Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walking Yorkshire - Askrigg Common, Crackpot, Gunnerside

Askrigg Common road
A decent weather day, no large parties due at the club, the moors and high places beckon. I drove up to Askrigg Common and parked on the road side, it was a cool and breezy morning and to the West a line of beaters were working their way across the heather, driving the grouse to the waiting guns.   That at least decided which direction I had to set off in.

I set off along the road for a while before thinking the road was a bit dull and instead plunged off NE across the moor towards the screes of Keld Spring Edge.  My GPS map for the first part of the hike shows me walking in a reasonably straight line, but the moor around Middle Tongue and Black Gutter is a maze of boggy patches and channels forcing a walker to move forwards in a series of zig zags and to do much back tracking.

The walking was easier around the drier ground and loose stone at Keld Springs Edge and I walked up to the nice cylindrical cairn at Blea Barf, which I stupidly forgot to take a photo of.

Looking to Muker from Keld Springs Edge
The weather remained overcast nearly all day, but had warmed up quite a bit since I set off.
Cottage below Blea Barf
This cottage is set high up a mile or so from Gunnerside, a two room building, the fireplace still visible, the walls still whitewashed but mouldering and decaying.  Parts of the roof have fallen in and nettles have covered the floor, but this lonely place was once home to someone, perhaps a shepherd and his family dwelt up here on the moor.

From Blea Barf I dropped down into the tiny hamlet of Crackpot, which is one of a thousand such 'blink and you miss it' places in the Dales, and then a steady bit of road walking down to the River Swale and to Gunnerside where I stopped for a pint of Golden Pippin and a rather excellent black pudding, eggs and home made chips at the Kings Head.

Swaledale from Gunnerside Pasture
The only customers at the pub on a Wednesday lunchtime seemed to be hikers, me doing my figure of eight walk and various groups of people doing the Coast To Coast.

After lunch I did a loop of Gunnerside Gill, Lownathwaite, Swinner Gill, but rather than doing the perhaps visually more pleasing but harder walking up the valleys, I took the shooting path for a somewhat easier circuit of the moor.  Despite having an external battery pack for the i-phone, it was still in danger of running down so I didn't stop at the red marker for a kip, I'd just switched the phone off.

Barn and bench near Ivelet Bridge
13 miles done, and about another 6 to do to get back to the car, it had been warm and muggy nearly all day and I must admit I was a little tired now.  Dropping down into Ivelet meant I had to do a third climb of the day back to the top of Askrigg Common.  From the hamlet of Satron I walked up Lousy Hill, panting and sweating, only to find my way up blocked by a herd of cows and a rather large bull amidst them.  I'm not keen on cows, big dumb things they are, so I edged along close to the wall in case I needed to make a scrambled getaway.  The herd stopped walking and all turned to watch me as I moved past.

The final section of the walk took me along the top of Oxnop Scar to the top of the Common, and then back along the road to where I had left the car, I was so pleased to see it.  A good day's walking, about 18 miles covered with some steady climbs amidst the beautiful hills, moors and valleys of Swaledale.  Apologies for not inviting anyone, but some days I just like to be my own company.


  1. Sounds lovely. Went down Crackpot once, many years ago when I was briefly staying and working in the Punchbowl in Low Row.

  2. Lousy Hill is quite a crackpot of a name too and you make it sound as true as its name.