Simon’s Seat, 13.2.19

Simon’s Seat is on the edge of Barden Fell in Wharfedale, and is a walking destination that I’ve enjoyed on many occasions over the years, but not in fact for some years now. So it was good to be back.

It’s not overly long at about 14k, but it does include a rich variety of terrain, views, gradients and footing. Starting from the Cavendish Pavilion, over the river and upstream a touch to the Valley of Desolation …… that’s an evocative kind of name, deriving apparently from a violent storm in 1826 which destroyed many tees and caused a landslip. It’s certainly not in any way desolate now though; nature heals itself and the valley is delightful, if a little tricky underfoot here and there. There’s a slight diversion down to the waterfall which is well worthwhile.

Briefly up through a pine forest (Sheepshaw Plantation) which was almost silent after the rushing water and birdsong of the valley, then onto the fell itself and the long, steady pull up towards the top. The chuckling of grouse here, and the intrusion of shooting butts are a reminder that this is a place where people pay money to come and kill birds! What sort of mentality sees it as “sport” to attack these rather charming and comical birds with shotguns is quite beyond me. Perhaps if the birds could shoot back????

Simon’s Seat itself is a scattering of rocks that sit on the northern edge of the fell, offering spectacular views of Wharfedale and the surrounding fells. Then the long and somewhat leg cracking descent! They’ve improved some of the pathways here, in the interests of conservation, since I last walked them and the results are welcome, and then when the track turns down off the ridge towards Howgill and the River Wharfe, the footing is good, but the gradient is relentlessly hard work, for my money the hardest part of the whole walk. The valley is welcome then, and then the relatively easy stride along the river banks to the car and home. Good day out!

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