A Swindale Round

Ever since Jim Mercer and I first peered down a while ago from Selside Pike into the southern reaches of Swindale, we had had it in mind to explore the valley properly, and on finally managing to do so on this occasion, it turned out to be very much a case of better late than never!  It lies, somewhat hidden away, in the midst of the rather dreary scenery between Shap Fell and the Haweswater area, but has all the characteristics of a classic Lakeland dale.

The route went from the car-park at the northern entrance to the valley southwest to Swindale Head farm, and from there across a sort of causeway running through a moraine field, past the fine but rather forbidding sight of Hobgrumble Gill, to the foot of Forces Falls.  We then ascended the western side of this very picturesque succession of waterfalls and pools, and, after lunch at the top, gradually wended our way further westwards to near Selside Pike summit, with fine views back down into the length of the valley all the while, until turning north to intersect with the Old Corpse Road from Mardale.  We then followed this historic path back down into the valley again, and thence to the car-park once again.

The pleasures of the day were further enhanced by the presence of the Glenridding Foxhound pack, who were heard barking and occasionally glimpsed throughout the round.  Several of those who had come to view them in action  - burly characters all! - were encountered during the valley floor part of the walk, and enjoined in conversation by Jim, all along the following lines:

Jim:  'Seen any foxes today?'
Spectator:  'Just out for a walk.'

I was quite relieved to emerge from these encounters unscathed!  Another interesting chat was had with an elderly farmer on the subject of the Forestry Commission's policies and its young, university-educated representatives, but the very colourful language used means that further details unfortunately cannot be provided in a family-friendly forum such as this!  

The day concluded with a celebration of its events over a pint in the 'Crown and Mitre' in nearby Bampton Grange.  I'll let Jim have the final word, from his message to me afterwards: 'Great day out… a super valley… good company… and a PUB to finish off the day…'!  (I leave it to the reader to judge which of these items weighed most in his sense of enjoyment!)

(Distance:  6.9 miles/11 km.  Ascent:  1508 ft./459 m.  Highest point:  2027 ft./618m.)

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