All the Fells: Lank Rigg

Lank Rigg – The Western Fells 1,775′ (138)

Date: 19 September 1991

From: Crag Fell via Whoap

Everyone who knows Wainwright knows the story about Lank Rigg. Surveying the same, the most furtherly west fell in his guide books, the great man came to the conclusion that this was a fell that would never attract anyone, a rounded, undistinguished tract of land with no appeal and no visitors. In a fit of generosity, he concealed 2/6d under a stone he described in general terms by its distance from the cairn. The day The Western Fells was published, a walker who’d already read the chapter ascended Lank Rigg to claim the money – perhaps for the purpose of buying fish and chips – only to find that, by about 5.00pm on publication day, it had already been found and removed! I love that story. Of course, in the fifty and more years since The Western Fells appeared, Lank Rigg has attracted both an irony and a tradition, both associated with Wainwright. The irony is that, whereas it will never achieve the popularity of fells nearer civilization, Lank Rigg now has a steady stream of visitors, drawn almost exclusively by Wainwright’s description of it as remote and solitary. And the tradition is a lovely one, which is to look around the stones near the summit for a cache of money left by a previous visitor, to take it, but to leave coins of your own, to be found by the next visitor. Not that I knew of that tradition on the day I visited. Though I was there, only because I was on the long trail, and no fell could be omitted, I had fun visiting, and Lank Rigg was by no means as barren of interest as the master suggested. In my usual manner, I made Lank Rigg the end of a slightly contrived walk, parking on the Cold Fell road near to the track into the forest, using that to do the Grike/Crag Fell route, and descending from the latter to pick up the Caw Fell path, before leaving that a half mile further on to wade into the grasslands, curving round on pretty much trackless but difficulty free rounded slopes, to first cross Whoap – and to wonder, given its elevation from the ground around it and distinct separateness, why Wainwright didn’t accord it the status of a fell in its own right – and then across a grassy col and up to Lank Rigg itself. As advertised, there was no-one to see in all the time I was on this fell. It’s distance west, its relative lack of height, and the presence of higher fells at close range deprives the summit of views inland, but the seascape is impressively wide, though I was too far north for the Isle of Man to put in an appearance.. When I departed, I dropped back to the col, then descended further to my left to find myself a route of escape along the Calder Valley, a long, narrow valley, once again silent and empty, and in its own minor way almost magical for it. I walked cheerful and invulnerable, until I departed over a low ridge to the right, to find the Cold Fell road no more than a dozen feet below me, and the car perhaps a half mile walk northward. It was still only three o’clock or just after, and for some reason, though I’m in no way a follower of that Channel, then or now, I switched on Radio 4, found myself listening to a fascinating programme about the history of the Duchy of Muscovy, and sat there until it was finished before turning the ignition key and descending towards Ennerdale Bridge.

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