Date - 31st January 2010 Distance - 11.25 miles
Ascent - 1040ft
Map - OL19 Start point - Great Asby (NY 681132)



"I have just seen the weather forecast for the weekend, and it looks like Sunday will be a good day, dry but cold", remarked Shaun.

"Then there is every chance we will be walking", replied Grizzly.

"It will make up for last Sunday, when the rain spoiled our plans to do that walk from Great Asby", said Tetley. "I wonder if that is what Dad still has in mind?"

"We'll know soon enough, as I guess that Allen is asking Dad", replied Shaun.

"Talk of the devil, here he comes now, rushing as usual", said Grizzly.

Allen came dashing in, with Little Eric poking out of his rucksack. "Dad has just confirmed that we are walking on Sunday, and that we are doing that walk from Great Asby".

"I thought as much", interjected Tetley.

"What is even better", Allen went on, "is that whilst Dad had done it before it was as long ago as 2003, and Grizzly, Little Eric and I had not been adopted, so it will be a new experience for us."

"Great", exclaimed Grizzly & Little Eric, in unison.

"Roll on Sunday", called out Shaun.


The Walk

It was still dark when Dad got up to get his kit together and have his breakfast.

"We can have and extra hour in bed, as we got the picnic packed last night", said Tetley.

By the time Dad was ready it was daylight and calling goodbye to Uncle Brian and our Hug pals, we dashed out and settled in the car.

"More or less the same route to the start as when we walked from Appleby", remarked Little Eric.

"That's right pal", replied Shaun. "North on the M6 to Tebay, then the road through Orton towards Appleby. We climb on to Orton Fell and just as the road starts to drop down again, go right on the narrow road that leads to Great Asby."

As we reached the village, Little Eric said, "I am very glad we did not meet any farm tractors and the like, along there."

Great Asby is a delightful linear village where cottages line either side of the Asby Beck. The beck, like it was today, is often dry, flowing only after heavy rains fill the kettle holes further up.

It had been a frosty night and Tetley noted, "the temperature is -4c."

Cloudy too, but this soon rolled away and we enjoyed a beautiful winter day with mostly clear blue skies, but the air was cold especially when walking north. Out of the sun it did not get above freezing all day. The big plus was that the ground was deeply frozen so no mud, and for once Dad's trousers remained clean!

The pub in the village is called the Three Greyhounds.

"We don't need to look at the sign to see why, as it is plain to see from the sculptures on the wall", said Allen. "Please take our picture by them, Dad."

We were intrigued to know the history behind them, but the website revealed little. Grizzly said, "all I can find is that the building dates from 1707 and that it has been a public house since at least the early 1800's."

"Right lads, get settled, and we can be on our way", said Dad.

"Head along the village and cross the beck", advised Shaun.

A small stream runs into the beck, and it is crossed by this charming old packhorse bridge. "I wonder if long ago this was perhaps the original way into the village", mused Tetley.

Shaun now pointed left. "Our route out is over that bridge and the stile beyond in the wall, and follow the path right by the beck."

"I guess there will be plenty of stiles again, for Dad to climb today, so I will count them", said Grizzly.

"I'll keep a note, as we go along, as I did before", replied Allen helpfully.

"Thanks pal", said Grizzly.

Crossing a number of pastures, and after a gate, Little Eric said, "there's a cave entrance."

Grizzly said, "it's called the Pate Hole, and extends horizontally for 1,000 yards, at about 100 feet below the surface."

"We are small enough to get into the cave, but I for one am content to just view the entrance", commented Tetley.

There were murmurs of agreement from the rest of us.

A little further on, there was a short miniature valley with limestone on either side, and here above the sheltered bank of the beck, icicles were hanging.

The path was now along a track away from the beck, leading to a very narrow stiled section between a wall and fence, and out to open pasture.

"That's six stiles", announced Grizzly.

"Noted", replied Allen.

Rounding the edge of the pasture, the path led down to join a bridleway. "This also started in Great Asby", commented Shaun. "In fact there are no less than four paths leading south from various parts of the village."

Heading along the bridleway, we met the local gentleman we had seen in the village, who was returning from walking his dogs. Later we saw another couple walking their dogs, but otherwise we saw no one else all day.

Crossing more walled pastures, and then on open land the access road to Grange Hall, we passed this group of 21 sheep.

"Oh heck", grumped Allen. "There goes my sheep picture free story."

One suddenly let out a "baa", and they all began to follow. "They've seen you Shaun", laughed Little Eric.

Thankfully they did eventually gave up the chase.

The path descended to the access track to Asby Grange, but just before the entrance, Shaun instructed, "we go left and climb the long pasture to Burtree Farm."

Walking between the buildings the clear route led across more pastures, to a road.

"That's twelve stiles, now", called out Grizzly.

"Noted", replied Allen again.

Shaun issued the next instruction. "Go through the gate across the road, and down the track, then left and right into the hamlet of Little Asby."

"Little Asby's existence is owed to the establishment of St Leonard's Chapel, endowed by Richard L'Engleys, parson of Asby, in 1298", said Grizzly. "There are now only scant remains of this. St Leonard was the patron saint of lepers."

Close by also, is a prehistoric enclosure with great ramparts on three sides. All this is on private land so sadly we were unable to visit or view.

At the end of the buildings, Shaun said, "it is through that gate and follow round the wall on the right to the road and turn left."

"What are those posts for?", asked Little Eric.

"So that people know where the road is when it snows, and where the ploughs need to go to clear it", replied Tetley, knowingly.

"They will certainly have been vital over the last few weeks with all the falls of snow we have had", added Grizzly.

Reaching the brow this superb view opened up before us.

"That's Sunbiggin Tarn", said Allen. "And behind the hills and valleys of the northern Howgill Fells. Then right the Whinash Ridge & Whinfell Ridge between which lies the beautiful Borrowdale Valley."

"We have explored them all over the years in the company of Uncle Eric", said Tetley. "Wonderful adventures and memories."

Descending we reached the clearly signed junction, Shaun saying, "our route is the road to Newbiggin & Ravenstonedale."

After nearly a mile along this, passing the houses of Mazon Wath & Fell Head, Shaun instructed, "we go left on that grassy track onto Crosby Garrett Fell."

This passed to the right of a large walled copse, within which stands this old shepherd's hut and barn.

All the time we were heading for the beautiful lonely and remote Potts Valley.

This glacial valley is a true delight with high grassy sides topped with limestone scars and its beck gently running through. Quite wide at first the steep limestone slopes then close in narrowing the way by the beck.

By the path further in the valley and seeing the concreted structure that hides something to do with the transportation of water underground, Allen said, "that's a good place to sit for lunch. I'm hungry."

"Why am I not surprised", laughed Dad. "But I'm ready for lunch too. In fact when we were here before this is where we stopped for lunch, as there are fine views of the valley and beck."

After Grizzly said, "pals, before we set off let's sit on that nearby rock so Dad can take our picture, as a record that the whole team have now visited the valley."

"How wonderful to have the valley to ourselves", whispered Little Eric. "I have noted that when we have paused to look at the views, there was not a sound."

"As they say", whispered Allen, "the silence is deafening. Such a sense of peace and tranquility."

The route by the beck was charming and here are two shots. How blue the water looked today.

At the end of the valley we came to the sad and forlorn ruins of Potts Farm. Just before, a group of ponies some of which were very small were grazing - Ahh!!!

"Dad, you will just have to get the camera out and snap them", implored Allen.

Past the ruin, we followed the good gated track. Reaching a barn, Shaun said, "after that gate we leave the track and drop down to the left corner of the field and cross the stile."

"Wow", called out Tetley, "there is a fine view ahead of the Pennines."

Then shortly we crossed the beck by the footbridge.

"Oh heck look how boggy the ground is here. Looks like it never dries out", said Tetley.

"Aye lad. I am very glad it is deeply frozen today."

Soon then came to the road at Water Houses, where this lovely bridge carries it over the beck.

"Turn left along the road, that will climb steadily, to the crossroads near Whygill Head", said Shaun.

There Shaun told us, "keep on the main road to Great Asby, and take the second signed path left, over the stile in the wall."

The path ran by a wall and continued with it as the wall went right, to a stile that allowed allowed us to cross the wall, and then continue ahead over two large pastures towards a narrow road.

"There is supposed to be a stile onto the road, but I can't see it", said Shaun.

"I'll use the gate instead", replied Dad.

This had taken us rather too far right, so we thought it best to consult the map before proceeding.

"We need to be on the left of the wall over there, so the gate opposite is not the one we want", said Shaun.

"Quite right", agreed Tetley.

"That's the gate we want about 50 yards along to the left", called out Allen.

Once through the gate we could see where the stiles were that we should have taken.

"We can't count them, but the total in now nineteen", said Grizzly.

"Noted", said Allen.

The path descended gently to a gate at a meeting of walls, the next pasture being crossed half right to a further gate. Away to the left there was a fine view of the prehistoric settlement on Holborn Hill, the lowish sun throwing shadows picking out the outlines of buildings.

Ahead Great Asby was in view, and after walking over two more pastures, an enclosed track was reached beyond a gate.

"It is so narrow, you will get hurt from the hedges, so I will walk in the fields", said Dad.

"Thank you", said Little Eric.

This then led to a walled track into the village.

"The direction of the sun is just right for you to take St Peter's Church that dominates the village", said Grizzly. "The present church was built between 1863 & 1866 on the site of a previous church, which stood on the site from at least 1160."

Well, that was another good walk under our paws, and we settled in the car to have the rest of our picnic and reflect on another wonderful day - thanks Dad, as ever.

Grizzly said, "in all I make it twenty stiles."

"I agree", replied Allen checking his notes.

"I have decided to return a different way, so I can familiarise myself more with the roads in this area", said Dad.

So driving ahead towards Appleby, we then soon turned right along a narrow road. This brought us to the crossroads at Whygill Head. Here Dad turned right and soon we were passing Little Asby and those snow posts to the road junction. On the walk we had gone left, but now we continued ahead, to pass on our left Sunbiggin Tarn.

"Do you think you can get a picture?, asked Tetley. "It would make a nice conclusion to the tale of our adventure."

"I'll have a go", replied Dad.

Here is the result.

The road eventually led to the village of Orton, where Dad turned left towards Tebay.,

"I need refreshment lads, so I am going to Junction 38 Services", said Dad.

"Fine", replied Allen. "You deserve it."

Today he had a good helping of steak & ale pie, roast potatoes, carrot/swede & peas, washed down with two pots of tea.


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