4th May 2015
Another day spent bagging a couple of Marilyns. Because of access conditions, I did not bring Jet on this occasion. As I left the house I had the definite feeling that Jet was communicating a degree of disappointment at being left behind.
The first target was Hoove. The forecast for the day was somewhat better than that for Aye Gill Pike and Great Knoutberry Hill two days earlier. Hoove stands on the northern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park just inside the County boundary with Durham. It promised expansive views, particularly to the north east.
In fact the hill has little to recommend it. I found a spot on the road between Reeth and the A66 to park up. Clouds were high and broken, but the atmosphere remained hazy. A blustery wind chilled me as I made myself ready. Hoove is 554m or 1,817ft high. The OS shows two spot heights, one for the trig point (553m) and one about 300m to the south west of the trig point (554m).
I would have about 100m of height gain from my starting point. The hill forms part of a grouse moor and a rough vehicle track ran up the side of Hurr Gill, so I made for that. The climb is not steep and at around the 520m contour point I broke off west up rough and wet ground to the summit plateau.
Here, underfoot, things were sodden and it was often the case that it was necessary to jump from tussock to tussock to avoid wet feet. The trig point came into view some way off to my right as I sought out the 554m point. I stomped around the featureless ground before determining that at some point I must have been to the true point. There is no man made marker to determine where it is.
I then squelched my way over to the trig point that was ringed by a small moat of standing water. Nearby there was a small shallow sinkhole which might provide a modicum of shelter from the elements. The views were indeed expansive, albeit slightly limited by the facts that the air was not clear and that standing in the middle of a large plateau is rarely the best of viewpoints. It had taken me 30 minutes to reach the top. Darlington and Middlesbrough could be seen off to the north east. In the arc to the south and west were Rogan’s Seat, Lovely Seat, Great Shunner Fell and Nine Standards Rigg. But they too could not be seen clearly.
I did not hang around and 20 minutes later I was back at the car.
The next target was Rogan’s Seat. This is a rather isolated top lying to the north of Swaledale and is 672m or 2,205ft high. To the north of Rogan’s Seat stretch miles of desolate moorland until the A66 is reached. This area is breached only by the minor road that runs past the Tan Hill Inn, England’s highest pub. So usual routes up are from the south. Who or what Rogan was/is, I do not know.
I had originally planned to start the walk up from the village of Gunnerside. But being a bank holiday weekend, I could not find a spot to park. So I went on an extra 3 miles to the village of Muker. As it happened this was probably a better place to start. Here a path emerges from the village into meadows that lead towards the river Swale. Flagstones have been laid through the fields in order to combat erosion. Sheep and recently born lambs dotted the green of the grass. I passed through a series of stiles and reached the river where there is a bridge.
Once crossed there was a delightful walk up the Dale in the direction of Keld to the north. But before Keld is reached, an unmarked public footpath leaves the valley in a short sharp climb up into the cleft created by Swinner Gill. This has some pretty waterfalls. By now the amount of blue sky was greater than that covered by clouds. There was still a stiff breeze, but in the cleft it was a bit more sheltered and warm.
The Gill splits where Hind Hole Beck and East Grain meet. At this point there are the ruins of buildings which were used for lead mining in Victorian times. A group of four was sheltering behind the walls of the main building as I passed. The route continued up the side of East Grain, sometimes a bit wet, and eventually intersected with a gravel road. Gunnerside Moor is one of the largest shooting moors in North Yorkshire and before the introduction of the access legislation was jealously guarded by the owners. That said the road follows the route of a bridleway at this point.
There are no public rights of way to the summit of Rogan’s Seat. But there is a “T” junction in the road and I followed the road to the north for 2km as this takes you past the summit for the final 100m of ascent. Shortly before the final rise there is a substantial wooden shooting cabin, shuttered up today.
The summit is rather undistinguished, being a small pile of stones situated on a large peat hag lying 100m squelchy metres off the road. I had the summit to myself, apart from a small flock of sheep, although there had been other people on the road before the “T” junction. It is lonely country up there. It had taken me slightly less than 2 hours to reach the top. Again, as I was in the middle of a large plateau, the views were expansive but there was a lot of foreground! Great Shunner Fell and Lovely Seat were the most obvious hills but there was also an interesting angle on Ingleborough to the south west.
Off to the north east (and looking higher but actually 4m lower) is Water Crag, its cairn being an obvious feature on the skyline. I understand that it is the better viewpoint but I could not be bothered to make my way over the hags and through the bogs to get there.
At the start of the day I had had a vague idea of also tackling Great Shunner Fell. But time was passing on and I thought I would be tired enough by the time I got back to the car to give it a miss. So rather than returning the same way I decided to make a circuit of the shooters’ road via Gunnerside. I did pass one other walker on the 2km trek back to the “T” junction. He pounded by, walking sticks clicking, acknowledging me with a breathless “hello”.
Back on the main track, which also forms a part of the Coast to Coast trail, I turned east and then south down into the valley of Gunnerside Gill. Here there is more industrial heritage in the form of old mines, spoil heaps and ruins. The road descends gently overlooking the Gill and typical Dales’ stone barns on the other side of the valley.
Above Gunnerside the road then turned south west and joined with a metalled public road which I followed to Calvert House where a footpath gradually descended towards the river. Here, again, I was surrounded by rather small lambs (the ones at home being a couple of months older). The river was too deep after rain the day before to ford so I returned via a short diversion to the bridge I had used earlier in the day and ambled through the meadows back to Muker. All in all very pleasant.
Back in the village there was a lot of activity. I avoided the temptation of stopping for a cream tea in the café to go home.