Sunday, 3rd December 2017

Walk: Cowan Bridge to Whoop Hall, Fleet’s Lane to Casterton, crossing Wandales Lane Roman Road to ascend Brownthwaite Pike, then north to Casterton Fell and Bullpot Farm. Following the heavily potholed paths to Ease Gill Kirk, then the route of the valley to descend to Cowan Bridge.
Start Point: Fraser Hall CP, Cowan Bridge Grid Reference: SD 635 765 
Distance: 10.8 miles Ascent: 1,700 feet
Time: 5.5 hours
Weather: A beautiful December day, close on the back of freezing conditions which kept the ground firm, although there was no shortage of mud in places and it was mild. Blue skies, clear views. Who can complain about British winter weather on such a day?

Several of our regulars had fled the UK for warmer climes, but five of us enjoyed a brisk winter walk with magnificent views, based on the first chapter of Wainwright’s Walks in Limestone Country.

The walk originally began in Casterton, part of the route “worthy of being trodden twice” but made me seek an alternative which gave us good parking and an efficient clockwise circular route. A good fell workout brought us to Bullpot, centre for potholing expeditions.

The magnificent and hidden Ease Gill Kirk feels hallowed and ancient, worth time for exploration, then returning down the valley with great views towards Kirkby Lonsdale and into the waning sun.

A gentle start across fields

Misty December morning landscape

A dilapidated stile marks the course of the footpath

An early coffee stop - to take advantage of the bench before the ascent to . . .

Brownthwaite Pike where we manage a full group shot . . .

next to the large cairn

Tough troop at the trig, towards Casterton Fell; our highest point

Bullpot Farm, Red Rose Cave and Potholing Centre . . .

which we soon leave behind

These fells are full of kilns and potholes; not the place to wander around after dusk

Ease Gill Kirk, a hidden place full of atmosphere and interesting, ancient rock formations

Water-worn limestone, but although the rocks are damp,
there is no running water today

There are many nooks and crannies . . .

in what used to be a cavern . . .

but the roof collapsed many years ago . . .

leaving just one way in and out

After lunch beside Ease Gill, where the water goes underground,
we cross the dry stream bed starting our return.

The afternoon holds a series of challenging stiles

Ease Gill surfaces to become Leck Beck which we follow back to Cowan Bridge

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