A short and simple walk from Croglin up on to Blotting Raise, the highest point on Croglin Fell, using a series of shooting and quarry tracks.
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It is about ten and a half years since my first visit to Blotting Raise. I don't have happy memories of that walk. On a generally sunny day the cloud clung frustratingly to the tops so I got little reward in the way of views. I also suffered with an unexplained pain in my side and then, to top things off, developed a really debilitating headache as I walked back along the valley of Croglin Water.
It is little wonder that back then I wrote that I probably wouldn't bother doing that walk again. However, as I was staying for the week in Armathwaite, just five miles or so from Croglin, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get a more positive view of Blotting Raise. So it was that after a family walk in Coombs Wood that morning I decided on this relatively short route for a late afternoon / early evening walk.
"In contrast to my previous visit the summit was clear of clouds. Indeed there was a beautiful blue sky overhead. My only complaint was that the hazy conditions meant that the view out west across the Eden valley towards the Lakeland fells was greatly restricted."
I started the walk from Croglin where there is ample parking on the roadside near the church. The Church of St John the Baptist was only built in 1878 but somehow looks a lot older. The church is probably not old enough to be the one referred to in the legend of the Croglin Vampire. On the occasion of my visit the church's appearance was softened by a handful of ewes and lambs grazing peacefully in the churchyard.
Heading north-east through the village I passed the old workshop for Croglin Toys. At the end of the metalled road I took an enclosed lane which climbed up to a lone house at Plantation Nook. Turning right on the track I followed the public bridleway up to grid reference NY586480. At this point the line of the bridleway leaves the main track. My route was to continue along the track but it is worth noting that an access notice does suggest that the track is closed on certain days in May and June.
The route up to the top of Blotting Raise was thus a simple case of staying on this track. Along the way I had great views across the valley of Croglin Water towards Thack Moor and Watch Hill. Part of the way along I across a local gamekeeper who stopped and had a friendly chat with me. He told me that it had been very windy up there the previous few days and the Helm Bar, a physical manifestation of the Helm Wind, had been seen.
After passing through a gate I came to a T-junction near the top of the track. Turning left I walked a 100m or so and then made the short detour north to the waiting trig point. There is slightly higher ground in the vicinity but only marginally so the trig point was as good a place as any to celebrate arriving at the top. In contrast to my previous visit the summit was clear of clouds. Indeed there was a beautiful blue sky overhead. My only complaint was that the hazy conditions meant that the view out west across the Eden valley towards the Lakeland fells was greatly restricted.
After taking some photos by the trig point I walked towards the nearby wall to take a look at a small tarn. From there I walked south to rejoin the track. Heading west this track was my route of descent almost all the way back to Plantation Nook. With better visibility there would have been a glorious view ahead of me all the way down. Instead it mainly consisted of a white haze. Some interest was provided though by the site of an old quarry. Among the remains were an old kiln, what looked like small dams and various other workings. There was also ample evidence that it is used by locals for clay pigeon shooting.
The track I followed down eventually joined the bridleway between Croglin and Newbiggin. Turning left on this I soon returned to Plantation Nook and then followed my outward route down the enclosed track to Town Head and then back along the village to the church.
All in all this was a much happier visit to Blotting Raise. The route was a good one and had visibility been better it would have been excellent. Certainly I now hope to visit Blotting Raise again in the future. Hopefully next time it will be third time lucky and I'll actually get really good visibility!