Walk date – 7th April 2023
Distance – 6.8 miles
Weather – warm and sunny, very light breeze
Good Friday arrived together with the forecasted sunny weather and we had been giving a lot of thought as to where to go to take advantage of the fair weather but avoid being caught up in the inevitable Bank Holiday crowds. J didn’t relish the idea of struggling to find a parking spot, even getting there early these days seems to be no guarantee of that, and I fancied somewhere that wouldn’t be too crowded. In the end we decided to stay very close to home and walk over the only section of the humps and bumps above Swindale that we hadn’t already walked over, namely the path from Truss Gap up to Tailbert farm, then turning back on ourselves and walking over to Great Ladstones and back down to Truss Gap via the Gouthercrag Gill path. A few groups of walkers and rock climbers were already getting themselves ready when we arrived but by the time we were ready to go they had gone on their way and we walked along to Truss Gap enjoying the tranquillity of the quiet valley lane. Once we had crossed over to the opposite side of the valley at Truss Gap we met no-one at all. Just as we were about to turn towards Gouther Crag we did see two walkers arriving from the Wet Sleddale side but we were too distant from them to have any conversation with them. They turned to follow the route down to Tailbert Farm and before long they were hidden by the undulating landscape of the fells above Swindale. Only when we were descending by Gouthercrag Gill did we see the group of rock climbers on the path below us and, in the distance, walkers returning back to their vehicles along the lane from Swindale Head to the parking area.
Parking area below Bewbarrow Crag – Swindale Foot – Truss Gap – Tailbert – Blaze Hill – White Raise – Great Ladstones – Glede Howe – Gouthercrag Gill – Truss Gap – Swindale Foot – Parking area below Bewbarrow Crag
We spotted these three highland cattle sitting quietly in the dappled shade cast by the, as yet, leafless branches of the trees alongside the lane from the parking area. There was another one, looking a bit hot and bothered by its coat of long hair, standing in the sunshine some distance away.
Gouther Crag and Outlaw Crag appear in the distance as we walk along. The rock climbers will be hauling themselves, and all the equipment we saw them carrying, up there by now. Those crags are popular with rock climbers and we often see them scaling the rock faces when we take a walk along here.
Approaching Truss Gap where we will cross Swindale Beck, via the bridge in the shot, over to the opposite side of the valley.
Truss Gap House from the stepping stones across the beck. From the bridge its just a few paces to the path from the stepping stones. Just a very short distance along that path we bear left to follow the path rising up the hillside leading over to Tailbert farm.
Looking across to the barns we passed while walking along the lane from the parking area.
J is about to de-layer at this point, the jacket is removed and secured to his rucksack, mine has already been removed and tied around my waist. We could have left the jackets at home as it turned out. This path ultimately leads over to the slight dip in the bumpy skyline over on the extreme left of the shot, from there the path descends slightly towards Tailbert farm.
Bewbarrow Crag with Swindale Foot farm over on the right.
The path rises steadily and is gently graded with only a few slightly steeper rises. A few sections of it are quite narrow and the brambles creeping across and the gorse bushes growing close by needed to be watched out for.
Further along we came across this deer gate, no sign of any deer though.
The view ahead as the path rises higher above Swindale. With a zoom in it might be possible to see the parking area over on the extreme left just above the small green field. Over on the right is the old filter house which, over the past couple of years, has appeared to be having some work done to it. We noticed a couple of caravans, the static variety, beside the building so perhaps that’s someone’s living quarters until the work is completed.
A look back along Swindale with Selside Pike and Branstree on the left skyline and Gouther Crag just below them on the left. We are about to lose this view as we have almost reached the top of the path. Beyond that point it will begin the slight descent over to Tailbert farm.
The long sweep around from the top of the path passes by a few old barns, some still with roofs like those in the shot, others without and looking more or less derelict.
Tailbert Farm, with hundreds of sheep scattered around the fields and some very large barns almost dwarfing the farmhouse. Over on the right is Knipe Scar and on the extreme left is Heughscar Hill.
Having spotted some handy stone seating we took a short break where the path begins to turn up Blaze Hill and spent a few minutes gazing across at the north Pennines in the distance. Cross Fell is the flat topped one over to the right and the dip over on the extreme right is where High Cup Nick is. We saw a couple of trains go along the lines beside Shap village and noticed the sunlight glinting off car windows as they passed along the A6 and the M6. The only sound we heard was that of some machinery running at Tailbert farm and even that didn’t last long. It was very pleasant just to sit and watch the world go by for a few minutes.
Refreshment break over so we turn up Blaze Hill to begin the return leg of our walk. As can be seen there are no obvious features to aid navigation so walkers not familiar with the area should perhaps wait for a day like today when visibility is good and you can see where you are going. Its not really the best place to be when the mist is down. There are quite a lot of squidgy areas too.
A steady walk up Blaze Hill brings us out onto the flatter area beyond it so here’s a look back to one of the high points on Blaze Hill, it might even be the highest point for all I know. This too had a soggy section cross over.
We carried on across the flatter area when suddenly this group of deer came running across, seemingly out of nowhere, quickly followed by …..
….. the rest of the herd. They were moving very quickly but I still managed to rattle off a couple of shots before they were out of sight. A very surprising sight and lovely to see them.
The deer had emerged from the dip behind this stone structure so we went over for a closer look at it. The OS has it marked as ‘bield’/’cairn’ but it is quite large for a bield or a cairn, something similar to the one on Low Raise, so I’ve no idea what its original purpose was.
Just across from the stone structure, on the western side, are the various lumps and bumps making up Langhowe Pike, the summit of which is over on the left of the shot.
Another spongy area to cross as we make our way over to Great Ladstones accompanied by more exclamations/cursing from J when his boots sank into it.
Passing below part of Great Ladstones over what was the wettest part of the route so far and which was quite difficult to avoid.
Up on Great Ladstones now looking to the northeast. With a zoom in it might be possible to see a cairn on one of the rock outcrops. That cairn isn’t on the summit since what we’re standing is much higher so perhaps its just a way marker cairn.
Looking to the south east from Great Ladstones where the Pennines stretch along the skyline. The white buildings to the left are the Tata Company’s agri-lime works producing agricultural lime for mixing with fertiliser. Nearby quarries supply the raw limestone.
Seat Robert is the fell on the centre skyline but we are aiming for the small outcrop, with its prominent cairn, over on the right skyline
Making our way over to the cairned outcrop with a view of High Street, Kidsty Pike and High Raise over on the western skyline.
Climbing up to the cairned outcrop with a look back towards the sprawling mass of Great Ladstones.
A look back over our route from Blaze Hill with as much peace and quiet as you could ever wish for.
A big cairn on a small hill. There are smaller cairns than this on many of the high fells so this cairn is definitely punching above its weight. We thought we would be able to locate the path leading over to the west from up here but …..
….. although we have a good view of Seat Robert we can see nothing which remotely resembles any sort of path going west although both the gps, with a red dotted line, and the OS map, with a green dashed line, clearly indicate one.
J stuck to the red dotted line indicated by the gps but, as this look back to Seat Robert and Great Ladstones shows, there is nothing on the ground which could be identified as a path. A rough walk over uneven ground ensued.
A close up shot of Gouther Crag and Kidsty Pike when they eventually appeared again …..
….. and the rough ground suddenly magicked up a few sheep trods for which our ankles and knees, and my back muscles, were thankful. The humps on the right skyline are White Howes.
There’s still not much of a path but the sheep trods help us on our way over to the path down Gouthercrag Gill.
Wonder how the rock climbers are getting on? At least there are some paths on Gouther Crag for them to use in their descent back down to the valley.
Gouther Crag behind the wall and Gouthercrag Gill in front of it …..
….. where an established path appears so we follow it down beside the gill. There were a few waterfalls here and there but not enough water in the gill to produce anything spectacular.
The view from the gill path down into the valley and Truss Gap House. As the path wound its way around the crags we saw the group of rock climbers heading for the gate on the path below.
A view of Bewberry Crag over on our right as we make our way down.
The stepping stones at Truss Gap in the afternoon sunshine. Plenty of people on the lane now making their way back to the parking area after their Good Friday rambles.
Back on the lane ourselves now with a look back to Gouther and Outlaw Crags and Swindale Beck sparkling in the sunlight.
Over on the left skyline, set further back from the prominent crags, is the top of Langhowe Pike. A zoom in might also reveal the path passing below the crags which we used on the outward leg earlier.
The light coloured area below the two rocky bumps on the right skyline also indicates the path we took this morning. It continues on over to the left of the shot and eventually passes between the very slight dip in the skyline over on the extreme left. The OS map indicates a cairn somewhere above that dip and also puts the name Thiefstead very close by, so maybe that’s the name of the longish bumpy top to the right of the dip. Its a most unusual name whatever it refers to. Well we’re just about to come to the end of today’s walk, we’ve just walked past the house at Swindale Foot and the parking area is just a short distance away and so the second walk this week comes to an end. We haven’t been able to do two walks in one week for a very long time, what a difference a bit of decent weather makes. We’re still wondering about that clearly marked but non-existent path though.