trains too... We gained the open fell where the road crosses the line, and headed past Ais Gill viaduct, stopping a little while to look at Ais Gill itself, a fine rocky ravine. We then began to climb slowly past Angerholme pots, a line of shake holes and potholes, before gaining the summit ridge a little way beyond some fine patches of limestone pavement. Up to this point, our view had been entirely to the east - now we could see to the west too - and it was clear that the weather was not so good in that direction. The skies gradually darkened, and a little while after lunch, as we inspected the fine cairns overlooking the railway, the rain began, a hard, stinging rain that made it very difficult to walk, our route taking us straight into the wind. Then, after half an hour or so of misery, it stopped, and a little while later the sky cleared - and for the rest of the route, we had a fine afternoon. We descended from Wild Boar Fell along the ridge onto Swarth Fell and beyond, before picking our way down to the road a mile or so south of Ais Gill - then back to the car and back to Dent.
we made a brief exploration of the fascinating tunnels and watercourses (without straying too far from daylight), before eventually returning to Selside. The railway can be seen from much of the short walk, though there is a stretch where the line is just obscured by a low ridge - which, of course, is where we were when a long, steam-hauled train passed....
Wandering in the western dales - July 2003
Five days in Dent Walks with a Camera
Walks with a Camera © Geoff’s Pages 2011
The trip proper started with our arrival at the Hill Inn, Chapel le Dale, where we had an excellent lunch snack, before heading for the hamlet of Selside, beside the Settle - Carlisle railway line. "There's a special due through today - hauled by 'Princess Elizabeth' - due off Garsdale about 4.30". Perhaps we would see it?
We dutifully paid our 50p admission (Alum Pot and the associated caves are on private land) and headed up the lane. Alum Pot is a fearsome hole in the ground, over 200 feet deep, marking the end of a system of caves below the moors a little higher up. A particular curiosity is that the waters which gather in the pot finally join the river Ribble from its opposite bank.... Above the pot, the Long Churn cave system can be entered at points where its low roof has collapsed, and with torches in hand,
Day 1: Alum Pot
Day 2: Whernside
I've stood near Ais Gill summit, on the Settle and Carlisle railway, many times - usually waiting for a "steam special" slogging its way up Mallerstang, and gazed up towards the summit of the cragged fell which overlooks the line. Wild Boar Fell is reputedly the last place in England where a wild boar was killed. Today we would climb to the top of the fell, at 2324' - and see quite a number of
Day 3: Wild Boar Fell
Day 5: Great Douk Cave
Bovine observers beside the lane to Alum Pot Alum Pot. Mist can be seen below the surface Diccan Cave Upper Long Churn Cave - looking back to daylight Upper Long Churn Cave Upper Long Churn Cave Borrins Moor Cave Pavements and Penyghent - above Long Churn Cave Potholers, Upper Long Churn Cave Upper Long Churn Cave - the upstream entrance Surface stream above Upper Long Churn Cave Borrins Moor Cave Dent village
A path leaves Dent in a southerly direction, heading up the wooded Flinter Gill, until it reaches the "Occupation Road", a former "green way" which skirts the contours for some distance. Sadly, its surface has deeply rutted in places by the 4-wheel drive brigade, and we had to pick our way carefully at times.
The "Occy" ends at the top of the motor road from Dent to Kingsdale. Crossing the road here, we began the slog up the grassy western flank of Whernside, highest of the "Three Peaks" at 2419'. The views from here are extensive, despite the hazy day. A four-coach blue "caterpillar" ran slowly across Ribblehead viaduct, nearly 1400' below us. "They're OK when they're caterpillars" remarked John, later in the day as a military jet shattered the peace "it's these butterflies they turn into that annoy me" After resting on the busy summit, we began the gradual descent via Whernside Tarns, back to the valley of the Dee, arriving back in Dent as the church clock chimed 5pm. An excellent walk!
Tree, Flinter Gill Flinter Gill View to the Howgills On the "Occy" Ingleborough, seen from near the summit of Whernside Ribblehead and the blue "caterpillar" Whernside's summit ridge Greensett Tarn Whernside Tarns Ais Gill viaduct Ais Gill Northbound coal empties, Ais Gill The Cross Fell range, seen from the limestone pavement "The Nab" on Wild Boar Fell, from the limestone pavement "weather ... not so good in that direction" Cairns, Wild Boar Fell Tarn near Swarth Fell, looking back to Wild Boar Fell Clouds over the distant Howgills Cairn, Swarth Fell, looking towards Grisedale and Baugh Fell A damp spot, near Swarth Fell
A quick look at Dent...
Main street, Dent a "quiet little corner", Dent Dent Dent and Rise Hill
Day 4: The Howgills
The main route out of Dent - the only route for large vehicles - is via the small town of Sedbergh, at the foot of this little known, compact group of rounded grassy hills, which reach a maximum height of 2220' at "The Calf". Today we would climb The Calf - but sadly, would not enjoy the potentially extensive views of the Lake District.
We followed the standard, well trodden path via Arant How - to the clouds at about 1600', and a strong cold wind that persuaded us to keep going, pausing only for seconds at the summit before heading on northwards towards Cautley, taking lunch once we had dropped out of the mist and the wind. Passing the fine waterfall at Cautley Spout, we made our way to the river Rawthey, where we joined the route paralleling the river back to Sedbergh.
Sedbergh - view from the path Descending to Cautley Cautley Holme Beck, from above the spout Cautley Spout The riverside path at Cautley The Howgills - from the riverside path near Sedbergh
Dent is one of those precious few places which seem little affected by the 21st century - or even the 20th, come to that. Cobbled streets, stone-built and stone-roofed houses, quiet little corners - a wonderful spot!
We would end the trip in a nicely symmetrical manner - once again, making a brief underground exploration, this time revisiting Great Douk Cave, a short stroll from the Hill Inn at Chapel le Dale. Entered via a small waterfall, a fine stream passage is easily followed until daylight is regained at the foot of Little Douk Cave - actually a small pothole. The cave beyond needs a bit more equipment than torches (decent wellies for a start!) - the only option for lesser mortals is back the way we came. Higher up on the moor are Middle Washfold Caves - where the cave we had explored actually begins. We took the overground route to this interesting little patch of limestone, where the
stream is seen to enter the cave, and can be heard gurgling underneath... And that was it - just the long drive home, after a brief call in Ingleton for refreshments. We had originally planned to make this trip a week earlier, but circumstances conspired to make that impossible. Just as well - the previous week had been very hot and sunny - we would have melted! In the event, though we had very little sunshine, we also had very little rain while we were out, and generally cool, pleasant walking - the result being an excellent trip.
Little Douk Cave - looking up... Little Douk Cave - looking down... Middle Washfold Middle Washfold - the stream descends Clints, gryke and hart's tongue fern, Middle Washfold Back to Walks with a Camera Contact Geoff