An enjoyable high level walk visiting Tarn Seat and Oxnop Common with a mixture of quiet roads, good tracks and tough moorland walking.
|Parking:||Parking area, Askrigg Common|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
This is a very similar route that I did in reverse with my friend Matt back in 2007. On that occasion we’d climbed all the way up from Askrigg which involved a lot of road walking. This time I made use of a small parking area just above the first cattle grid high up on Cross Top, the high road linking Askrigg and Muker.
Starting at 438m in altitude has some advantages, not least the opportunity to enjoy some cracking views right from the off. I’d decided to do the walk anti-clockwise so turned right down the road towards the cattle grid. Without crossing the cattle grid I took a footpath signed to the left.
“Reaching Oxnop Scar and suddenly seeing the dramatic view down into Oxnop Gill is a real wow moment.”
I found that the faint path tended to stick fairly close to the wall as opposed to the line shown on the map. While following this path was easier it did result in a fairly steep drop and climb out of Turner Beck. Upon reaching Green Mea Head the going eased somewhat as a path reformed to head to the road.
Turning left on this narrow moorland road, called Long Band, I climbed steadily uphill. There were very few cars and, as the road is not enclosed, there were ample verges to walk on. Eventually I climbed up to the cattle grid at the summit of the road. Before heading for Tarn Seat I first crossed the cattle grid to have a look at a boundary stone inscribed with a large ‘B’ and an Ordnance Survey benchmark.
Back on the south side of the cattle grid I followed the fence westwards for half a mile to reach the summit of Tarn Seat. To start with the ground was really quite rough underfoot before eventually improving as I neared Tarn Seat.
The top of Tarn Seat, also known as The Fleak, is marked by a stone Ordnance Survey trig point. The view is quite extensive though my eyes were most drawn to Summer Lodge Tarn. From the trig point I followed the fence north passing a tall cairn which is marked as a beacon on the map.
Continuing on to the northern end of Tarn Rigg I came to a cairn called Tarn Currack. From the cairn, which was situated on the opposite side of the fence, there was a great view down into Swaledale. Turning left I then followed the fence downhill to reach a gate. Passing through the gate I then continued following the fence west to reach the lovely Summer Lodge Tarn.
From Summer Lodge Tarn I continued west passing the remains of Beezy Lead Mines. Continuing on past a ruined fence and another mine I found Satron Tarn in a small hollow. One of the smallest named tarns in the Yorkshire Dales this was my first proper visit to Satron Tarn. One unusual feature of the tarn were the eroded clumps of peat on its eastern shore.
From Satron Tarn I turned north-west to descend to where a wall meets the road running above Oxnop Scar. Reaching Oxnop Scar and suddenly seeing the dramatic view down into Oxnop Gill is a real wow moment. Standing high above the far side of the gill was my next objective – Oxnop Common.
With a beeline out of the question I turned left to follow the top of Oxnop Scar. Soon I reached the point where the minor road above the scar joins the ‘main’ road. Crossing over the latter I negotiated the humps and bumps of Oxnop Beck Head to then gradually slant north-west uphill towards the beacon on the northern end of the summit of Oxnop Common. Along the way I had to cross numerous boggy channels. I also came across Lealamb Pot, a feature that looks more interesting on the map than it does in reality.
Just below the beacon I came across a tiny little stone shelter with just enough room for one. Taking a break I hid from the chilly breeze to enjoy some soup before continuing the final few metres to the beacon.
Tall enough to be seen for miles around the beacon on Oxnop Common is one of my favourite cairns in the Yorkshire Dales. Apart from being superbly constructed it commands an excellent view of the moors above Muker. From the beacon I turned south to pass through a gate and to a further cairn, this one marking the summit of Oxnop Common.
From the top of Oxnop Common a bridleway descended south. Moist to start off with it soon turned into an inviting green path. Swinging around to the east the bridleway led me unerringly back to the start of the walk with some fine views of Wensleydale as an added bonus.
The long stretches of path moorland wandering mean that this is not a walk I would recommend to everyone. However, for those who have good navigational skills, and are not afraid of walking off the paths, this is a hugely enjoyable walk with some wonderful highlights not least of which are Summer Lodge Tarn and Oxnop Scar.