ASBY GILL, LITTLE ASBY & POTTS VALLEY, from GREAT ASBY

 


Summary

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

 

Preface

"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 took the opportunity of having an extra hour in bed, so it was light by the time we dashed out and settled in the car. Once again the route was north on the M6 to Tebay, where we then took the road towards Appleby. Once through Orton, we climbed up on to Orton Fell, and as the road started to drop down again, Dad turned right along the narrow road that led to Great Asby. We were very glad he did not meet any farm tractors and the like, along here.

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 the temperature was -4c as we got ready to set out. It was 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, and without looking at the sign it is plain to see why, from the sculptures on the wall, and we scrambled up to have our picture taken by them. We were intrigued to know the history behind them, and eagerly looked on the pubs website, but the history tab, sadly reveals no information.

We then settled in the rucksack and off we went, walking along the village and crossing the beck. A small stream runs into the beck, and it is crossed by this charming old packhorse bridge. We guess this was perhaps the original way into the village.

To leave the village we used the bridge that recrossed Asby Beck and climbing the stile in the wall.

"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.

Immediately over the bridge the path went right along by the beck over a number of pastures. After a gate we saw on the left a low entrance to a cave. This is called the Pate Hole, and extends horizontally for 1,000 yards, at about 100 feet below the surface. Despite being small enough to get into the cave, we were quite content to just view the entrance.

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.

Then the path climbed up on a track away from the beck. This led to a very narrow stiled section between a wall and fence, leading to open pasture.

"That's six stiles", announced Grizzly.

"Noted", replied Allen.

Walking round the edge of the pasture, the path led down to join a bridleway that had started in Great Asby too. 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 who we had seen in the village, now returning from walking his dogs. Later we saw another couple walking their dogs, the only other walkers we met all day. Crossing more walled pastures, then on open land an access road, we passed a group of 20 sheep. One suddenly let out a "baa", and they all began to follow Dad (or more likely Shaun!). Thankfully they eventually gave up the chase.

The path descended to the access track to Asby Grange, but just before the entrance, we went left to climb the long pasture to Burtree Farm. Walking between the buildings we then crossed more pastures, to reach a road.

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

"Noted", replied Allen again.

Through the gate across the road, the path soon led to the hamlet of Little Asby. Its existence is owed to the establishment of St Leonard's Chapel, endowed by Richard L'Engleys, parson of Asby, in 1298. There are now only scant remains. 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 we were unable to visit or view.

A gate at the end of the buildings, led out on to Little Asby Common. Here we followed the wall on the right round to the road, where we went 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 a superb view opened up before us. In the valley was Sunbiggin Tarn and behind, all the hills and valleys of the northern Howgill Fells. Also Whinash Ridge & Whinfell Ridge between which lies the beautiful Borrowdale Valley. All these have been explored over the years in the company of Uncle Eric. Descending we reached the clearly signed junction, our route being along the road to Newbiggin & Ravenstonedale.

After nearly a mile along this, passing the houses of Mazon Wath & Fell Head, it was then left on a grassy track over Crosby Garrett Fell. This passed to the right of a large walled copse, within which stands this old shepherd's hut.

All the time we were heading for the 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. We stopped for lunch at a concreted structure that hides something to do with the transportation of water underground. It provided an excellent seat and is a perfect place with a fine view of the valley sides and the beck. Every time Dad has been here, lunch has always been taken at this spot. We also found a convenient rock nearby to pose again for our picture, as a record that the whole team have now visited the valley. Nice too, to have the place completely to ourselves, and at times today when Dad paused, the silence was deafening. So wonderful in this world of seemingly constant noise.

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

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

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

Past the ruin, it was along a track and through a gate by a barn. Leaving the track, Dad took us down to the left corner of the field, with a fine view ahead of the Pennines.

Over the stile, then a short distance to cross the beck by the footbridge. Beyond, the immediate area is perpetually boggy, so Dad was very glad the ground was deeply frozen. Soon the path led to the road at Water Houses, where a lovely bridge carries it over the beck.

Turning left, it was a long steady climb to the crossroads near Whygill Head, then straight ahead to take the second signed path left using the stile in the wall. There were more fine views to the Pennines from here. The path led by a wall and continued with it as it turned right. Another stile allowed us to cross the wall, then ahead over two large pastures to a narrow road. The stile over the wall to the road was very hard to spot so Dad used the gate instead. This had taken him 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. The hedges either side were so close, that Dad walked in the fields instead to avoid us getting hurt. This led to a walled track into the village. The direction of the sun was just right for Dad to photograph St Peter's Church that dominates the village. 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, where he once again went to Junction 38 Services, as not surprisingly he was hungry. Today he had a good helping of steak & ale pie, roast potatoes, carrot/swede & peas, washed down with two pots of tea. He deserved it too.

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