~Wild Boar Fell~
25th February 2012
This walk report is more about the opportunites to walkers offered by the Settle to Carlisle Railway, than just the fell in the title. Leave the car on a station car park and take a journey into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales or Eastern Cumbria, save yourself a tiresome drive and enjoy the view.
Wild Boar Fell Summit
Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk....
I'm waiting for the 09:40 northbound service, a lady and I compare notes and we both plan to walk between two of the stations on the line, but in opposite directions. She will be with a group doing a walk offered by the "Friends of the Settle-Carlisle line" - Link at the foot of the page. The train arrives a good ten minutes late! I know I'll be watching the clock and would rather be on time.
You simply have to look out of the window on a trip up this line! I'm heading for Kirkby Stephen and there is no way I would drive to KS from Settle, it's the unstraightest line on a map imagineable. The railway offers gentle curves and rather less concentration. £11.20 return from Hellifield.
The Train Departs
Kirkby Stephen Railway Station
There used to be two separate lines to Kirkby Stephen and therefore two different stations. Train still late, by about 12 minutes, can I claim compensation for a ruined day and resultant distress?
Map calls it "Mound" and further on is the distinctive shape of Wild Boar Fell. One problem with the route plan was the circuitous start due to the lack of a direct footpath in the right direction.
The walk could go either way round Birkett Common (the high bit in the middle) and I chose to go left (east) to enter the Eden Valley and hence Mallerstang - the name of the dale.
Lammerside Castle is no more. It's a bit of a mess and dates from the 12th Century. Izzy The Dog is with me today.
View to Wild Boar Fell
Mallerstang Edge is the western edge of High Seat. I feel as though I'm in a Yorkshire Dale, but I'm firmly within modern day Cumbria.
Sycamore Tree Farm
These photos show well the colourless nature of the walk/day. Well, it is still February and at least it's not raining. The last photo is taken just after the underpass which led me on to the fellside. A look at the time and I don't think I can get to where I want to be for time I want to be there on the route I've chosen, to see what I want to see.
Looking across the valley and I spot a group of walkers, could this be the Settle and Carlisle Organised Walking Group, going from Garsdale to Kirkby Stephen?
Wild Boar Fell
Limestone Pavement and High Seat
Cairn on The Nab
Generally better views from The Nab than the fell summit, Little Fell in view to the north.
Settle to Carlisle Railway
Cars are assembling at the road bridge over the railway, close to Ais Gill. A steam-hauled charter train is due at 16:00 and it is currently 14:20, nothing like getting there early.
Summit of Wild Boar Fell 2,324ft asl
It's map and think time. I had intended to walk across Swarth Fell and then down to Garsdale to watch the train, but I'm not sure there is enough time and, quite frankly, I've no appetite for staying up here much longer - it's cold, cloudy, windy, dull, damp underfoot and not the best place to be just now. So, I'll go and have a look at the "stone men" on Yoadcomb Scar and then go off-piste and join the throngs by the lineside near Ais Gill.
Stone Men of Yoadcomb Scar
The eastern slopes of Wild Boar Fell are littered with gritstone boulders and the area is marked on the map as "Scriddles"; the Stone Men look down on the railway far below.
I decided to follow Ais Gill downhill from its source, Swarth Fell is further away.
Izzy The Dog
Izzy is unsure about crossing Ais Gill beck where the water is fast flowing. After due consideration, she finds the right spot and joins me on the other side. Rather than follow the beck all the way down, we climb up on to the fellside and short-cut to the railway.
Men in Fields
The Throng of Railway Watchers
It was noticeable that many of the cars had females sat therein, reading magazines or staring blankly into the middle distance.
70013 Britannia Class 7, Oliver Cromwell
With a Cumbrian Mountain Express heading southbound. Head on photos are not the best, but at least I was stood on my own, near Ais Gill Cottages. After last week's debacle, I had the camera on "auto" setting and this one was taken at 1/50 sec.
Passengers left Euston at 07:09; they are allowed off the train for two hours in Carlisle and then they get back to Euston at 22:06. Bit of a long day, in my opinion. Anorak Moment: Oliver Cromwell hauled the last ever steam-hauled passenger train for British Railways in the summer of 1968. Let's give credit to those odd-looking, long-haired, shabbily-dressed "entusiasts" who seized the opportunity and made these things possible.
So, after the excitement of the steam train, it was just a matter of the three and a half mile walk back to Garsdale Station, I chose to walk most of it on the roadside in order to keep up a good pace and not miss the 17:27 train.
It's another of those "I'll come again when the sun is shining" walks, the list is growing.
Video shoot of the train on YouTube, by Austin
Walkers: Izzy The Dog and Me.
Time taken: 6hrs 25min over a distance of about 14.5 miles. 2,800 ft of ascent.
Route: Kirkby Stepehen railway station, Halfpenny House, Wharton Hall, Mire Close Bridge, Lammerside Castle, around Birkett Common, Cocklake, Shoregill, Sycamore Tree Farm, Hazelgill, under the railway, up the Pennine Bridleway to High Dolphinsty, The Nab, Wild Boar Fell Summit, Yoadcomb Scar, Ais Gill, Ais Gill Cottages, roadway to the railway footbridge near South Lunds Pasture and then over Garsdale Low Moor to Garsdale Head and the railway station.
Weather and Conditions: Cloudy throughout and rather cold on the tops.
Greetings Count: I passed two other walkers on the walk, near the limestone pavement on WBF. The "Enthusiasts" were a friendly bunch, just don't stand on their patch.
Richard's Refreshment Review: I had a quick breakfast butty at The Station Cafe on Hellifield. This is a fine place with a strong railway theme, a bit like Roy's Rolls in Coronation Street, without all the drama. Not sure about opening times and I can't find a weblink.
Walks from the Settle & Carlisle Railway. I am not the webmaster for this site, despite what may appear to be the case.
Steam trains on the main lines: uksteaminfo and then click "This Week"
All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2012 ©