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Summerhouse Clough

Summerhouse CloughSunday afternoon following a truly delicious lunch of strongly curried wood pigeon flesh and a pint of Aldi’s cloudy apple juice to wash it down, with brilliant sunshine washing over the moors and fells, I did set off on one of my favourite “Trods”.
This short, circular ramble kicked off in the South Meadow at Farling Top where behind the Stables and the new Duck House, a wee bit of care while clambering over the slippery stone stile delivered me into the rain saturated West Meadow.
Perhaps a hundred yards of squelching, muddy trod across this sheep pasture then brought me to the old ruinous, dry stone wall overlooking the steep dramatic drop of over a 100 feet into the depths of the beautiful Summerhouse Clough. Owing to the steep drop and the slippery conditions, gingerly, I made my way down towards where the Summerhouse Beck, normally a shallow, moorland draining stream flows down the bottom of the rock- strewn clough towards historic Ickornshaw Mill and beyond down to the Aire Valley.
With my ears taking in the “water music” of the peat-stained rapidly flowing beck, the melodious sound became louder at every step. Suddenly, a startled pheasant in a flash of beautiful colours took flight in a flurry of rapid ascent; also startling Himself!
As I carefully worked my way around huge Gritstone boulders and through knee high sopping wet grass, at the same time skirting a number of dangerous, deep-sucking peat bogs on the beck’s flood plain, through the dense water-side shrubs and vegetation, the rapidly flowing, brown-hued stream came into view. However, my progress through the watery pastures alarmed a small flock of sheep who had been ensconced on the muddy grass delightedly chewing their cud.
Hell’s Teeth! Thowd beck was really swollen, due to the previous week of almost continuous torrential rain. The high altitude moorlands above the Summerhouse Clough would be thoroughly drowned; hence the beck being in full spate. How am I going to get across, I did ponder. Picking up a long, thin twig of willow, I carefully padded to the water’s edge to test the depth of water. The beck’s normal depth was about a foot or so, but the recent deluge had swollen the stream to between 5 and 8 feet deep. Heck! One false move on my part and I could fall into the fast flowing water which could transport my drowned form downstream to deposit me in to the River Aire four miles distant.
However, with “Who Dares Wins” racing through my mind, I eventually crossed the raging torrent by crawling along the length of a huge fallen Beech that spanned the beck. With a great deal of huffing and puffing I climbed the much steeper western slopes, my boots crunching the carpeting of Beech mast littering the rocky terrain among the stands of ancient, tall and massively girthed Beech trees.
Once I was on the top edge of the fell, the going was easier, notwithstanding the many small watercourses running down the slopes. After trodding across two rough, dry stone walled sheep pastures and going through a wooden gate, I then crossed the edge of Lower Summerhouse farm yard to be threatened by a roguish flock of turkeys and noisy geese, presumably being fattened for Christmas.
Two more wooden gates later, my trod again become strenuous as it delivered me onto the dry stone walled, sunken track, which is the Pennine Way. A couple of hundred yards more and after passing a huge, modern farm building, an ancient “gate ‘ole”, invited me to turn left on to the old packhorse track leading down Lumb Gill thence into the depths of the Summerhouse Clough far below.
After trodding through boot-top deep running water and loose gravel, I arrived at the “meetings” of the fast flowing Lumb Gill Beck and Dean Brow Beck that drains the extensive moorland above. Here, both becks merge to become the larger Summerhouse Beck that flows down the length of the Summerhouse Clough.
Homewards bound and thoroughly wetted by a sudden visitation of squally rain, I tackled the steep, uphill trod up Close Lane, the rough, un-metalled ancient packhorse track that ascends the eastern flank of the clough.
A half mile further down Old Lane, and through the old iron “Kissing Gate”, I entered the South Meadow, the sweet aroma of wood smoke curling out of the old salt-glazed chimney pot on World From Rough Stones House welcoming my return home.

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