Apr 17 2010

Walk 6: Ramblin’ ‘n’ Scramblin’

Mallerstang Edge from Outhgill

route: high seat, archy styrigg (gregory chapel) & hugh seat from outhgill
Date: 17th april 2010
distance: 6.4 miles
ascent: 1,722 feet
time: 5 hrs
walkers: carol, dave, graham, leanne, sandra & simon

We are all proud Yorkshire men and women, apart from Wu Tang who is a proud honorary Yorkshire woman. Today however we weren’t starting in God’s own County, as we had passed the sign for Cumbria a little way back down the road. To be honest things looked exactly the same in Cumbria as they do in Yorkshire. Quaint little villages of stone buildings lining the tight roads and green fields full of lambs, the whole area is so beautiful. We arrived in the little village of Outhgill and found a little layby to leave the car. As we were getting ready for the off we spotted a middle aged guy walking his dog towards us. I was just about to greet him with the usual “morning”, when he blurted out “can’t park there it’s somebody’s drive” in a very blunt and rude manor. We didn’t react to it, instead choosing to move the car to the grass verge opposite the phone box. We may not be perfect but we wouldn’t park somewhere we shouldn’t, and in our opinion all it needed was a sign to those non villagers or a polite word. We were soon smiling again however as G and Carol had arrived and we were nearly ready. Ramblo was the proud owner of a new compass and OS map and she unfolded it on to the car bonnet to take a look at our intended route.

With the new map reading skills in place we took the team shot and headed off, down the side of the phone box and through the village towards the wall of green that was in front of us.

We had been in awe of Wild Boar Fell as we got ready earlier, due to the profile of it from our start point. It seemed that it would be a monster to climb but as we climbed the lower slopes of Mallerstang Edge I was beginning to think that the work in front of us would be equally as tough. The thick grass was awkward to walk over and I was always in fear of going over on my ankles, and that would have made things even more difficult. The progress was slow, but as usual, we were making headway, and it isn’t about the speed we do things. It is all about doing it at your own pace and the team effort and satisfaction of completing. It was a good job really as we had been going for over an hour and my GPS was only showing 0.4 miles!

I felt the climb could be split in to two halves, with the first being a tough but gradual walk from Outhgill, and the second being a hands and knees job up some crazy steep bits. We had done the walking part and one by one we started to use our hands for support and help keep our balance as we reached steeper sections. At times we were literally climbing 20 or 30ft then having a breather. This was like nothing we had done in our previous five walks and that meant another feather to our cap. We were learning the art of attaching yourself to a hillside and trying not to slip backwards, which would result in serious injury. The sheep seemed to be laughing at us as they waltzed around as if they were on a snooker table, but we kept moving forwards, and with each step we were nearer the top. Certain parts were very steep and looking to my right I got a great view of the contours and an idea of what we still had left to climb.

The going was still slow but we kept on moving bit by bit, and eventually, in a world record slow time of nearly 0.5mph we made the cairn we had been aiming for since Outhgill. We weren’t at the top but we had certainly done 95% of the days ascending and I was thinking that things could only get easier. On the climb we had been sheltered from the wind and with the combination of the sun and hard work I was down to my t-shirt. The wind was strong now we were on the plateau and that meant we wrapped up and didn’t stay stood around for too long. Before we left, we spent a minute or three soaking in the views from high up on our perch. We were fortunate enough to have another clear day and there really is no better place I can think of on days like these.

We were now only a few hundred yards from the top of High Seat and we set off over the peat hags towards the first of our three targets for today. It didn’t take long and in all honesty I think it was almost a bit of an anti climax as there didn’t seem to be any climb to the top. Compared with all the other tops we have done so far, this was the only one I reached whilst still breathing normally and maybe that gave a false impression. The initial climb had been exhilarating and now I was back to the normal walking it seemed a little dull. That wasn’t a thought that lasted any great length of time though and I was soon satisfied with my achievement. As we were taking some pictures we were joined by a guy who was out walking alone. He very kindly offered to take a picture of us all and began to chat away. We set off for Archy Styrigg and he tagged along with us still chattering away, telling us of the places he had been and the peaks he had done. This was a bit of a culture shock, as I like to do everything at my own pace and surround myself with the people I see fit at any particular time. I would say it is my own personal space I don’t like invaded. It wasn’t that he was rude or anything, but I didn’t want to hear his tales of adventure and I gripped Wu Tang’s hand and we slowly dropped off the back of the group. It only took 15 or 20 minutes or so before we were at our second peak of the day and again it almost felt like cheating. With the climb all being packed in to one lung bursting scramble the rest of the walk seemed very flat. It wasn’t that I was complaining, and I would rather do a variety of walks than the same type each time. Again we all got in the picture taken by our new walking companion. We decided to have our lunch here and settled down for a rest. As we did another guy strolled by acknowledging us as he went. What was a wave to us must have been encouragement for our new friend and he said his goodbye’s and hurriedly departed to catch up with the ever distant walker.

After lunch we headed toward Hugh Seat which again didn’t involved much other than a slight dip before the land raised slightly. In between the peaks there was a large cairn and nearby a little shelter where we found the two blokes sharing a joke over lunch. We waved as we continued on our way and began to climb up towards the top of Hugh Seat. We walked straight past the high point and gathered at Lady’s Pillar. It was clear to the eye that we weren’t at the top but decided to take our photo’s here anyway, as at least there was the cairn to prove we had got there. The top is actually just alongside the fence that forms part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary but there didn’t seem to be anything to mark it. The sun was still out and the day was another enjoyable one, and after taking so long to climb up Mallerstang Edge, we were now making good progress, and we checked the map for our route down, before we set off.

The descent began fairly easily, with only the uneven ground likely to cause any problems or discomfort. After a short while the ground started getting more saturated and I got the impression that on a bad day this could be a horrible walk. We made our way carefully around various little streams and boggy patches, and as we did so, we found ourselves going slightly off course, so as is the norm, we paused for a break, had a drink, and looked at the map. It is at these points when my map reading skills are usually questioned, even though it is obvious to all, that staying on a straight line would result in us knee, waist or neck deep in slime, depending on how lucky we were.

After a nice pause and a refreshing drink of water we set off once again. We had decided that we would aim for the southern edge of Hangingstone Scar and hopefully it wouldn’t be quite as steep as we had encountered on our way up, a couple of hours previous. The short walk to the edge was an easy one and as we approached we could see that some places were steeper than others.

Myself and Beaky decided to go for the direct route down, and we set off carefully as the rest of the troops chose to arc round to our left, taking a longer but more gradual descent. We gained quite a bit of ground coming down the short way, but it is always better to do things within your comfort zone, rather than do something silly.

Fifteen minutes later, we had regrouped and were now on the lower slopes, heading for the bridleway that would lead us back to the B6259. In front of us was the imposing sight of Wild Boar Fell. From this angle it didn’t look quite as scary as I had thought when back in Outhgill. What seemed to be a prominent peak was in fact a flat plateau, but the sheer bulk of it made for a fantastic sight and I was excited to think we still had to climb this beast.

We picked up the bridleway and followed it for a while, occasionally pausing to let sheep cross without being frightened. We also spotted a fair few rabbits including a two tone one, and we wondered if it was an escaped pet? I am far from a rabbit expert, but all the ones I have ever seen in the wild have been plain brown. It was nice to be back on a solid surface that the bridleway provided and we chatted and joked our way along occasionally looking to our right, to gaze back at our earlier location.

As we reached the road we decided that rather than follow it the short distance back to our starting point we would cross it and follow a footpath that ran alongside the River Eden.

We crossed a little stone bridge, then keeping the river to our right, followed it through fields full of little lambs and protective mothers. The bleating made quite a racket but yet everything seemed so peaceful and very much as it should be. The countryside feel was only broken by a big freight train passing a short distance away to our left.

We passed through a little farm and as we had seen on our previous excursion, they had a barn with sheep and lambs in, although some of the little ones had found a way out, they were being closely observed!

Once out of the other side of this farm, we crossed back over the river and then we reached the outskirts of Outhgill. I guess the term, outskirts is a bit farfetched in the fact that it is hardly a metropolis , what I meant to say is we were near the church which was 100 yards from our car.

We arrived back at the car and ditched the walking boots for a pair of trainers and we headed off back down the road to the pub. Along the way we were stopped in our tracks by a heard of sheep coming under the rail bridge. The farmer was doing an excellent job in keeping them under control, with a little help from his dogs, and in no time they were in a field and we were on our way again. The beer was as lovely as ever and spirits were high. I had discovered yet another side to the great outdoors today. The climb had been steep and a slip could have caused serious injury. I guess that in itself was a thrill, although maybe we didn’t all feel that way. Judging by the speed some people (who shall remain nameless) moved, they were a little scared. I was learning that as wonderful as the great outdoors can be, it is also a very dangerous place if you don’t take care. I felt a new found respect for all that our fabulous countryside has to offer. My goal has always been to have fun no matter what you are doing and I will continue to do so, but today made me aware of the fact things have to be taken seriously. I was happy with that compromise, as long as we smiled on the way round and we all had a drink after to celebrate, I’ll drink to that, and I did.

Sir Edmund


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