Gragareth & Ireby Cavern

Walk Summary

An interesting walk from the Leck Fell road up on to Gragareth before returning via the Turbary Road, Kail Pot, Marble Steps Pot and Ireby Cavern.

Distance: 5.5 miles
Total ascent: 1250ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Roadside, Leck Fell Road
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

This was my first walk with my friend Tim, author of Explore Bowland and the old Bowland Walks website, for over two and a half years. During this time I had been holding back on revisiting Gragareth as I specifically wanted to do this walk with Tim who is a Lancastrian.

For many reasons we just didn't get round to organising this walk until now. Having met at the car park at St Peter's Church in Leck, we drove in Tim's car up Leck Fell Road where we left the car at a parking area at grid reference SD671787.

"From here we dropped down over some rocks to an area of thistles. Amongst the thistles were a variety of butterflies including peacock, tortoiseshell and painted lady varieties."

From the car we continued walking up the road. Just before reaching Leck Fell House we left the road to take a gate on our right. From there we walked straight uphill to the trio of cairns called the Three Men of Gragareth. Tim had brought his drone so we spent a while at these superbly sited cairns to get some pictures of the cairns from various angles.

From the Three Men there was a clear grassy path heading uphill. This led us all the way to the Ordnance Survey trig point. The trig point is not quite the highest point. This is found on a slight rise about 50m further east. Hidden in the grass is a small pile of stones which marks the highest point of modern day Lancashire. It should be noted that the historical county top is the much higher and, to be honest, more impressive, Old Man of Coniston.

After doing some more photography with Tim's drone we crossed over a broken section of the nearby wall to walk a short distance to enjoy a superb view of Kingsdale backed by Whernside. Turning south we walked abovethe steep flanks of the fell towards a collection of square cairns, one of which also doubled as a shelter. Here we stopped for an early lunch to enjoy the views of Kingsdale.

After enjoying the break we continued to follow the wall south. After passing one stile on our right we came to another across a wall descending into Kingsdale. Crossing over this stile we left a quad track to bear left. Working our way downhill we made our way to some ruined sheepfolds at grid reference SD687779. From here we dropped down over some rocks to an area of thistles. Amongst the thistles were a variety of butterflies including peacock, tortoiseshell and painted lady varieties.

Continuing on we eventually made our way down to a clear grassy track known as the Turbary Road. Turning right on this we enjoyed fine views across to Ingleborough on our left. After about ten minutes we made a short detour to our left to view the fenced off pothole called Kail Pot. Back on the track we passed a stone gatepost that featured an Ordnance Survey cut benchmark.

We carried on the track until reaching grid reference SD679766. Here we took a stile on the right. Taking a thin path, which had been partly laid, we then cut up to a series of shake holes. The second one is actually Rift Pot, the entrance to which is fenced off. We then continued up to a stand of trees which hides Marble Steps Pot. It was a hot day and this particular stretch, which didn't have the benefit of a breeze was particularly hot work.

After having a careful look around the top of Marble Steps Pot we took a thin path up to a small ruin. Continuing on we reached a stile. Crossing over a thin path continued to the depression containing Ireby Fell Cavern. Some steep steps dropped down into the depression. There seemed to be a number of entrances into the underground networks of caves. One particularly uninviting one was a ladder in a large pipe.

Having had a look around, but having no desire to go underground, we walked along the edge of the depression to follow a wall on our left. Crossing over at about grid reference SD675774 we then passed over another well broken wall to then make a diagonal crossing of a large, tussocky and heathery area heading for Lost John's Cave. While this was not the first pathless section of the walk it was the most awkward underfoot. On the plus side there were some fine views ahead of Barbon Low Fell, Castle Knott and Calf Top.

Just beyond some trees surrounded by a fence (Lost John's Cave?) we walked up to a gate. This brought us back on to the road. Turning right it was then a short walk back to the car.

Despite the oppressive heat this was a super little walk with lots of interest. It was great to catch up with Tim after such a long time and to finally take him to the top of Gragareth. Particularly memorable were the views of Kingsdale from the flanks of Gragareth.