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Yorkshire Dales Walks

Middleton Fell & Castle Knott

The Three Little Boys

Date: 15th July 2010
Distance: 8.0 miles
Ascent: 2092 feet
Time: 5 hours
With: Matt
Start Grid Ref: SD630824

Walk Summary:
A wet and windy walk to two tops that lie just outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park boundary.

Route Summary: Barbon - Disused Railway - Sowermire Farm - Low Fellside - Mill House - Thirnbeck Gill - Middleton Fell - Castle Knott - Ashdale Gill - Eskholme Pike - Barbon


1. Looking back along a section of the defunct Lune Valley rail line

2. A dead crow apparently hung to deter others from spoiling crops

3. Looking across the fields above Sowermire Farm to Middleton Fell

4. Matt enjoying his lunch above Thirnbeck Gill

5. Walking into the cloud

6. By the trig point on the summit of Middleton Fell

7. Emerging out of the cloud on Thorn Moor

8. Matt descending into Ashdale Gill

9. The Three Little Boys

10. Casterton Fell from Eskholme Pike

11. The cairn on Eskholme Pike looking north up Lunesdale

12. Matt on Devil's Crag

Walk Detail: This was a long overdue return to a couple of fells that we had first visited over five years ago. Back then we had been lucky as the expected heavy rain hadn't materialised. This time the forecast was for sunshine and showers. The forecasters managed to get half of that right, unfortunately for us it wasn't the sunshine part.

To try and avoid the long and tedious walk through the various farms of the Lune Valley we decided to try and use the disused Ingleton - Tebay railway line that runs through this section of Lunesdale. While one of my walking guides and indeed a DEFRA signpost we saw would suggest the line is open for walkers to use the fences and barbed wire we encountered at regular intervals suggested otherwise.

As walkers were clearly as welcome as crows (see picture below) we left the disused line at Sourmire Farm and then had to negotiate fields containing new born foals and calves. Finally we made it to Mill House where another wall had to be climbed for us to finally reach the open fellside and access land.

All this time we had been subject to frequent showers and the cloud was hanging low over the fellside. After climbing to about the 350m mark we stopped below the cloud level and had an early lunch in the hope that the cloud would lift. While it did so it was not enough and by the time we reached Calf Top, the summit of Middleton Fell, visibility was low and the wind was very strong.

Shortly after leaving Calf Top it also began to rain quite hard and we both agreed this was probably the worst walking conditions we had experienced together since Nine Standards Rigg two years before. To make matters worse a call from my solicitor on my mobile with some worrying news about my imminent house purchase made the climb to Castle Knott really quite miserable.

Fortunately things picked up as we finally emerged out of the cloud on Thorn Moor at which point we decided to descend into Ashdale Gill to find out what the feature marked as 'Three Little Boys' was. As it turned out they were three fairly small rocks lined up in a row on the north bank of the gill.

We then contoured round to the cairn on Eskholme Pike which provides the finest view of this section of the Lune Valley. From Eskholme Pike it was then a short descent back into the valley and on to Barbon. While the rotten weather on the top was disappointing overall I have been fairly lucky with the weather this year so I can't complain too much. The detour into Ashdale Gill and the views from Eskholme Pike also provided ample compensation.

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