Swindale Outlying Wainwrights

30 09 2019

Tue 18 June 2019
I’d been having a read of my Outlying Wainwrights book as I have a few to finish and saw this round which, in the book and on the map, looked really nice. Now I’ve got my precious old Nissan Sunny back after his month-long (and very expensive) MOT, it was time we went car-camping! 🙂

I drove down to Swindale, the lovely, quiet valley between Haweswater and Wet Sleddale and parked up at the official parking spot. You can drive 2 miles further down the valley but there is no parking further on so don’t bother. This was also an ideal camping spot for when everyone had gone home too 🙂 It was a lovely sunny day…

Unfortunately, I read my map completely wrong and thought I was at Truss Gap (which is where Wainwright says the last parking is). I fished around for the start of the footpath crossing the river but couldn’t see anything. I went nearly to the farm up the road, again assuming this was Truss Gap Farm but then turned back to the car parking. The map said the crossing point was where the river was nearest to the road and that was the nearest point I’d seen.

When I reached the river on a slight path, I found it was pretty deep and flowing well – there definitely wasn’t a crossing point. I chose the shallowest point and removed my boots and socks to wade it – I was a bit irked at having to delay like this at the start of the walk.

As I crossed the bogs away from the river, I studied the river and, eventually, realised I’d been wrong about where the car parking was. It wasn’t at Truss Gap at all – it was near Swindale Foot Farm! I looked up the valley to see if I could see the footpath coming towards me which I needed to follow to my first hill, Langhowe Pike. I could see it not far above me and passed through a gate onto the fellside to join it.

The path was clear, good but very wet – it was easily angled though and I plodded steadily up it – already feeling tired for some reason.

As I rounded a corner on the path, I could see a path cut back round a hillock in the opposite direction but heading slightly uphill into a gap. I decided that was the best route to take to Langhowe Pike. I soon had to leave the path in the gap though for a pathless trudge up the grass to the ill-defined pike. Luckily, there was a cairn to confirm where I was.

I surveyed my surroundings for the route ahead – there was nothing obvious – I was surrounded by a sea of nondescript hillocks. The only thing which stood out was a peak at the head of a beck with what looked like a large cairn – I assumed that was probably my third hill – Seat Robert.

In the end, as I had no idea what lump I was heading for next, I had to take a bearing to decide which it was. A bit of a track headed off more or less that way. Good job I’d brought my compass – as it was a nice day I nearly hadn’t bothered!

The path took me to below the peak but it was again pathless up the ridge to it. All the pathless stuff was really tiring me and all the peaks I had to do seemed to be pathless despite the large number of paths criss-crossing the boggy area. Everywhere was very wet and boggy too and my feet were already soaked!

Great Ladstones

From this peak, Great Ladstones, it again wasn’t obvious where I was to head next. I could see a cairn on a nearby lump and went to that – I think that was ‘Gambling Crag’. I took more bearings and decided the more defined peak I’d seen was Seat Robert but wasn’t really sure so headed well to the left of it to pick up a few more lumps and bumps. From here I could see the wall above Wet Sleddale though – the map said that contoured the left-side of Seat Robert.

pick a lump… any lump…

I headed off up to the defined peak and found it was a large cairn and shelter which I’d been seeing and that this was indeed Seat Robert. It had an Ordnance Survey ring too which further confirmed it.

It was quite a nice peak so I had a drink and biscuit in the sun and took further bearings to tell me which was my next peak – High Wether Howe. A further clue on the map was that my route would curve around a very wet area which I assumed was normally the ‘tarn’ marked on the map.

This peak was quite a distance away but was easy going and I had a path for most of it. Of course, it petered out for the rise to the summit!

looking back to Seat Robert

I’d started to like the walking better now though – it seemed more defined and the peaks were slightly prettier. High Wether Howe was a rocky little summit and yielded great views to High Swindale.

looking back to Seat Robert from High Wether Howe

a lot of the featureless ground covered so far!

looking back to High Wether Howe

I knew that all I had to do now was head along the bumpy ridge of the valley side above Gouther Crag. As I reached Fewling Stones on a very wet path, I could see climbers on Gouther Crag. I suspected they were having a better day than my pointless-seeming plouter around the pathless lumps and boggy ground!

Beastman’s Crag – a recognisable peak at last – had to do that one even though it’s not officially included!

As I went across the wall via a hurdle to explore the lumps and bumps above Gouther Crag (including visiting the interestingly-named Outlaw Crag) I was looking at all the lumps and bumps which I hadn’t visited. I wondered why Wainwright had chosen the lumps and bumps he did as there were very many up there and none seemed better than the others with the exception of Seat Robert!

Approaching Outlaw Crag

Beastman’s Crag & Fewling Stones

I was glad to reach a great track alongside the Gouther Crag enclosure wall taking me down to the descent gill. Views looking back…

Goodbye Beastman!

final look back…

There was a good track down the valleyside next to a gill which took me back down to the valley and the dam at Truss Gap.

There was a nice bridge across the river near the dam and it was only around half a mile back down the road to the car.

This wasn’t a walk I’d recommend at all – it seemed totally pointless and I couldn’t see why Wainwright had bothered to include it in his book! I think my photos bear my feelings out here…

I had my tea and, as I sat for the evening reading my map books etc. I was surprised that the climbers were still coming back from the crag right up till 2200 hours!

I’d been going to do another walk from Swindale the next morning after camping in my car but it rained solidly all night (despite the forecast saying it would be lovely). It was still raining the next morning. The ground had been wet enough the day before and my boots were still soaked so, at 0500, I gave up my camping quest and drove off home. Of course the weather was lovely all day there – I just hoped it wouldn’t be down Swindale after I’d left!

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19 responses

4 10 2019
tessapark1969

Nice report but definitely one that doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm to do these hills!

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5 10 2019
mountaincoward

I kind of put the report out to warn people who wouldn’t like that kind of thing not to bother!

Liked by 1 person

3 10 2019
underswansea

Maybe it wasn’t steep enough for you! I enjoyed your write up and photos. I like those rock fences. Sleeping in a truck or car is always a last resort for me, it takes me half a day to get unkinked. I carry a small dome tent that is much more comfortable. Take care, I always enjoy your adventures. Take care.

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5 10 2019
mountaincoward

I have a very comfortable method for sleeping in my car. I put the passenger seat down as far as it will go (it doesn’t go completely flat) and then put a bag under my feet. I usually get a good sleep if it doesn’t go too cold in the night. I can always keep my body warm but my face gets cold if it gets too cold outside (after all, there’s no insulation in a tin box) and that keeps me awake.

We have the dry stone walls all over the north of England – partly because the ground is rocky anyway so it clears up the field of stones. I did a course in dry-stone walling as I have a patch of land surrounded by them and needed to be able to maintain the walls. Having said that, I bought the land at least 20-30 years ago and haven’t had to do any walling there yet.

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2 10 2019
Blue Sky Scotland

The sort of hills I’m not that keen on. One of the reasons I,m not out with Alex on the hills much these days is that I just fancied a change after years on dull hills only bagged because they were down on a list and not for any interesting features. We’d done all the best ones and had mostly boring ones left. And Anne likes city and country walks that don’t have to be on a list.

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3 10 2019
mountaincoward

Well the ‘Outlying Wainwrights’ list is one I’ve been picking off bit by bit over the years so I’ll definitely keep going until I’ve finished it. Most walks have been pretty good but I have some very boring ones to do yet. They have got me into some remote areas of the Lakes though which I’ve liked.

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1 10 2019
chrissiedixie

Love that area west of Shap. James and I ha a couple of nights camping just a bit further south of their, back in June. Very peaceful!

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1 10 2019
mountaincoward

You’d need a raft to sleep on now I think!

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1 10 2019
John Bainbridge

Lovely pictures of a quieter area. Long time since we’ve been up that way.

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1 10 2019
mountaincoward

I’ve got 2 more Outlying Wainwright walks to do from Swindale (which I think I’ll enjoy more) but I think the whole area will be underwater now! Also, it’s too cold for me to car-camp now (I’m quite a softie nowadays when it comes to the cold at night!)

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1 10 2019
bowlandclimber

You got off to a bad start with that walk, maybe that affected your mood for the rest of the day. At least you found the bridge on the way back!
I did a similar walk, https://bowlandclimber.com/2016/04/22/open-skies-over-swindale and found it gruelling but with great views, you certainly need them to enjoy this area.

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1 10 2019
mountaincoward

I think I’m getting a bit lazy and, anything pathless, I find hard and don’t enjoy much!

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1 10 2019
treksandtors

The terrain, rocky outcrops and boggy ground sound just like my own backyard of Dartmoor. Probably a walk I’d like if I ever get the Wainwrights finished!!

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1 10 2019
mountaincoward

You’d like my ex-moor (where I’ve recently moved from) better I think – Barden Moor above Embsay (near Skipton, N. Yorks)

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1 10 2019
Alli Templeton

You may not recommend this walk, but for me stuck down here in Buckinghamshire those views still look well worth it! I can’t imagine how you find your way around so well armed only with a compass and the odd recognisable landmark. I’ve got a walking GPS and I even struggle with that! At least you can say you’ve done it, and you’ve come back with some wonderful photos. 🙂

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1 10 2019
mountaincoward

The other 2 walks in the area look much better – I’m hoping they are. Looks like next year now though as it’s getting too cold for me to sleep in my car and I’ve earmarked them as walks where I can do that (I enjoy sleeping in my car in warmer weather)

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1 10 2019
Alli Templeton

I guess it could be quite fun sleeping in a car – if I could get comfy! I don’t blame you for doing the other two walks next year, the nights are getting cold now, and the days shorter. Looking forward to hearing about them when you do venture out.

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30 09 2019
mbc1955

Interesting, Carol. I’d understood that, several years ago, Swindale had been completeely closed to cars, except for residents, making Wainwright’s remarks about parking at Truss Gap out-of-date. Have I been wrong about this? Also, only today, I read about Drew Whitworth’s own walk over these same hillocks and more! Crazy coincidence.

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1 10 2019
mountaincoward

You can’t park at Truss Gap any more so that is out of date, yes. You have to park at Swindale Foot just before the farm. You’ll see a huge parking area before the walls enclose the roadside. Made a wonderful camping spot 🙂

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