Great Knoutberry Hill

Great Knoutberry Hill

Great Knoutberry Hill is the highest point of Widdale Fell and is a great viewpoint for the western Dales, especially from Galloway Gate, the old drove road that traverses the fell’s western flanks.

Height (m): 672
Height (ft): 2205
Prominence (m): 254
Classification: Nuttall, Hewitt, Marilyn
Hill No: 2784
Grid Ref: SD788871
OS Map OL2
No. of Visits 2

Great Knoutberry Hill is the name given to the large dome-shaped summit of Widdale Fell a long ridge which, as it’s name suggests, runs the whole length of Widdale. In addition to Widdale the fell also has a foothold in Dentdale, Garsdale, Mossdale and Wensleydale. The boundary between modern day Cumbria and Yorkshire runs along the top of the fell, once upon a time it was the boundary between the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire.

Great Knoutberry Hill from Great Coum
Great Knoutberry Hill from Great Coum

The name of the fell comes from the knoutberry, a dialect name for the cloudberry. A relative of the raspberry, the cloudberry is mainly found in sub-Arctic regions but can also be found in upland areas in northern Britain. Other fells in the Dales have similar or related names including Knoutberry Haw on Baugh Fell and Naughtberry Hill above Bishopdale, meanwhile there is a cairn between Great Shunner Fell and Hugh Seat known as Knoutberry Currack.

Looking down Dentdale towards Great Knoutberry Hill
Looking down Dentdale towards Great Knoutberry Hill

The highest point of the fell is marked by an Ordnance Survey column near a wall and fence junction. The trig point actually stands on the Cumbrian side of the fence though prior to 1974 it would have been in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Also on the summit, on the Yorkshire side of the fence junction, is a well built stone shelter. The view is a good one with all of the major hills of the western Dales on view. On a clear day the Lake District fells, including the Scafells and Great Gable can be seen.

By the trig point on Great Knoutberry Hill
By the trig point on Great Knoutberry Hill

Arguably the best views on Great Knoutberry Hill are to be found on Galloway Gate – the old drove road that traverses the western slopes of the fell above Dentdale. Part of Galloway Gate still exists as a metalled road climbing up from Garsdale Station, the finest stretch exists today as a bridleway contouring around Great Knoutberry Hill above 500m. The views are wonderful with the highlight being the full length view of Dentdale.

The view of Dentdale from Galloway Gate
The view of Dentdale from Galloway Gate

Below Galloway Gate is a section of a more modern transport route – the Settle-Carlisle railway, thankfully still very much in use. Dent Station, which at 1150ft (350m) above sea level is the highest railway station on the line and indeed in the whole of England, is situated on the slopes of the fell just one and a half miles from the summit as the crow flies. Artengill Viaduct, which almost rivals the famous Ribblehead Viaduct as one of the most scenic viaducts on the Settle-Carlisle line, bridges Arten Gill that separates Great Knoutberry Hill from neighbouring Wold Fell.

Looking down on Dent Station from the flanks of Great Knoutberry Hill
Looking down on Dent Station from the flanks of Great Knoutberry Hill

To the north-east of the summit, and well worth a visit, are two tarns – Widdale Great Tarn and Widdale Little Tarn. When I first took up hillwalking in 2004 these were, with the exception of the very different Malham Tarn, the first upland tarns that I had visited. Although they may be counted dull by Lakeland standards, they cast an immediate spell over me and I remember them as one of the highlights of what was an amazing year of discovery.

Widdale Great Tarn
Widdale Great Tarn

When I next returned in 2012 it was to discover that someone had, rather bizarrely built a grouse butt right in the middle of Widdale Little Tarn. Accessible by a small stone causeway it certainly made for a unique location in which to enjoy one’s lunch.

The grouse butt in the centre of Widdale Little Tarn
The grouse butt in the centre of Widdale Little Tarn

The long and broad ridge of Widdale Fell, running north-west beyond the tarns, is an area little frequented by walkers. On my first visit with my friend Matt, back in 2004, we did actually walk a few miles across the ridge over Little Knoutberry Hill to eventually drop down to the bridleway crossing Rowantree Gill.

The grouse butt in the centre of Widdale Little Tarn
The grouse butt in the centre of Widdale Little Tarn

Sadly I have few photos of the walk (my memory card at the time would only hold about 18 pictures) so there is not much to jog my mind about Widdale Fell. I do remember it being almost entirely pathless with some large shake holes and some good views of Widdale and Wensleydale. It is an area ripe for investigation and definitely a place I’d like to return to.

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