Sunday, 25 June 2017

Yorkshire 2000s - An Ease Gill Round

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Route: Leck Fell House, Three Men of Gragareth, Gragareth, Millstone Hagg, Green Hill, Saddle of Fells, County Stone, Gatty Pike, Great Coum, The Crag, Crag Hill, Richard Man, Casterton Fell, Ease Gill, Leck Fell House

Date: 25/06/2017
From: Leck Fell House

Parking: Leck Fell House
Start Point: Leck Fell House
Region: Yorkshire Dales - Southern Fells

Route length: 8.2 miles (13.2 km)
Time taken: 03:25
Average speed: 2.4 mph
Ascent: 528m
Descent: 529m

Yorkshire 2000s: Gragareth (627m), Green Hill (626m), Great Coum (687m), Crag Hill (862m)

Other points of interest: Ease Gill

A trio of fells make up a very enticing horseshoe around the valley of Ease Gill, a small stream which feeds Leck Beck and ultimately joins the River Lune near Kirkby Lonsdale. The fells in question are Gragareth, Green Hill and Great Coum - three oft overlooked fells thanks to their proximity to Whernside and Ingleborough. They are, therefore, very quiet - more than enough reason to go visit.

This walk, much of it un-pathed, starts high up at Leck Fell House, a remote farmhouse at the end of a long, winding lane. There is a small layby close to the gated entrance, enough room for four or so cars though mine was the only one today. This location, even without climbing any hills, commands a vast view over the Lune Valley and includes the distant fells of the Lake District and the shimmering sands of Morecambe Bay.
The view towards the coast from the layby
The first task is a pathless climb from the road up to the first skyline, heading for some curious cairns that you may have spotted while driving up. Upon closer inspection, there are numerous cairns dotted around, the most notable being a triple-columned arrangement known as the Three Men of Gragareth. Its origins appear to be unknown but it appears marked on OS maps.
Gragareth and the Three Men on the horizon
The Three Men of Gragareth
Distance Lake District fells
View over the Lune Valley
A faint trod appears at the cairn, leading towards Gragareth's summit. The gradient here is much shallower than the haul up from the road and it doesn't take long to reach the trig pillar which marks the top. The summit is broad so immediate views are quite limited though Ingleborough, sat in the dark beneath the clouds, makes a notable appearance on the horizon. Moving closer to the drystone wall nearby brings much more into view.
Approaching Gragareth's summit
Trig pillar on Gragareth
Ingleborough 
Ingleborough once again
This wall runs the length of the ridge and is said to be one of the highest walls in the country. It historically marked the boundary between Lancashire and North Yorkshire before the county boundaries were redrawn in the 1970s.
The wall running along the top of the fells
I made my way across to the wall, intent on following it across Green Hill and on to Great Coum however, despite the recent dry weather, there were some considerable bogs to be negotiated so I made a hasty retreat back to (slightly) higher ground to avoid getting wet feet.
Heading for Green Hill
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Green Hill
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Despite the emerging sunshine, a cool breeze was blowing and it was a little chillier than the photos suggest. The long northern arm of Gragareth falls gently along the interestingly named Blakeamaya before swelling again to the top of Green Hill.
Looking back to Gragareth
The summit of Green Hill
The route falls once more into the aptly named Saddle of Fells which provides a fine view of Deepdale and Dentdale. Ahead is a moderately steep climb to the high point of the day - Great Coum, passing the large cairn on Gatty Pike on the way.
Great Coum
Saddle of Fells
Deepdale
Great Coum
Whernside and Ingleborough
Despite being in the Yorkshire Dales, Great Coum is a fell of Cumbria. In fact, the historic counties of Westmorland, Lancashire and Yorkshire used to meet close to the summit of Green Hill, at a large boulder which is now incorporated into the wall. Great Coum is a fine hill with expansive views, the best of which can be found away from the summit at The Crag.
Saddle of Fells and Green Hill
Ingleborough
Great Coum's summit
A columnar cairn sits at The Crag with views expanding across Barbondale and Dentdale. Immediately opposite is Calf Top, one of the newest 'mountains' to be classified thanks to a recent shift of the Ordnance Survey GPS network. The Howgill Fells make a welcome appearance as do the high fells of the Lake District on the horizon, the Scafells being particularly noticeable.
The cairn on The Crag
The Howgill Fells
Aye Gill Pike
Barbondale
The Calf
A long grassy tongue begins the descent back towards the car, passing a trig pillar at Crag Hill. From here paths are indistinct and often non-existent. I plotted a route that followed the fence to Richard Man, a pile of stones marked on the map. From here, a parallel fence makes its way to a junction where a further fence leads south towards Ease Gill. Upon reaching the stream, I was in for a pleasant surprise.
The fells of the Lake District
The trig pillar on Crag Hill
Descending into the valley
Barbondale
Richard Man
The valley of Ease Gill is delightful in itself but some interest brews on the surface once you've crossed a substantial footbridge. With my curiosity aroused, I followed a faint trod that descends into the valley towards the sound of falling water. Here you will find a splendid waterfall.
Heading for Ease Gill
Ease Gill
Ease Gill
The falls, seemingly unnamed, reside in a cleft in a limestone outcrop, with the water falling into a kidney-shaped pool. In fact, it is this pool that robs the river of its water, forming Ease Gill Kirk - a dry waterfall - a short distance downstream.
Ease Gill
The hidden waterfall
Ease Gill waterfall
From the waterfall, a tough, off path route took me around the walls and fences of Leck Fell House and up to a track serving a shooting hut close by. The track leads a short distance back to the layby and the waiting car. This was an enjoyable walk, though the plod along from Gragareth to Green Hill can be a bit dull. The waterfall however, was an unexpected highlight and a place I'll definitely be visiting again in the future.
Ease Gill and Crag Hill