Kirkcarrion and Grassholme Reservoir

Harter Fell & Greenholme Reservoir

Walk Summary

A walk, enlivened by some wild weather, from Grassholme Reservoir before climbing up the Pennine Way for a detour to the trig point on Harter Fell before returning via Kirkcarrion and Laithkirk.

Distance: 7.1 miles
Total ascent: 1430ft
Walk Rating: ****
Parking: Car Park, Grassholme Reservoir
Route: Download Route [GPX]

Photo Gallery

Walk Report

This was a repeat of my very first walk in Teesdale which had taken place almost 13 years ago. On that occasion I'd started the walk from Middleton-in-Teesdale. This time though I couldn't get to Middleton due to flooding on the road just short of my destination just after passing the viaduct over the River Lune. Instead I turned around and drove to the car park at Grassholme Reservoir. After a lot of recent rain and with the wind howling down the valley it was no great surprise that I was in the only car parked there.

After taking a look at the dramatic view of the dam and the water pouring over the rim and down the spillway I took the permissive path following the south shore of the reservoir. A few patches of sunshine provided a welcome contrast to the dark skies and choppy waters of the reservoir.

"Here I turned right to follow the route of the Pennine Way as it passes around the back Grassholme Farm. As I climbed the pasture beyond the farm I got caught in a sudden hail shower which reduced visibility quite markedly."

With the exception of a broken footbridge over Wester Beck the path was fairly straightforward and eventually led me to the road crossing the head of the reservoir. Here I turned right to follow the route of the Pennine Way as it passes around the back Grassholme Farm. As I climbed the pasture beyond the farm I got caught in a sudden hail shower which reduced visibility quite markedly.

After taking shelter for a while behind an old barn I continued following the Pennine Way up to a road. Crossing straight over I continued following the Pennine Way on a good track passing some farms. After crossing Merry Gill it eventually led to more level ground and access land. Here I had to take shelter from another sideways shower of hail.

At grid reference NY927233 I left the Pennine Way to make a detour up to visit the trig point on Harter Fell. I first climbed up to the small enclosure that contains a couple of trees. From here there was a good view back to Selset Reservoir. Just beyond there was a steeper slope leading to the trig point, one side of which was coated in ice from the hail. Although the skies were still dark and moody I had good views of Lunedale and the high fells and moors on the other side of Teesdale.

Returning to the Pennine Way at Pin Gate I followed it through a large pasture where I attracted the attention of a flock of sheep. No doubt they must have been hoping I was going to feed them. After passing through another couple of pastures I re-entered access land. Instead of continuing down the Pennine Way towards Middleton I instead turned right alongside the wall to follow a fainter path to the prominent circle of trees on Kirkcarrion.

Passing Kirkcarrion I then took a bridleway passing through a gate on my right. The track wound down below Kirkcarrion to reach the road. Turning left I followed it downhill passing Bowbank before taking the small road on the right to Laithkirk. I soon came to the pretty little Laithkirk Church, also known as 'the Holy Barn'. In the churchyard to the rear of the church there was a fantastic prospect of the River Lune. I also found an Ordnance Survey benchmark on the corner of the church.

Back at the road I followed it down to arrive at the Lune Viaduct. Turning right I crossed over the river via the road bridge before taking a stile on the right. This led to a path passing below the viaduct and up to the access road to Cote House. At Westfield House I took the access track to The Acres before continuing on field paths across Eller Beck and then up to the road from Mickleton to the reservoir. Turning right on this it was a short walk back to the reservoir car park, passing along the way a roadside kiln.

The weather had been rather wild but I still enjoyed the walk. It was nice to revisit this route after such a long time. The alternative starting point at Grassholme Reservoir actually worked out for the better as it meant I could visit Kirkcarrion and Laithkirk Church. The latter in particular proved to be an unexpected highlight of the walk. Recommended.

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