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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Garrigill revisited

Monday 10th June 2019 - Rotherhope Fell - NY 712 394 - 596 metres
Maughanby Farm, - NY 571 380 - 179 metres

BBC's Springwatch regretted the decline in curlew numbers last night. Earlier that day I had been walking south up the Pennine Way track from Garrigill. In April 1987 I had approached from the opposite direction during my first proper backpacking trip completing the Pennine Way in twelve days. Nothing seemed familiar after thirty three years -  such thoughts were being interrupted by the varied calls of curlews wheeling and swooping not far above my head. I was not complaining, these birds are a delight to see and hear and they are an integral part of this edge of the moorland terrain ( there were still a few on the moorland  I was traversing an hour later.)

Springwatch  partly blames the decline on the modern method of cutting silage two or three times per year which doesn't give these birds time to lay, brood and then fledge the young. The old bridleway is generously wide with ample uncultivated deep grass verges on either side where I think the curlews had nested. - I guessed they had young hidden there and their calls were aimed at me as a potential predator. In April 1987 I had been more concerned with the logistics of my ambitious twenty mile a day target rather than musing on the habitat of curlews. I even had the name of the village misspelled in notes from my journal:

"From here it was a well defined track all the way to Carrigill which I knocked off fairly smartly, arriving well exhausted at The George and Dragon about 7:30 p.m. All this was not too bad because such good time had been made in the morning I was only one mile outside my twenty mile a day target."

"Two pints in the pub, then phoned home for a long chat with all the family, then to the camp site at the other end of the village, which turned out to be just a rough public field on the riverbank - nobody else there. No official drinking water so I had to use the river. This river comes direct off the hills, but had by now flowed through the village, so I took the precaution of only using boiled water here. Had a good nosh finishing in the dark - still not sleeping well."

"Whilst packing up I met a lady with dog who was a personal friend of Tom Stevenson, one of the founders of The Pennine Way."

 Higher up the track had been re-surfaced with bright yellowish new stone which seemed to clash with this ancient  bridleway.

When the boundary wall finished I took a beeline across heather moorland for Rotherhope Fell trig point. The going was rough with peat hags again. About a kilometre from the trig I crossed a  plastic terrain matting track and noted this for my return. The trig is perched,  wild, isolated and silent with an ambiance of space and freedom - views across wilderness in all directions - were those some old lead working ruins nestling in a deep cut valley far below? It was all breathtaking and worth  the effort of my toils across the rough moorland.

I was able to pick up the plastic track on the return  All the moorland I have walked across in the last few years has had new Land Rover tracks carved out, often  highly visible  from miles away, and now this plastic stuff is  prevalent, but at least it is not as highly visible as the stony tracks. I was back on the Pennine  Way track much sooner, but now further south than where I had veered off on the outward journey. At the side of the track there was s mini quarry, now with two ponds of water, this apparently the source of the new yellow stone excavated to "enhance" the grouse shooter's road.


Variation is a feature of trigpointing.  I had planned to visit the next two most northerly on my OS Sheet 91 on the way home - they were both only a couple of hundred yards from where I could park the car. At Maughanby Farm a public minor road ennded at the farmyard with various other buildings scattered. A gent working on one of thr houses assured me I could go and find my trig which was only s couple of hundred yards along a track. At first all I could find was a pile of stones from a tumble down old wall surrounded by trees and undergrowth. I felt much disappointed concluding that this must be one of those trigs  that had been removed. I walked round the back and then saw the trig almost covered in shrubbery and long grass - my mood lightened. Then I looked up and saw a perfectly framed view of Blencathra, my favourite Lake District  hill. The resulting zoom photo later showed this off well, although the first non-zoom effort failed to capture any existence whatsoever of the hill on the horizon despite my efforts  with Photoshop.

I drove to Jardine's Farm where the next trig was only about two hundred yards from the farmhouse  I went to ask permission but there was nobody about, and as this is obviously  private land within full view of the farm I left this one for another day.


The start of the Pennine Way bridleway out of Garrigill going south

Back to Garrigill - up to here the track is still on old stone -  rough underfoot

Just beyond where the track bends right it had been "enhanced" with new stone

This, and the next are peat hags. I know I have viewers from abroad who may not be familiar with UK moorland so this gives some indication of its nature

Shooting butt. Here the grouse shooters await the unfortunate grouse that fly overhead after being flushed out by beaters from behind

Zoom seven kilometres away to the "communications" equipment on Great Dun Fell

Plastic matting to convey the shooters in more comfort I suspect - they will have paid plenty for the privilege

The source of the new stone and its showing on the track. I wonder if it will weather in time to a more  sympathetic appearance with the environment?

Near Maughhanby Farm. I took a more general photo showing the distant horizon and Blencathra but the hill was not even visible - the zoom below recorded my pleasure in seeing my favourite Lake District hill to such advantage

The purple shading is The Pennine Bridleway which coincides with the Pennine Way here. The straight blue is the northern limit of OS Sheet 91

All three trigs here mentioned shown in general context. Note how close Maughanby Farm is to the western boundary of Sheet 91


  1. Glad to see you making the most of the weather in this dismal week, even if you have to travel so far by car.
    How many Pennine Wayfarers, including me, will have passed Rotherhope Fell without a nod at its existence.
    Thought you were very diligent not to procede up to the trig at Jardine's Farm when you were so close.

  2. BC - Rotherhope Fell doesn't feature on Hill Bagging - it is not on any of their hill lists, but I reckon it was certainly worth a visit.

    I like your use of the word "diligent" and just from curiosity I looked up its exact meaning, not that I doubted your perfect context, and I was amused at their example of its usage:

    "having or showing conscientiousness in one's work or duties: "Many caves are located only after a diligent search."

  3. I'm sure you would have found a cave if you had proceeded to the top.
    Proceed - move forward - "from the High Street, proceed over Magdalen Bridge"

  4. Oh dear! Now you are implying that I wasn't diligent enough?

  5. There must have been a good reason not to visit.

  6. Rather better visibility for you this week than we had the first time we walked the Pennine Way, when we couldn't see the 'golf ball' from the Station's boundary fence!

  7. Gayle - I suppose any long distance walk will have bits that you don't see much of because of weather. Thinking of seriously completing the Munros if you shied off much for bad weather it is unlikely you would get them done. Having said that I wouldn't normally set off from home on a day walk if nonstop rain for the whole day was forecast.

  8. You appear to have discovered discursiveness. Applied it and - best of all - maintained it throughout the post. Congratulations.

  9. RR - Ah! The mystery of writing. I had no overall concept beforehand of what I was going to write, but the curlews got me going and the rest just came out as I went along. Needless to say a lot of revision took place once I had the broad outline established.