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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Big Meanie


My walks are usually planned and rarely much altered and so it was today, but a new objective presented itself halfway through.

After a lot of faffing including emptying my Go-Lite backpacking rucksack from my recent trip and reinstating the relevant items in my day walking rucksack, I was off to a late start from Leck church  at 11:20am.

Once off the tarmac and onto the path I had a feeling of euphoria, contrasting the surrounding hills, cropped turf track and dales ambience with my recent trudging along soulless country roads with high hedges, and only occasional glances of  endless cultivated flat fields. For sheer enjoyment, apart from serious mountain walking, there is nothing to compare with the Yorkshire Dales, ok, I suppose some of this route was probably in Lancashire.

The track was well established and all delight leading to a steep climb on a well cut high bracken path. That lead out onto undulating moorland, and joy of joys, heather in bloom.  There is something about heather in bloom and its surroundings that supercharges my soul - is it not a bit early for it to be blooming?

Arriving at Ease Gill I looked down into the steep, thickly wooded ravine with an underlay of chest high bracken and was deterred to investigate the various potholes and caves lurking below.

I had been switching between Ordnance survey 1:25 and 1:50 on Memory Map on my iPhone and now looking again at the 1:25 I noticed a pothole named Big Meanie which could be incorporated in my plan to cut back to the Leck Fell road and possibly climb Gargareth.  There was no footpath indicated, but big Meanie was situated against a wall boundary which may have a path of sorts alongside, so I now had a new objective for the walk. I retraced steps back a few hundred yards to find the wall and sure enough there was a half decent path all the way back to the road. The location of big Meanie is not precisely indicated on the map. Just before I got close rain started. I found two significant sinkholes at the supposed point on the map, and took photos risking getting my camera wet and then trudged on. The rain increased with a vengeance - this was the really thick stuff where the metaphor of stair rods is appropriate, and they seemed to have some kind of extra force propelling them into the ground. My new Mountain Warehouse Pakka lightweight waterproof jacket did a good job  (£18.99) - that rain persisted almost for the rest of the walk, and back at the car I was still more or less dry - so much for your £100 plus, posh branded gear. Sadly I see their shop in Kendal is closing - I hope that is not the start of their demise.

Several hundred yards further on I found another much more distinctive sinkhole with a large tree growing from its middle, and again risked camera destruction taking a photo.  Internet searching I found that this was in fact Big Meanie which is not accurately positioned by OS. Big Meanie turns out to be quite a significant pothole undoubtedly needing a high degree of expertise for it exploration.

BIG MEANIE December 2016
This pothole provides a classic exchange with, or alternative route to, the
bottom of Death’s Head Hole (see separate description).
WARNING: The first pitch of Big Meanie is narrow at the top and may prove
strenuous particularly on the upward journey. Be sure that anyone entering
or exiting via Big Meanie has a suitable ability to tackle this. Loose blocks are
a hazard on all pitches in Big Meanie and appropriate care is required.
Big Meanie can be descended in moderately wet conditions. However, the
connection to Death’s Head Hole can have limited airspace in wet weather.

Dry conditions are required if planning to enter the Leck Fell Master Cave.

I have shown below a JPEG of the PDF file from the Council of Northern Caving Clubs website from which the above quote is taken but there is much more info if you want to look. If you can't read it:

CLICK HERE and follow link to PDF titled Big Meanie.

Needless to say say plans to visit Gragareth were abandoned and I walked back in heavy rain down the road. At one point I met a young guy happily repairing a drystone wall in the pouring rain dressed in an ankle length waterproof and listening to Radio 1 on his parked quad bike, and we had a brief chat, about, guess what, the weather.

Soon after leaving the tarmac

A brief spell through Springs Wood.
I branched off to look at a quirky bridge over Leck Beck,
see below

Map shows track leading back to Fairthwaite Park House, but not
a public right of way. That farm is on a list of farms used by an educational
organisation called Countryside Classroom - Google if interested
Leck Beck

You can see the cul de sac road, top left, leading to Bull Pot Farm: cottage used by Craven Potholing Club.
Crag Hill, pointy on horizon

End of the path at Ease Gill, my intended turning point.
 Ease Gill sweeps round to right and behind
the camera


Big Meanie

Leck Fell House. Must be one of the most remote farms in the country,
the road ends there. Gragareth summit above


Click to enlarge or follow link above




11 comments:

Steve Watson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Watson said...

Looks like the whole of the walk was in Lancashire...

Sir Hugh said...

Steve - welcome to the blog, don't think I've seen you before. New commenters are like gold. Yes, I pretty well knew I was in Lancashire - I originate from Yorkshire, but don't get too excited about The War of the Roses.

gimmer said...

Ahha - it seems to be solved - as the saying goes - the cure (for that ill) is not to sit still and froust with . . . but take a large (pot?) hole and a shovel also, and dig til . . .
nice walk - weather moment seized - good one

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - If this comment doesn't refer to my previous post and Richard Branson I am as much puzzled by it as you were with the other.

Even the weather reference, since I walked through one of the heaviest periods of rain I can remember for some time.

bowlandclimber said...

Great to see you out enjoying yourself.
I did that almost exact walk a year ago - https://bowlandclimber.com/2017/08/17/leck-a-day-out-with-tilley/
Lovely area, I wanted to find Short Drop cave but failed.

Sir Hugh said...

BC - What a coincidence. There are more common factors in our writing than one would expect even though we both followed the same route.

Lancashire/Yorkshire debate
Overgrown Ease Gill, reluctance to descend
Abandonment of Gargareth
Searching for particular potholes
Mention of lonely Leck Fell House
Parking at the church
The unique ambience

I would like to walk into Ease Gill from Bull Pot Farm some time and explore a bit further, hopefully with a more accurate weather forecast.

AlanR said...

Good to read that your enjoying your walking again. It would be difficult not too in that area. It’s fine strolling country.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R - Yes, there is more to do and see there. I will be back.

Mark said...

I too did a very similar walk last summer. Did you see any other walkers - that area seems to be a fairly well kept secret, it never seems too busy.

Sir Hugh said...

Mark - not a soul until I met the young farmer doing the drystone wall in the rain on my way back down the road.