Yorkshire Dales Walks
Rise Hill & Garsdale
Date: 10th May 2015
Distance: 10.9 miles
Ascent: 1575 feet
Time: 5 hours 40 mins
With: Wally and Jason
Start Grid Ref: SD694912
A long and sometimes moist walk over almost the entire length of Rise Hill before returning through the quiet valley of Garsdale.
Route Summary: Tom Croft Hill - Tarn Hill - Rise Hill (Aye Gill Pike) - Black Scar - Snaizwold Fell - Will's Hill - Dandra Garth - Smorthwaite - Slack - New Bridge - Hole House - Tom Croft Cave - Tom Croft Hill
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: The valley of Garsdale is in the north-west of the Yorkshire Dales and although the road from Sedbergh to Hawes runs through it I think it is fair to say that Garsdale is one of the less-frequented dales for walkers. In over 150 walks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park I hadn't really set foot in it myself (I don't think you can count the miserably wet walk on to Baugh Fell from Garsdale Head in 2005 as we walked up Grisedale and saw nothing of Garsdale itself).
Dividing Garsdale from Dentdale to the south is the long ridge of Rise Hill whose summit Aye Gill Pike rises to 556m and which qualifies as a Marilyn. It has been over ten years since the last time I visited Rise Hill and as last time I did the walk via Dentdale I thought this route presented me the perfect opportunity to get to know Garsdale. Joining me on the walk were Wally and his brother Jason, both fairly from nearby Sedbergh but neither of whom had ventured on to Rise Hill before.
The starting point for the walk was the large parking area on Tom Croft Hill on the aforementioned Sedbergh to Hawes road. Immediately the views west towards the Howgill Fells were hugely impressive even on what was shaping up to be a disappointingly cloudy day. Setting off from the car park we walked a short way west along the road before turning south uphill on a track just before a cattle grid (ignore the green dots that appear on the OS map crossing Tarn Hill, there doesn't seem to be any route on the ground corresponding with these).
The first stage of the walk was basically following the path alongside the wall all the way up past the plantation to eventually join another walk which crosses almost the entire length of Rise Hill. Much of this first part of the walk was quite moist with large patches of bog amid a sea of tussocks which thankfully the path managed to largely avoid.
Approaching the summit we were surprised to see someone with what looked to be a giant fishing rod. It proved to be an amateur radio enthusiast who told us that during the course of the morning he had managed to make contact with other radio operators from as far away as Germany, Norway and even Australia. The general consensus among us was that he could just as well do that in his own living room rather than sitting exposed on a windy hill all morning. We also wondered how fluent he was in different languages!
Beyond the broken wall where the radio enthusiast had taken dubious shelter was the trig point marking the summit of Aye Gill Pike, the highest point of Rise Hill. As Rise Hill is surrounded by higher fells it makes an excellent viewpoint for the likes of Baugh Fell, Whernside, Great Coum and the Howgill Fells. A short walk to the south of the summit also revealed a superb view of Dentdale and of the village of Dent itself. It was just a shame that the cloudy skies made everything look very grey.
From the summit we continued east along the wall a short way before making a detour to visit a large cairn commanding some great views of Garsdale. Later, as we walked along the valley below us this cairn would regularly be in sight above us. From the cairn we made our way back to the wall to continue on to Snaizwold Fell, noticeable for the sudden change to limestone underfoot. East of Snaizwold Fell we began a gradual descent along a plantation, the limestone giving way once again to some quite spectacularly large tussocks.
The bridleway descending north into Garsdale from Peggy's Hill was initially unclear but after crossing a couple of small wooden footbridges it began to firm up as we dropped down alongside Blea Gill. After stopping for a bite to eat out of the wind we continued down through a plantation to reach Dandra Garth and the road running through Garsdale.
The walk back through Garsdale was pleasant and cow free. After a slightly scrappy section between Smorthwaite and Slack we left the road to join a path which followed the riverbank for about a mile and a half. Here we took a path leading across pastures to Hole House and a minor access road which in turn dropped down to Danny Bridge.
From Danny Bridge we took a path above the river, not marked on the map, which is part of the waymarked Sedgwick Trail, named after the famous geologist Adam Sedgwick who hailed from Dent. Exploring a section of the Dent Fault it would have helped if we'd had a guide to the trail as the numbered posts didn't tell us anything. Still the limestone scenery along the riverside was stunning and we also enjoyed a brief excursion into Tom Croft Cave.
Just as we got back to the car a few patches of sunlight finally broke through the cloud. While it was a shame it had been such a cloudy day we'd still enjoyed good views of the surrounding hills. All things considered I can't complain too much about the weather after some of the cracking days I've enjoyed on Whernside, Green Field Knott and Nine Standards Rigg recently. Apart from the scenery it was good to catch up with Wally again and to finally meet Jason. Hopefully it won't be too long before we get together again for another walk.