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Yorkshire Dales Walks

Woldside & Yockenthwaite Moor Walk

Date: 30th May 2015
Distance: 13.3 miles
Ascent: 2162 feet
Time: 7 hours 20 mins
With: Paul and Stuart
Start Grid Ref: SD903862

Walk Summary:
A rough but rewarding walk from Marsett over Woldside and Yockenthwaite Moor before a lovely descent above Cragdale.

Route Summary: Marsett - Ridge Head Hill - Flaight Moss - Fleet Moss Tarn - Woldside - Oughtershaw Tarn - Deepdale Haw - Middle Tongue Tarn - Yockenthwaite Moor - Cray Tarn - South Grain Tarn - Stake Moss - Shaw Gate - High Lane - Bob Lane - Stalling Busk - Busk Lane - Marsett

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

The Wesleyan Chapel in Marsett
The track on Marsett Ridge looking ahead to Ridge Head Hill
The view behind us of Raydale
Looking down on Raydale House
Woldside appearing above the head of New Close Gill
Stuart navigating the peat groughs of Fleet Moss
Tiny Fleet Moss Tarn
High Green Field Knott from Fleet Moss
Jeffery Pot Scar along the northern edge of Woldside's summit
A yellow mountain pansy on the summit plateau of Woldside
Standing around the small pile of stones on the 596m spot height
Ingleborough from Woldside
The peaty approach to Oughtershaw Tarn
Stuart and Paul negotiating the peat hags and groughs between Woldside and Oughtershaw Tarn
Paul enjoying the view across Oughtershaw Tarn
Looking back at Oughtershaw Tarn and Woldside
Stuart and Paul heading towards Deepdale Haw
Raydale and Semer Water from the climb up on to Deepdale Haw
Langstrothdale and Birks Fell from Deepdale Haw
Stuart using a walking pole to test the depth of the peat
Semer Water from the wall to the north-east of the 634m top on Yockenthwaite Moor
The small pile of stones on the 634m spot height on Yockenthwaite Moor
The head of Cragdale
By the trig point on the summit of Yockenthwaite Moor
Stuart and Paul taking shelter among the peat hags to eat lunch
Following the fence on Yockenthwaite Moor is not always the best option
Looking down on the small tarn of Hunters Hole
The meagre remains of Cray Tarn
South Grain Tarn
Following the wall on Stake Moss after finally leaving the peat behind
The super view of Raydale and Wether Fell on the descent from Stake Moss
Yockenthwaite Moor above Cragdale
A lamb above Cragdale Water
Looking across the top of Raydale towards Woldside
The stony Busk Lane between Stalling Busk and Marsett

Walk Detail: Just a week after we'd walked across Little Fell and Mickle Fell in the North Pennines I met up again with Paul and Stuart for this challenging route on the moors above Raydale. It is a walk I've been meaning to attempt for a while and after the dry conditions we encountered the previous weekend it seemed like an opportune time to tackle the notoriously peaty terrain on Yockenthwaite Moor.

From Marsett the route I had plotted left the village by the church to climb up the increasingly broad ridge west towards Fleet Moss. I was expecting this to be almost completely pathless but happily there was a good track on the section up Marsett Ridge and thereafter a reasonably clear quad track on easy grass slopes until we encountered the first (but certainly not last!) peaty ground of the day on Flaight Moss.

Having crossed Flaight Moss we continued upwards to reach the edge of the similarly named Fleet Moss. Arrival at Fleet Moss coincided with the sudden and impressive appearance of Ingleborough to the south-west. We could have largely avoided the hags and groughs of Fleet Moss and made a more direct line for Woldside at this stage but I wanted to take a look at Fleet Moss Tarn. This proved to be a fairly small tarn, the surrounding grass suggested to me that the tarn was once larger in extent.

From Fleet Moss Tarn we made our way to the nearby wall which we followed up to the rim of Jeffery Pot Scar. Carefully climbing over the wall brought us to the wide grassy limestone plateau of Woldside. A noticeable feature of the summit was the smattering of yellow and purple mountain pansies. A small pile of stones marked the 596m spot height but we all agreed that there was higher ground to the west. Despite being such a broad flat summit the view from Woldside was quite extensive and with the air quality so good we could see as far west as the coast and east towards the silhouette of the Cleveland Hills.

From the summit we followed the wall south-east where a sudden drop in the ground suddenly revealed Oughtershaw Tarn on the moor below. We could also clearly see the peaty terrain we would have to cross to reach it. In the event this did not prove too troublesome to cross but like much of the route it is not a section I would fancy tackling after a sustained spell of wet weather. Oughtershaw Tarn proved to be a lovely sheet of water, quite easily the finest tarn we passed on the walk.

The ground to the south of Oughtershaw Tarn was somewhat easier and next we made our way up to the 608m spot height on Deepdale Haw. The climb up to the latter revealed some fine views of Raydale and Semer Water to the north. Having crossed over a wall we were then treated to a contrasting view of a section of Langstrothdale. Once again the spot height did not seem to match the highest point and we did wonder whether Deepdale Haw may actually qualify as a 2,000ft summit. It is not listed on the Database of British Hills even as a sub-Nuttall and my guess is it probably falls just short in terms of height and prominence. Nevertheless we still felt compelled to build a small pile of stones on the highest point just in case.

Between Deepdale Haw and the summit of Yockenthwaite Moor we did a bit of weaving about to visit various features and points on the map. In addition to the 634m spot height (which was classed as a separate summit on old hill lists and which was marked by a small cairn) we also passed a couple of tarns. Disappointingly the unnamed tarn below the subsidary top and Middle Tongue Tarn were both empty. Consolation was had though in our detour to the head of Cragdale, giving us our first glimpse of this side valley of Raydale.

From (former) Middle Tongue Tarn we crossed some particularly gruelling ground to reach the trig point marking the highest point of Yockenthwaite Moor. In doing so I achieved a small personal milestone by having visited all the Nuttalls in the Yorkshire Dales at least twice. By this time the sunny spells of the morning had given way to cloudier conditions and with a cold breeze blowing we took advantage of the shelter afforded by one of the nearby groughs to have some lunch.

For the next mile and a half we followed the fence east over yet more rough ground. Along the way we made a couple of diversions to visit two tarns that were just off route. The first, Hunters Hole, was like a watery exclamation mark in an area of grass surrounded by heather and peat and the second one, Cray Tarn, had shrunk to the size of a large puddle. After passing South Grain Tarn, located near the fence and not requiring a detour, we finally left the peat behind to enter the grassy upland pastures of Stake Moss. A dead straight two-thirds of a mile alongside a wall brought us to the byway between Cray and Stalling Busk.

Rather than following this broad track all the way to Stalling Busk we instead took the footpath descending to Shaw Gate enjoying some quite superb views of Raydale and Cragdale. Eventually we rejoined the byway at Bank Wood continuing on along this until leaving it again at Bob Lane which took us into the small village of Stalling Busk. The walk concluded on the rocky track of Busk Lane which brought us finally back to Marsett.

We all thoroughly enjoyed this walk. Although much of the terrain was challenging it was not as difficult as we had anticipated. Having said that the peat was at least a couple of feet deep in places and at one point I went in to a wet bog hole up to my knee. Certainly this is not a route I would recommend as a solo walk after a sustained wet spell! What was perhaps more surprising about the walk were the extensive and varied views especially from Woldside but also from Deepdale Haw and the superb descent to Shaw Gate.

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