A RAMBLE OVER BLUECASTER from THE CROSS KEYS, CAUTLEY

 


Summary

Date - 7th July 2010 Distance - 4.5 miles
Ascent - 770ft
Map - OL19 Start point - The Cross Keys, Cautley (SD 698969)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Bluecaster 1132 345 SD 7117 9689

 

Preface

Sitting in front of Dad's laptop, Allen was looking rather glum and down in the paw, when Grizzly trotted in.

"What's up pal?", he asked.

"We are supposed to be walking with Uncle Eric on Wednesday, but the weather is not looking very promising, and I was so hoping that we would be in the Lakes, perhaps doing one or two of my remaining Wainwrights", Allen replied.

"There is still plenty of time this year for you to complete them, after all you have only four to do. Also, remember that Dad and Uncle Brian are going to see Aunt Tish and Uncle Eddie tomorrow, which will be a long day, so he might want to do a shorter walk", said Grizzly.

As he was speaking Tetley ambled in. "I heard what you said Grizzly. We still have the Howgills challenge to complete this year, but before we do the last three on the western side, there is the small matter of that extra summit Dad has found in Wainwright's book."

"Oh yes, I had forgotten about that. What a good idea", said Allen, who now had a smile on his face.

Shaun with Little Eric riding on his back as usual, now trotted in. "Dad is on the phone to Uncle Eric about Wednesday. so we won't have long to wait to find out where we are going."

Shortly after Dad came in and said, "despite the weather being a little doubtful Uncle Eric and I have decided the walk is on for Wednesday, and we are going to climb Bluecaster, that extra top in Wainwright's Howgill book.

"You were right Tetley", cried Allen. "Roll on Wednesday."

The Walk

Wednesday dawned, and the weather was dry in Morecambe as we jumped into the car for the drive to Uncle Eric's. As we headed north there were a few showers and the cloud was quite low, so it was as well that we had decided not to go onto the higher fells today. Uncle Eric had planned the route, starting from the Cross Keys Temperance Inn at Cautley. The walk itself was quite short by our standards, and so the plan was for Uncle Eric and Dad to have lunch here afterwards. We noted that there was a shop too selling snacks and drinks, where we could get our lunches. It was raining when we arrived, but the shower passed over, and as the day wore on it brightened up and became dry.

The earliest records of The Cross Keys, show a Thomas Bland as the occupant in 1619, although as it looks today is the result of extensions in the mid 17th, and early 18th and 19th centuries. Prior to becoming an Inn, in the early 1700s, it was a small farmhouse, known as High Haygarth. The most influencing chapter of The Cross Keys was when it sold alcohol, which stopped short following an incident when the Landlord was tragically drowned after attempting to assist a customer home from the Inn. It was subsequently sold to Mrs. Edith Bunney, who removed the liquor licence in 1902, and since then it has been a Temperance Inn. She then willed the property to The National Trust in memory of her sister Miss Mary Blanche Hewetson. Much more about the facilities on offer at the Inn and its history can be found at, www.cautleyspout.co.uk

From the rear is the magnificent view along the valley to Cautley Spout, a waterfall that drops in several sections about 700ft in total, the highest single leap being about 90ft. To the left is the dark Cautley Crag backed by the peak Great Dummacks, while on the right rises Yarlside with Ben End set below. We were not venturing here today, but Shaun, Tetley and Dad had descended the path by the fall in August 2003, when he took this picture.

Excellent food is served at The Cross Keys, including ham and eggs, as noted on the sign as you approach from Sedbergh.

"I bet that is what Dad ends up having for lunch", remarked Tetley.

"You're probably right, as it is one of his favourite meals", agreed Grizzly.

A further few yards south along the road brought us to a gate on the left signed 'FP to Fell'.

An intermittent path led up through a gate by a building called High House, then on to a further gate that led to open fell and up to a track that runs from the narrow road at Bluecaster Side to Rawthey Bridge. This was once the Cautley road, until 1819 when it was realigned to run as it does today at a lower level.

Turning right, we walked to the building of Bluecaster Side, protected on its northern side by these beautiful trees.

Going left a narrow trod led over the open fell. This soon petered out, and we continued in an easterly direction over the rough grassy terrain, before turning north to the cairned summit of Bluecaster.

As we scrambled out of the rucksack to sit on the cairn, Tetley, cried, "get the camera out Dad."

With the clouds having lifted, we were able to appreciate the extensive views. To the south the massive bulk of Baugh Fell dominates, while west and north is the main Howgill massif - Great Dummacks, Cautley Spout, Yarlside, Kensgriff, Green Bell, Wandale Hill and in this picture below, Harter Fell.

We now had to make for Rawthey Bridge. This involved descending roughly north, to join the track walked earlier, but at its northern extremity. A gate allowed access to the road, just south of the bridge. The headwaters of the River Rawthey are at Rawthey Gill Foot, where Rawthey Gill, whose own source is a confluence of small streams at Gill Head close to the summit of East Baugh Fell, meets Haskhaw Gill. It then runs along the valley, being joined by the Clough River from Garsdale, and the River Dee close to Sedbergh, running round the east and south of the town. Soon then it joins the River Lune at Stangerthwaite.

"Which way now?", said Allen.

"Looks like we cross the bridge and then just a few yards on take the footpath on the left", replied Shaun consulting the map.

A substantial stone step stile gave access to the path that descended to shortly cross Sally Beck by the footbridge.

The path meandered across pasture and through the edge of the woodland of Murthwaite Park, above the rushing River Rawthey, at times so close to the edge of the steep river bank that care was necessary to avoid falling into the river.

Now, on the latter stages, we had reason to be thankful for the dry weather, as two fords had to be crossed, which would have presented some difficulties if the becks had been in spate. Of course we are the lucky ones, being safely tucked in Dad's rucksack, but nevertheless we did not want Dad and Uncle Eric to get wet feet. The first was at Wandale Beck, that both us with Dad, and Uncle Eric had been to before.

This picture is looking back after Dad had crossed. It is deeper than it looks and would certainly have come over the tops of their boots. Dad used protruding stones and others just below the surface to reach the gates, then utilised their bars to get to the left gate (right side as you look at the picture), before climbing over.

The path, now the bridleway from Murthwaite, continued over fields, to a gate and the access track, that we followed to the buildings of Narthwaite. A number of paths meet here, and Uncle Eric said we should go left, but Dad thought it was straight ahead. Dad's route was followed, but after a little way it was obvious that he was wrong and Uncle Eric right. So, we had to walk back, Dad apologising unreservedly! The correct path led through part of the farm yard, down to a gate and along a track to another gate, and the ford on Backside Beck. Low due to the dry weather, Dad picked his way carefully across, Uncle Eric following in his footsteps.

The track now led us along under the very lowest slopes of Ben End. Many sheep were grazing, some being our lovely Herdwicks. When this shorn ewe and lamb posed, Dad could not as usual resist getting the camera out. He has asked us very nicely, so we have agreed that the picture can be included in the story.

Soon we branched off left, down to the footbridge over the River Rawthey.

Climbing steeply, we were, in a few yards at the road and the car. Thanks Dad.

Lunchtime now. After we had been to the shop at The Cross Keys, we settled in the car to have a picnic. Meanwhile Dad and Uncle Eric went to have a full meal.

"I wonder what Dad will have to drink", mused Little Eric.

Sarsaparilla, of course", replied Allen. "He just loves it".

He was so right too. Uncle Eric had ginger beer. Then to eat they had the gammon ham (16oz), two eggs, pineapple, chips, peas and salad. It was a huge plateful, but clean plates were returned to the kitchen, a fact that the waitress commented on. Then tea to follow. A lovely meal! Not surprisingly neither needed any more food today. A visit here is highly recommended.

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