Nine Standards

High Seat & Nine Standards Rigg

Walk Summary

A slightly eccentric route taking in a number of summits and features, including High Seat and Nine Standards Rigg, that are either side of the Nateby to Keld road.

Distance: 10.8 miles
Total ascent: 2050ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: County boundary, Lamps Moss
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

With my daughter's sports day cancelled for the third time due to 'adverse weather conditions' I decided that, rather than cancelling the leave I'd booked, I'd take the opportunity to fit in an extra walk. Looking through the list of routes that I'd planned but not yet walked I chose one climbing on to High Seat via the little know Ul Dale whose stream is one of the main sources of the Swale.

The route also included a loop to the north on to Nateby Common. Nateby Common is a hill I'd only visited once before, in fairly awful weather. A return visit in better conditions was therefore long overdue, not least so that I could get some pictures.

"The Nine Standards are a remarkable collection of large cairns or curricks which take on a variety of shapes and sizes."

The forecast for the day was showers and rain early morning clearing to blue skies and sunshine by early afternoon. With this in mind I didn't set off from home until after 11am and didn't arrive at the starting point until just after 12.30pm. The starting point itself was at the summit of the B6270, the high road from Nateby to Keld in upper Swaledale. I parked the car at the county boundary between Cumbria and North Yorkshire at a breezy 500m above sea level.

From the small parking area I turned left to walk down the road for five minutes to where it meets Uldale Beck. Leaving the road I then followed the beck upstream, initially keeping it on my left. As Uldale Beck entered the steeper confines of Uldale Gill a few small cascades presaged a fine three-part waterfall below a couple of trees. A careful crossing of the stream allowd me to take a closer look at the lower two sections. Re-crossing the stream and a clamber over a steep bank brought me to the upper section.

Continuing on I came across the slightly scrappy upper waterfall that is marked on the map, a well broken drop which is mainly a jumble of boulders. Above this there was one more waterfall, not marked on the map, just below Uldale Gill Head. Above this latter waterfall the beck divided into its numerous sources. Climbing south-east I followed one of the tributaries up on to the peaty plateau of Lodge Hags.

While it would have been quicker to make a beeline for High Seat I instead went in search of the two tarns that are marked on the map. The first proved to be quite sizeable with good views of Great Shunner Fell and High Seat. The second tarn was less attractive although it did seem to have some resident ducks. The pathless trod from this second tarn towards High Seat was quite tiring, especially as I was also walking into a strong breeze which every so often would whip my cap from the top of my head.

This was my fifth visit to the top of High Seat, the fourth highest summit in the Yorkshire Dales. Only recently I discovered that there is an Ordnance Survey concrete ring on the top and so being a bit of a trig point enthusiast I immediately went in search of it. My initial search was fruitless but then I almost stumbled into a hole a few feet to the north-west of the small summit cairn. Had it not been for the bolt in the middle of the hole even then I wouldn't have realised what it was. There are only a handful of these concrete rings and most of them are in this part of the north-west Dales, others being on Stonesdale Moor, Swarth Fell Pike and Lunds Fell.

From High Seat I continued north, initially on a good path which I soon lost in an area of clay-like mud. Giving up on the path I walked further west along the 'edge' overlooking Mallerstang. Despite the still cloudy skies the views were fantastic, I even came across a nicely situated cairn on High Brae. Continuing north I passed over the top of High Pike Hill, which was marked by another cairn, to reach the steep drop of Fells End.

While an obvious path descended the less steep ground to the east of Fells End I took a more adventurous, possibly foolhardy, route. First heading for what looked like the remains of a hut I zig-zagged down to the north-west. As I did so the sun belatedly began to break through the clouds. Perfect timing for my next objective - Nateby Common.

Picking up a broad green track on Fells End Bottom I climbed up to the road at Tailbridge Neck, crossed the road and continued on a grassy track for an easy climb up to the prominent cairn marking the summit. The skies were clearing beautifully now and I could enjoy an extensive panorama including the Howgill Fells, the Eden Valley, the Cross Fell and Mickle Fell ranges in the North Pennines and a long line of Lakeland Fells.

With the weather improving by the minute I decided at this fairly late stage to add Nine Standards Rigg to the walk. To do this I headed east to meet the bridleway at the head of Dukerdale, a short but impressively steep sided little valley. After a short climb I left the route of the bridleway as marked on the map to continue contouring on a more obvious path to rejoin the bridleway and then on to the path climbing up to the Nine Standards via Faraday Gill.

The Nine Standards are a remarkable collection of large cairns or curricks which take on a variety of shapes and sizes. They are a major landmark in the area and the panorama from the summit is simply superb. A short distance south of the standards I passed a view indicator and then continuing on over rougher ground I reached the dilapidated trig point marking the summit.

The top of Nine Standards Rigg is notoriously boggy hence the reason why the Coast to Coast Walk, which crosses the summit, is redirected on to different paths at certain times of year. This has led to a curious flagged path that branches out into three directions from a peat bog before suddenly coming to an abrupt end in each direction. I walked to the end of the flagged section heading towards White Mossy Hill before turning right to make another detour.

This time my objective was Jack Standards, these proved to be one large cairn and a smaller pile of stones on a rash of rocks overlooking Nateby Common. The ground underfoot was fairly rough on the way to Jack Standards, it got a lot worse as I made a beeline back down towards the bridleway on Lamps Moss. The combination of boggy ground, tussocky grass, reeds and numerous marsh thistles made this section quite gruelling.

Finally I reached the bridleway for a steady walk back to the road. A number of fences have been erected on Lamps Moss and one of the new gates was bolted shut. Rather than climb the gate I continued up alongside the fence, crossing some weathered limestone pavement. Curiously I was still following the route of the bridleway on the map though clearly it takes a slightly different course on the ground.

This was a proper ramble where all my objectives were ticked off. Whether it is a satisfying circular walk I'm not sure. It could easily be split into two shorter walks either side of the road, i.e. High Seat via Ul Dale to the south and Nateby Common and Nine Standards Rigg to the north. The general lack of paths and conditions underfoot certainly won't be to everyone's taste but after several largely low level walks it felt great to be out in the wild again.

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