Route taken – Tan Hill Inn- Kettlepot Road- Brownber Tarn- Brownber Head- Nine Standards Rigg – White Mossy Hill- Ney Gill – Whitsun Dale – Raven Seat- Keld – Tan Hill Inn. (31 km in length)
Dates walked – 24th/25th April 2011
Ideally, I would like to have made a longer trip, but I wanted to spend some of the Easter break with my family and with Mary going into hospital on Friday a two day trip was the right length. I left home on Easter Sunday afternoon and drove to Tan Hill Inn, for those who don’t know the Inn in question it is the highest pub in Britain. You simply turn up, camp in the field at the back of the Inn and put a donation in the charity bottle on the bar. I arrived about 5.30, quickly set up the tent and read the Sunday paper in the warm sunshine, before having a couple of drinks and a meal in the pub.
I got up after a reasonable night’s sleep around 6.30 am and was away by 8.15. The first leg of my journey was a pleasant stroll along the deserted road which follows the up and downs of the moorland back towards the A66.
It was quite breezy , I had decided to give my Paramo 3rd element jacket an outing, so I put the hood up for a bit of protection from the wind. People who have this jacket , know that the sleeves and hood can be removed and used as a gilet and I wanted to test this out as I had not had the opportunity since purchasing the jacket last November. About half way along, I crossed out of The National Park into Cumbria.
After crossing Great Wygill near the cliffs of Greygrits, I took the public bridleway called Kettlepot Road, on a good surface which made for easy walking. Low cloud was rolling in and out of the view I had ahead, and I hoped that the forecasted sun would break through.
Everywhere was pretty dry and after crossing a dried stream via a ford, I made my way onto rough moorland following a pathless line towards Brownber Tarn. Crossing heather, burnt in some places and tussocky grass is never the easiest walk, but in awhile I reached the little tarn, which was a little oasis in a sea of not very much. As I arrived, I scared 3 ducks, that immediately took off to the west of me. I paused for awhile, for a snack and drink and to send a “I am OK” message on my Spot 2 Messenger unit. I like to let Mary know of my progress and I still like to check the accuracy of unit. More about this in a separate post, but just to say there has not been one miss so far in the trips and walks I have done (when I have used it correctly !! ).
My next port of call was Brownber Head, some elevated ground about a kilometre away. I am glad that the ground was dry, as I was able to take a pretty direct route through peat bogs and mossy areas, barely getting my trail shoes wet. In wet ground conditions this would have required much backwards and forwards finding a dry route through boggy ground.
Brownber Head arrived soon enough and as I walked down the other side to a wide valley bottom, the sun came out and the cloud lifted. Continuing on my pathless course I climbed up a rocky area with a stream tumbling down it and filled up my Travel Tap bottle, stopping to see my progress so far. Soon I could see the distinct features of Nine Standards Rigg. To get there I had to endure lots more burnt heather beds.
Arriving in strong sunlight at the top, I relaxed whilst having lunch and admiring the views. To the north was Cross Fell, towards the south the flat summit of Wild Boar Fell and far to the west the Lakeland fells. The wind by now had dropped down to a gentle breeze and it was a very pleasant sitting with my back against one of the nine cairns.
It is not known why the cairns were constructed, some of them originally 4 metres in height. However one theory suggest that they were built to fool the raiding Scots into thinking there was a army on top.
Walking towards the trig point, (which is the highest point of Nine Standards Rigg) I got an excellent view of Wild Boar Fell. A hill which I last tackled with my eldest son in the depths of winter several years, where the snow hung in large slabs on the steep east slope, making for an interesting navigation to the flat summit.
Walking south away from the trig point you are walking on part of the Coast to Coast path, I passed several cairns and large piles of stones with some good views to Birk Dale tarn.
The path continues south and eventually you see the B6270 in the distant snaking it’s way along Birk Dale. A bit further along, I turned onto a broader track leading to the shooting boxes at Ney Gill. A easy section of track slowly dropping down the hillside until I reached the road at Raven Seat an isolated farm in Whitsun Dale. Here I was invited to have a cream tea at £3 and other drinks. I stopped for a cup of tea and sat down on one of the picnic benches provided. It was later on I realised that the family and farm is featured in the current series of The Dales, presented by Ade Edmondson.
I was joined by one their Jack Russell crosses, who was sniffing the corner of my backpack with great intent – don’t you cock your leg against that !!
A short distance of road walking brought me to the campsite in the village of Keld my stop for the night. I arrived at the same time as another backpacker and we camped amongst other backpackers and soon struck up a conversation comparing our tents, backpacks and other bits of kit. It turned out that he was shortly going to do the TGO and was on a finally preparation walk.
I set the Soulo up in about 3 minutes flat, a tent a bit heavy at 2 kg, but just about the fastest pitching tent I have seen. Brew on and relaxing in no time at all.
After dinner, I listen to the iPod and then drifted off to sleep. My Achilles tendon was playing up during the night with a sharp pulse on a regular basis. My knees played up for a while during several trips but I have largely cured this through exercise. However I was a bit more concerned about this pain, probably brought on by not much walking in recent months. My concern was that I did not want to get problems with the Achilles in my right leg as some 18 years ago I snapped the one in the left foot playing a rather vigorous game of squash. With the comments of my doctor at the time, “you are likely to do the same with the other leg sometime” repeating in my head, I decided that I would change my route to be taken in the morning.
I was up and away by 8.30 am and said goodbye to the backpackers camped around me and headed up the 1 in 4 road from Keld in the direction of Tan Hill. Several times I tried to take a footpath to meet the Pennine Way, but I was not able to find one and the other was blocked by a stone wall and barbed wire. Further along I found a way up to the Pennine Way and headed north as the clouds came down and it started to drizzle.
I walked along the Pennine Way for about another 4 miles, until I came to a broad track leading down hill back to the Tan Hill Inn. My trip a little shorter than I anticipated but a couple of good days of walking for my first trip for a number of months.