Walk date – 1st June 2020
Distance – 6.5 miles
Weather – hot and sunny, distant haze, lively easterly breeze on tops
Superb views in abundance on this splendid walk up from the Mallerstang valley, across the wall of rocky cliffs at Hangingstone Scar and Mallerstang Edge. A medium length walk where the only real difficulty arises during the ascent or descent of the steep slopes of Mallerstang Edge. Rather than a direct and very steep ascent from Outhgill we chose to begin our walk much more gently by starting from the bridleway just a few yards south of the house known as The Thrang and making the descent from Mallerstang Edge towards the end of our walk. Whichever way round its done the steep edge will have to be dealt with. As well as being a lot less strenuous we worked on the principle that its usually easier to plot a route, and pick out paths, from above than it is from below. Either way its a fabulous little walk and the views are magnificent.
The Thrang – Pennine Bridleway – Water Cut – High Rigg – White Brow – Hangingstone Scar – Archy Styrigg – Gregory Chapel – High Seat – Mallerstang Edge – Headley’s Gill – Mallerstang Common – The Thrang
The Nab on Wild Boar Fell from the parking area at The Thrang.
The start of the path is right next door to the parking area and the route has various names. On the signpost it is named as Pennine Bridleway, on the OS map its Old Road and, as it forms part of the 100 mile journey from Skipton to Penrith regularly travelled by Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th century, it is often referred to as Lady Anne’s Way. More information can be found about Lady Anne in our walk of October 2017 and elsewhere online.
Looking back towards the house known as The Thrang, a large Victorian residence with some interesting architectural features. The parking area is behind the group of trees below the building with the blue roof.
A good track which climbs steadily all the way, here we’re crossing the first of several gills, no water flowing down any of them at the moment though.
Lovely views along the Mallerstang valley with Swarth Fell on the left and Wild Boar Fell on the right.
Still climbing up the gently graded track, but with the sun on our faces and not a hint of breeze down here it isn’t long before our faces turn shiny so we take a pause to mop sweaty brows and take in the view back along the Mallerstang valley and the North Pennines in the distance.
As the gradient began to flatten I took this shot looking across to Hangingstone Scar with High Seat just peeping above High Loven Scar over on the left.
The climb levels out and we reach the sculpture which has been a little dot on the skyline all the way up. Its named Water Cut and was created by Mary Bourne. It is one of ten stone sculptures which have been installed along the length of the River Eden from its source above the Mallerstang valley to Rockcliffe, just north of Carlisle, where it runs into the Solway Firth. Its an appropriate location for it as the source of the river is located nearby. I liked the happy accident as the sheep muscled in on my shot, it makes a change from the usual canine barging in.
I had a go at a couple of ‘arty’ shots as the sculpture stood out well against the clear blue sky, here’s another one …..
….. looking back along the valley.
Close by is this aluminiun plate with the briefest of details about it.
Water Cut with Wild Boar Fell as a backdrop …..
….. and now with Swarth Fell in the distance.
The bridleway continues on towards Hell Gill Bridge and we could have continued on to that point and turned up High Rigg from there. As there’s very little water in any of the gills we decided not to bother going over to see Hell Gill Force just behind the bridge but our walk to Wild Boar Fell in September 2017 has a couple of photos for anyone interested in seeing what it looks like. It wouldn’t look quite so spectacular today so we decided to cut the corner off by leaving the bridleway and joining High Rigg a little higher up, taking a pathless route over rough ground. On the right of the photo is White Brow, High Seat to the left of that and the knobbly lumps of High Loven Scar dropping away below both of them.
On the ridge of High Rigg we reach the well trodden main track coming up from Hell Gill Bridge with a look back for this view to the south where two of Yorkshire’s famed Three Peaks have appeared. The darker one in the centre is Ingleborough and to its right is Whernside. Memories of the ferocious wind we encountered when we reached the top of Whernside came flooding back. I’m not certain of the exact year but it was sometime in the mid 1980’s, a very long time ago but the conditions were so fierce that we still remember it vividly.
A view of Hugh Seat from a marker cairn below White Brow …..
….. and a look ahead towards White Brow from the same marker cairn.
Climbing White Brow, and across the escarpment the steep shelves of High Loven Scar and the sheer vertical rocks of Hangingstone Scar make a dramatic appearance. The brisk easterly breeze has also made it own dramatic presence felt as that we are much higher now and its a few degrees cooler up here as a result.
A longer shot of the same view showing the extensive area of Low Loven Scar below them. A vast area as the shot shows but what a photo cannot provide is a sense of the overwhelming scale of it all.
Best not to get too close to the edge on the approach to Hangingstone Scar. J takes a cautious peep over and shudders at the sight of the sheer drop below before swiftly moving away to …..
….. the safety of the well trodden route across the Scar. The tall cairn marking the edge looks in danger of imminent collapse from this angle …..
….. but looks much more vertical from this side. Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell on the skyline.
Looking southwards along the Mallerstang valley from Hangingstone Scar. The distinct grey line running along the slopes of Wild Boar Fell is the route of the Settle-Carlisle railway, no steam trains went through today though, just a couple of commuter trains passed by while we were up here.
It took quite a while but now all Three Peaks are in view as Pen-y-Ghent, just peeping up on the far left, joins Ingleborough and Whernside on the skyline, and I get a brief reminder of my home county.
The path veers away slightly from the Scar’s edge and begins to climb steadily again …..
….. over Archy Styrigg and towards …..
….. the cairn at Gregory Chapel. So far we’ve had a Hugh (Seat), now we’ve got an Archy and a Gregory, what’s the history behind those names I wonder.
There’s a lot of haze today but it was still possible to identify what’s in front of us as we look west from Gregory Chapel. Across the middle foreground and just to the right of Wild Boar Fell are the lighter coloured slopes of Little Fell and behind Little Fell are some of the fells of the Howgills. The very tiny patch of green over to the left identifies it as Wandale Hill with Harter Fell to the right of it, the two fells we walked just a couple of days ago. From them its easy to identify Yarlside, Kensgriff, Randygill Top and Hooksey right behind them. On the very distant skyline are the fells of the Lake District, to the right of centre is what looks like the Helvellyn group but with so much haze around its difficult to be 100% certain.
Beyond Gregory Chapel and heading for High Seat where we come across a couple of these very large, dry and dusty areas which may hold water under normal conditions. One of them had an outlet into a gill which dropped steeply down the left hand slopes but all of it was desert like today. It wouldn’t have been surprising to see a cactus growing
From the dry desert patches we hit the grassy path again and head for High Seat. The areas on either side of the path are riddled with peat hags all of them cracked and bone dry.
An enjoyable tramp over to High Seat …..
….. with extensive views to the west. There were extensive views to the east too but nothing very distinctive to be seen and much too sunny to even try for photos so I didn’t bother.
View back to Archy Styrigg and Gregory Chapel from High Seat with the Three Peaks still on the skyline. The views to the east were much the same as those to the left of the shot which is why I didn’t bother with views in that direction.
We drop down a little way from High Seat’s summit for a brief stop on Mallerstang Edge before we begin to descend down to the peat hag level to reach Headley’s Gill, After that there’s a very steep descent through the gill, then a further steep descent over the next limestone shelf before we cross the common down to the valley bottom.
As we head westward towards Headley’s Gill we notice a faint path/sheep trod heading towards it so we aim for that and it leads us to …..
….. the top of the gill where this tall marker cairn is located. The deep gill is hidden between where I’m standing and the steep slopes on the other side of it. Using this gill or Sloe Brae Gill is an alternative route up to Mallerstang Edge and High Seat but it is a demanding one. A path is indicated on the OS map but is difficult to find on the ground so attaining the Edge via Outhgill would involve picking out a potential route through the grassy and rocky cliffs, which look forbidding and practically unscalable from below, and hoping for the best. It would be a hands on scramble all the way up I think, just as it was all the way down.
A look south along Mallerstang Edge and Hangingstone Scar from the top of the gill, the Edge is dropping away steeply to the right of the shot.
Out of the breeze now so the windproofs come off and we take a short stop for drinks and snacks at the top of the gill with this view of Swarth Fell, Wild Boar Fell and the very top of Cautley Crag across the valley.
After our refreshment stop we take a few moments to look down the gill and consider the best way to start the descent. The grass covered sides are steep, bare rock juts out on both sides so crossing from one side to the other happened frequently and the gill bed was filled with loose rocks and boulders but, on the plus side, there wasn’t a drop of water running down it. The lack of water allowed us to use the five points of contact method for the descent so at least we could shuffle through the more troublesome bits with getting our backsides soaking wet. Whether ascending or descending patience and full concentration will be the order of the day. I took no photos during the descent for obvious reasons.
A look back up as we reach the end of the first part of the descent. Headley’s Gill is on the left and Sloe Brae Gill is on the right. The green slope between the two is just as steep and what can’t be seen from this angle is the wall of rock behind the top of it. A zoom in will show the top of the tall cairn on the skyline just to the right of the green slope.
After negotiating another drop down the gill we begin walking towards Sloe Brae Gill. Rather than following Headley’s Gill down to Outhgill which would include some road walking back we cut across the common towards The Thrang. In the above shot Mallerstang Edge continues on towards the left with Headley’s Gill and its neighbouring steep green slope to the right.
Sloe Brae Gill and Mallerstang Edge.
Finally both gills are crossed and we are walking the comparatively flatter ground of Mallerstang Common and heading towards The Thrang, its good to be vertical again,
Crossing the common with a view of Trough Riggs to our left, they don’t look too hospitable either.
Further across the common now and High Loven Scar and Hangingstone Scar come back into view as we drop down towards The Thrang.
From the walk across the common a few shots of the fantastic scenery above it, here is Mallerstang Edge and Headley and Sloe Brae Gills …..
….. Trough Riggs …..
….. and High Loven Scar below Hangingstone Scar.
After crossing Birk Rigg we reach Thrang Beck where we were pleasantly surprised to see these little waterfalls, its the first sight of water we’ve had during the entire walk. Its certainly can’t be rain water run off so perhaps its fed by an underground spring. It was lovely to see wherever it came from. Below are a couple of retrospective shots as we approached the end of the walk …..
Almost back at The Thrang now where the car is parked just to the right of the group of trees above the roofless barn at the bottom of the shot.
A look back to Hangingstone Scar from just above the parking area.
Two abandoned cars taking up most of the parking space, the white notices on their back windows explain what’s going on …..
….. so that’s what we did when we arrived earlier. Both have flat tyres, are full of junk and have been left here for someone else to deal with. Its usually up to the local council to deal with them so in this case it will be the responsibility of Eden District Council. As we live in the Eden Valley that’ll be a portion of our council tax bill covering the cost of their removal then. If they are still here by the time autumn comes around then the council might just find itself in receipt of a very strong letter of complaint.