A fairly easy but hugely enjoyable ramble around Muggleswick Common visiting Smiddy Shaw Reservoir, the trig point on Stoterly Hill and Hisehope Reservoir.
|Parking:||Hawkburn Head Car Park|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
This walk was based on a route suggested to me by a reader of this website who had initially contacted me about my Standards and Bink Moss walk. The starting point for the walk, the Hawkburn Head car park on the Stanhope to Castleside road, was only about a ten minute drive from Stanhope so made a perfect option whilst I was spending my staycation there.
The car park is one of a number of car parks attached to the Waskerley Way, a high level walking and cycling route that follows the route of the old Stanhope and Tyne Railway. The car park is situated high on the moor and is one of those rare instances where the starting point also doubles as virtually the highest point of the walk.
"The Three Curricks looked so tempting I decided to make a detour out to visit them. Unfortunately it was not to be."
From the car park I set off east along the Waskerley Way. It was the first sunny morning of our holiday and with the heather in full bloom it was a tremendous start to the day. After two-thirds of a mile I turned left on a track which brought me back to the road. Crossing straight over I continued on a nice path through the heather towards Smiddy Shaw Reservoir. Coming to a junction of paths I took the left hand option for a half-clockwise circuit of the reservoir. The reservoir, completed in 1872 is operated by Northumbrian Water. It is partly fed by Hisehope Reservoir which is at the end of the route.
After passing Smiddy Shaw House I walked half way across the dam before taking some steps down to a path. A couple of paths headed away across the moor. I took the one which corresponded most closely to the one shown on the map. Looking up to my left I could see Hisehope Reservoir's dam. Approaching a wall I followed it to the left and then, at a corner, down to the right. Descending above Backstone Burn the path looked like it was going to disappear in the bracken and gorse but I pressed on to find a small footbridge over Hisehope Burn.
On the other side of the burn there was a short ascent on the other side before reaching a stile. Crossing over I turned left to continue on the right of way as it crossed the top of Hise Pasture. As I crossed the modest brow I got a good view of the Three Curricks on Muggleswick Park. Further round to the right I could also see the large mast on Pontop Pike.
The Three Curricks looked so tempting I decided to make a detour out to visit them. Unfortunately it was not to be. As the path left the pastures behind to regain the moor I came across a line of youths holding flags. My heart sank as I knew what they were about to do, something that was confirmed when I stopped to chat with the nearest one. Not only were they about to start driving the local grouse to the waiting guns but their route was over the Three Curricks. While I could have waited until they had finished I decided to leave the Three Curricks for another time and instead carried along the path to reach Lamb Shield Farm.
My disappointment at missing out on the Three Curricks was soon forgotten as I crossed a couple of pastures to arrive at the trig point on Stoterly Hill. Part painted in a bright orange it commanded a superb view of Derwent Reservoir in one direction and the gorgeous purple moors of Muggleswick Common in the other direction. It truly was a grand spot.
After spending a while taking photos and enjoying the view I followed a path down to a grassy track. Here I had a couple of options. I could have turned left to follow the track to shadow the catchwater all the way to Hisehope Reservoir. The other option was to take a more direct, but pathless, route over the top of Cross Rig. I decided on the latter.
To start with the going was fairly easy and I soon reached a scattering of stones marking the 389m spot height on Cross Rig. From there I dropped down to visit the larger of the two tarns that are collectively called Fir Pools. It was a bit reedy but I do have a soft spot for these remote sheets of water. Crossing the reeds to the south of the pool I made my way to a line of grouse butts. Following these downhill over some stony ground I eventually came to the catchwater. Turning right I followed this to its terminus where a bridge gave access to Hisehope Reservoir's dam.
On my way down from Cross Rig I'd noticed a tall structure looking like a chimney on the far side of Hisehope Reservoir. After crossing the reservoir dam I made a short detour to take a closer look. After taking some photos I made my way back to Hisehope House and then took the access road leading back to the public road. Turning left it was then a short walk back to Hawkburn Head car park. Before heading back to Stanhope I made a short detour on to Skaylock Hill to visit another structure. This is marked on the map as a chimney. Just beyond it there was also a fine view of Waskerley Reservoir backed by Collier Law.
This was a lovely little walk. The purple heather was simply delightful and the two reservoirs were both attractive. The unexpected highlight was the trig point on Stoterly Hill. Painted trig points in bright orange aren't everyone's cup of tea but it worked for me. The trig point was also a fantastic viewpoint, much better than its location and lack of prominence might suggest.