Dent: Great Coum & Crag Hill

9 miles (14.5 kilometres) 687m. Cloudy and warm, June. Solo. Moderate but with steep open moorland terrain. Peak bagging: Hewitt, Bridget, Marilyn & trig

TL;DR A proper hike up and over the moors. My birthday cake arrives.

No more bumbling about by the river and messing about on nana trails. It’s now time to get the map and compass out and do some proper hiking. We’re going up Great Coum. Well I am but you can walk with me.

Great Coum lies on the opposite flank of Dentdale to Aye Gill Pike (see the previous walk). Whernside’s crouching companion. But unlike Whernside you’ll likely not see another person on the top. Covid knocked me out a couple of months ago and it took some of my confidence, my apprehension takes me by surprise, I can’t work out why, perhaps its the solitude up here. But i’m well prepared, plus I have my brownie.

The walk begins up Flinter Gill, beyond Dragon Court, and we’re back in Lord of the Rings again.

Flinter Gill is a surprisingly rough climb up South Lords Land up to the Occupation Road, also known as the Green Lane, but today i’ll be going on up.

Flinter Gill is populated by boggarts, there’s no doubt about it, and they have their own wishing tree which you will need to run through three times before making a wish. I wished I would get to the top of the gill without expiring, a modest wish but it came true.

There’s also a spot called Dancing Flags, the flat limestone floor next to the sploshing stream where the weavers used to ‘dance’ on their fabrics to shrink and make them thicker. The town has a long history with textiles and the terrible knitters of Dent (terribly fast, not dreadful at knitting).

I find the wall and follow it up and now i’m stopping a lot because the route to the top of Crag Hill is steep. Then a fell runner comes skipping down with his lovely sheep dog, neither of them the slightest out of breath, not even a little sweaty and he tells me to look out for the frogs at the top, and immediately i’m excited for the frogs.

Up and up, you reach the Occupation Road, Occy to the locals, a very rough stone path where someone has taken the trouble to ensure no two stones lie level with each other. But we’re carrying on up.

Already the views begin to open up, to the magnificent Howgills, infinity and beyond. It’s a perfect walking day and my apprehension falls away. I have a walk plan but i’m glad I have my compass, I need it to navigate the correct tracks. There’s no one for miles to see me stopping to take in the amazing views. I stop an awful lot, i’m not the smiling mountain hiker of your dreams. I’m actually trying to breathe.

Let me tell you the photos do not do it justice. The top of Crag Hill is awesome and it’s clear, i’m seeing for miles into three counties and to the sea at Morecambe Bay. It’s a short track west to bag the trig and then back along the top to find the cairn, guarded vigilantly by sheep, which marks the summit of Great Coum. Despite a lot of looking, I haven’t found any frogs.

From Great Coum I head away from the comforting views of Dentdale and i’m heading for the three county stone which marks the edge of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria. It feels odd to be heading down to Lancashire and then steeply down towards Blea Gills

The county stone. You can see the graffiti initials.

I don’t know who J Hollins was but I hope they had as good a view as I did when they sat here and incised their name in the rock.

The track down Blea Gills back to the Occupation Road doesn’t seem to exist, or i’m off course again, which seems to happen downhill with tiresome regularity. But the Green Lane is unmistakable so I head to what looks like a gate and i’m on it. As beautiful as it looks in the pictures, and as much as I already love it, the Occupation Road is a pain in the arse to walk along, with its random pretensions to be a rockery.

The route back is down the lovely named Nun House Outrake, more about the Occupation Road and the Outrake in the next walk, and back along the calming and comforting shade of the River Dee. A perfect end to a walk is one when you can stick your feet in the water. An even more perfect end to a walk is one with a birthday cake at the end, and courtesy of Katie’s Cakes I have that too.

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Walk info

I followed Go4awalk route c300 which is a paid site, but this walk is widely available in other places on the old interwebs and a similar walk is in the Cicerone book Yorkshire Dales South and West. The area is covered by OS map OL2. I rated this walk as moderate because there are steep hills, in harsher weather it would be moderate to difficult.

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