A walk from Garrigill contrasting easy walking on the Pennine Way with a more 'off piste' route visiting Cash Force, Greencastle Tarn, Bullman Hills and Long Man Hill.
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
To the west of the Pennine Way, as it makes its long descent from Cross Fell towards Garrigill, is a large area of moorland largely untroubled by public rights of way. It is however largely covered by access land and for a while I've been looking for a route to some features of interest, specifically the waterfall called Cash Force, Greencastle Tarn and the trig point on Staneshaw Rigg.
In February 2019 I did a walk with the Alston Moor Walkers Are Welcome group to Lambley Viaduct. During the course of the walk I got talking to the walk leader Keith Walton who said he was planning a walk the following month to Cash Force. Unfortunately I was not able to make the walk but I was interested in the route Keith had chosen which showed that it was viable to visit all three features.
"Crossing over Cash Burn I then turned right on an improving path alongside the stream. Just as on my last visit to this spot in 2012 I came across plenty of purple fluospar, which was once mined here, scattered alongside the path. There were also a few pretty little waterfalls."
As it happened by the time I got round to attempting the walk I'd decided against Keith's route which included a long walk north out of Garrigill along the Pennine Way. Full disclosure here - I decided against this route as I thought there would be a risk of coming across cows. Instead I decided to make use of an extended section of the Pennine Way to get me to and from the area I wanted to visit. To add interest to the route I decided to add Bullman Hills and Long Man Hill to my itinerary - two tops I hadn't visited since March 2012. You can view my pictures and report on that walk here.
Setting off south along the road out of Garrigill I soon turned right on to the Pennine Way. Passing the Methodist Church the track began a steady ascent on an enclosed track. Without gaining much height I was already able to enjoy good views of South Tynedale with Middle Fell, Flinty Fell and Burnhope Seat all prominent in the view.
After gaining just over 200m in height the track began to level out upon reaching Black Band. Just to the right of the track there were a couple of pools at what looked like some shallow quarry workings. Not long after the track left the company of the wall I in turn left the track. I'd be returning back to this spot several miles later. Leaving the track I took a grassy path leading up to a gate. Passing through this I continued on the track which now had one of those matted underlays that I'd also come across on my walk up to Shacklesborough back in 2018.
For a time I continued to follow the track until it began to descend more noticeably. Here I left it to bear right to the small knoll on Staneshaw Rigg. Reaching a fence I passed through a gate just below the trig point before turning right up to reach the Ordnance Survey column. The view was excellent with Cross Fell especially prominent. Further round I could see Melmerby Fell, Fiend's Fell, Black Fell, Grey Nag and the fells on the other side of South Tynedale.
From the trig point I continued on over the grassy fell. There was no path but it was fairly easy underfoot. Passing a small pool I made my way on to Hound Hill from where I got my first view of Greencastle Tarn. Descending I reached a complex of sheepfolds. Negotiating my way through these I then reached a broad track. From there I dropped down to take a few photos of the tarn.
Returning to the track I turned right and followed it to a gate. It is worth noting that the next section is not a public right of way and nor is it on access land. It was however the route used by the Alston Moor Walkers are Welcome group so I felt quite confident it would be okay. Passing through the gate there was initially no obvious path. However, without descending too far I bore left and found a find slanting grassy track dropping down above the confluence of Cash Burn and Black Burn (see featured image a the top of the page).
Passing through an open gateway I then continued on, initially keeping a fence between me and the burn. I then found a spot where I could cross the fence and continued up alongside the stream to reach Cash Force. Quite possibly one of the most remote of the major waterfalls in the North Pennines it was certainly worth the effort. It was also a nice spot to sit and eat my lunch and enjoy the view.
I next had to cross the stream which proved a bit tricky on slippery rocks. On the other side I took some more photos of the waterfall before heading up briefly along a side stream. I then crossed a slightly moist area to reach the banks of Black Burn. There was no path but it was fairly easy to follow the burn upstream, eventually reaching a spot where a track crosses the stream below a bothy. Although the track is only shown on the map to the west of the stream quite fortuitously I discovered it also continued to the east. It was therefore a straightforward climb up the track which then swung round passed some grouse butts to lead almost directly to Bullman Hills.
The Bullman Hills are an unusual area of grassy knolls. The highest at 619m unfortunately doesn't have quite enough prominence to make it on to the list of Nuttalls. The more northerly one at 610m however does have just enough height and prominence to make it on the list. A thin grassy trod left the track to head up on to the knoll from where a short detour brought me to the small pile of stones marking the summit.
I then continued heading east to a slightly lower knoll. Just beyond I picked up a rather moist track leading down to Cash Burn. Crossing over Cash Burn I then turned right on an improving path alongside the stream. Just as on my last visit to this spot in 2012 I came across plenty of purple fluospar, which was once mined here, scattered alongside the path. There were also a few pretty little waterfalls. Eventually the path led to a modern shooting hut behind which the track climbed up to meet the Pennine Way.
Turning left on the Pennine Way I soon turned right on another track climbing up to a gate in a fence. Just before the fence there were some tracked vehicles which were clearly being used to lay some of that matting material on the moor. Passing through the fence I then made a beeline across the rough moor to reach the fairly unremarkable summit of Long Man Hill. At 658m this was the highest point of the walk. The summit cairn was again made up of a few stones. To the south there was a good view of Cross Fell, Little Dun Fell and Great Dun Fell.
From the top of Long Man Hill I headed NNW to drop down to a gate in a fence with the Pennine Way just beyond. Turning right I followed it around Pikeman Hill to reach the point where I'd left it about 3 and a half hours earlier. It was then a simple case of retracing those earlier steps all the way back to Garrigill. Once again I was able to enjoy fine views of South Tynedale.
This is definitely not a walk to attempt in poor weather and in low visibility. While there were some tricky sections and lots of pathless ground there was actually more solid ground underfoot than I expected. The trig point on Staneshaw Rigg and Cash Force were both in different ways fine spots and the track leading up to Bullman Hills was a real bonus. Not one for the type of walker who likes the safety of a good path but for adventurous walkers it is definitely one I would recommend. Just remember though that mobile signal is poor so if attempting this route on your own make sure to let someone know where you are going.