Sleddale & Swindale
Stats: 11.3 miles and 1234 feet of ascent
You’re kidding, right? Shap has the nearest traces of commerce.
A short but wild loop into the desolate stretch of land between Shap and the High Street fells. Expect Cairngorm-like desolation and solitude, even on a Bank Holiday weekend. It might be worth selecting this route during a frosty or dry spell as there are a couple of sections that could be marshy. For film fans, Sleddale Hall is the scene of “Crow Crag” – Uncle Monty’s northern refuge in “Withnail and I.” It is therefore mandatory to scream, “Are you the farmer?” at any passing tractor, professing loudly to have come on holiday by mistake.
1. There’s a handy layby on the road between Kemp Howe and the cattle grid, by the 254 m spot-height.
2. Tarmac-trundle up the valley. You might be well-advised to go through the “no authorised vehicles past this point” sign at Green Farm. The purist-approved route, climbing up to the low ridge of Stackhouse Brow, is not straightforward to follow.
3. Either way, gain a terrace at 425m and follow this past a deep defile on your left to a col with the obvious rectangular plantation of Brunt Tongue to your left.
4. Galumph down to the rudimentary bridge over Mosedale Beck and gain a rough bridleway heading north. This becomes better defined where it plummets into Dodd Bottom – this descent is a fine test-piece in snowy conditions.
5. Follow the road down Swindale to Truss Gap farm. Either splash the ford or teeter over the stepping stones and follow a track over t’moors contouring to your left. Old maps show this as footpath only but it’s now legitimate bridle track. This will join the United Utilities Road at Lanshaw Hill above Keld and a brief roll back to the start.
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