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Friday, 28 July 2017

Circuit of Widdale Fell

Tuesday 25th July 2017

Mixed up border country for this walk. I drove on the A684 to Garsdale and turned expectantly right up the minor road past the station for the first time ever (as far as I can remember). Garsdale is geographically in Cumbria but in the parliamentary constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale. Sadly Westmorland no longer exists as a county. I parked at Galloway Gate, still in Cumbria, but my route soon took me over the border into Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

After swigging hot coffee in the car I was off into murky cloud and much reduced visibility at 8:25 am.

The track shown on the map leading to the fenceline following the county boundary did not exist. I was into heather, and tussock-yomping for the next four kilometres before I dropped down into Widdale.

In the dim distance I spotted an unusual sized and shaped bird perched on a fence post and managed to get a quick zoom shot. The bird took off and came straight towards me, gliding superbly completing a detailed examination of this rare human - I must have been as strange to this Short Eared owl as the bird was to me. That kind of sighting is the sort of thing that makes a particular walk memorable  - not a bad start to the day eh?

My route circumnavigated Widdale Fell which includes the trig point summit of Great Knoutberry. I went to that summit in much colder conditions on 19th November 2005.

My rationale for this walk hinged partly on visiting the two Widdale tarns (Little and Great) marked on the map that I had not previously seen. A bit of careful compass work was needed until Little appeared, eerily through the mist. How atmospheric:  a stone causeway led out into the lake with a circular stone building at the end. Romantic thoughts of crannogs, then perhaps bloody sacrifices were running through my mind as I tiptoed along the stone steps to the middle of the tarn to arrive at... a grouse butt.

I wondered what were the qualifications needed for the particular shooter who was allotted this location.  His spaniels would have to swim for the downed birds, but from my personal knowledge of that breed, for them that would be a bonus. 

The descent into Widdale was steep, still pathless and I found myself in ultra cautious mode arising I suppose from my experience a few weeks ago and the aftermath.

The rest of the walk was on tracks and roads, and enjoyable, but at nearly fifteen miles I was a little weary at the end, but home to a hot bath, a magnificent Melton Mowbray pork pie dinner, a drop of red and another couple of episodes of House of Cards on Netflix completed a day of well used time, but that is personal, others may disagree.


The quality may not be good, but I was well pleased with this

Marked as "pot-hole" on  the map. I didn't clamber down to investigate

The crannog,  grouse butt - Little Widdale tarn

Great Widdale tarn

Looking back at the steep, treacherous descent into Widdale
(click to enlarge)

Across to Dodd Fell on the descent into Widdale

The distant hills to the north of Wensleydale

Looking back down Widdale. I think the hump is Wold Fell


Mossdale Head

Start - Galloway Gate - left middle - anti-clockwise


Gayle said...

That owl photo looks like a painting - at least on the little screen of my phone.

Sir Hugh said...

Gayle - I did lighten it up a bit with Photoshop.

Ruth Livingstone said...

Wonderful to see you're back to walking decent distances again. Love the photo of the owl.

Sir Hugh said...

Ruth - it is a huge pleasure to be able to get out again like this. The Yorkshire Dales is my favourite area which it merits in its own right, but for me with the added nostalgia of teenage roaming there and my continued visits over many years. And there are still be places to expkire

Phreerunner said...

Excellent stuff Conrad, and we are delighted to hear that you will soon be continuing your route to Somerset.

Sir Hugh said...

Phreerunner - thanks Martin and Sue.

gimmer said...

I suggest either that you wear sack cloth and ashes next time you come to Appleby (in Westmorland) or somehow manage to convince your interrogator that you were momentarily deluded when you penned that phrase about Westmorland - I have noticed a very strong, almost aggressive determination to deny all things 'Cumbria' - maybe accepted in soggy liberal southern lakeland (not South Lakeland - a non-entity) but not in the sterner lands beyond Lonsdale : apparently the strict constitutional position is that Walkerian constructs such as Cumbria are simply convenient contemporary administrative arrangements that do not affect the ancient primacy of the historic 'saxon' 'counties'. Westmorland even has its own flag - rally round, lads !
Any way, sounds a good walk and am glad you are getting back into form for the big one.

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - Hey! At least I did indicate disapproval with the word "sadly". But how far do you want to go back?

gimmer said...

OK - i never did feel much of a Norman - always sided with Hereward at school - so let's hear it for Beowulf !