Date - 31st March 2009 Distance - 11.5 miles
Map - OL19
Start point - Road end above Hartley (NY 799075)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Nine Standards Rigg 2173 662 NY 8254 0611
Brownber Head 1959 600 NY 8441 0678
Tailbridge Hill on Nateby Common 1795 547 NY 8030 0538



Uncle Bob had brought his caravan over to Hawes for a few days. Yesterday, Dad and Uncle Brian had met him and Aunt Ann in Settle before going on to Elaine’s at Feizor for an excellent lunch. A nice time they all had too.

What pleased us though, was that when Dad got home he said, "I have arranged for us to go for a walk with Uncle Bob tomorrow"

"Where too?", asked Allen.

"Finally we are going to climb Nine Standards Rigg", he replied

"It is so called because of the nine large cairns near its highest point", said Tetley. "We have long wanted to see them."

"As well the plan is to take in lonely Brownber Head, which will be a there and back spur, then circle round to Tailbridge Hill which is the highest point on Nateby Moor."

"Getting there will be great", cheered Grizzly. "It will be the last of the 75 Yorkshire Dales summits from the original list you found Dad."

"It is quite a way to the start, and it promises to be a long day, so we had better get to bed early to make sure we are properly rested and ready for the off in the morning", said Shaun.

"Roll on tomorrow is what I say", cheered Little Eric.


The Walk

We heard Dad slam the boot shut having loaded his gear.

"Come on pals", called out Grizzly, "time to get settled in the car."

As Dad drove off, Little Eric asked, "how to we get to the start?"

Shaun replied, "north on the on the M6 to junction 38 at Tebay, then along that flat straight road that was once a railway line, before climbing up and over to the nice town of Kirkby Stephen. There we take a narrow road through the hamlet of Hartley, on to its end where it becomes a rough track."

We arrived first and looked around while we waited for Uncle Bob.

"It's very misty", commented Tetley. "Looks like we are going to be in the clouds as we make the ascent."

"Just have to hope it clears up and we get the views later", replied Allen.

Very soon Uncle Bob arrived and we called out a cheery, "good morning."

"Hi lads here's to a cracking walk together."

We snuggled in the rucksack and Shaun said, "we follow the continuing track."

In a short distance a gate was reached and just beyond was this impressive seat with the legend 'Rest a while'. So they did!, Dad taking this super picture of Uncle Bob.

The seat is actually dedicated to the memory of a Brian Saunders 1947 – 1999. "By normal standards he was quite young when he died", said Grizzly sadly.

So onwards on the track in the left of the picture, we were soon enveloped in the low cloud. The track climbed gently on to reach a clearly signed junction.

As you can see we were actually now on part of the long distance Coast to Coast Walk. This starts at St Bees Head in Cumbria and ends at Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire.

"That's our route", said Shaun. "The ascent takes us via Faraday Gill."

As we climbed up a number of cairns marked the route. Here Uncle Bob checks the map by one of them.

A very boggy area was reached by a stream. "Thank goodness there's a bridge", said Tetley.

"I see it comes with its own resident grouse", laughed Grizzly.

The path wound on climbing steadily but not steeply, and suddenly the cairns came into view looming out of the mist. Two small cairns either side of the path form a gateway. "Ooh very mysterious they look too", said Allen.

"It's so disappointing that with then mist we are not able to fully appreciate them", moaned Little Eric. "Nor can you get a decent picture, Dad."

Shaun said, "we have to walk out to Brownber Head and then back here, so let's hope the cloud has lifted by then."

"Whatever let's have our picture sitting on what is probably the largest of the nine", suggested Allen.

As you can see this is in remarkable condition, due to the fact that it and four others were rebuilt in 2005. Dad has recently read a book about the cairns, by Stephen Walker, in which he attempts to establish how long they have been there. They are mentioned in documents dating back a few centuries, but it is not known exactly when they were first erected. Some of these documents are the result of what were called "perambulations". This was when the agents of landowners’ would ride around the boundaries of the estates meeting with adjoining landowners’ agents. This ensured that all knew the extent of their respective lands. Some of the boundaries crossed "watersheds", that determined where the water would flow into streams and eventually to form rivers. In the ancient documents the phrase "As Heaven Water Deals" was used instead of watershed. We think this is quite a wonderful description.

That said, we'd better get back to the adventure, but before settling in the rucksack, Dad kindly took this close-up of us sitting on the cairn.

"Is this the summit?", asked Little Eric.

"No pal", replied Tetley, "we need to take the path south to get to the trig point."

First, however we passed the viewpoint erected by the Kirkby Stephen Fell Search Team. "Just a shame we can't see the view", huffed Allen.

Then in short order we came to the summit trig point. "Come on lads", called out Grizzly, "time for our picture to mark the achievement."

"So to Brownber Head now", announced Shaun. "Access to this 'top' is a long way in any direction but this is about the best way to approach."

The route is totally trackless and it was made more difficult by the mist as we could not see our objective.

"Just as well you and Uncle Bob have your new GPS devices to guide us Dad", commented Tetley.

Setting off we headed for a particular feature on the ground ahead. There Little Eric said, "do we keep on in the same direction?"

"No" replied Uncle Bob, "we must swing left."

Just shows how disorienting it can be in the mist

A number of peat hags had to be crossed, but Dad and Uncle Bob are experts at this, such are the number they have had to surmount in the past.

"There's the sheepfold that is marked on the map", pointed Shaun. "We are about halfway."

"I can see that the land rises ahead towards the summit", called out Allen.

So a steady trudge soon brought us there. Like some other of the Yorkshire fells we have climbed, it is flat and featureless.

Uncle Bob had his GPS in hand and soon homed in on the the spot height position as marked on the map.

"Well", said Grizzly, "definitely not a summit we will want to return too."

This however was not to be the case, as we have a very strange story to relate. As well as the flag you should note that behind us is Dad’s stick well planted into the ground.

"Let's have a snack before we head back", suggested Uncle Bob.

"Ooh yes, cheered Allen, rubbing his tummy. "I'm hungry."

"No surprise there", laughed Tetley. "But, it will be nice to have some sandwiches and cake with warming tea, to set us up for the rest of the walk."

Dad also phoned Uncle Brian to see if he was OK.

Lunch over we jumped into the rucksack and set off to retrace our route. After about 200 yards Dad suddenly realised he had forgotten his stick.

"Oh Dad!", exclaimed Allen. "Sometimes I think you would forget your head if it were not attached to your neck!"

"I know", agreed Dad. "Sorry lads."

Then to Uncle Bob he said, "I'll meet you at the sheepfold", as he turned to return to the summit.

The mist had closed in again and Dad actually walked past, but the GPS guided him to the exact spot. "I know were are here because there's that tiny pool of water just in front of where we sat", pointed Little Eric."

To everyone’s surprise though there was no stick, and despite casting about a bit we could not locate it. There were no other people around; in fact we were to see no other walkers at all today.

"What a mystery", said Tetley. "How I wish our Hug detective Padlock Homes was with us to solve it."

"Yes", agreed Grizzly, "but I know he is busy with Ruskin on another case."

"Never mind, it's only a stick. I'm not going to waste any more time. It will not be that much money to replace it, and in these tough times I'll be helping the economy", stated Dad as he strode off to meet Uncle Bob.

"I can't find it Bob", said Dad.

"It must be somewhere, I just can't believe it has disappeared We must go back had look again."

"No Bob, I can buy a new one. It will not cost that much."

Despite this, he said "I insist."

So back we went across the rough ground for our third visit to the summit! The end result however was still the same, and so the 'Legend of the Phantom Stick Stealer of Brownber Head' was born.

When we got home and Dad related this to Uncle Brian, he laughed saying, "I reckon it was a three legged sheep who stole it for a crutch."

The only upside was that it gave time for the weather to improve, and enable us to see the Nine Standards in all their glory.

"Wow", breathed Little Eric. "What a magnificent sight."

"Just Tailbridge Hill to go" cheered Allen.

"We need to head down roughly south south west", called out Shaun.

This was a was a long descent, passing by the remains of a building above Rollinson Gill.

"Head on down to the gill", said Shaun. "Then we cross close to the head of Dukerdale, and rounding that wall to head up to Tailbridge Hill."

A large cairn sits at the summit, marking the highest point on Nateby Common.

"Come on pals, picture time again", called out Tetley

Shaun called out, "ride up on my back Little Eric, we don't want you slipping down a crack."

Grizzly said, "time you appeared Dad."

So here he is striking a good pose by the cairn.

Photo Bob Woolley (Uncle Bob)

"It's so good the weather has really cleared up", said Allen. "The views from here are magnificent."

At the end of 2006 Uncle Bob and Dad had decided to set a goal of climbing to all the summits in the Yorkshire Dales. Dad found on the Internet a list of 75, and today this summit was the last of these to be achieved.

"With the exception of our pal Little Eric, who was only born in 2008, we had achieved this milestone too. We felt right proud! Of course other tops have been found and a full list together with our progress can be found on the summits pages of our website.

"We make the steep descent off the fell to that wall to the right and then follow along by it to a gate", instructed Shaun.

Beyond a path was followed first up, and then down, to a house called Ladthwaite. Before dropping down there was a fine view. The long straight green strip running left from the house is actually a runway for the landing and taking off of the owner's plane.

Joining the access to Ladthwaite after about half a mile or so we arrived at the cars.

Checking the GPS, Tetley commented, "we have been out just a little under 8 hours.

"Would have been at least and hour or so less if Dad hadn't lost his stick", said Grizzly pointedly.

"Sorry", said Dad again.

"It has been an interesting and not a little mysterious walk", said Little Eric

"A grand day out", said Tetley.

It was 17.00 and Uncle Bob needed to head straight back to Hawes, so there was no tea stop today! Dad followed Uncle Bob to Kirkby Stephen and then headed to the M6 and home.

Thank you Dad and Uncle Bob for another great adventure.


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