley Crag. Then turn west over Great Dummacks for nearly 1 km to reach the fence that drops south to Middle Tongue. Continue on the Middle Tongue ridge until you reach the confluence of Hobdale Gill and Grimes Gill. Cross the latter and continue east to drop down (avoiding gorse bushes) to the track from which you reach the Crook Holme footbridge.

Clough River

east baugh fell Right: Pen-y-Ghent (far left), Ingleborough and Whernside (to the right) from East Baugh Fell

Clough River begins to adopt its name at Garsdale Head, 15km east of Sedbergh, after gathering the becks that flow off East Baugh Fell and south Swarth Fell through the secluded valley of Grisedale. We can regard the westernmost of these becks, Grisedale Gill, to be its source. Grisedale Gill and Haskhaw Gill set off north from Tarn Hill on East Baugh Fell a few metres apart before going their opposite ways, Haskhaw Gill joining the Rawthey. Their waters then complete semi-circuits of Baugh Fell, before re-uniting near Sedbergh.
      The only feature on East Baugh Fell is Grisedale Pike, where a dozen or so cairns form a prominent landmark at an excellent viewpoint into Grisedale and upper Wensleydale. A cairn usually stands alone, as a guide to shepherd or walker, and so when they occur in a cluster and presumably had some function beyond that of mere guide, it is natural to wonder what that function might have been. The cairns are very old but they seem not to have had any function such as has been proposed for standing stones such as Stonehenge. Their position, at this precise location, surely reflects aesthetic values of long ago, which are not so different from our own.
grisedale pike

Dandrymire Viaduct from Grisedale Pike

      As Grisedale Gill swings east it enters The Dale that Died, as Grisedale was called in a book and television documentary of that name in the 1970s. In the previous few decades all but one of the farmsteads in the dale were deserted and left to fall into ruin, the families there no longer able to cope with the economic hardship of farming life. Abandoned and derelict, Grisedale no doubt enabled a romantic tale to be told of human struggle against adversity.
      But the funeral rites were premature. Not only does the one remaining farm appear to be flourishing, but also many of the ruins have been, or are being, revitalised. For example, Fea Fow is in fine fettle: it is a Grade II listed traditional farmhouse, built in the 17th century and renovated to retain many original features, now with a new role as a holiday cottage.
      One may lament the passing of a time when a family could live off a small patch of land in such an isolated location. On the other hand, Grisedale is much too fine a valley to be forgotten. Its fields, all above 350m, provide a sheltered haven – or even heaven, for those who like the quiet becks and limestone crags within the high moors. As long as the new developments are in keeping with the traditions of Grisedale – as they appear to be – they must surely be welcomed as Grisedale evolves into a new role.

grisedale Right: A considerate warning on the footpath into Grisedale

      After gathering a few more becks from East Baugh Fell, Grisedale Beck becomes Clough River and passes over Clough Force, a neat, curved waterfall only 3m or so high. Just below the A684 the Clough is joined by Black Gutter, which leaves Garsdale Low Moor heading purposefully towards Wensleydale only to swing west at Dandry Mire. According to experts, all the becks that flow east off Baugh Fell used to join the River Ure but were blocked by glacial debris and so were diverted west. At the watershed of Dandry Mire there’s an impressive 12-arched viaduct, which provides our first encounter with the famous Settle-Carlisle railway line. It is a mire indeed for the original plan to build an embankment had to be abandoned when the earth tipped here just sank into the bog.
      The Clough heads west through the valley of Garsdale, perhaps the least highly regarded of all the Yorkshire Dales, at least, by tourists. It is a narrow valley so enclosed by the steep, grassy, featureless slopes of Baugh Fell and Rise Hill that in winter the sun can barely reach. The busy A684 runs by the Clough, crossing it eight times in all.
      The conifer plantations in Garsdale have been made a Red Squirrel Reserve, one of sixteen set up in 2005 by the North of England Red Squirrel Conservation Strategy. It is thought that the numbers of red squirrels have increased as the conifers have reached maturity, providing the cones upon which red, but not grey, squirrels thrive.
      There are a few footpaths in the dale but they cannot be linked to make a good long walk. Many of them appear unwelcoming and under-used, giving the walker the feeling of trespassing. Although the slopes of Baugh Fell and Rise Hill are CRoW land they are tantalisingly out of reach above the pastures: a walker must enter at the eastern or western end and it must be rare indeed for anyone to find the incentive to walk the slopes from one end to the other. On a recent occasion when I walked in Garsdale the A684 was closed because the Clough had washed some of it away, which was much appreciated. The footpaths, by-roads and quiet A684 could be combined to provide a rare, blissful experience: an indication of what Garsdale once was and could be.

grisedale Left: A once-fine but now derelict homestead in Garsdale

      There is not much to cause a tourist to linger, although rural architecture is always interesting. Some houses are converted long barns but many follow the standard design of three windows up, two down, with a door and porch between. Dandra Garth, by the bridleway to Dentdale and now rather enclosed, has character. Swarthgill House is startlingly white. But Paradise (East, West, Middle and High) is somewhat optimistic.
      The village of Garsdale consists of little more than a row of cottages, called The Street. There’s a Primitive Methodist Chapel (1876, when the Settle-Carlisle line was built), now a Mount Zion Chapel, at Garsdale Head, and in the village another Primitive Methodist Chapel (1841) and the Anglican Church of St John the Baptist (1861), next to the site of a medieval church, and further on a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (1830), and at Bridge End another Wesleyan Chapel (1868), now a barn, and at Frostrow yet another Wesleyan Chapel (1886).

grisedale Right: Baugh Fell from lower Garsdale

      Methodism, like Quakerism, had and has a particular appeal to non-conformist northerners. It is a more visible presence in Loyne because, clearly, Methodists, unlike Quakers, believed in their chapels and the 19th century was a safe time to build them. Even in the remotest regions we come across sometimes tiny chapels, to which itinerant preachers came to give enthusiastic sermons.
      At Danny Bridge, as the Clough emerges from the confines of Baugh Fell and Rise Hill, it runs beside the Sedgwick Trail across the Dent Fault. A detailed leaflet should be obtained from Sedbergh Tourist Information Centre in order fully to appreciate the significance of the viewpoints but even without it the transition across the Dent Fault, from the contorted Carboniferous limestone to the older Silurian rocks, should be clear: roughly where the wood opposite ends there is an abrupt change from a rocky gorge within sloping limestone to a shallow, broad valley with rocks 100m years older. Above the trail on Tom Croft Hill there is a fine view of the “naked heights” (copyright Wordsworth) of the Howgills. I don’t know who Tom Croft was but if he lived in Tom Croft Cave on the Sedgwick Trail he was exceedingly small.
      The Clough runs between the gentler slopes of Dowbiggin and Frostrow and, just before it enters the Rawthey, passes Farfield Mill, an arts and heritage centre in which a range of artists (such as weavers, furniture makers and textile workers) work in open studios. Built in 1836, it had functioned as a woollen mill until it closed in 1992, after which it was bought and restored by the Sedbergh and District Buildings Preservation Trust.

The Settle-Carlisle railway line is the most spectacular in England. It runs for nearly 120km, with 325 bridges, 21 viaducts and 14 tunnels, on a route through some of the finest scenery of northern England. It was completed in 1876, after 6½ years building, at a cost of £3.5m and many lives. It is regarded as the last great Victorian railway engineering project.
      The 15km of the line that is within Loyne includes four dramatic viaducts and two long tunnels and is all at a height of 300m or more, providing fine views of the dales and hills (except when in the tunnels, of course).
      In the 1980s there were plans to close the line: freight traffic was diverted, passenger services were withdrawn, and the infrastructure was allowed to decay. However, after a long, high-profile campaign the line was reprieved, which pleased tourists and also freight operators, who came to value it as an alternative to the crowded west coast main line. In 2005 it found an additional role: to carry six trains a day bringing coal from Scottish mines to Yorkshire power stations.

Walk 10: Grisedale and East Baugh Fell

Map: OL19 (please read the general note about the walks in the Introduction).
Starting point: Near Garsdale Station (787917).
      Cross the A684 and take the clearly signposted path to Blake Mire. Continue to Moor Rigg and then follow the road to East House and the track past Fea Fow to Flust. At Flust take the higher of the two paths, continuing on the contour west. The path gradually becomes less distinct, as it passes lines of shakeholes.
      Note the deep gully of Rawthey Gill ahead: your aim is to reach between the two gullies east of it, Haskhaw Gill and Grisedale Gill. At that point, it becomes clear that the former flows west and the latter east. There is a cave marked on the OS map at the strategic point but don’t worry unduly about locating it – it refers to one of the many shakeholes.
      So far, it has been a pleasant stroll through the hidden valley of Grisedale but now you must summon the energy to walk up the watershed between the two gills. Eventually, a cairn will come into view on your right. Keep to the left of the cairn, proceed to the wall and follow it to the top of Tarn Rigg Hill. The panorama is wide but note especially the view of Whernside, 10km south.
      Return east by the wall for 1km and continue in its line, leaving it as it bends to the right. This takes you directly to the cairns of Grisedale Pike, with a view of Dandrymire Viaduct and upper Wensleydale.
      Aim towards the viaduct and, keeping to the CRoW land, reach Double Hole Bridge. Keep on the right bank of Stony Gill to pass Clough Force and then, after reaching the road at Clough Cottage, walk back towards Garsdale Station.

Short walk variation: A short walk does not permit the long tramp up Baugh Fell. Instead, we must content ourselves with an exploration of Grisedale. Follow the long walk as far as Flust and then take the lower of the two paths, to the ruin of Round Ing. Then turn east to return via West Scale and East Scale to the road at Moor Rigg. From here you could return the way you came, or follow the road (very little traffic) over Double Hole Bridge for 2km to the Old Road and then cross the A684 at Low Scale, returning via High Scale.

ch4 map
  The Introduction
  The Previous Chapter (Western Howgills and Firbank Fell)
  The Next Chapter (Lower Rawtheydale and Dentdale)

    © John Self, Drakkar Press