High Seat

High Seat

High Seat is the highest of the fells above the valley of Mallerstang and the fourth highest of all the hills and fells of the Yorkshire Dales.

Height (m): 709
Height (ft): 2326
Prominence (m): 112
Classification: Nuttall, Hewitt, HuMP
Hill No: 2719
Grid Ref: NY802012
OS Map OL19
No. of Visits 5

The summit of High Seat is situated on the main Pennine watershed; indeed it is the highest point of the watershed in the Yorkshire Dales. A mile or so to the south-east, between Archy Styrigg and Hugh Seat is the source of the River Eden while to the north of the summit, in a broad peaty plateau called Lodge Hags, is Uldale Head, often cited as the source of the River Swale.

High Seat from the slopes of Swarth Fell
High Seat from the slopes of Swarth Fell

Viewed from Wild Boar Fell, on the other side of Mallerstang, High Seat looks like a high grassy ridge of little shape. The perspective from High Loven Scar to the south, as shown on the main image at the top of this page, gives a quite different impression and in my opinion makes High Seat look every inch the Pennine mountain that it is.

Approaching High Seat on the thin grassy track from Archy Styrigg
Approaching High Seat on the thin grassy track from Archy Styrigg

The summit itself features three cairns. The largest is on the northern side of the summit overlooking Lodge Hags and ridge leading to High Pike Hill. The least impressive is the middle one which is the one closest to the 709m spot height on the map.

The small pile of stones marking the summit of High Seat
The small pile of stones marking the summit of High Seat

Located just a few metres away from the summit cairn is a shallow hole containing a partly buried Ordnance Survey concrete ring. It is so well hidden that I hadn’t noticed this on my first four visits to High Seat. Even when I’d read of its existence I still had trouble finding it.

The concrete ring on the summit
The concrete ring on the summit

All the Mallerstang summits are extensive viewpoints and High Seat is no exception. The Three Peaks country can be seen to the south, to the north is the mighty Cross Fell and to the west, across Wild Boar Fell and the Howgill Fells is the exciting outline of the Lakeland Fells. In complete contrast is view north-east of the wild and lonely moors stretching across Little Sled Dale and Birkdale towards Swaledale.

The small rocky outcrop to the west of the summit
The small rocky outcrop to the west of the summit

High Seat is traditionally climbed from Mallerstang, either via Hell Gill and Hangingstone Scar, or via the more direct and steep ascent from Outhgill via Mallerstang Edge. The latter is an exciting clamber in its final stages with increasingly impressive views north-west across the Eden Valley. After the main edge there is then a small gritstone crag before the summit.

A redundant stile on the approach to Mallerstang Edge via Outhgill
A redundant stile on the approach to Mallerstang Edge via Outhgill

A more adventurous, some would call it eccentric route, is via one of the two Sleddales. Little Sled Dale is the more direct of the two and also includes the option to visit the rocky gorge of Brockholes Gill which also includes the pretty little waterfall of Brockholes Force. Be warned though, the going can get rough!

Brockholes Force
Brockholes Force

Other alternatives exist from the B6270 road to the north. Starting at the county boundary there are a couple of options. The most straightforward is a steep climb up on to Fells End before following a thin path on to High Pike Hill and on to High Seat. Another interesting route is via Uldale Beck where there are a few attractive waterfalls. From Uldale Beck Head it is then a rough walk across Lodge Hags to reach the summit and is not to be recommended in bad weather or hill fog.

Fells End, the terminus of High Seat's long northern ridge
Fells End, the terminus of High Seat’s long northern ridge

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