The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 6 April 2015

Great Coum and Calf Top

Easter Sunday, 5 April


Having woken above the cloud this morning, most of our drive down to Barbondale was in fog. We knew, however, that we would be able to rise above it as we headed up Great Coum.

It took a while, as we made initially slow progress, via a route apparently not taken by others, towards Crag Hill. Yomping arduously upwards, eventually, I had to conclude that not only is the grass greener on the other side of the fence, but the trod was also much better trodden that side too. Finding a way over the fence was a wise move and the going finally got easier.

Having said yesterday that I'd never seen a spectacle like the mating-frog-pond, today we saw two more, with it being again the sound that drew our attention towards them. We must have hit the peak of mating season on this trip.

The first such pond was just a short way before the trig point atop Crag Hill, which is only a tiny bit lower than the twin summit of Great Coum. It may be the lower of the two nobbles on this top, but it gave the better views. By now the cloud had cleared from Barbondale, but behind Calf Top (our next objective) we could see a substantial inversion, with just a few peaks poking through in the distance.

Whilst my perusal of the 1:25k mapping prior to this trip had led me to plan out-and-backs to both of these tops, when on the summit it seemed much more sensible to head straight down the side of the hill into Barbondale, then straight up the other side of the dale to Calf Top. Having a 1:25k map with us would have been handy, as we weaved about a bit due to repeatedly finding walls in our way.

The side of Calf Top looked ridiculously steep when viewed from the side of Great Coum, and it didn't look much less so when viewed from its foot. However, the formula (that I'm yet to define) that decides when it's preferable to gain 400m in the space of 1km rather than walk 5km around to take a less-sharp ascent, said that the effort of the pull up the hill would be worth it.

Mick has since commented that I made it the whole way up without whinging once about the effort. That's unheard of! I must be feeling reasonably fit! Actually, it wasn't that bad; we took it steadily and zig-zagged our way up.

The trig point atop Calf Top is unmissable, being painted bright white and we stood there a while enjoying the views (still of the top of the cloud to the NW).

Making our way back south to complete our circuit, over Castle Knott we went before dropping off the side of the hill. That was quite steep too. Barbondale really isn't the best start point for Calf Top if you want a little spacing between the contour lines.

The dale was busy with cars parked up by the time we reached it, yet we had only seen one sole chap a little ahead of us on top of Great Coum, as well as picking out a couple of moving dots on Calf Top as we descended our first hill.

I don't know if people were put off by the fog, or whether these two hills are just too obscure (even for a sunny Easter Sunday), but it was a very fine outing (for which I'm sure our knees will forgive us in due course!).

(10.2 miles; 3200')

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  1. What memories:

    Crag Hill (Great Coum)

    21st. February 2004 - Sheet 98 Trig ponts campaign

    Started at Bull Pot Farm (9:05am) - Cragg Hill, Gt. Coum, Whernside, Ingleborough, White Scar Caves and Beezleys (SD 705 749).

    I knew by the summit of Ingleborough I would run out of time.

    I had no head torch and it was getting dark at Beezleys. I rang home for daughter to come and pick me up at the Wheatsheaf in Ingleton and drive me back to Bullpot Farm for my car. I had done over 20 tough miles.


    Calf Top - I left a bike at Fellside (SD 636 589) and motored back to Barbon village - walked the round over Calf Top back to the bike and a cycle ride back to the car at Barbon.

    1. Your Calf Top route looks lovely (and far more sensible than going up and down the east flank). As for your Crag Hill route, it's tiring just reading it!