All Pennine Way walkers, and indeed virtually all those who have walked on Cross Fell, will know Gregs Hut on the Pennine Way on what is a lengthy stage from Dufton to Garrigill where sadly there is limited accommodation following the closure of the pub. Be warned and book up your accommodation early or you will end up walking an additional four or so miles to Alston on top of the sixteen to Garrigill! Both places give welcome rest to walkers in benign surroundings. Greg’s Hut is situated at a strategic place on the Pennine Way just to the north of the summit of Cross Fell which is the highest point in the Pennine Chain. In my early Wainwright Guide book on the Pennine Way it is shown on his map as a ruined cottage. In fact the hut had served as a ‘shop’ where miners stayed during the week whilst working as going back to Garrigill was a twelve mile round journey with similar distances to the Eden Valley. Similar places can be found in the North Pennines with one restored at the Killhope Lead Mine Museum in Upper Weardale and managed by Durham County Council. The ruin later served as possible shelter for shepherds should the weather catch people out.
The hut was subsequently restored by the Mountain Bothies Association to give two rooms one of which has a stove and a sleeping platform. The hut is named after John Gregory who was born in 1928 and who was sadly killed in a climbing accident in the Alps in 1968. His parents funded much of the restoration in memory of their son. The hut is maintained by the Greg’s Hut Association who have recently replaced the two windows made by John Mitchell, which are a better fit than the ones they replaced, and also allow more light into the hut as the other windows were opaque. They also intend to point the outside walls of the porch before the onset of winter to prevent snow being blown in. Over the years there must have been hundreds of walkers who have benefited from their work and the work of the Mountain Bothies Association and hopefully appreciated what the volunteers have done for them in providing either temporary shelter or a place to sleep for the night. Greg’s Hut is the only bothie on the Pennine Way although there are the two shelters on the Cheviots at Lamb Hill and north of Auchope Cairn managed by Northumberland County Council and cleaned and maintained by their Voluntary Rangers which serve a similar purpose.
Gregs Hut is part of the Northern England and Borders branch of the Mountain Bothies Association whose Area Organiser is David Moorat whose email address is firstname.lastname@example.org whilst the current Chairman of Greg’s Hut Association is Mike Graham who can be contacted by email at email@example.com. The Mountain Bothies Association have a good website for those who want further information on this excellent organisation who maintain many bothies in remote parts of Scotland.
The 2013 walk had been an excellent walk on a super autumn day starting at the Moorcock Inn near Littleborough where we were staying and after a brief climb up to the White House (where the Pennine Way was joined) we all had an enjoyable stroll along the Pennine Way to Stoodley Pike. With a clear sky there was great distant visibility as far as Wales. The route continued by dropping down to Mankinholes and then joining the Rochdale Canal which was followed upwards passing the Great Wall of Todmorden and slowly climbing to Summit where a welcome beer was taken. The route then followed a cross country route back to the Moorcock Inn. Despite being a 16 mile walk the going underfoot was consistently good and after the initial climb to reach the Pennine Way there was remarkably little climbing involved and all the participants arrived back in good shape. Indeed this walk is to be recommended for anyone wanting a varied and interesting walk in this area.
Attermire Scar was featured in the 2014 PWA Walk. Photo
As a consequence, and with mainly the same group present for the 2014 walk, expectations were high for another enjoyable day when we met at the Masons Arms at Gargrave which, like the Moorcock, is a good place to stay with good accommodation, enjoyable and varied meals and well-kept real ale. The only fly in the ointment was that there was an adverse weather forecast for a wet morning and a showery afternoon. However all of us must have endured much worse forecasts while out on the Pennine Way and indeed it was a cheerful group who assembled at Gargrave station to catch the 9:30 train to Settle where the walk was to begin. After a short stop for provisions we commenced the steep climb up Banks Lane out of Settle which is the standard way to visit the famous Victoria Cave and after less than fifteen minutes, would you believe it, the rain stopped! By then we had left the bridleway of Banks Lane at GR 823641 where a distinct path heads north-east up a steep slope before easing up and turning eastwards. The scenery on the left up to Blue Crags and then Warrendale Knotts is top class and as a bonus we could also see Pendle Hill and the Lake District hills in the distance which boded well for the rest of the day. Soon we reached the junction of paths near Attermire Cave where the Victoria Cave can be reached by following the path under Attermire Scar. Our route however was Malham bound and followed the clear path east alongside a wall which then reached Stockdale Lane. This is followed in an easterly direction with the route passing to the north of Stockdale Farm. The hill behind the farm is Rye Loaf Hill which is 547 metres (1794 feet) high whilst the hill about half a mile further east is Kirby Fell at 546 metres high. Until recent times there was no legal access to these hills but fortunately they were included in the Open Access Area following the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW) Act of 2000 passed by the Labour government. We were now at Nappa Gate which was an important junction in former days – this was the site of Nappa Cross which was moved and can now be found in the wall to the north of the gate on the track leading to Langstar Gate. The Stockdale Road track proceeds straight ahead down to Malham reaching the road near Malham Cove. Our route was the lesser path down Pikedaw Hill and is described in Wainwright’s “Walks in Limestone Country” (Walk 32). This is a highly recommended book for all those who wish to walk in this area which ticks all the walking boxes. Wainwright warns of the danger of the shaft which is 75ft deep near Nappa Gate which gave access to the calamine mines, an ore of zinc oxide, which are all round here. The calamine was used in the manufacture of brass. The path requires a little care when wet but overall is a joy with Malham two miles below you in the valley. An enjoyable lunch was taken in Malham, sitting in warm sunshine which was certainly far better than forecast and indeed summer conditions. We were now on the Pennine Way which gave a very pleasant afternoon walking the seven miles back to Gargrave giving a walk of about twelve and a half miles in total, on what is probably the easiest section of the Pennine Way.
The section of this walk from Attercliffe to Malham follows the line of the Craven Fault, which marks the southern edge of the Limestone Dales, and this is illustrated and observed when descending from Nappa Gate where the land to the south is gritstone and wetter underfoot conditions compared to the limestone to the north. This geological fault runs from Austwick near Clapham and winds through Stainforth, Malham, and Kilnsey, terminating at Grassington. As far as l know there is no named walk or guide to follow this scar which is in superb countryside throughout, although there was a good description of this 45 mile walk in the Great Outdoors Magazine of March 1989 by Mick Chambers.
2015 is to have many walks celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Pennine Way from several organisations such as the Ramblers Association, Friends of the North Pennine AONB , The Wainwright Society as well as the Pennine Way Association which are currently being organised and will be detailed when available on the PWA website and those of the other groups involved.
We receive the following information from a walker recently so would advise verifying the hotel’s status directly before assuming it is open…
“We called in here at the beginning of July and found it all locked up. There was a notice on the door stating that the hotel was closed and that the landlord (Lord Barnard) had terminated the lease with the current person who had held it. All round the hotel gives a somewhat rundown appearance. I will report back when l know more which is probably this coming week.”
The Ancient Unicorn Inn in Bowes has recently closed for business.
The Association is pleased to welcome East Underhurth Farm, Forest in Teesdale to it’s list of accommodation providers.
The Association is pleased to welcome Herding Hill Farm camp and caravan site as the latest addition to our Accommodation Guide. The site is situated just 1 mile off Hadrians Wall, south of Cawfields Quarry.