Yorkshire Dales Walks
High Seat via Mallerstang Edge
Date: 15th August 2015
Distance: 6.5 miles
Ascent: 1700 feet
Time: 5 hours 10 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: NY783005
A superb walk featuring dramatic views over the valley of Mallerstang and a visit to the summit of High Seat, the fourth highest fell in the Yorkshire Dales.
Route Summary: The Thrang - Thrang Bridge - Outhgill - Sloe Brae Gill - Mallerstang Edge - High Seat - Archy Styrigg - High Loven Scar - Hangingstone Scar - High Rigg - Water Cut - Old Road - The Thrang.
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: I've had a great time this year revisiting many of the Dales summits that I'd first bagged back in 2004 and 2005 when I first started hill walking. For a long time High Seat has been on my list of summits to return to, mainly because my previous two visits were in hill fog and haze respectively, but also because I fancied trying the direct ascent from Outhgill over Mallerstang Edge.
Parking in Outhgill is very limited so instead I started the walk a mile or so further down the valley at The Thrang where there is room to park several cars at the point where the road crosses Thrang Beck. From the parking area I took the track across the road leading down to Thrang Bridge and the River Eden. After a pleasant half a mile heading north alongside the river I recrossed the river on a farm access track to then take a path leading to the small Church of St. Mary's in Outhgill.
Outhgill is a tiny little settlement, apart from the church perhaps its most interesting feature is the so-called 'Jew Stone'. The stone that now stands in Outhgill is an exact copy of a stone that was originally erected in 1850 on Black Fell Moss, near the source of the River Eden, by the eccentric solicitor, linguist and amateur rock carver William Henry Mounsey. The stone features inscriptions in Greek and Latin as well as a Star of David. Mounsey erected the stone to commemorate a journey on foot that he undertook from the mouth of the Eden to its source. The original was destroyed in 1870 by navvies working on the Settle - Carlisle railway line who, not being able to read the inscriptions, decided that it should be broken up. A plaque below the stone explains the full history of this interesting object.
From Outhgill I took a faint path climbing out of the village, crossing first Headley's Gill and then, higher up, Sloe Brae Gill. Once across Sloe Brae Gill I then followed the south bank of the gill upwards until I reached the foot of broken crags of Mallerstang Edge. Here I paused for a while to appreciate the views towards Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell on the other side of Mallerstang and north across the Eden valley towards the North Pennines. I wasn't sure how easy it would be to find a way through the crags but in the end there proved to be a few different options available to walk up steep grass slopes and avoid any need for scrambling.
Once above Mallerstang Edge it was then a simple, though pathless walk, to the top of High Seat, the fourth highest summit in the Yorkshire Dales. Identifying the actual summit was less easy with a few widely spaced cairns vying for top spot. My usual modus operandi in this situation is to tramp about visiting all the contenders and that is exactly what I did on this occasion.
It had clouded over as I'd begun the climb out of Outhgill but as I left High Seat the cloud began to break up again and for the rest of the walk I enjoyed some lovely spells of sunshine. From High Seat it was an easy walk south along the ridge to Archy Styrigg, the second and final top of the day. I chose to have my lunch by the large cairn just below the actual summit cairn. It was a great spot to drink in the views that extended for miles in all directions. Of particular note was the interesting perspective of Ingleborough and Whernside while to the west, beyond Wild Boar Fell, there was a long line of Lakeland fells which could clearly be seen.
While I was tempted to continue on to Hugh Seat and Little Fell I decided instead on a much more dramatic route by walking above the rim of High Loven Scar and Hangingstone Scar. In many ways this section was the highlight of the walk. Pausing on High Loven Scar for almost half an hour while waiting for another large cloud to blow over I was treated to some quite spectacular views up Mallerstang and out over the Eden valley. From this angle High Seat itself also looked quite magisterial. The walk along Hangingstone Scar was no less spectacular.
Eventually the line of crags on my right came to an end and so instead of continuing along the increasingly broad and grassy ridge of High Rigg all the way down to Hell Gill Bridge I instead turned west for a pathless descent heading for the track marked on the OS map as Old Road but also known as the High Way or Lady Anne's Way. I arrived at the track at the site of a superb sculpture called 'Water Cut' by Mary Bourne. The sculpture is the first in a series of ten sculptures called Eden Benchmarks by different artists that are located along the River Eden between its source in Mallerstang and the Solway Firth.
From the sculpture it was an easy and extremely enjoyable couple of miles back to the start with great views of the Eden valley ahead of me and back up to High Seat and the edges I'd walked along earlier. In a year of a brilliant walks this was one of the best.