GRAGARETH, GREEN HILL, GREAT COUM & CRAG HILL, returning via EASE GILL

 


Summary

Date - 29th January 2011 Distance - 9.5 miles
Ascent -
1760ft
Map - OL2 Start point - Parking area Nr Leck Fen House (SD 674790)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Gragareth 2058 627 SD 6879 7930
Green Hill 2061 628 SD 7016 8201
Great Coum 2255 687 SD 7008 8358
Crag Hill 2237 682 SD 6921 8332

 

Preface

Shaun, Allen & Little Eric, were enjoying a mug of tea, and a chocolate biscuit from their tuck tin.

"These chocolate covered marshmallows are delicious", remarked Shaun.

"They sure are", replied Allen. "I think Tetley pinched them out of Dad's cupboard. He won't miss them as they had been there for ages, but nevertheless don't tell him."

"Mum's the word" said Shaun.

Little Eric was engrossed pouring over a map, and Shaun asked, "what are you looking at?"

"I am seeing where we will be going on our next Lakeland walk, to tick off your last two remaining Birkett summits in the Northern area. When we have climbed the fell via the Cumbria Way from the parking area at the end of Mosedale, I am not sure if Dad will opt to go to Coomb Height first, or go right over Hare Stones to High Pike and then come back via the Lingy Hills to summit Coomb Height at the end."

"The climb is completely new territory and it was August 2007, when we were last on these fells", replied Allen who was looking at the records on Dad's laptop.

"We'll just have to wait and see how the lands lies when we get there", replied Shaun. "Have a look at the weather forecast, please Allen"

"OK pal", he said tapping away to get to the Met Office page. "Looks excellent for Saturday, with clear skies, but cold."

"Great", said Little Eric. "So it looks like the Lakes here we come."

Just then Grizzly & Tetley strolled in.

"Pour us a mug of tea, please Shaun."

"Sure pals", he said opening the flask.

"Lovely", said Tetley, "I was gasping."

Grizzly said, "we heard you saying it will be the Lakes at the weekend, but Dad has told us that plans have changed and that walk has been deferred for now. Uncle Bob rang a little while ago and wanted to arrange a walk for Saturday."

"That's great", shouted Allen. "It's ages since we walked with Uncle Bob and I have missed his company."

"Where are we going?", asked Little Eric.

"To Gragareth and the round to Crag Hill then back via Ease Gill", said Tetley.

"That's good on two counts", said Allen who was looking at the Yorkshire Dales Fells spreadsheet. "Firstly you will bag them all Little Eric, secondly, while we Dad and Uncle Bob have otherwise been to these summits before, we have not done them together."

"Well all I can say is roll on Sunday", called out Shaun, munching away on another biscuit.

 

The Walk

As always when the walk day arrives, we get up early, to give us plenty of time to make our sandwiches etc, which are safely stowed in Allen's rucksack.

"We really appreciate that you carry our picnic on everyone of our walks", said Tetley.

"No problem pal", replied Allen, "we need to keep our strength up on the walks, after all."

As dawn broke we could see that the skies were clear, and this was to last all the time we were out. It had been a hard frost and the temperature was reading -6c, so there was a little delay to departure while Dad cleared the ice off the car windows. This done we set off on what was just a short journey for us to the little village of Leck, just off the A65 Kendal to Skipton road at Cowan Bridge. The meeting point was in the large car park by the imposing church dedicated to St Peter. The current church is the result of rebuilding projects in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. While we stayed in the warm car, Dad hopped out to get a shot of the church, before retreating to the car to keep warm until Uncle Bob arrived, about 08:45.

Dad's car was left here, as it had been planned to walk all the way down Ease Gill to Leck, but in the event there was not sufficient time, so instead the walk became a circular from where Uncle Bob parked close to the road end at Leck Fen House. While they were getting ready we were able to look across to our first objective Gragareth. We could see a group of three cairns, but these as it turned out were not the famous Three Men of Gragareth, which were slightly higher and out of view from here.

So with Dad ready, and us settled in his rucksack, we set off along the road towards the farm, to then shortly take a gate in the wall and ascend steeply to the ridge and so left to the cairn and seemingly rounded pile of stones.

"It looks like a stone igloo", said Tetley laughingly.

By now, Uncle Bob had climbed down the slope to its far side, calling out, "come and look".

We did and found that it was in fact a cunningly contrived and wonderful shelter in the case of inclement weather. Uncle Bob just had to try it of course!

A short stroll further soon brought us to a group of three cairns, with a single one standing a little to the left.

Thinking these were the 'Three Men', we leapt out of the rucksack and clambered across the jumble of stones, Little Eric clinging on to Shaun's back, as we did not want him to fall down a crevice and then not be able to get out again. Settling on the right hand cairn, Dad took our picture.

Upon return, before settling in Dad's rucksack again, Shaun scrutinised the map, and said, "after all our effort clambering back and forth, these are not the Three Men."

"Well I never", said Grizzly, "perhaps then they should be called the 'Three Ladies', with that single cairn being their chaperone."

Sure enough, Shaun was right, and after a short walk and climb, finally we reached the group that is officially the Three Men of Gragareth.

Behind is the plain of the Lune Valley stretching away west to the sea and Morecambe Bay, where we live. The town in the valley to the right is Kirkby Lonsdale.

"Which way now?, said Little Eric.

"With the cairns behind us we just climb on up the fell", replied Shaun, after consulting the map.

Dad and Uncle Bob trudged on, one rise following another.

"It's further than I remember", commented Uncle Bob.

"Yes", replied Dad, "its seems so to me too"

After a further rise the wide flat top was reached, with the trig point marking the summit.

Tetley said, "come on Lads, there is no wind to blow us off, so lets climb on top and pose for our picture."

Our route now lay by the wall, but shortly we had to decide whether to take the gated step stile over the wall, or continue with the wall to our right, by crossing a less than substantial wooden stile over the fence running at right angles to the wall.

Shaun our trusty guide, peered at the map, and then said, "we stay on this side of the wall, so it's the stile over the fence we want".

The ridge stretched away into the distance, to Green Hill and beyond to Great Coum, our furthest point before turning left to Crag Hill.

"What's that hill over there", said Little Eric, as we strolled along by the wall.

"Whernside", replied Tetley.

"It looks different from this side, but I am so used to that familiar profile from Ribblehead", said Little Eric.

The ridge dipped, then climbed again, to the rather unassuming rise of Green Hill, the small cairn marking its summit being just to the left of the path. Continuing we descended slightly to once again climb over the rise of Gatty Pike. While this is not a summit as such, it is adorned with quite a striking cairn, seen here with southerly part of the ridge from Whernside, across Kingsdale, and further overtopped by Ingleborough.

Onward again by the wall, the path climbed steadily on to Great Coum. Our way was barred by a cross wall, but a stile near the wall junction, allowed passage over it, whereby we turned left.

The summit area is wide and flat, and Little Eric who had not been here before, asked, "where exactly is the highest point."

Tetley who is quite the expert on the Yorkshire Dales fells, replied, "we need to head towards that wall ahead. The highest point is marked by a rather insignificant cairn about 100 yards along it to the right".

"Thanks pal", said Little Eric.

Despite the cairn being small, this was the highest summit of the day, so we include our picture there, for Little Eric's sake.

There were quite extensive views from here, across Dentdale and to the Howgill Fells above the town of Sedbergh.

Allen exclaimed, "on the left is Winder then going right Crook, Sickers Fell and Knott. Behind from the left are Arrant Haw & Calders rising to the Calf and the high point on the right is Great Dummacks".

"That's right pal", replied Grizzly. "Dad climbed them all again for us last year so that we could all complete the Howgill challenge together.

"He is the best Dad in the world", called out Little Eric, "as I did not complete them, but he has agreed to do again the twelve I have not done so that I can catch you all up."

Of the summits this just left Crag Hill to climb. We walked back along the wall to its junction, climbing the stile at the corner. Further ahead we then crossed another wall to then head in the same direction to reach the trig point on the summit of Crag Hill, seen here from just below the top.

"I want to have my picture taken to record I have done it", said Little Eric.

"Too right", said Tetley.

It was time for lunch, so we all sat in the lee of the wall below the summit looking west towards Morecambe Bay. Dad phoned Uncle Brian while we were having lunch, and we called out that we were waving our paws to him.

"Which way now", asked Little Eric.

Shaun, our ever trusty map reader replied, " we need to descend half left over the rough ground towards the streams above Long Gill Foot, then down into the ravine. Then descend to Long Gill Foot and onwards down Ease Gill."

"Sounds like it will be hard going", replied Little Eric. "Good job we are in Dad's rucksack.

And so it turned out. There was no path at all over the rough tussocky ground, followed by quite a scramble to get down the ravine and to the upper reaches of Ease Gill, seen here against the sun.

If Dad had expected that there would be a path beside the gill, he was sadly disappointed, and he and Uncle Bob had to constantly criss-cross the stream to make progress along the banks. It was hard going and care was needed as there was ice to contend with too. Also in a number of places were some quite impressive icicles beside and above the banks.

Further down, the partly frozen stream dropped in a series of small steps, that made a pretty scene. Dad had got ahead of Uncle Bob here, who can be seen making progress along at the top left of the picture.

Still here there was no clear path, and this part of the walk took rather longer than expected. Eventually the stream disappeared underground and here we walked along the dry bed, to come to where a bridge crosses the gill.

"Just look how the water has eroded and shaped the rocks over time", said Tetley. "Although there is little water today, there must be times when it is a raging torrent."

Crossing the bridge then the stile beyond over the wall, it was down a short steep path to the where the gill continues below. Uncle Bob now showed us a hidden gem of a narrow ravine where the stream drops in a beautiful waterfall into a deep pool.

"Wonderful", said Allen.

"Yes" agreed Little Eric. "Thank you for showing this to us, Uncle Bob."

Now finally there was a path beside the stream, making for easier going. After about another half mile, we reached the point where a wall rose on the left up the fell. It was here we left the gill and climbed steeply up the bank, to then continue climbing on by the wall and eventually reach the road and the car. By now the sun was setting and there was a reflection of it on the distant waters of Morecambe Bay, which Dad stopped to capture. Following the line of the land to the left from the sun, you might just be able to make out two square looking buildings. These are Heysham Nuclear Power Station.

So ended another cracking walk with Uncle Bob, who now kindly returned us to Dad's car, where we then went our separate ways.

We all say, "thanks for your company Uncle Bob and we look forward to our next walk together."

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