Nidderdale & Washburn Walks
Date: 12th December 2010
Distance: 5 miles
Ascent: 482 feet
Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
Start Grid Ref: SE119754
A short walk visiting the fine gritstone outcrops of Sypeland Crags and the rock formation known as Jenny Twigg and her daughter Tib.
Route Summary: Summit of Pott Moor High Road - Shooting Box Allotment - Jenny Twigg - Sypeland Crags - Lulbeck Crags - Lulbeck Head - Ouster Bank - Summit of Pott Moor High Road
1. A distant Meugher from the top of the Masham / Lofthouse road
2. Dave on one of the green lanes on Fountains Earth Moor
3. Looking south across Nidderdale towards Cold Stones
4. Jenny Twigg and her daughter Tib
5. One of the interesting rock formations near Sypeland Crags
6. Looking south along Sypeland Crags
7. Dave taking a picture on one of the outcrops
8. Looking south across Nidderdale from Sypeland Crags
9. Dave on the highest outcrop of Sypeland Crags
10. The pock-marked surface of the highest outcrop
11. Tib's Tent, the huge boulder just to the east of Sypeland Crags
12. A solitary tree in the upper reaches of Lul Beck
13. By the trig point on Ouster Bank
14. Knee deep in snow after jumping over the wall
Walk Detail: I chose this walk because, with the shortest day of the year fast approaching, it wasn't too long and it was quite close to home so didn't involve too much driving. While the roads were all thankfully clear of snow after the recent deluge I was surprised, as we drove up on to the moor top, at how little quickly the snow had melted on the moors themselves.
The walk started from the top of the Masham - Lofthouse road just slightly lower than the highest point of the walk. While this may seem like cheating to some my own conscience is perfectly clear. I'd already climbed these moors from the valley floor and the main aim of the walk was to explore the gritstone outcrops of Sypeland Crags, something which we had more time to do by starting where we did.
There are a number of designated green lanes and shooting tracks up on these moors and my own first experience of them had come before I'd even taken up walking as a hobby when Matt and I had driven up here in his old Land Rover nearly seven years ago. In fact the area seems to be quite popular with off roaders. Early on in the walk we were passed by a half dozen cross country motorcyclists and later on by a convoy of 4x4s.
On that early off road adventure the line of Sypeland Crags had made an impression on me. Just over a year later, this time while walking on my own, I'd come close to them again but at the time it would have required a trespass to reach them.
Thanks to the CRoW Act I was now perfectly within my rights to go and explore the gritstone edge. Just before reaching the crags proper we first visited the two large stones marked on the map as Jenny Twigg & her daughter Tib. Between the latter and the crags there were also some other interesting rock formations.
Sypeland Crags more than lived up to my expectations, there were some impressive overhangs and Dave and I enjoyed clambering around exploring. The fact that it is a bit of a pathless bash through the heather to reach the crag suggests it is not that well known amongst boulderers and scramblers. Indeed the Yorkshire Grit website notes that much of the rock is 'dirty' due to the lack of climbing traffic.
Nevertheless the Yorkshire Grit website names a number of the larger rocks, for example, Piglet Pinnacle, Tigger Tor, Heffalump Tor and Woozle Tor. The theme suggests these are more recent names given by scramblers.
Unnamed on the OS map there is also a huge boulder sat on the moor just back from the line of crags. Called Tib's Tent on the Yorkshire Grit website its reference to Jenny Twigg's daughter suggests this name may be slightly more authentic. Authentic name or not Tib's Tent is a very impressive specimen and easily rivals the Great Stone of Fourstones and the Hitching Stone.
Having explored the delights of Sypeland we cut across some more heather to reach the green road that climbs out of Ramsgill in Nidderdale which we followed for a while before turning back left at a junction to come back to the shooting hut which we had passed earlier. Having briefly stopped for some soup (Baxter's French Onion Soup - yeah!) we shortly struck off the track again to follow the wall making a beeline for the trig point on Ouster Bank and then the car.
As mentioned already there wasn't much snow about, the exceptions being where it had drifted up against the stone walls or on the paths. This final section of the walk found us walking over some quite deep snow, most amusingly so when I jumped over the wall by the trig point straight up to my knees in the snow on the other side.
This was a thoroughly enjoyable two and a half hours and I think I'll definitely go back and explore Sypeland Crags further.