Author Topic: TR - Wild Boar Fell  (Read 663 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Wild Boar Fell
« on: 11:30:09, 17/10/20 »
Wild Boar Fell

16th October 2020

My wife was busy and the forecast was promising, so I set off on my own, with just Tess our spaniel for company. I parked on a minor road between Sedbergh and Kirkby Stephen, a few miles north east of Cautley Spout in the Howgills, and was on my way by 0940.



Viewranger route HERE

I had chosen an unusual route of ascent - I wanted to wander through the extensive area of limestone pavement and crags that guard the western flanks of Wild Boar Fell - there are no rights of way here, and few tracks, but it was all open access land, and I could see from satellite imagery that there were plenty of grassy rakes cutting through the pavement. Lots of sheep around though, so Tess had to stay on the lead.

There were a couple of impressive lime kilns close to the road; after having a peep at one of them, I angled up the hillside, initially heading south east over short grass; easy going. I spotted a grassy way through the shattered crags above, and a little bit of hard work bought me out onto the limestone plateau. The limestone outcrops are known as 'Clouds', a rather curious name, perhaps inspired by the colour of the rock. I was on Fell End Clouds, and to the north east were Stennerskeugh Clouds.


The Howgills, completely different in character to the limestone country that I was now walking through

The scenery was a bit desolate, to be honest, and the weather had not lived up to expectations, overcast with banks of mist drifting in from the north obscuring the upper slopes of Wild Boar Fell. The limestone pavement was very shattered, and there were no trees due to overgrazing, which added to the feeling of desolation.


A desolate landscape, shattered limestone with banks of mist drifting across the upper slopes of Wild Boar Fell

Despite the rather grim scenery, I was enjoying myself - I had the place to myself, and I enjoyed wandering along the top of the small escarpments, wondering what I would see over the next rise. The bands of limestone curled around in a series of graceful curves in one place, quite striking, and a little further on I saw some feral ponies, passing quite close to one, which seemed unconcerned by Tess's presence.


The limestone terraces curved around in a most striking manner


This feral pony seemed unperturbed by our presence. There were perhaps ten of them on the hillside beyond.

I continued north eastwards past a small cave onto Stennerskeugh Clouds, before dropping down to pick up the Pennine Bridleway that cuts across the northern end of Wild Boar Fell. As I did so I left limestone country and entered gritstone, the transition was very noticeable, one minute I was on dry greensward, the next I was squelching over sphagnum moss! But I was heading downhill so had gravity on my side, and it wasn't long before I met the bridleway, just before it crosses a stream by means of a well engineered stone culvert. Tess took the opportunity to have a drink.


The well built stone culvert on the Pennine Bridleway

This was the first path that I had been on, and I made good time to the top of the pass, despite the path climbing steadily. I noticed that trees in their tens of thousands had been planted on the slopes above the valley - this route will be really beautiful in years to come.


Trees by the thousand have been planted in the valley

As I climbed higher, I entered the mist, which occasionally cleared to give me a tantalising view of The Nab, the prominent rocky outcrop forming the north eastern tip of the summit plateau. The mist swirled in again before I could take a photo.

There is a gate in the wall at the top of the pass; beyond this the path divided and the ground fell away steeply to the east. As I was in the mist I thought it prudent to take a look at the map before continuing, heading south along the edge of the escarpment towards The Nab, which occasionally revealed itself to me through breaks in the mist that was swirling up from the valley below. Two people were hanging around on the top, but they disappeared before I arrived - these were the only other walkers that I saw all day.

And what an airy perch it was, a short prow of rock sticking out from the plateau, with the ground dropping away steeply into the mist on either side. Unfortunately my phone camera let me down, struggling to focus on the bands of cloud drifting down the valley and over the fells opposite. It was a bit cold in the mist, but I decided to tough it out to see if the clouds would clear (they didn't). An opportunity to take an early lunch - it was only 1130.


View from The Nab


The ground drops away steeply into the mist

After lunch I decided to head south along the edge of the escarpment rather than head for the trig point, intending to double back for the trig point before deciding upon a descent route. As the mist cleared I spotted several slender cairns on the edge about half a mile away - I had seen photos of these in the past, but had forgotten about them, so was glad that I had taken the diversion.


A large group of cairns are perched on the edge of the escarpment

The cairns are quite dramatic, perched as they are on the edge of the escarpment, but the effect was rather spoilt by a wire fence cutting through them to the cliff edge.


The prominent cairns at the south eastern corner of the summit plateau. Pen y Ghent is partially visible in the distance.

There was a shelter wall too, a good opportunity to take stock, have a look at the map and plan my descent. I decided to save Swarth Fell to the south for another day, hopefully in better conditions, and headed across the boggy plateau to the highest point, a trig point surrounded by a craftsman built wall. Unfortunately the opening was on the windward side!


A well built wall surrounds the trig point.

A faint path led westwards into the banks of mist - I took this as I fancied having a look at a small tarn marked on the map before descending the no doubt boggy slopes westward towards the car. The ground dropped quite steeply, and I headed to the right a bit to find an easy route down. The ground was quite complex, and another drop appeared through the mist; this I bypassed on the left. As I descended, Sand Tarn suddenly appeared through the mist as if by magic, quite a small tarn in reality but it seemed larger in the mist. I descended to a beach at the northern end, where Tess indulged her passion for digging! She was excitedly yapping her head off though, and I had visions of farmers for miles around reaching for their shotguns....


Sand Tarn appears suddenly through the mist.


Tess furiously digging up the beach

I was now faced with a long plod down no doubt boggy slopes back to the limestone country. Usually I disapprove of quad bikes on the hills, because of the damage that they do, but rather hypocritically I was glad to find some tracks a short distance below the tarn. These I followed over increasingly boggy ground, and, despite wearing new boots, my feet started to get wet as the water splashed over the back of my heels - I should have worn gaiters.

On and on the gentle slopes went, seemingly endless in the mist, and I lost the quad bike tracks at a steepening in the ground. I didn't know exactly where I was, but in a strange way I was enjoying the sensation of being ever so slightly lost. The honking of some geese overhead added to the atmosphere.

Quite suddenly, the mist petered out, and I could see Fell End Clouds dead ahead - my homing instincts hadn't let me down. I could see the ponies ahead, and out of the mist to my left appeared the Lloyds Black Horse, galloping full tilt across the boggy ground ahead of me to get back to the herd, no doubt startled by our sudden appearance. Quite magical.

Satellite imagery and the map show lines of shake holes (sink holes) occurring in bands across the moors; I did cross one line of these but they are much less dramatic at ground level than from space. After the line of shake holes I was faced with one last expanse of bog before regaining the limestone greensward. I then angled southwards towards a lonesome sycamore tree, the only mature tree that I had seen on the hill, following the line of some old workings of some kind, shallow slots in the ground that ran for a few hundred metres. No idea what the miners were after. From here a short walk down a grassy track led me back to the car.


Tess by one of the shake holes


A lonely sycamore tree by the old workings, the Howgills beyond


A well built lime kiln

If I were to pick a few words to describe the walk, I would choose 'misty' and 'desolate', perhaps 'boggy' too, but I quite enjoyed it none the less. I enjoy walking on my own from time to time, and the mist and desolate terrain served to emphasise my solitude - a good time to let my mind wander and allow my thoughts to roam.
« Last Edit: 19:40:33, 17/10/20 by richardh1905 »
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archaeoroutes

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #1 on: 15:59:16, 17/10/20 »
You have just solved one of my mysterious memories. Thank you!
I have long remembered a day walking with my dad (I'd have been about 7) with a row of tall, thin cairns. I've often tried to work out where they were, guided only by knowing it would have been Dales and obviously not any of the places I knew well.
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ninthace

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #2 on: 17:00:51, 17/10/20 »
Wild Boar Fell was one of my local walks and is part of the Kirkby Stephen Yomp, in fact it is the first decent hill you come to.  I remember snowshoeing my way up there one winter and arriving on the summit plateau feeling pretty smug that I had the place to myself until I came across a pair of ski tracks.  I did hope that once my tracks had aged a bit they may be taken for Yeti tracks and I could start a decent rumour.  My preferred approach was from Mallerstang side, the Fell is far more dramatic from the west.
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ninthace

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #3 on: 17:08:35, 17/10/20 »
Just to encourage you to go back again - here are your cairns in winter

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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #4 on: 17:09:47, 17/10/20 »
You have just solved one of my mysterious memories. Thank you!
I have long remembered a day walking with my dad (I'd have been about 7) with a row of tall, thin cairns. I've often tried to work out where they were, guided only by knowing it would have been Dales and obviously not any of the places I knew well.


Happy to be of assistance  :)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #5 on: 17:13:15, 17/10/20 »
Just to encourage you to go back again - here are your cairns in winter


Be lovely to be there in those conditions. I'm looking forward to winter!
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ninthace

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #6 on: 17:16:08, 17/10/20 »

And this is the pointy bit being pointy -  to encourage you to try from  Mallerstang

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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #7 on: 17:23:17, 17/10/20 »
Lovely - I may well do sometime, but it is a longer drive from Grange.
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Ridge

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #8 on: 19:28:00, 17/10/20 »
Lovely pictures and report Richard.
It is odd when you step from one bedrock to another and everything changes.

Dovegirl

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #9 on: 20:36:20, 17/10/20 »
Great photos, Richard. The View from The Nab, with the drifting clouds, is very atmospheric.

The geology sounds fascinating, especially the curving limestone terraces.

Love the pictures of Tess!  Looks as if she found plenty to interest her    :)   

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #10 on: 07:49:14, 18/10/20 »
Thanks Ridge, Dovegirl.

Yes the geology is very interesting, and the transition between tussocky gritstone bog and limestone greensward on my way down was very marked, almost like reaching dry land!

..and then there are the Howgills, just across the valley, completely different in character to both the Dales and the Lakes.


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pleb

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #11 on: 09:09:00, 18/10/20 »
Good good  O0 . I had no idea there were cairns up there, maybe one day I will see them for myself.

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #12 on: 07:40:53, 19/10/20 »
Good good  O0 . I had no idea there were cairns up there, maybe one day I will see them for myself.


Thanks pleb - I had previously seen pictures of the cairns on this forum, but forgot about them on the day! Luckily my route along the eastern escarpment took me to them.


If you do go for it, pick a better day that I did!
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April

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #13 on: 08:28:49, 19/10/20 »
Lovely pics Richard of a place I've never been to  O0


Looks interesting the terrain and area; both natural and man made  :)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Wild Boar Fell
« Reply #14 on: 09:42:20, 19/10/20 »
Lovely pics Richard of a place I've never been to  O0 


Thanks April. You really should get out more  ;)


Quote
Looks interesting the terrain and area; both natural and man made  :)


It is a really interesting area - the transition between Lakeland fells and limestone country, with the unique Howgills between. I know the Yorkshire Dales fairly well, a regular haunt when I was younger, but I'm still getting to know this corner.
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