Lovely Seat

Lovely Seat

Lovely Seat is one of the high fells on the watershed between Wensleydale and Swaledale and is one of the summits standing above the Buttertubs Pass.

Height (m): 675
Height (ft): 2214
Prominence (m): 149
Classification: Nuttall, Hewitt, HuMP
Hill No: 2734
Grid Ref: SD879950
OS Map OL19, OL30
No. of Visits 4

Lovely Seat is the highest point of a vast area of moorland, including Abbotside Common and Muker Common, that stretches for 4½ miles from Wensleydale to Swaledale. To the west Lovely Seat is joined to Great Shunner Fell by the Buttertubs Pass. The next recognised summit to the east of Lovely Seat is Oxnop Common, three miles away over some of the toughest ground underfoot in the Dales.

Lovely Seat, high above Sedbusk in Wensleydale
Lovely Seat, high above Sedbusk in Wensleydale

The word ‘Seat’ is often seen as a derivation of ‘sett’ which means upland pasture. I’m not convinced, for a start it makes no sense in the context of rocky summits such as Simon’s Seat in Wharfedale or even Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. In this case the name must be related to Lover Gill, a stream that has its source just to the north-east of Lovely Seat’s summit.

Looking across the Buttertubs Pass to Lovely Seat
Looking across the Buttertubs Pass to Lovely Seat

Regardless of the origin of the fell’s name the summit of Lovely Seat is in fact marked by a seat. In this case a throne-shaped cairn. While not the most comfortable it is, in context, a quite lovely seat for enjoying the substantial panorama from the summit. On a good day this stretches from the Bowland fells in the south to the North Pennines in the north and from the Lake District in the west to the North York Moors in the east.

Enjoying myself on Lovely Seat's summit seat
Enjoying myself on Lovely Seat’s summit seat

Taken as a whole Lovely Seat is a fell of great contrasts. At the southern end of the fell, overlooking Hardraw and Sedbusk, are the steep limestone escarpments of Low Clint and High Clint. Above High Clint the limestone is replaced by predominantly gritstone moorland. In places this breaks through the surface in rashes of boulders and modest edges such as Low Millstones and High Millstones.

The steep limestone escarpment of High Clint
The steep limestone escarpment of High Clint

Either side of the Buttertubs Pass there are the deep valleys of Fossdale and Cliff Beck. Above Cliff Beck are the shattered crags of Long Scar. Between Long Scar and Lover Gill there is a deep gully, which looks like it may repay careful investigation.

The steep flanks of Lovely Seat above the valley of Cliff Beck
The steep flanks of Lovely Seat above the valley of Cliff Beck

Elsewhere there are huge areas of rough tussocky and peaty moorland. Heading east along the Swale / Ure watershed is particularly tough and walkers need to take care crossing the bogs.

The peat bogs between Peter Rigg and Lovely Seat are not a good place in bad weather
The peat bogs between Peter Rigg and Lovely Seat are not a good place in bad weather

By far the easiest route on to High Seat is from the parking area by the cattle grid at the head of the Buttertubs Pass. From the parking area simply cross the road and follow a faint path uphill to the right of the fence. It is a steady climb of ¾ mile with a height gain of just under 150m. Not long after the summit cairn comes into view the path crosses the fence at a stile to reach the top. This is the only option which follows a reasonable path all the way to the summit.

Following the fence on to the summit from Buttertubs
Following the fence on to the summit from Buttertubs

One approach from the south is via the bridleway at the top of High Clint. A fairly rough but steady climb across Abbotside Common can be managed via Low Millstones and High Millstones. Unless reliable navigation aids are used this route is not advisable in hill fog.

High Millstones
High Millstones

An alternative route from Wensleydale is via the shooting track that crosses Sargill Beck and up past the shooting house on Black Bank. Eventually the path runs out by some grouse butts leaving ¾ mile of bog hopping across Coal Gill Hags to reach the summit.

The shooting track heading for Black Bank
The shooting track heading for Black Bank

From the Swaledale side the most practical route is to take the bridleway from Muker signposted for Muker Common. Just before crossing Greenseat Beck take a grassy bridleway on the left climbing up to Greenseat Gate. From Greenseat Gate there is no path. Possibly the best way is to follow Greenseat Gill up on to the boggy ridge. Upon arrival at the fence turn right and tackle the peaty bogs defending the eastern side of Lovely Seat’s summit.

Lovely Seat from Little Shunner Fell
Lovely Seat from Little Shunner Fell

Lovely Seat was demoted from the list of Marilyns in May 2010 after a survey found that is just failed to attain the required 150m of prominence. This is no way diminishes the fell. Its uncompromising nature makes it one of the wilder and less frequented mountains in Yorkshire Dales and is all the better for it.

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