White Hag would be our last port of call for the day, but like Gladman says it's off the edge of the map, and neither me nor Alken has the appropriate one. We start the walk south from Seal Howe cairn, going on nothing but the memory of the lie of the land gleaned from staring at the map and Google earth. We could see Wicker street cairn from a distance, I knew it wasn't far from there so we went over, from here I knew only that the stone circle was in the grass not far from a wall and a thunder stone. Luckily today was my lucky day and we spotted the stones up the hill in the grass not far from a wall and a thunder stone. I have no sense of smell, but I can feel the pull of a stone circle a mile away.
Eleven stones make up this misshapen but attractive ring, plus an outlier five to ten meters south east. All the stones are lying flat amongst the tussocky grass, just like Oddendale, they would have been I presume more upright in the past, wouldn't they ? Would it, like Oddendale have been a concentric stone circle, it might explain those outlying stones mentioned by Fitzcoraldo.
The views are terrific, especially over towards the sun drenched hills to the south, no view north as the stones are on a hill side.
Just over the wall to the east is the nice little round cairn of the same name, the two are so close that they must be seen together.
Having tried and failed miserably to find White Hag from Oddendale last year (my excuse being it lay just beyond the coverage of my OL5 map), another predictably 'dodgy' Cumbrian day gave rise to another attempt last week.
This time I decided to start from the minor road leading south from the little village of Crosby Ravensworth, parking the car a little north-west of Holme Bridge, near Town Head. A bridleway leads roughly south-west from here known as 'Slack Randy', for some reason or other, starting as tarmac but soon becoming gravel, then grass.
The wind was up and the mist was a'swirling, but, upon taking a left hand fork, the route heads towards and then alongside the sanctuary of a large drystone wall. This eventually swings sharply away to the left, the path continuing in more or less the same line to pass right by the circle. Being a bit of a wimp when it comes to mist 'n' moors I took a bearing here just to make sure. Better safe than sorry......... the result being success!
Lying between the limestone scars of Wicker Street and White Hag, the circle is set in a wonderfully wild location - to be honest in the middle of nowhere - several trees gamely attempting to relieve the harshness of the moor with their spartan profiles, but not achieving a great deal, it has to be said. A large glacial erratic lies a little to the south (ish), not to mention a brace of nearby cairns, with other cairns prominent upon the distant hilltops. The circle stones themselves are pretty substantial, but low-lying and thus lacking the visual drama and haunting profiles possessed by other moorland circles. Nevertheless the vibe here is superb, the peace total, disturbances none. Couldn't really ask for more. Well, a bit of sun, perhaps?
On the way back it's also well worth checking out a settlement site near Ewe Locks. Not sure of the ancestry of the place, but several good hut circles are in evidence. Nice one.
The grassy limestone meadows are lovely at this time of year. There are dozens of wheatears making themselves busy amongst the limestone outcrops, there are banded snails and delicate little cranesbills to be seen in the grykes of the limestone pavements.
To access White Hag from the north I would recommend that you park up at Oddendale and follow the Coast to Coast footpath. The route is well marked. Leave the path at the Wicker Street limestone pavement and head south east for 30-40 metres aiming for the field wall. You can't miss it.
A word to the wise. The horseflies (cleggs) seems to be a bit thick on the ground this year and I'm told the tick population is currently booming, so splash on your favoured repellant and check the places where the sun don't shine when you get home.
A further word of advice
If you ever encounter anything like this http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/59885/images/white_hag.html
Don't touch it as there is a remote chance that it could explode.
Many of our upland areas were used as training grounds during WWI & WWII. After the war most of the ordnance was removed but the odd mortar and shell are still laying around. Most of these items are practice rounds but some of them aren't so harmless and may contain high explosive or phosphorus.
If you find anything like this, make a note of the location and report it to the police. A photograph may help to remove the patronising grin of the duty sargeant.
White Hag has been on my mind ever since my attempts to find it back in the winter of 2003.
So on a sweltering hot day, which was the total opposite to my last visit I, headed off up the path from the Orton to Shap road.
OK so here's the route.
Once you climb the first hill and begin to head slightly downhill you'll notice a line of grouse butts beside a small lake/large pond, this is marked as Black Dub on the OS map. Leave the path and head along this valley, which is the headwaters of the Lyvennet Beck. Once past the butts you'll see the monument, head for this and then along the valley. Ahead of you and on the higher ground you'll see a large glacial erratic, a huge megalithic plum sitting on the valley side. Head for this stone, the circle is about 200m past this stone and close to the corner of the dry stone wall.
This is a beautiful little circle composed of 11 granite boulders with a diameter of about 5 metres. 5 metres may be tiny but the stones used are all of a decent size and make the circle appear larger than it actually is.
The circle is far from the only feature, about 6m west there are four good sized stones set in a sort of rectangle.
About 6m to the south of circle is another large stone that could be an outlier to the circle.
Some 15m north of the circle is a small hillock with a curious half buried arrangement of small stones which could be natural but had the vibe of a cairn to me.
The views from the circle are absolutely crackin'. To the NNE, on a clear day, is a view right into the hugely magical valley of High Cup Nick in the far-off Pennines. To the south are marvellous vistas of the Howgill Fells with their lofty rounded peaks and deep valleys.
White Hag is a lovely circle and well worth the effort. Get yerself there!
Perhaps a mile further along the limestone pavement is a ruined circle, it stands on a small mound and although it is ruined its circle of low jagged stones are still quite impressive. And it is a pleasant walk here from the double circle.
I'll start this by telling you that I didn't find the circle but I'm posting this so that you don't make the same mistakes as me. I do know where the circle is, I spotted it half a mile away as I was returning home but the weather was coming down and the light was fading so it's one for next time for me.
I parked up at the cattle grid on the Orton to Shap road at NY601091 and followed the bridlepath north. Check out the mighty Thunder Stone that has been built into the farm wall (look at both sides!). The path follows the course of a Roman Road. My tip to find this circle is to forget the cairns and look at the field boundary walls. Once you clear the first rise and can no longer see the road there should be high ground with cairns to your left, look right and keep an eye on the wall across the valley, this will lead you to the circle. The OS map has wicker street and white hag marked, these are limestone pavements and not as obvious as the map implies (they may be more prominent once the snow has cleared).
I stopped a couple of gamekeepers and asked them if they knew the whereabouts of the circle, their reply .."what circle?" To their credit they did tell me about a local barrow and the Century Tree.
So in summary, keep you eyes on the field boundaries, take the multimap aerial photo, the rectangular plantation is not marked on the 2002 O/S OL19 map so don't let that throw you, don't bother asking the gamekeepers. Happy hunting pilgrims.
It would be a slight travesty if you were at the stone circle and didn't come here, its only two hundred meters distant. Care should be taken whilst climbing over the wall, but climb it you must. Another oddly placed cairn, right below a long hill side, if your not the wall climbing type, peering over the wall and down the hill may suffice, not for us though.
It is a nice little grass covered mound, resembling an upturned human bottom, it's shapely, so it's hopefully female. A large wooden post sticks out of it's side and the ministry of ancient monuments sign has fallen off, I reunited them a bit.
The mound is five to six feet high, and a cleft has been dug into it, I half expected it to have a chamber within like an Orkadian fairy mound, but its only a featureless cairn. Yet still worth a visit, a whole day could be spent on Oddendale moor, upon our return I discover that not only did we not see the long cairn not far from here but also another stone circle. Oh well, another time.