Wildboar Fell

A walk with Ursula, Mary and Fern, seemed quite long – the tracklog says 13.8 km.

The weather started out quite dull as we headed up the track to Hazelgill, then found our way under the Settle-Carlisle railway and onto the open fell. We were in no great rush up to the ridge, pausing to look at little waterfalls where bands of harder limestone intersected the streams. Having gained the ridge, I headed north a short way to ensure that I bagged the next square north for geograph, before we all headed south along the fine ridge. After a kilometre, this flattened out and opened into a wide plateau, with no more ascent to reach the very substantial summit shelter surrounding the trig point.


Approaching the summit of Wildboar Fell

After a pause for a snack, during which the weather started to brighten up, we headed down, to reach a tarn perched rather incongruously right on the col. Only a short ascent, though steep and zigzaggy, took us to the smaller plateau of Swarth Fell.


Climbing up to Swarth Fell, looking towards the Howgills

The sky had now largely cleared, and the view back to Wild Boar Fell was really rather fine.


Cairns on Swarth Fell, looking back to Wild Boar Fell

The continuing path, now a little boggy in places, stuck to the middle of the plateau. Where this started to become fainter, we cut down to the left for Aisgill summit (the highest point of the Settle-Carlisle railway).


Heading southeast along the Swarth Fell plateau

Crossing first the road, then, via a bridge, the railway, we soon encountered Hell Gill, which is known as a ghyll scrambling venue for outdoor centres. Not really canyonning, but fun nonetheless. As its valley opens out, the Gill has one last fling over Hell Gill Force which might make a fine abseil, though not really enclosed enough to be considered canyonning. It’s a very shallow rocky landing, so even with a lot more water than this, doesn’t look likely to be much of a paddling prospect.


Hell Gill Force – not a paddling prospect with its very shallow landing, even at high flows.

The bridleway continued above the river right side of the Uppermost Eden valley, passing various little streams and limestone outcrops. As we had Fern, our border collie (on a lead, of course) the sheep duly grouped themselves neatly as we passed, clearly in expectation that they were about to be rounded up (in the absence of wolves, I don’t suppose they get hunted very much…).


Sheep watching us carefully as we head back down above the Upper Eden valley

The track got a little rough underfoot in places, and was not always easy to follow, before dropping us through a very scruffy farmyard and back to the road.

Boldron Paddlefest 2010

The “Boldron Paddlefest” was just a bunch of paddling friends we invited up for a few days, and added the event to the SOC programme to see if a few more bodies could be tempted out midweek.

Half term, and a mix of people we’ve met paddling in the alps and those who have been on Plas-y-Brenin courses with the kids turned up at Boldron, to give a bit of sociable paddling for all ages – teenagers aren’t always enthused about paddling with their parents’ generation. Not everyone knew each other, and there were one or two who had been told not to paddle anything too hard, whilst others didn’t necessarily want to. We’d hoped to finish on a high with the Upper Tees, but eventually we scaled the ambitions down just a little, and still had five days of good paddling.

First off, Wednesday, Barnard Castle to Winston Bridge on the Tees to warm up. Ten paddlers – a big group for midweek ! A small group spent forever playing on the wave just under the bridge on Abbey Rapids, but eventually we dragged them away to get down to the Winston ledge drops before it got dark…


Thursday, the Racing Section, but with enough water to make it worthwhile starting at Middleton (0.75m). Ten paddlers again, but not all the same ones. Terry came along to give us the event’s only open boat descent.


Quite a pleasant level for Woden Croft

Friday, we had some relative beginners, so set off to do Cotherstone to Barnard Castle with a group of thirteen, with an optional continuation down Abbey Rapids (those who had spent a long time playing on Abbey on Wednesday wanted another go without the time pressure to get on down the river). The level had dropped off quite a bit, so Abbey’s play potential was much reduced.


Bottom wave, Abbey, at a lower and less exciting level

Saturday, over to the lakes for the Keswick Greta at a nice level (but carefully timed to still be in October, just in case it was below the white line). Ten paddlers set off, but one found he had left so much gear behind that he was confined to taking photos and video from the bank (and did a lot of running as a result).


Magnetic Rock rapid at a nice bouncy level, where even the line on the right went

Sunday, and a trip which was on the way home for some people, the Lune, from Beckfoot to Killington New Bridge, at about 0.7m on the gauge. Ten paddlers today, only one of whom decided that Low Gill, the ditch at the side of the lane down, was also at a nice level…


Rory makes Low Gill look almost a sane alternative to walking

Not a big level, but well above rock bottom. Crowders Leaps was unrecognisable compared to the level we’d had last time (and the next two times in 2011) and there was easily enough to make the Strid a good run, though the chap fishing right in the entry line didn’t make it any easier.


Getting a good line into the wave above the big rock ensures an easy run down to the big exit pool

Overall, though the paddling wasn’t at the highest level, getting fifty two person-river-descents in one meet seems like quite a successful event, and SOC members were paddling every day.