On Great Coum and Crag Hill

I wrote last year about our walks up to see the Occupation Road, popularly known as the “Occy”, above Dent in  the Yorkshire Dales National Park.


On Great Coum  (c) John Bainbridge 2016


The “Occy” remains a public highway and may well have predated the stone-walled enclosures taken in from open moorland in the eighteenth century. It probably served originally as a route for drovers and to give access to the many little quarries and coal pits in the vicinity.

On our previous two trips we explored the road itself. This time we set out to climb the two hills above – Great Coum and Crag Hill.


Flinter Gill (c) John Bainbridge 2016


Not the easiest of explorations.

This might be CRoW (Countryside and Rights of Way Act) land but easy to access it isn’t. As a long-time campaigner for CRoW I searched in vain for anything in the way of access points. We had to literally climb over a gate – it clearly hadn’t been openable for quite a time – and this on a route that features in a Wainwright book.

Anyway, we climbed up Flinter Gill, that very pleasing bridleway that leads up to the “Occy” from Dent; a steep and rocky track accompanied by the tumbling waters of the beck of the same name. From the top there are superb views over Dentdale and down towards the Howgill Fells.


The Occupation Road (c) John Bainbridge 2016


Then through a stone wall probably dating to the times of the Enclosures and out on to the open hillside. Up to a patch of scree crowned by the cairns known as the Megger Stones. A kind of miniature version of the famous Nine Standards, though nowhere near as spectacular.

There’s no very clear path on much of this walk and the going was pretty rough, lank and tugging moor-grass and a fair amount of mild bog.


The Megger Stones (C) John Bainbridge 2016


Now, having served my bog-trotting apprenticeship on Dartmoor, I’m not bothered by such hard ground, though I don’t have the energy I had in my youth. But for the north this was heavy work. We latched on to a long stone wall and followed it upwards – steeply – to the summit of Great Coum.

The best of it are the views. Particularly towards the mighty Whernside and distantly to the Howgills and the south-eastern summits of the Lake District.

From Great Coum we followed a broad ridge to the neighbouring summit of Crag Hill, with its trig point, dodging in and out of stone walls as we went. The Enclosers of past centuries certainly worked overtime here.


On Crag Hill (C) John Bainbridge 2016


Crag Hill offered a nice vista of Morecambe Bay, even if the hill was unexceptional in itself. And the skylarks, launching themselves into the air all around us, were a delight as always.

We followed yet another wall downhill  to Gill Head, below which is a very extensive sheepfold – and a darned deep descent it was – before striking the “Occy” once again, and returning back down Flinter Gill.

I must be out of practice at boggy walking because I found the whole circuit quite tiring. There was a time when I could quarter twenty miles over Dartmoor bogs and mires and never feel it. Anno Domini I suppose.

Great Coum and Crag Hill are worth going up for the views at least. And to see how the Enclosure Movement changed this landscape.

But perhaps outdoor access campaigners might do something about the CRoW access points? Very poor considering that this is supposed to be a National Park.


2 thoughts on “On Great Coum and Crag Hill

  1. Carol, the bridleway only goes up to the Occupation Road, there are no rights of way on the hills themselves. On reflection it might be better to do the walk the other way round, turning right when the occy is reached, then left up the bylane a couple of hundred yards on, then following the path up to Crag Hill first. John B.


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