Wild Boar Fell: Where the Wild Boars Aren’t

After twelve weeks of lockdown we are finally able to go a little further afield for walks and does it feel good or what! We spent a long time pondering where the best place to go would be for our first post-lockdown adventure: we wanted somewhere with great views and not many people. It’s not hard to get great views where we live but the crowd factor posed a slightly bigger issue! It was both the Easter bank holiday weekend and the first weekend since lockdown was slightly relaxed – I was pretty certain anywhere remotely well known would be heaving. After a lot of prevaricating on my part we settled on Wild Boar fell on the Cumbria/North Yorkshire border. Sadly, as you’ll see from the photos, there were no wild boar to be found, but this walk knocked the great views and crowd-free criteria out of the park!

Wild Boar Fell is the fifth highest fell in the Yorkshire Dales national park. Despite being in the Dales, the fell is actually in Cumbria, albeit on the eastern border with North Yorkshire. Irrespective of this claim to fame as one of the larger fells in the national park, not many people seems to head this way. Despite us arriving at lunchtime on Good Friday, in good weather, we barely saw anyone – just a few other groups of no more than three walkers and a farmer repairing his drystone walling.

We followed an eight mile circular walk from our Cicerone guide to the Northern and Eastern Dales, which took us up both Wild Boar Fell and neighbouring Swarth Fell. If you don’t have this book there is a similar route online on Walking Britain. The first half of the walk was amazing, but the descent from Swarth Fell was slightly hairy, so if you’re not comfortable with steep pathless descents you might want to look for an alternative route!

The walk starts from the roadside parking area by Cotegill Bridge, which is opposite two small waterfalls. There are two large lay-bys, one on either side of the bridge, which could both probably accommodate up to six cars (considerate parking dependent!).

You get great views right from the start of this walk. You head down a quiet road for a short way before picking up the footpath which eventually winds its way to the summit plateau of Wild Boar Fell. The paths for the vast majority of this walk are indistinct and at times totally non-existent, particularly on the descent of Swarth Fell which had me picking my way down the slope holding my breath incase I ended up breaking an ankle! Waterproof boots are a must, as boggy sections of the path occur frequently, and often require a fair bit of squelching to traverse.

There are basically no bad views on this walk, at all, and so many interesting features to look out for. After passing a series of potholes (fenced off for safety) you soon encounter a decent sized stretch of limestone pavement, before ascending to the summit where a group of ‘stone men’ stand sentinel over the dramatic panoramas. We did this walk on a clear day and the views (which I may have mentioned previously) were just fantastic – they stretch across the Howgills to the Lake District before a change in direction resulted in us having a cracking view of Ingleborough silhouetted by the late afternoon sun.

Dog friendly rating – 2.5/5. While there a definitely not any wild boar roaming the slopes of Wild Boar Fell, there are plenty of sheep and several types of ground nesting birds. Dogs should therefore be on a lead or under close control, especially at this time of year which is lambing season. There is very little water on this walk apart from a few bogs – which Coal jumped straight into and went in over his head – he scrambled out very quickly! There was only one stile which I would say is ‘awkward’ with a dog, and while Merry managed to slip under a gap in the fence, we did have to lift Coal over as he was a bit too large. This is a lovely long walk though and very quiet – perfect if your dog doesn’t like crowded places.

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