An interesting walk on to the broad moorland top of Bink Moss via Fish Lake, Closehouse Mine and Standards before returning via a shooting track above Hargill Beck.
|Parking:||Layby, Stake Rigg|
|Route:||Download Route [GPX]|
Having spent an excellent week on holiday in Armathwaite the previous week exploring the Eden Valley and the north-western corner of the North Pennines I was back for another walk on Easter Monday. This time I was in the company of my friend Paul for our first walk together since the previous September when we'd done an excellent linear route in the Yorkshire Dales between Buckden and Bainbridge.
This time we were heading out to the top of Lunedale, a side valley of Teesdale, for a walk up to Bink Moss. It had been over 11 years since my only previous visit to Bink Moss. On that occasion I'd started from the Tees Head Hotel. It was a good walk which included Low Force, High Force and Holwick Scar on the route. This time though I wanted to approach from the other side, mainly so that I could add in Standards into the route.
Standards is a hill that I'd seen on that last visit and although it doesn't have quite enough prominence to be classed as a Dewey (hill over 500m with 30m prominence) it still looked worth visiting. I also hoped to visit Arngill Force for the first time but, given how dry it had been over the previous weeks, I was dubious if there would be any water coming over the falls.
"Not long after passing a large shake hole we left the fence to follow a small stream to a miniature tarn. Directly above the tarn were the two stakes, topped by a pair of wellington boots, that mark the summit of Bink Moss."
We parked at a layby on the B6276 as it passes over Stake Rigg, about a third of a mile to the east of Grains o' th' Beck. Right next to the layby was a gate leading on to a wide dusty track - our route into the hills. As with much of the previous week it was a sunny day but there was a thick haze obscuring long distance views. That said we still got a decent sight of the likes of Iron Band and Little Fell as we walked up the track.
After almost a mile and a half of easy walking we came to Fish Lake. I assume this originated as a mine reservoir before being stocked with fish. Walking alongside the attractive lake we came to an area which looked like it might see some construction of sorts. Certainly there was a large concrete foundation and lots of stacks of timber. Just beyond we came to a quarry pool below the spectacular gash of Closehouse Mine.
Originally a lead mining site the mine was opened and closed several times. In its later stages it was an opencast mine where barytes was the main mineral taken from the site. It looked like there had been some large landslips and that might have contributed to the change from drift mining to open cast methods. We hadn't planned on taking that close a look but we ended up following a track until mid-way above the mine for a closer view. I remarked to Paul that if this was a natural feature and the quarry pool below a natural tarn, it wouldn't look out of place in the Lake District.
The track had led us on to what was in effect a giant spoil heap with a flat top. Walking to the north we dropped down to a fence. On the other side of the fence we picked up a thin path that gradually descended to follow Arngill Beck upstream. Turning a corner we eventually saw Arngill Force. Although not quite as wide as it is in normal conditions it was still a pretty waterfall and worth the detour to visit.
Returning back along the path we crossed Arngill Beck just before arriving back at the spoil heap. Here we found a thin path leading to a track heading back to the main area below the mine. Following this we soon left it to follow the outside of a fence to join the track zig-zagging up the side of Standards. This led us easily uphill with improving views over Arngill Beck towards Mickle Fell. As we got higher the track grew level with East Hush, another remnant of the area's lead mining past.
At the top of the track we turned south for a mainly pathless detour to the top of Standards. The name must surely be linked to the various cairns on the summit, similar indeed to Nine Standards Rigg ten miles or so to the south. By far the largest cairn was also shaped into a shelter. Indeed one section even had a stone roof held up by rusty iron bars. I think only in extremis would I risk taking shelter under that particular roof! The views from the top were superb, despite the haze and extended south to the likes of Nine Standards Rigg, Wild Boar Fell and the Howgill Fells.
Returning to the track we passed the top of Standard's Hush. Some of the rock formations lower down looked like they would repay more detailed exploration in the future. In the meantime the track swung north to follow a line of grouse butts - eleven in total. For most of this section the track was actually made up of the same kind of green matting that I'd come across on a visit to Shacklesborough the previous May.
The track extended much further than shown on the map and almost led us to the fence descending from Long Crag. Turning right we followed the fence down to Hagworm Hill. This was the only really awkward ground we encountered on the walk and even then, because of the dry spell, it was still fairly easy going. After passing the cairn on the top of Hagworm Hill we continued in the same direction following the fence as it climbed up on to Bink Moss.
Not long after passing a large shake hole we left the fence to follow a small stream to a miniature tarn. Directly above the tarn were the two stakes, topped by a pair of wellington boots, that mark the summit of Bink Moss. After taking a few pictures we went off in search of the Ordnance Survey 'Curry Stool'. A curry stool is a very rare type of trig point of which there are only nine in the UK and only three in England, all in the North Pennines. I had actually come across it on my last visit though I didn't know what it was at the time. Eventually we found it next to a small pile of stones and grouse feeding tray to the south-east of the wellies.
From the curry stool we continued heading in a generally south-eastern direction. After passing an area of shake holes we came across a faint track which led us down to the shooters track above Green Grain. Turning right on this we enjoyed a fine stretch of easy walking. Along the way we passed the pile of stones that was once Greengrain Shop (an old mining term) and then the more modern shooting hut. We also passed a number of stone pillars topped with grouse feeding trays.
Just above the confluence of Green Grain and Hargill Beck we forded the latter. The track soon gave out and despite the public footpath shown on the map the next section was largely pathless across grass. Eventually we reached the road to turn right and walk back to the car.
Bink Moss doesn't have the best of reputations amongst hill baggers. This was a great walk though and full of interest. On a day when large parts of the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District would have been packed out it also had another advantage - it was very quiet. Indeed away from the road we saw not one single person the entire walk.