An interesting walk visiting two hills, High Greygrits and Moudy Mea, in the rarely trodden region where the Yorkshire Dales merges into the North Pennines.
|Parking:||Layby, Long Band|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
It has been almost eight years since I first visited High Greygrits and Moudy Mea, two little known summits in the little walked region where the Yorkshire Dales meets the North Pennines. Indeed these two particular hills, despite being south of the A66 and not too far from the Tan Hill Inn, are actually included in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, rather than the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Since that walk back in 2010 I’ve revisited High Greygrits but I’ve not been back to Moudy Mea so I thought I was just about due a return. Whilst the overall route was similar to that first walk I decided to extend it slightly so that I could visit the remains of the old Stainmore railway which can be found below the summit of the A66 on the northern side of Moudy Mea.
“As I got closer to the mast I became increasingly aware of the dark clouds building further west. Indeed not long after joining the track near the mast I soon heard the ominous sound of thunder.”
I parked the car on the minor road between Barras and the Tan Hill Inn, there is a decent parking area at the side of the road at about grid reference NY867093. At 470m above sea level it meant that the was only a minimal amount of ascent to reach the first summit. It also meant that there was already a great view across the Belah valley towards Kaber Fell and Nine Standards Rigg.
From the parking area I headed east along the road. One of the notable features of this early stage of the walk were the large number of upright stones on the right hand side of the road. I wondered if these could be old boundary stones. A more obvious boundary stone marking the boundary between the townships of Kaber and South Stainmore was found on the left hand side of the road just below High Greygrits.
At the point where the road begins to climb up towards a small building a stony track doubles back up to the left. Following this it was a short climb to reach a quarried area on my right. Crossing over this I soon reach the trig point, called ‘Grey Grit’ on the OS database, which at 522m marks the highest point of High Greygrits.
Returning to the track it was a lovely stroll in the sun heading north and then north-east. Passing below Low Greygrits there was an interesting area of heavily eroded limestone. A bit further on I reached a shooting hut below which was Aygill Force. Back in 2010 I wrote that the waterfall was more of a trickle due to the dry spring and early summer. It was in a similar state on this occasion. Whilst our spring hadn’t been particularly dry we had been enjoying a fine start to the summer. To be honest I’d been half expecting the waterfall to be completely dry.
From the waterfall I made my way across the pathless moor to reach a fence. Turning left I followed this north over White Brow to descend down to Yardstone Beck. At regular intervals along the fence there were small boundary stones. Meanwhile ahead of me was the steady thrum of traffic crossing the summit of the A66.
At Yardstone Beck there was the rusted girders of an old bridge. This was once on the Stainmore railway. A single line railway between Tebay and Barnard Castle it was originally opened in 1861 by the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway. It was taken over by NER just two years later and lasted until 1962. Parts of the old line can be walked on, most notably in Smardale and around Kirkby Stephen. Although not marked as a route as such it is also possible to follow a section of the line just below the A66. Turning left at the ruined bridge I did just that.
It proved to be a pleasant little section, apart from one unaccountably muddy section. It was a really unpleasant bright orange mud as well, quite out of character for the rest of the walk. The highlight of this little section was reaching the huge iron sign proclaiming ‘Stainmore Summit – Height 1370 Feet’. From the summit sign I crossed a nearby fence to head south in search of the small Summit Reservoir. This was duly found and proved to have a nice rocky dam and the rotting remains of a wooden structure at the centre of the dam.
From Summit Reservoir I climbed the grassy slopes beyond to next make my way towards Roper Castle. GPS or good map reading skills are probably required to find Roper Castle. The site of an old Roman signal station all that can be seen today is a very reedy mound. Heading west from Roper Castle I now headed for the top of Moudy Mea. This was achieved easily enough thanks to a gate in the intervening wall that can be found to the left of the broad grassy ridge.
The top of Moudy Mea is unmarked, indeed the exact highest point is not obvious and is probably hard to say with any exact certainty. Much more obvious is the large mast to the north-west. As I got closer to the mast I became increasingly aware of the dark clouds building further west. Indeed not long after joining the track near the mast I soon heard the ominous sounds of thunder.
I’d initially planned to follow the track all the way down to the road. However with the thunder getting nearer I decided I’d better head back to the car as soon as I could. I therefore left the track to head for another track at a quarry to the south-west. Passing an area with lots of cotton grass the skies above were really beginning to darken. Minutes after arriving on the road some heavy drops of rain began to fall. Initially it was quite refreshing as the rain began to fall more heavily and I even let out a slightly maniacal laugh as the thunder started again.
However just a few minutes later the heavens well and truly opened. Fortunately for me a passing car pulled over and offered me a lift. I did double check it was okay because I was already very wet. The kind chap who stopped for me, who was on his way to Tan Hill, duly delivered me to my car half a mile further down the road.
Incredibly the rain got even worse and for the next few miles it was like driving along a running stream. I’ve rarely seen anything like that, it was a true cloudburst. It also proved to be an exciting end to a rather enjoyable and interesting walk. Neither High Greygrits or Moudy Mea are ever going to be popular but they do prove that there are many interesting things to be found in the less fashionable areas of the Dales.