A varied and in places rough walk visiting the moorland summits of Flinty Fell and Alston Moor together with the superb waterfall, Ashgill Force.
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The main aim of this walk was to finally complete the list of 2,000ft high North Pennine tops by visiting the summit of Flinty Fell. Whilst this top can easily be bagged by a short 5 minute walk from the top of the minor road from Garrigill to Nenthead what would be the point? Dismissing the Nuttall's four mile route from Nenthead as also being too short I came up with this route, starting from Garrigill.
The main reason I decided to start from Garrigill, rather than Nenthead, was that it gave me the opportunity to reivist Ashgill Force which, in my humble opinion is one of the finest waterfalls in the country. One of the reasons I like this particular waterfall so much is that it is fairly simple to walk round so that you can actually stand on a rocky ledge behind the fall itself.
"I don't think I've ever had to cross such a long stretch of reedy pasture and bog in one go. At times the reeds were up to chest height and when it began to rain things got quite unpleasant."
After loitering for a while and taking numerous pictures I retraced my steps the short way back down Ash Gill before climbing up out of the valley via the farm at Ashgillside and then crossing the B6277 to take the footpath that heads for Flinty Quarry. Unfortunately, after the first couple of enclosures I lost the correct path and so instead just set off up the pathless moor to make my own way to the top.
Eventually, after passing close by the ugly Flinty Quarry (not quite as disused as the map suggests) I walked past the iron post marking the Ordnance Survey's 614m spot height and on to the raised area of disused workings which looked decidedly higher. Deciding for myself what I thought was the highest point of the hill I sat down and ate my lunch, I didn't linger too long though - whilst it had been a bright morning I could see some ominous looking clouds enveloping Cross Fell to the west.
After following the right of way below the summit through the woods to the road the next stage of the walk was a pathless two mile walk to the trig point on Alston Moor. I was half expecting this next stage to be quite rough going and so it proved. In fact I don't think I've ever had to cross such a long stretch of reedy pasture and bog in one go. At times the reeds were up to chest height and when it began to rain things got quite unpleasant. By the time I was halfway across Black Moss the rain was getting heavy and combined with the terrain I was crossing I was decidedly soggy.
The rain eased up for five minutes when I reached the trig point on Alston Moor. Rather mysteriously there were a few trodden paths leading away from the trig point but where they could lead to I couldn't tell. I did follow one in the direction of the 580m summit of Alston Moor but it quickly disappeared into a mossy bog. Reaching the top of the moor proved to quite tricky as it involved a very careful crossing of a wall with double line of barbed wire.
There was nothing to see from the top so I made my way down off the moor (again pathless but this time thankfully free of reeds) to where Garrigill Burn flows under the B6277 and then took the track leading downhill past the house at Shieldhill and on to Low Houses Bridge, here there was a nice little cameo from some attractive waterfalls on Garrigill Burn.
In the end it was job done, I'd bagged Flinty Fell, bagged Alston Moor (on the list of North Pennine 'Deweys' I also want to complete) and revisited Ashgill Force. After enjoying some nice weather early on in the walk it was a shame it turned so wet but to be honest I don't think the crossing of Black Moss would have been pleasant regardless of the weather. Certainly I would only recommend that part of the walk to those like me that have a compulsion to stand on the top of places like Alston Moor.