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Swindale, Seat Robert, Sleddale Hall (Crow Crag), Keld, Shap Abbey, Cumbria.
[17.3 km]  Thu 23 Aug 2018

Lat/Long: 54.521179, -02.740727
OS Grid ref:
NY 52151 14240

Drove North on the M6 and left at Shap then through the lanes and Rosgill to Swindale. I followed the single track road to a parking area below Bewbarrow Crag where a sign says no parking beyond this point. There was plenty of space to park so this was the obvious spot. I set off along the lane in a southwest direction towards a Water Intake damn on Swindale Beck.

Water intake Swindale

Crossing Swindale Beck

Didn't fancy the stepping stones
I had already passed the Filter House on my drive to the parking area. The weather continued overcast but the rain held off. When I got to the dam area there appears to be a lot of new works done. A short way along the road I came to a new and very substantial wooden footbridge to take me across Swindale Beck. On the far bank I joined the path where there is a ford and stepping stones across the river. I was last here in March 2006 and in my diary notes said I crossed by a narrow foot bridge which has now gone. The path up the fell side was not very obvious but just discernible. I followed up to the left of Gouthercraig Gill but unfortunately the path marker was pointing the wrong way and I had to negotiate very deep ferns to get back on the correct route. Higher up I crossed through a gate and was then on the old sunken track heading up the hill side.
Looking down into Swindale

Waterfall mear White Howes

The same view in Mar 2006
At White Howes I walked to the river for a quick look at the waterfall area before trying to find the continuing path. Although the Ordinance Survey map shows a route through the area generally following a southeast direction there is no visible path of any kind on the ground. I had to pick my way carefully around boggy areas and eventually left the path area to head for my first main objective of Seat Robert. It was visible in the distance with its substantial summit cairn.
Seat Robert summit
Although quite wet in places the going wasn't too bad and the final climb was dry and easy. The summit area has a large cairn and an adjacent stone shelter area with Ordnance Survey points nearby. It is not a conventional survey pillar but one of the few circular concrete rings with a copper dome in the middle. Oddly it isnít marked on the Ordnance Survey map. Apparently there are only 13 of these concrete rings in the whole of the UK, 7 of which are in Cumbria but only 2 are on Wainwright Fells. There was a fairly strong westerly wind so I started my descent to the south and headed for a boundary fence and a short stretch of stone wall where I could stop and shelter while eating my sandwiches.
Seat Robert Trig point
I continued across a flat area then started an easy descent to the main track which connects Mosesdale area to Wet Sleddale area. The forecast had been for heavy rain around 11 a.m. but as it turned out there was only slight drizzle. On the track I walked easily down into the Wetsleddale Valley and then down the zigzag path to Sleddale Hall.
Descending to Sleddale Hall
This was the filming location for many scenes in the 1987 film ĎWithnail and Ií. It has been several years since I visited and the last time building work was going on. There was no one about and it looks like no one had been for a while. All the roofs have been repaired and windows replaced. After taking a few photos I continued down the track and through Sleddall Grange farm buildings.
Sleddale Hall

Kitchen door

Kitchen door
Withnail and I

Sleddale Hall today

Crow Crag in 'Withnail and I' 1987
I turn left and up a farm track to an area called Stackhouse Brow. Once through the gate I started to descend across the Moor and Reamer Bank to the concrete road. There was no path to follow so I took the best route I could find. I reached the concrete road which is classed as private and was originally part of the Haweswater scheme.
Passing through Keld
I walked left along the road until I came to the minor road heading down to the right and into the village of Keld. There is a small Chapel here but it was locked so I was not able to have a look inside. I turned right at the public footpath through a private garden. The lawn was well tended where the path crosses. Across the fields I came to the wooded area to the east of Shap Abbey and after passing that I descended steeply down to Abbey Bridge.
Chapel in Keld

Shap Abbey
I walked to the abbey ruins for a quick look round then left to head up a farm track through fields and up in a westerly direction. At the concrete road I turned right to follow it back towards Swindale Valley. At the bottom of the hill across the concrete bridge I took a short cut up the hillside to join the Swindale access road.
Shap Abbey

Artist's impression of Shap Abbey in the 1530s
I was now heading back to the car and passed the Filter House building on my left. There was a stone plaque over the door saying:
West Ward R.D.C.
It looked as if a conversion was underway with building materials scattered around. It didn't look like any work had been done for quite some time. Back at the car and found it interesting that there was a good 4G mobile signal.

Filter House in Swindale