Yorkshire Dales Walks
Wig Stones & Great Wolfrey Crag
Date: 22nd February 2014
Distance: 7.3 miles
Ascent: 871 feet
Time: 5 hours 10 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SE063640
A walk exploring the moors just north of Grimwith Reservoir including the impressive gritstone features of the Wig Stones and Great Wolfrey Crag.
Route Summary: Grimwith Reservoir - Limekiln Ridge - Trunla Hill - Wig Stones Sikes Head - Great Wolfrey Crag - Gate Up Gill - Grimwith Reservoir
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: I'd spent the evening before working out a route for a walk in the North York Moors then, shortly before midnight, I changed my mind and opted for this walk. When I arrived at Grimwith Reservoir to find low cloud and driving rain I initially regretted my decision as I spent an hour in the car waiting for the rain to stop whilst also wondering what had happened to the sunshine that was forecast.
Eventually the rain stopped so I set off from the car park heading east on the path around the reservoir. Right from the start the outline of my first objective, the Wig Stones, could be seen high up on the moor above the reservoir. Shortly after passing the centuries old thatched barn of High Shaws Laithe I was on the receiving end of a particularly sharp and icy shower. Fortunately this was to be the last one of the walk.
After crossing Grimwith Beck and passing a small stand of trees on the left of the path I went through a gate marked 'No Public Access' to follow twenty metres of track in to access land. After a quick left and then right turn past a shooting house the track continued dead straight up on to the moor alongside a wall. As I neared Trunla Hill the sun finally began to make an appearance but even though the skies cleared considerably to the south and east it appeared only sporadically above me.
After the main track passed through the wall I continued following the latter on a muddier path before eventually striking out across the moor for the Wig Stones. Even though they stand out quite prominently on the skyline I still wasn't quite expecting them to be quite so large. The views from the top were excellent, as well as a great view back to the reservoir and Simon's Seat I could also make out Ovenden Moor, Boulsworth Hill, Pendle Hill, Longridge Fell and even Fair Snape Fell and Parlick at the southern end of the Forest of Bowland.
After eating my soup in the shelter of a small stone wall built half way up the Wig Stones I set off for my next objective which was Great Wolfrey Crag. Viewed on the map it looked a fairly simple mile or so. As it happened this section was one the wettest underfoot that I've yet done, the region around Sikes Head was more like a swamp and the ground that wasn't wet and reedy had a tendency to wobble alarmingly.
The wet ground kept forcing me further north so after crossing Sykes Grain I then headed south-west over Wolfrey Moss to eventually reach Great Wolfrey Crag. The crag itself proved to be a real tumble of rocks surrounded by some quite thick heather. There were more than the usual number of deep clefts between the main rocks and also a lot of holes hidden in the heather. It made exploring the crag quite tricky and a great deal of care needed to be taken.
Unfortunately I didn't take enough care of my camera and excited by a sudden patch of sunlight on the crag I set up my tripod and set the camera on the timer. After the picture was taken I walked back to the camera only to watch in horror as the tripod blew over and landed lens first on the hard rock. Fearing the worst I saw that the filter was smashed and had been jammed into the lens. There was nothing I could do other than swap the lens for my telephoto lens and continue the walk, needless to say my concern for my camera overshadowed the rest of the walk.
The descent to Gate Up Gill proved to be tricky, mainly due to the boulders and holes hidden in the heather. The walk back along the gill also proved to be rougher than expected but once I reached an old mining track half way down the gill it was then an easy walk back to Grimwith Reservoir, then it was just a simple task of following the reservoir path anti-clockwise back to the start.
For a number of reasons the day hadn't entirely gone as expected. The Wig Stones were definitely worth a visit but I wouldn't want to head across Sykes Head again in a hurry. Great Wolfrey Crag was also impressive but I would urge anyone visiting it to be extremely careful where they put their feet. I'm pleased to report that the walk had a happy post-script when the camera shop managed to remove the broken filter and confirmed that there had had been no damage to the lens itself. Phew.