#51 – Wet Sleddale, Swindale and Mosedale- more purposeful wandering

The high ground between Wet Sleddale and Swindale (JB)

Last weeks walk and blog (#50) prompted the idea to have more of the same, but to go one better, so plans were hatched to revisit the eastern side of the Lake District.  The Far Eastern Fells bear little resemblance to the popular ‘chocolate box’ images of Lakeland, but they don’t have a Pennine or Dales feel either.  These hills are like the misfit cousins who turn up at the family wedding, looking strange and wild in their outlandish clothing.

Setting off from a fairly wet ‘Wet Sleddale’ (JB)

The stone bridge below Sleddale Hall

One advantage of this is that you rarely see other walkers, and those you do see are wandering with a purpose just like you – you won’t meet trippers wearing sandals and carrying their lunch in a Tesco carrier bag, that’s for sure, though sandals could have been a good choice for us, as they let water out as quickly as they let it in.  The wet path led us into wetter and boggier ground as we approached the attractive stone bridge below Sleddale Hall.

On the steep slope above Sleddale Hall

Heading towards Seat Robert (JB)

More boggy ground below Seat Robert

Beyond the bridge, an old track gave drier walking up to Sleddale Hall, and the steeper slope above the hall continued dry.  Beyond the intake wall we had intended to follow the line of the ‘Right of Way’ path to Swindale, but like many RoW’s this one existed as a line on a map, but not on the ground.  A diversion towards Seat Robert was taken to avoid what was turning into a fine example of ‘blanket bog.

After the height gain, the descent

Photographer John Bamber in action….

….with another waterfall photograph for the collection (JB)

A bit of contouring, plus a great deal of meandering, kept us out of the worst of the wet without gaining too much unnecessary height.  After the height gain came the descent and drier ground, as the bog resolved itself into a fine beck.  A small line of crags produced an attractive cascade, keeping John busy with his camera, but the beck soon tired of being photographed, and plunged down to the valley below – we took a more sedate line down into Swindale.

The beck about to take the quick way down…. (JB)

….whilst we took the more sedate line (JB)

The footbridge over Swindale Beck at Truss Gap

Down in the valley the light was producing some moody images.  We followed the lane from Truss Gap to Swindale Head, where the track became narrow and stony.  Most lanes in the Lake District would have looked like this before tourism became a major earner, but you can’t get a 50 seat coach along this way, probably why Swindale remains quiet and mainly undiscovered.  The dale doesn’t have a road, but it does have a well known Grade 2 scramble (Mosedale Force) and a grade IV ice climb (Hobgrumble Gill), that is if we ever get a cold enough winter again!

Moody lighting in Swindale (JB)

The lane beyond Swindale Head (JB)

Hobgrumble Gill, a grade IV ice climb in winter (JB)

Chris looking towards the start of Mosedale Force scramble (grade 2)

Beyond the start points of these two classic routes, the valley suddenly closes in, apparently coming to a dead end, but a narrow and ancient route leads upwards, not onto a ridge as might be expected, but into another dale – Swindale and Mosedale could be considered to be one and the same, but the headwall of Swindale effectively separates it from Mosedale, both dales being very different in character – Swindale is rocky with steep sides, a typical lake District valley, whilst Mosedale is broad with shallow slopes, looking Scottish in character.

The old path leading up through the headwall at Swindale

The bridge over Mosedale Beck (JB)

Mosedale Beck (JB)

Mosedale Cottage in the distance (JB)

To complete the Scottish comparison, there is a bothy just over 1 kilometre upstream of the bridge crossing Mosedale Beck.  Mosedale Cottage is maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association, and is one of only ten bothies in England, with the vast majority being in the Scottish Highlands.  We weren’t looking for an overnight stop, however, but we realised we would have to get a ‘shift on’ if we wanted to come down in daylight.  From the bridge in Mosedale we yomped it back into Wet Sleddale to the waiting car.  Three valleys, no peaks climbed, and disappointingly no pub!

'Yomping' down to Wet Sleddale

Text and images © Paul Shorrock – Images tagged (JB) © John Bamber

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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9 Responses to #51 – Wet Sleddale, Swindale and Mosedale- more purposeful wandering

  1. stan bonnar says:

    brilliant paul,
    loved the walk and particularly the moody lighting in swindale. at first i wondered what mood it was – happy? sad? rebellious?… then realized that these are moods, whereas moody just means liable to change. what’s it like now? no, the mood is just the same as it was… moody!


  2. Couldn’t have expressed it better myself, Stan, and change was the theme. We had all sorts of moods that day, but some moods make for better images – the light in general was very flat, making it quite challenging to get good pics. John noticed the light changes at just the right time for that particular image.


  3. I’ve been to the Lake District only once in the late 80’s and I’ve not discovered hiking yet, and so was totally unaware that there were many walking/hiking opportunities there. I’ve discovered hiking quite late, you see. Our very first foray into “hiking” was in the Peak District and that has woken the appetite in me for this activity. The Lake District is most certainly in my list for next year’s hikes. Perhaps with you as a guide, Paul.


    • There’s a huge amount of variety in the lake District – I’m sure you’ll love it. Just remember to bring your waterproofs, though – why do you think there are so many lakes? 🙂


  4. Never knew there was a bothy around there! Must have a look for it…

    What grade is that ‘Hobgrumble Gill’ in summer – does it have one or is it just a steep walk? I’ve looked at that many a time and wondered about it. And I’m surprised the other waterfall is a graded scramble as it doesn’t look it from below – it looked very tempting actually. But I’m not really up to a graded scramble unless it’s a very easy Grade 1. My Mum and I were once feeding a slug bits of apple at the bottom of those falls on a lovely hot day – it was fascinating believe it or not 😉


  5. Hi Carol,
    Hobgrumble in summer would be desperate! I’ve been fairly close to it in my days as a member of Penrith Mountain Rescue Team, and it looked greasy and dank! However, in winter it’s a different picture, as is often the place with north country gills – it’s fairly low lying, though, and would need a freeze like last winter to consolidate it, so fingers crossed! If it does freeze me and my photographer mate John will be back there like a shot!
    The Mosedale Force scramble is great, and it’s very easy to escape the difficulties if you have had enough. Recommended for a hot summer day – there’s a deep pool just below a cascade that’s great for a swim.
    There are some pics of Mosedale Cottage on the Mountain Bothies Assoc website, if you follow the link – never stayed there overnight myself, but what a location!


    • I think I was more thinking of going up by the side of Hobgrumble Gill so I could peer into it 🙂 The other waterfalls look like they would make a nice scramble though and, if there’s good escape routes, I may yet go and have a play around there. It was a lovely hot day when my Mum and me were feeding that slug at the foot of the falls 🙂


  6. Pingback: #251 – Lake District bothies Part 2 – Mosedale Cottage | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  7. Pingback: #305 – Wet Sleddale – something in the air? | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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