Yorkshire Dales Walks
Pickerstone Ridge & Apedale
Date: 7th October 2005
Distance: 11.2 miles
Ascent: 1723 feet
Time: 4 hours 40 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE047975
An exploration of the moors between Reeth and Castle Bolton including a visit to the hidden valley of Apedale.
Route Summary: Grinton Lodge - High Harker Hill - Green Hill Ends - Pickerstone Ridge - Apedale Head - Dent's Houses - Greet's Hill - Grinton Lodge
1. High Harker Hill
2. Iron Age earthworks on the eastern slopes of High Harker Hill
3. Looking east along the northern slopes of High Harker Hill
4. The cairn on Green Hill Ends
5. Blea Barf from Green Hill Ends
6. On Green Hill Ends
7. The bridleway that crosses Whitaside Moor to Apedale Head
8. The top of Pickerstone Ridge
9. Apedale Head looking down towards Apedale
10. Jingle Pot Gill
11. One of the many limestone quarries in Apedale
12. The cairn on Greet's Hill with Pickerstone Ridge in the distance
13. High Harker Hill on the return back to Grinton Lodge
Walk Detail: After a difficult couple of weeks at work and a few health problems I took a day's holiday to the visit the doctor (a waste of time) and to clear my head with a good stride out. After the lovely walk along Fremington Edge I wanted to go back to Swaledale and so I chose the Harkerside Moor walk from the Hannon book, 'Swaledale'.
The weather when I started was quite overcast, cloud was low but not quite touching the tops but visibility was not great. As I approached High Harker Hill I was passed by a convoy of grouse shooters who warned me to stay on the paths. The brow of the hill is the site of some impressive earthworks known as Long Scar Dyke that must surely be linked to the Iron Age fort of Maiden Castle in the valley below.
At the top I came across the grouse beaters who asked me to walk along the north edge of the hill. While this meant I did not technically pass over the highest part of the hill I did get to enjoy what views there were to offer. A major annoyance was the loss of my compass at some point while crossing Harker Hill, probably as I was refolding my map.
From the western end of Harker Hill I followed a wide track without much change in height for a couple of miles. At the cairn on Green Hill End I sat and ate my lunch enjoying the views, particularly of Blea Barf while desperately trying to capture on camera the one and only patch of sunshine I saw all day.
Shortly after I left Swaledale behind and headed for the moorland watershed that feeds both Wensleydale and Swaledale. Upon reaching the top I made the decision to follow the fence west through the heather and then strike out for the 'top' that is Pickerstone Ridge, a Dewey on my list to visit.
The highest point seemed to be marked by a lone tree of unknown type growing in a patch of burnt heather. A bit further west at the 'ridge' itself there was a surprisingly good view west which included Whitaside Tarn and Muker Common. If the day had been clearer I would also have seen Addleborough and Wether Fell.
After carefully making my way back across the heather following the electric fence I then descended to Apedale Head. A remote valley in the moors between Wensleydale and Swaledale, Apedale had obviously seen plenty of mining activity in the past. However this only added to the sombre, almost ghostly, atmosphere of the place.
At the same time however there was lots of interest for the inquisitive walker to look at, especially some of the spectacular (man-made?) gouges in the rock faces. I almost certainly would like to go and explore this valley further.
From Apedale I made the short straight climb up to the top of Greet's Hill and from there all that remained was a pleasant descent down the moors to the car. A good day out altogether in what must be some fairly unfrequented territory. Shame about the weather, as with just a little bit of sunlight I would have got some great pictures.