A super walk from Selside on to Simon Fell via Sulber Nick and Lord’s Seat before returning via the ‘Ridge Path’, Park Fell and Washfold.
|Parking:||Clapham Lane, Selside|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
This was my fourth visit to Simon Fell, a fine hill but one which is very much in the shadow of its near neighbour Ingleborough. The main motivation for this walk, and the reason for starting at Selside, was that I wanted to visit Lord’s Seat. This grassy knoll is a third of a mile to the south-east of the summit of Simon Fell and is particularly prominent on the Ribblesdale side of the hill.
I parked the car on the rough lane leading off the sharp bend on the road heading north from Selside. I’d set off fairly early as the limited parking here can easily be taken up by caving groups heading to the nearby Alum Pot system. From the car I continued along the enclosed track. At a sharp left turn there was the gate giving entrance containing Alum Pot. This is on private land although access is permissible for a small fee to the owners at Selside Farm. It is definitely worth a visit but on this occasion my mind was firmly set on Simon Fell and Lord’s Seat.
“From the top of Simon Fell I descended to the north-west to reach what is known as the ‘Ridge Path’. This fine path contours along the steep northern flanks of Simon Fell. Again the view was superb with Ingleborough now revealed in its full majesty.”
Following the track south I then crossed a couple of pastures to reach a gate at SD782746. I’d been in two minds as to whether to detour to the nearby Sulber trig point or take the more direct route through the gate on the bridleway. The presence of a number of cows on the other side of the gate made my mind up for me – the Sulber trig point it was!
Turning left I followed a track a short distance before taking the public footpath marked on the map which cuts out a section of the track. There was no path on the ground and as I crossed this section of pasture a farmer appeared on his quad bike to feed the sheep. He called to me asking if I had a garden. Somewhat confused I answered no, only a backyard. He then told me that was a shame because if I did he would come and walk through it.
Very confused now, I asked him what he was on about. He told me I should have stuck to the track to which I retorted that I was on a public right of way. He wasn’t having it but I couldn’t be bothered to show him my map and prove him wrong so in a state of some exasperation I carried on.
Passing the front of the farm at South House I then took a stile crossing over a wall. It is worth noting that the stile crosses the wall much earlier than shown on the map. Now safely once again on open access land I climbed up to the Sulber trig point. On my way I came across some early purple orchids and a scattering of dog violets. It was a beautiful day, by far the finest that I’ve had on what was now my third visit to this particular trig point.
From the trig point I continued south across an extensive area of limestone pavement. Just before dropping down to the path along Sulber Nick I came across an area with dozens of early purple orchids, by far the most I’ve seen in one place. The botanical delights continued as I turned right on to Sulber Nick. For almost the next mile the bank on the left hand side of the path was covered in bird’s eye primrose. Amongst the rocks I also spotted some mossy saxifrage. I should be honest at this point and admit that I didn’t know what either of these two flowers were at the time – my thanks to Chris for telling me what they were later on that evening when I sent him photos.
Just before reaching a gate at grid reference at SD772736 I crossed a stone step stile on the right. This gave me access to a superb section of limestone pavement. After detours to a solitary hawthorn and then to a large boulder sat atop the limestone I made my way to Sulber Pot. This was my first visit to this particular pot hole. A dark slit in the ground there was a very precarious rusty ladder, held up by bits of rope, descending into the darkness. It looked like a place for experienced potholers only.
Returning to the stone stile I then continued up the main path heading for Ingleborough. I followed this all the way until reaching another gate at grid reference SD757742. Without passing through the gate I left the path for a steep pull up the slopes to my right. After gaining about 50m in height the ground began to level out. Across a peaty area I could know see Lord’s Seat. Keeping close to the wall on my left I followed this round to reach another wall. There was no stile and with some wire above the wall this was a bit tricky to cross.
On the other side it was then a simple walk to the cairn on the top of Lord’s Seat. Lord’s Seat didn’t disappoint. The panorama of Ribblesdale was magnificent. Meanwhile the short cropped grass made it look like a super spot for a wild camp. After a while taking in the views, which extended all the way to Mickle Fell in the North Pennines, I returned to the nearby wall. Continuing north I passed a small patch of alternate leaved golden saxifrage in amongst some nettles (thanks again to Chris for the identification).
I soon came to a giant wooden step stile. Crossing over I then continued with the wall now on my right to reach another stile. Crossing over this it was then a simple walk up to the left to reach the small pile of stones marking the summit of Simon Fell. The view was again superb. The good air quality meant that I could see a line of Lakeland fells from Black Combe to the Scafells. The finest object in view however was Ingleborough. I have rarely been on Ingleborough in good weather and I was sorely tempted to add it to the route. I was a bit constrained in terms of time though, and besides I was enjoying myself too much having Simon Fell all to myself to join the crowds on Ingleborough.
From the top of Simon Fell I descended to the north-west to reach what is known as the ‘Ridge Path’. This fine path contours along the steep northern flanks of Simon Fell. Again the view was superb with Ingleborough now revealed in its full majesty. Down below there was also a fine view of the valley of Chapel-le-Dale. Turning right along the path there were also increasingly good views of Whernside and Ribblehead.
After crossing a stile I came to a rocky outcrop which made a fine natural seat on which to perch and eat my lunch whilst taking in the panorama. Continuing on I gradually began to descend. Along the way I came across some fine rocks which I assume must be the Black Rock marked on the map. Dropping down to the col with Park Fell I continued up the other side to reach a wall. Following the wall round I came to a gate which gave access to the trig point on Park Fell.
From the Park Fell trig point I continued on a waymarked path passing a small boggy looking tarn. The path soon reached a mini crossroads. Turning left the path soon began a delightful descent in a south-easterly direction with Ribblesdale laid out ahead of me. After passing a large area of bilberry the path finally passed through a wall to the left. Now becoming less distinct I continued heading down. Along the way I passed sections of what seemed to be an old laid track.
Before reaching the wall at the bottom I turned left on a short lived track. This led me to a sheepfold above Washfold Beck. Just below the fold the stream disappeared underground at a small cave. Not far away I came to an enclosed area containing Washfold Pot. A stile gives access to the pot hole, another deep dangerous looking hole. Just by the stile there was a lovely patch of cuckooflower.
I continued north to reach a gate. Passing through I then turned right on the public footpath to drop down a nick in a limestone shelf. I then made my way diagonally across several sheep pastures to reach the road. Turning right it was then a short walk back along the road to Selside. It is worth noting though that there is not much of a verge and I had to keep my eye out for passing vehicles, especially motorbikes that do tend to fly along this stretch of road.
This was a magnificent outing, one of the best walks of the year so far. Everything was perfect, the weather, the views, interesting limestone features and, just as memorably, some fine floral displays. Highly recommended!