STAINFORTH FORCE, CELTIC WALL & SMEARSETT SCAR from STAINFORTH

 


Summary

Date - 21st February 2015 Distance - 4.75 miles
Ascent -
Not known
Map - OL41 Start point - Stainforth car park (SD 821 673)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Smearsett Scar 1191 363 SD 8024 6780

 

Preface

Allen and Tetley were sitting quietly reading magazines, when Southey trotted in. "What are you reading, pals", he asked.

"The Dalesman", responded Tetley. "I like to keep up to date with things in the Yorkshire Dales."

"While I am reading the Cumbria Magazine", added Allen. "We have a gift for you, too", he went on, handing Southey another copy of the Cumbria Magazine.

Tetley said, "we have arranged a subscription just for you, as after all you were adopted in the Lakes."

"Thanks so much pals, that is so very kind of you! I still have Kim to thank for being part of the Hug, and also joining STAG too. Because she went to work in Grasmere, Dad came to see her at the Wordsworth Hotel, and then saw and adopted me."

Just then, Shaun, Little Eric and Grizzly arrived with the flasks and cake. "Wonderful!", exclaimed Allen. "Tea"

"What are the cakes?", asked Southey, carefully putting his magazine down and going to get the mugs and plates.

"Little Eric had made flapjack, while I have done scones", replied Grizzly. "There is a choice too. Either cherry and ginger, or apple and cinnamon."

"You two really spoil us", said Tetley. "We do so appreciate it."

"I know", replied Little Eric. "It's a pleasure.

With Allen's help Shaun had filled the mugs and all was well with the world, steaming mug in paw and cakes on our plate.

"The scones are scrumptious", said Shaun, with a look of ecstasy on his face.

"And the flapjack too", added Southey.

Then Shaun went on. "Dad has said that he will take us for a walk on Saturday, but has left it up to us to come up with a suggestion, so any ideas?"

Little Eric jumped in quickly. "I was wondering if we might do one of the two remaining summits that I have yet to climb from Wainwright's Limestone book."

"Good idea", agreed Tetley. "Dad will be happy I am sure as he will be able to go for refreshment at Elaine's afterwards, and we will get to go in too as usual.

Shaun had meanwhile got the book, and pawing through, said, "how about Smearsett Scar? Wainwright's route goes via the Happy Valley, and before summiting Smearsett Scar, takes in a visit to the Celtic Wall, on the escarpment opposite. This is supposed to be very ancient."

"That sounds just fine", agreed Grizzly. "None of us, Dad included have ever been to the Celtic Wall. Dad has said that people come into Elaine's asking how to get there, and so in the future Dad will be able to help with directions."

"Here's to Saturday", cheered Allen, draining his mug, and taking the book went off to see I Dad was agreeable."

"Better refill his mug", said Tetley."

"Quite", replied Shaun, reaching for the flask.

Soon Allen was back, his face wreathed in smiles. "Dad is very happy with our suggestion, although he has suggested a variation from Wainwright's route, by starting and ending in Stainforth." Then seeing his recharged mug, he said, "thanks Shaun."

 

The Walk

As Dad slammed the boot shut, we dashed out to the the car, calling goodbyes to Uncle Brian and Gladly who were busy with the Daily Telegraph crossword.

"Have a good day", replied Gladly.

As you will gather apart from Little Eric and Southey, we had climbed Smearsett Scar before in the company of Uncle Bob, and in fact it was almost seven years to the day.

The day was to be bright with some sun, breezy at times and rather cold. For Dad the route to the start was largely so very familiar being that taken every Monday, when he and Uncle Brian go to Elaine's. Instead however of taking the climbing lane to Feizor, we kept on the A65, then took the old road down to Settle turning immediately left after crossing the River Ribble. After a few miles we arrived at Stainforth leaving the car in the National Park car park, on the right.

Dad quickly got ready, while we settled in the rucksack. This shouldered, off we went walking a short way further along the road towards Horton in Ribblesdale, to then take the narrow road left that descends steeply to the narrow arch bridge spanning the River Ribble that leads to Little Stainforth. As the sign indicates the bridge is owned by the National Trust.

"Phew, we would need to breathe in if you took your big car over here", laughed Little Eric.

"I did some research about the bridge" said Grizzly. "It was built in 1675 by Samuel Watson, owner of Knight Stainforth Hall. In 1931 it was given to the National Trust to preserve it for the future."

"Thanks pal", replied Southey. "I am always anxious to add to my knowledge."

Just beyond Dad crossed the stile on the left. "Where are you going?", said Shaun. "Our route is straight ahead."

"I thought it would be nice to take in Stainforth Force, just a short way down the river, for Southey's sake."

"Ooh thanks Dad", he replied. On arrival Southey then said, "what an impressive sight."

"From here the graceful arch of the bridge, makes a nice picture", suggested Allen.

Returning to the lane we turned left to Little Stainforth, Shaun instructing, "at the crossroads, we keep on ahead through the farm and up the narrow walled pasture to the wall at the top."

Reaching this, Little Eric said, "do we go over the stile ahead by that gate?"

"No pal", said Shaun. "That will in fact be our return route. For now we go through the gate on the left and along the cart track, that would eventually lead to Stackhouse. We are not going that far however."

After a gate in a cross wall, the track continued straight ahead and Shaun said, "we should leave the track now and drift right right round the hillside to come to The Happy Valley that Wainwright uses in his route."

"That's Warrendale Knotts, and Sugar Loaf Hill", pointed out Tetley. "Clear of mist today unlike, when we were on the walk to Rye Loaf Hill."

"Aye lad, we would not get lost today", responded Dad.

A gate in the wall gave access to the pretty The Happy Valley with limestone scars to either side, and sheep grazing. Midway the path crossed a ruined wall, and then led on up to a gate at the top that Dad climbed over. Then after a short section between walls we joined the public footpath from Feizor to Little Stainforth.

"Where now?", asked Grizzly.

"A few steps left and then over the ladderstile", instructed Shaun. Once over he then said, "to get to the Celtic Wall, we should cross the pasture and through that gate in the fence, over the ruined wall and then climb the escarpment beyond."

A sort of path climbed the slope beyond the ruined wall and Dad made short work of it to reach to flat top. Looking right Tetley called out, "there's the wall."

About 65ft long 5ft high and 5ft at the base and standing in lonely isolation on this elevated and unfrequented pasture, this is known locally as the Celtic Wall, and is thought to be over two thousand years old.

With book in paw, Tetley said, "Wainwright conjectures that its unusual thickness and obvious age suggests its purpose was that of a defensive shield for an ancient encampment in the valley, the earthworks of which can still be traced. The excavation of sites of similar walls, has revealed them to be places of burial and this was probably the use here."

Standing a little way east is this further fragment with adjacent foundations from which the stones have been removed.

This close-up view shows clearly the substantial nature of its construction.

"To properly record our visit, I think we should have our picture taken sitting on the wall", said Allen.

"Quite", agreed Southey, as with the rest of us he scrambled out of the rucksack.

Behind us to the right of the slopes of Smearsett Scar, can be seen Pen-y-Ghent. "That will make an impressive zoomed shot, with Plover Fell at the left end ", said Tetley.

Our interesting visit here concluded, attention now turned to scaling Smearsett Scar, across the valley.

"Oh dear", said Little Eric worriedly, "it looks like you are in for a bit of steep climbing Dad.

"Aye lad, it would be easier if we were making the ascent from Feizor via Pot Scar. However there have been many other longer and steeper ascents in the past, and it will be good training for when we get back in the Lake District."

"So which way do we go?", queried Southey.

Looking up from the map, Shaun replied, " we return down to the main footpath, and then go left towards Feizor, to cross a ruined wall then in a few steps a ladderstile. Immediately then we leave the path and go right, descending to cross a stream, and on by the wall to a gate through it."

This accomplished we were then directly beneath Smearsett Scar, and our eyes scanned the steep side fruitlessly for sign of any path.

"Looks best to go a bit right, then drift back left up that slight gully", said Tetley.

"That seems about right", responded Dad, putting best foot forwards.

As we climbed we noted a lady and gentleman walking along the scar. "Well at least we now know how far we have to climb to reach the path", called out Allen.

After a bit of contouring left and right this was soon gained, and turning right we made the easy stroll towards the summit.

We arrived soon after the lady and gentleman who commented about the our route to the summit. Dad then explained that this was due to our having been to the Celtic Wall, which he pointed out across the valley. This shot was actually taken during our descent, and the ladderstile in the foreground was our route to get on to the Feizor-Stainforth path again.

They did not know of this, but were pleased to hear Dad's explanation, saying they will probably visit on another day. They had come up from Feizor. They knew of and have been to Elaine's, saying how nice it is, and Dad told them that he and Uncle Brian go every week.

Saying our goodbyes now, they made their descent to the north, where the view is dominated once again by Pen-y-ghent, and at the left end the flat top of Plover Fell.

"What else can I see?", asked Southey.

Quick as a flash Tetley replied. "The road is that from Settle to Horton in Ribblesdale. The houses including the white building with the red roof are the hamlet of Helwith Bridge and just to the right can be seen the three arched bridge that carries the road over the River Ribble and the Settle-Carlisle Railway. Higher up and left the buildings clustering either side of the main road are known as Studfold."

"Thanks pal. I sure have a lot to learn", replied Southey.

A little impatiently, Little Eric now said, "come on Dad, please take our picture to mark by reaching the summit."

We tried sitting on top of the trig point, but it was just too windy, so we huddled at the base instead.

It was lovely sitting here and Grizzly commented , "that's a nice view of The Happy Valley",

"I get it", laughed Dad, lining up the camera.

Reluctantly we now settled ourselves in the rucksack, and Dad took the steep path down the nose of the scar, then going right above the wall to come down to and climb the ladderstile over it. Now we rejoined the main path from Feizor and crossed the ladderstile we had climbed earlier, and on towards Little Stainforth.

Shortly Allen called out, "that view of Pot Scar in the sunlight will make a nice picture for the story."

The path muddy and churned up at times climbed to a step stile in a cross wall, and then began to descend, with Stainforth in view ahead.

On the final section the path became a stony track that swung down right to the locked gate, with an adjacent gated step stile in the wall. This completed the circle being once again in the narrow pasture we had walked up from the farm on the outward route.

In Little Stainforth these snowdrops showed that spring, hopefully, it just around the corner.

It was just a case of returning to Stainforth, and as we got to the railway bridge, Shaun said, "we can vary the route, if you like Dad?

"OK. Which way then?"

"Take the Pennine Bridleway right, here."

The walled path ran parallel to the railway, before swinging left over it, where Shaun called out, "now we go through that gate on the right, and down to the beck, where it is left under the road and so into the car park."

"That was nice", said Little Eric. "Thanks for suggesting it pal."

Now Sue Rayner who works at Elaine's and always looks after Dad and Uncle Brian, lives in a house just by the car park, so Dad said, "I am going to call and see her."

It was Kieran who answered the door, saying, "Sue's nearby washing her car at her mother's house."

After a bit of wandering around he saw her down the drive by the terrace. She was surprised to see Dad, who explained where we had been. A nice chat ensued, before she went off to get ready for work.

"Elaine's now", said Tetley.

"Absolutely", replied Dad.

The cafe was very busy so for once we all had to sit in the top room, To eat Dad had the lovely butternut squash and goats cheese lasagne with chips and a pot of tea, being looked after by Ariane. Sharon was working too, but as it was so busy there was not much time to chat. Elaine came to see Dad and had a brief word. She showed him the half page article from the Craven Herald, that gave an excellent write up for the tearooms!

We then walked up the farmyard. It is lambing time and here is one with it's mother.

Elaine has two donkeys, who are named after Dad and Uncle Brian, and we could not resist, including these pictures to round off the account of today's adventure.

Here is Gerry......

and now Brian....

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