Yorkshire Dales Walks
Gunnerside Gill & Rogan's Seat
Date: 15th June 2013
Distance: 12.3 miles
Ascent: 2444 feet
Time: 7 hours 20 mins
With: Ed, David & Ann
Start Grid Ref: SD951982
A fantastic walk along almost the whole length of Gunnerside Gill before striking across the moor for Water Crag and then Rogan's Seat.
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Prior to this walk it had been almost nine years since I'd visited Rogan's Seat for the first and only time. On that occassion we'd started from Keld and climbed up via Swinner Gill and East Gill. It was a very enjoyable climb but on this occasion I planned a route leading all the way up Gunnerside Gill as far as Blakethwaite Dams before striking out across the moor for Water Crag and then on to Rogan's Seat.
Joining me were my step-brother Ed who was keen to do another walk after he enjoyed Pen-y-Ghent so much back in April as well as Ann and David with whom I'd walked the Atalante Trail in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus a few weeks ago.
When my wife and I had walked Gunnerside Gill a couple of years ago it had rained quite heavily and we got absolutely soaked. With a forecast of heavy showers I was expecting a similar experience this time round but as it happened we only had a few brief light showers early on in the walk.
The early stages of the walk alongside Gunnerside Beck were made more colorful by the presence of plentiful bluebells, first in Birkbeck Wood and then, even more spectacularly on the open slopes above the beck itself. As we headed deeper up the valley the ravaged beauty became ever more apparent. The scenery was enhanced by the patches of sunshine and shadow moving quickly across the ground.
On my only previous visit to Gunnerside Gill I'd only been as far as the main mining remains of Blakethwaite Smelt Mill. On this occasion we continued up the narrowing valley passing a number of features including Blakethwaite Force, Eweleap Scar and on to the remains of Blakethwaite Dams where we stopped for lunch. This was a lovely section of the walk and along the way David, a keen bird watcher, was delighted to finally spot not just his first but several ring ouzels.
So far we'd been on a good path almost the whole way, the nature of the walk changed dramatically over the next stage as we set off across the pathless moor for an extended bash through the heather to reach the trig point on Water Crag. It had been almost nine years since my only previous visit to Water Crag and this second visit confirmed my positive impression of the view which stretched from the distant Lakeland Fells in the west across the North Pennines and east to the Cleveland Hills.
On the way to the top of Rogan's Seat we made a small diversion to the scattering of rocks making up Water Crag itself which turned out to be more substantial than I'd imagined. From the crags we followed a fence up on to Rogan's Seat to join the wide shooters track that runs across the top of the fell. The summit cairn sits a short way off the track on top a peat hag.
The shooting track provided us with a nice gentle walk for the next mile or so until we reached a junction. We were enjoying ourselves so much that rather than taking the more direct route back to Gunnerside we turned west to head for the top of East Grain. Descending towards Swinner Gill we then crossed a stream to take a path contouring above the eastern flank of Swinner Gill and then above Swaledale.
In addition to bringing us up close to the likes of Arn Gill Scar and Kisdon Scar this section provided us with some superb views over Swaledale. Particularly memorable were the fields around Muker which were yellow with a profusion of buttercups. Finally the path brought us round to Kisdon Bottom and a quiet road that brought us back to Gunnerside.
This was a great day out and one of my favourite walks of the year.