A meandering route on to Great Pinseat via the side valleys of Little Punchard Gill and Great Punchard Gill before returning via some interesting lead mining remains.
|Parking:||Car park, Langthwaite|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
On my two previous visits to Great Pinseat it has been via the fine track heading up Old Gang Beck from Surrender Bridge. For a while now I'd been looking at alternative routes approaching the fell from the Arkengarthdale side to the east. Ultimately I came up with this less than direct route so that I could also explore both Little Punchard Gill and Great Punchard Gill. There are numerous options for shortening the length of this walk, I'll note some of them in the description below.
Starting from the small car park in Langthwaite I turned right to walk up the main road. Along the way I passed the imposing Wesleyan Chapel (dated 1882) and the Arkengarthdale war memorial. A bit further up the road I made a very brief detour into the churchyard of St Mary's Church. I'd guessed that the church would probably have an Ordnance Survey cut benchmark and it didn't take long to find.
"Scrambling up along the stream was great fun. My enjoyment was tempered by the knowledge that if I had a bad slip it is unlikely anyone would find me in such a spot."
Returning back to the road I continued up past the school and the Charles Bathurst Inn (usually shortened to the CB Inn). Just past the inn I took a stile to the left to take a grassy path that zig-zagged up through heather. Just before a wall I joined another path heading north. The path shown on the map wasn't very clear on the ground but the going was easy enough with great views across the valley to the likes of Booze Moor, Hoove and Kitley Hill. Up to my left was the jagged outline of Hungry Hushes.
Crossing over a stile I came to the collapsed remains of an old flue. Continuing on I came to a small stream. Here I left the faint path to follow the stream to the left to soon arrive at Black Mire Dam. Like the flue this small, reed-filled, reservoir is another remnant from Arkengarthdale's mining past. Alongside Black Mire Dam a much clearer path materialised and I followed this up to a junction of tracks near some old tips.
Aiming to take the bridleway heading west the way was initially uncertain. Soon though a fine green path materialised to slant beautifully up Whaw Edge to a huge spoil heap above Danby Lead Level. To omit the Punchard gills for a much shorter walk on to Great Pinseat one can simply continue on up the bridleway. However, I was keen on exploring the gills to the north so I descended a short way to take a thin path contouring across Whaw Moor between 430-440m in height.
Dropping steeply down into Little Punchard Gill I visited the lower of two waterfalls shown on the map. I was disappointed to find it dry. Not deterred I scrambled up to find another dry waterfall. Continuing on the sides of the gill closed in to create a fine little gully. Here, I finally found running water, the stream disappearing underground at the foot of a series of small cascades. Scrambling up along the stream was great fun. My enjoyment was tempered by the knowledge that if I had a bad slip it is unlikely anyone would find me in such a spot. Certainly care needs to be taken and in wetter conditions it is probable that this whole section of the route would be impractical.
At the top of the cascades I climbed steeply up the bank to my right to reach a solid track. At this point I was just over a mile from the top of Great Pinseat. Instead of turning left for the most direct route I instead turned right to gradually descend Tongue End and join the bridleway heading into Great Punchard Gill.
In complete contrast to the scrambling route in Little Punchard Gill, the track up Great Punchard Gill was broad and well graded. After crossing the stream and a couple of well preserved kilns the track rose steadily towards the head of the gill. I continued on the track to reach Punchard Coal Level. Below a ruined building was a nice waterfall which required a careful descent, largely on my bottom, to reach.
Crossing over the stream I walked back to the eastern end of the ruined building. Here I picked up a narrow but clear trod which largely stuck to the 550m contour line to reach the bridleway at grid reference NY952037. Continuing south to Little Punchard Head I then turned east at a cairn to continue on another bridleway climbing up on to the shoulder of Great Pinseat. Along the way I made another short detour to visit a small tarn that I'd spotted.
Making my way back to the bridleway I continued on until it started bending round to the left. Here I carried straight on before bearing slightly to the right to reach a large boundary stone alongside a wall. Keeping the wall on my right it was then a short walk to the trig point at the summit. The view from Great Pinseat is extensive and includes the Cleveland Hills to the east, an array of North Pennine hills, including Mickle Fell, and many of the highest summits in the Dales. Far to the south-west of the park I could even see Ingleborough.
After eating my lunch by the trig point I set off north to re-join the bridleway. Turning right I passed through a weird landscape of spoil heaps and filled in shafts. After three quarters of a mile I made a detour to the left to have a potter about the spoil heaps and came across a quite remarkable man made ravine. Presumably the Stodart Hush that is marked on the map it was a jaw dropping sight. From where I was it would have been suicidal to try and descend into the hush. A subsequent look at the map suggests there are ways into it and it is definitely a place I'd like to explore in the future.
Returning to the bridleway I enjoyed a fine descent of Turf Moor to reach the minor road from Arkengarthdale to Surrender Bridge. Turning left on the road I continued a short way until reaching a bridleway signposted to the right. Passing below Bouldershaw House the bridleway descended fairly clearly until it reached a gate. On the other side though it disappeared completely into waist high reeds. Not fancying a fight through the reeds I quickly returned back through the gate. A thin trod then led me to the bridleway dropping down to High Green and finally back into Langthwaite.
This was a long but thoroughly enjoyable walk. It may not suit everyone and I must emphasise that my route in Little Punchard Gill was tricky underfoot and required some mild scrambling. That said Little Punchard Gill was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the walk. Another was the discovery of Stodart Hush which I'll have to investigate properly in the future.