Weekend Walk: Leck Fell & Gragareth

Looking south from Leck Fell
Looking south from Leck Fell
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Until last summer the wall which runs across the top of Gragareth - at 2060ft the highest point in Lancashire - marked the western boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The rest of the mountain, which looked no less beautiful than the landscape to the east, was unprotected. Now it is finally part of the National Park. This walk from the hamlet of Ireby approaches Gragareth via Leck Fell, which appears to have no proper summit. Its most interesting features are all underground, with potholes like Lost John’s Cave - passed by the route - being some of the most complex in the Yorkshire Dales. On the climb to the trig point there is a visit to the much-photographed group of cairns known as The Three Men of Gragareth. Birds in spring and summer include wheatear, lapwing, meadow pipit and raven.

Looking west to Morecambe Bay from Gragareths summit

Looking west to Morecambe Bay from Gragareths summit

1. From Ireby take the lane signposted to Leck. On the bend at Todgill Farm continue ahead on a track for about 1 mile, and turn right on a quite road which rises onto the open fell. Pass through a metal gate at a parking area. Continue up the road to Leck Fell House.

2. Take a wooden gate on the right and ascend with care to the stone cairns known as the Three Men of Gragareth. The path can be sketchy but the objective is clear. From the cairns the half-mile climb to the summit gets progressively easier.

3. Walk south-eastwards from the trig point to walk with the summit wall on your left. At a corner (another wall joins at this point) cross to the other side and walk downhill, keeping the wall on your right. Follow the wall for approximately 1¼ miles to a stile in the wall.

4. Cross to the other side and angle slightly left to a pothole called Ireby Fell Cavern. Go left here to walk on a course parallel to the wall as you descend the shoulder of Ireby Fell.

The Three Men of Gragareth

The Three Men of Gragareth

5. Aim well to the left of Over Hall Farm. Cross Ireby Beck and pick up a path going right. It passes the farm and meets the access road. Turn left and follow the road down to Ireby.

Difficulty rating: 4 stars

Distance: 7 1/2 miles

Hours: 3 1/2 hours

Map: OS Explorer (1:25000) OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas

Parking: Ireby.

Public transport: 581 buses run between Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale, and the walk starting point at Ireby is a ¼-mile walk from route. For bus details visit www.dalesbus.org

Refreshments: Cowan Bridge