South Pennine Walks
Little Wolf Stones
Date: 23rd February 2010
Distance: 8.1 miles
Ascent: 1216 feet
Time: 3 hours 50 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD970431
A wintry moorland trek from Cowling to visit the trig point on Little Wolf Stones visiting the massive Hitching Stone and Earl Crag on the return route.
Route Summary: Cowling - Pennine Way - Little Wolf Stones - Maw Stones - Hitching Stone - Earl Crag - Lund's Tower - Cowling
1. Earl's Crag
2. Lumb Head Beck Falls
3. The Pennine Way leading on to Ickornshaw Moor
4. The trig point on Little Wolf Stones
5. The Maw Stones
6. The Hitching Stone
7. Another view of the Hitching Stone
8. Looking back at Ickornshaw Moor
9. Wainman's Pinnacle on Earl's Crag
10. Looking along Earl's Crag to Lund's Tower
11. Looking west along Earl's Crag from the top of Lund's Tower
Walk Detail: I'd booked the day off based on a very promising forecast so it was not really surprising that the sunny day that was forecast turned out to be cloudy and grey. As it turned out the grey skies actually enhanced the wintry feel to the walk as there was also a lot of snow underfoot as well as a biting wind.
The climb to Little Wolf Stones was a steady one and fortunately a few other hardy souls had braved the weather over the previous few days which meant that the Pennine Way was easy enough to follow despite the snow. I daresay that in places at least the snow and frozen ground actually made walking easier.
Certainly I had few difficulties on the long pathless section between the summit of Little Wolf Stones and the Hitching Stone. In fact apart from one incident when I broke through the icy crust to go up to my knee in a bog it was fairly easy going - well as easy as it ever is blazing a trail through deep pathless heather in the snow.
The summit of Little Wolf Stones was a decent view point with Withins Height, Boulsworth Hill and further west Pendle Hill particularly prominent. On a clearer day a lot of the southern Dales heights would also have been visible. The Wolf Stones themselves were not particularly prominent partially covered as they were in snow.
Further along the route the rocks of Maw Stones and Grooves were also well covered in the snow - the latter while numerous were almost invisible from one angle due to the snow. By far the most impressive rock on the walk was the Hitching Stone, one of the finest erratics I've yet come across.
It had been nearly five years since my first and last visit to Earl's Crag and as the weather had been quite poor on that occasion I was looking forward to seeing the crag in slightly better conditions. It is a fine edge and with the twin adornments of Wainman's Pinnacle and Lund's Tower quite a distinctive one too.
I did not linger too long because it was getting quite cold by this point so I followed the edge along to Lund's Tower where I made the brief climb up the spiral staircase on to the icy parapet. From the tower it was a brief descent down some icy steps to the road and then an easy walk back into Cowling.
After getting over my initial disappointment about the weather I enjoyed this walk. All that snow and heather gave my knee and excellent work out (not even a twinge - hurrah!) and it was great to see this particular area in wintry conditions. Still it would be nice to visit Earl's Crag when the sun is out, maybe third time lucky.