Great Asby Scar

Walk Date – 23rd April 2017

Distance – 6.2 miles

Weather – dry, sunny and windy


Its a sunny Sunday afternoon and we’ve driven about fifteen miles to the south east of home to take a walk over Great Asby Scar. This is an area we driven through on a few occasions and we have always said that, one of these days, we should take a walk up the scar and do a bit of exploring. There is convenient roadside parking alongside Sunbiggin Tarn on Tarn Moor so that’s where we begin today’s walk.


Roadside parking at Sunbiggin Tarn – Dales High Way – Great Kinmond – Little Kinmond – High Pike – Knott – Sunbiggin – Stony Head Farm – Sunbiggin Tarn


01a Sunbiggin Tarn

No cars were parked by the roadside when we arrived although there was a bicycle propped up against the wall and its owner was sitting with his back to the wall, out of the wind and enjoying the view. The narrow unclassified road runs right beside the tarn and that’s where I’m standing to  take the shot. The whole of this area is a nature reserve and over on the far shore is a hide from where you can view the water fowl, although there wasn’t a bird to be seen on the tarn when I took the photo.

02 The start of the path from the Tarn Moor parking area

The paths start right by the parking area, one on this side of the wall and one on the other side and it doesn’t matter which one is taken. The road, visible just above the wall, continues on over the wild, and largely uninhabited, moorland and crosses some breath-taking scenery. If you like remote then this is the place for you.

03 Great Kinmond on the skyline

Further along the path and Great Kinmond comes into view. We’ll follow the wall just about to the ridge line and then cut off to the left to walk across Great Kinmond and the rest of the scar. The path is dry and grassy, if a little uneven, so some good rehab exercise for the injured foot.

04.Sunbiggin Tarn and the Howgill Fells

A look back at Sunbiggin Tarn and across to the Howgill Fells. Its a lovely afternoon but the strongish wind is constant and eyes and noses are suffering as a result.

05 Dry stone walls below Great KInmond

Limestone walls in abundance below Great Kinmond, and everywhere else for that matter. We now need to be on the other side of the wall if we are to reach Great Kinmond and, just beyond the kink in the wall, I think I’ve spotted a possible crossing point.

06 Coast to Coast route marker by the stile

The possible crossing point became definite as we reached it so over we went. The post pointed out the Coast to Coast path going across the fellside but we just turned left and continued to walk up alongside the wall.

07 Mitchell's Stone on Great Kinmond

A large glacial erratic, known as Mitchell’s Stone, has been incorporated into the wall. The stone lies on the boundary between the parishes of Orton and Asby. Apparently there is a similar incorporation of wall and erratic boulder to the far west of us on Beacon Hill, which is known as The Thunder Stone.

08 The Howgill fells on the skyline

We’re still following the wall up to the ridge line and keeping a lookout for a suitable crossing point. The wall is very long and high but has collapsed in places so we may be lucky enough to cross over where a collapse is low enough for us to do so.

09 Limestone pavement on Great Kinmond

We eventually found a low enough collapse to cross the wall without difficulty and began our walk across the limestone pavements on Great Kinmond. We plan to walk all the way across to the far end of the scar before we start the return journey. On the skyline in the distance are the Lake District fells.

10 More limestone pavement

A look behind me as we rock-hop across the pavement on Great Kinmond, and which can be seen everywhere we look, whether its from side to side, ahead of us or behind us. Great Asby Scar is one very long and very wide limestone pavement.

11 Great Kinmond fron Little Kinmond

We’ve travelled quite a bit further across now and so I take a look back at Great Kinmond as we walk over to Little Kinmond. What looks like grey scree amongst the grass is just acres and acres of limestone pavement. This is a fantastic place to be on such a lovely day, wide open spaces, blue sky and sunshine, and only the two of us up here enjoying it all.

12 The northern pennines with Cross Fell o the centre skyline

As we walk along the view on our right is of the northern Pennines across the Eden valley …..

13 A closer look at Cross Fell

….. so I took a closer look. Cross Fell, on the left, the highest point on the Pennines, to its right is Little Dun Fell, and to the right of that is Great Dun Fell. The white structure on the summit of Great Dun Fell is a radar station and forms part of the Air Traffic Control system for northern England and southern Scotland.They are on the ‘to-do’ list when the injured foot is fully healed. Every time we drive home into our village they are on the horizon right in front of us reminding us of their presence.

14 More limestone pavement

We took to the grass as a change from rock hopping as we sauntered over Little Kinmond. Over time the limestone has been eroded to create the characteristic blocks which are known as clints, the deep fissures between the clints are known as grikes. Across this section the grikes between the clints have become wider and deeper and the grass, although fairly tussocky, was easier to deal with.


I can’t be absolutely positive but I think this could well be the cairn marking the top of Little Kinmond. It has certainly been in situ and untouched for a very long time, the stones being covered in moss and lichen and no recent additions such as might be seen on the summit cairns on the Lakeland fells.

16 The Howgill fells on the skyline

The Howgill fells on the skyline to our left …..

17 Close up of some of the Howgill fells

….. and a closer look at some of them.

18 The hamlet of Sunbiggin below us

Below us we can see the outbuildings of Stony Head Farm which we will be passing on our way back to Sunbiggin Tarn. The tarn can just about be made out over on the extreme left of the shot just above the last patch of green field. The distance between the two being about a mile and a quarter. Note the pitted and uneven surface of these limestone clints, another reason for taking to the grass.

19 Acres of limestone pavement on Great Asby Scar

A look back at yet another huge area of pavement as we make our way over to the trig point at the western end of Great Asby Scar …..

20 The trig point on Great Asby Scar

….. and here it is, isolated atop the grassy hill of Knott, with a view of the Lakeland fells to the west of us. The arrow is directly above Blencathra which must be good thirty miles away.

21 The Howgills from the trig point

Looking east from the trig point this time, with the Howgill fells over to the right of the shot. Just above, and to the right of, the trig point is the long flat top of what I think is Wild Boar Fell.

22 Route check at the trig point

A quick check on the compass before we head south east to begin our return leg.

23 The Howgills from the return route

Heading back down to Sunbiggin with the Howgills for company.

24 Sunbiggin hamlet

We drop down from the escarpment and cross the field to the bridleway behind the little hamlet of Sunbiggin, which has about three or four dwellings at the most.


We walked along the narrow road through the village which led us on to Stony Head Farm where the tarmac surface ended and gave way to this stony track.


A long stony track to begin with which, once we were beyond the pastures, gave way to a grassy track across heathland.

27 A look back towards Sunbiggin hamlet

Looking back to Sunbiggin and Stony Head Farm with part of Great Asby Scar on the skyline behind.

28 Sunbiggin Tarn

The mile and a quarter from the farm to the tarn didn’t take very long and so we’re back where we started. The tarn looking much more blue than at the start of the walk now that the clouds have thinned out quite a lot, and I can hear the sound of geese calling from the far side of it. The narrow road is just in front, between me and the tarn, and over on the extreme right of the shot is the wall. The wall straddles the road so a cattle grid keeps the animals at bay and the car is parked just on the other side of it. That was a terrific walk and we’ve really enjoyed it, but we know we’ve barely scratched the surface of this vast area. There is so much more to discover, I know we’ll be coming back.

Injured foot update – going downhill was reported to be much better today than it was going down Beda Fell five days ago, now is that because it wasn’t as steep or is the foot starting to get used to going downhill?