Studrigg Scar, Crummackdale

Crummackdale Horseshoe

Walk Summary

One of my favourite walks in the Yorkshire Dales, a horseshoe walk around the valley of Crummackdale taking in Moughton, Moughton Scars, Thwaite Scars and the fascinating Norber Erratics.

Distance: 8.5 miles
Total ascent: 1520ft
Walk Rating: *****
Parking: Graystonber Lane, Austwick
Route: Download Route [GPX]

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Walk Report

With poor weather and flooding at the beginning of the year and then a national lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic there had been few opportunities to actually meet up with any friends for a walk. In fact this was, somewhat remarkably, the first time this year that I'd been out for a walk with anyone outside of my own household.

Joining me on this walk was a friend from work, Kate, and her wife Helen. This was the first time I had gone on a walk with either of them and I wanted to make sure I picked a really good route for them. As the brief was a walk of about 6-10 miles without too much uphill climbing and not too far to drive I knew this particular route, one of my favourites, would be perfect.

"Eventually we reached the summit of Moughton which is marked by a cairn and and Ordnance Survey trig point. There is also an excellent view of Pen-y-ghent in one direction and a fine view of Ingleborough in the other."

Parking our cars on the roadside on Graystonber Lane we walked out of the village to cross Austwick Bridge. Shortly afterwards we left the road by taking the enclosed Wood Lane. After turning right and then left at a junction we continued along Wood Lane as it passed below Oxenber Wood to reach the minor road between Austwick and Helwith Bridge. After turning right along the road we then took the next left to follow the lane up into the quiet hamlet of Wharfe.

Behind Wharfe we joined another enclosed track which we followed north-west out of the village. At grid reference SD779699 we left the track by a very easy to miss stile in the wall. From there a thin grassy path led us through an increasingly attractive limestone landscape. At around SD778705 we left the path that is marked on the map for another that followed the thin stream to the right. Crossing over the stream we then took the slanting path that climbs up alongside Studrigg Scar and onto the grassy plateau of Moughton above.

After enjoying the views across Crummackdale to Thwaite Scars we left the top of Studrigg Scar to head in a generally north-east direction. Eventually we reached the summit of Moughton which is marked by a cairn and and Ordnance Survey trig point. There is also an excellent view of Pen-y-ghent in one direction and a fine view of Ingleborough in the other.

From the trig point we continued on our largely pathless course, this time north. Descending gradually over broken limestone pavement and miniature forests of juniper we arrived at a path running along to the public footpath that climbs out of Crummackdale below Capple Bank. Rather than returning along the valley I wanted us to do the full horseshoe walk so we walked a brief distance along Moughton Scars before stopping for some lunch.

The section along the top of Moughton Scars is probably my favourite bit of the walk as the views of the valley below are superb. Gradually the path swung away from the edge to cross some superb limestone scenery to a path slanting up a corner of Thieves Moss and then on to Sulber Gate. Looking back down the limestone scenery of Thieves Moss and Moughton Scars is quite remarkable.

Turning left we followed the Pennine Bridleway south until it swings round to the west just below the 393m spot height. Here we left the broad grassy track to continue heading south along a thin path. After about half a mile we made a short detour from the path to visit the cairn marking the summit of Thwaite Scars. Continuing south a short way we then swung down to the left on a thin path between limestone scars. This brought us down to a wall and a stile giving access to the field of boulders known as the Norber Erratics.

The famous Norber Erratics were deposited on this area by a melting ice sheet about 12 thousand years ago. The dark Silurian greywacke boulders have in places protected the underlying limestone thus leaving the rocks perched on limestone plinths. It is a wonderful place to explore and is a real highlight of the walk.

For a bit of variety we left the boulder field by a path I'd not used before. This leaves the boulder field at SD768697. On the map it is shown as passing above Nappa Scar but we took a path passing below a section of the scar to bring us on to Crummock Lane. From there it was a simple walk back down the road to Town Head and back into Austwick.

This really is one the best walks in the Dales and I was very pleased that both Kate and Helen enjoyed it as much as I'd hoped they would. It is certainly an area of the Dales that I never tire of.

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