I was somewhat surprised to find that the remotest spot in England is in the Dales. I had assumed it was further north, maybe in the Pennines of Cumbria or Northumberland. It is not.
I recently read an article saying that Riggs Moor was the most remote spot (based I believe on distance from an access point), on the border of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Nidderdale. I was intrigued, therefore setting out from Conistone in Wharfedale for a walk of exploration. The access to Mossdale is on excellent tracks, remote walking with birds and other wildlife the main company. From the shooting house at Mossdale a bridlepath (follow the blue posts) leads to Sandy Gate (not a gate but a stile). The fence that marks the border of the National Park continues north towards Great Whernside.
Following the fence for a few hundred metres leads to a boundary stone and a few metres further a small pile of stones. I reckon this is the remotest spot in England but I walked a little further just in case. It feels remote with the bulk of Great Whernside sweeping away to the north and west, Nidderdale to the east and Grassington a long way to the south. It reminded me of Scotland and the Munros to the east. Meugher is the nearby conical shaped hill, probably the least inviting climb in England.
The initial part of the walk can be enlivened by a scramble up Conistone Dib, a superb dry valley providing a contrast to the remainder of the walk.
As a rule I prefer circular routes rather than a there and back walk. However I only made a small detour on this walk, heading east from Mossdale and meeting the fence further south. I returned via the bridlepath.
However those feeling brave could carry on north, returning via Great Whernside but beware the underfoot terrain is poor. Alternatively leave the return to Conistone just after the caves at Mossdale Scar and add a loop to the walk by heading towards Yarnbury. Return along the Dales Way.
Both are marked on the map.
From Mossdale look for a large signpost to the north pointing up the hillside. The bridlepath is intermittent on the ground but tall blue posts help. On arrival at the fence, turn left and follow it uphill, past a boundary stone to a small cairn.
The remotest spot is at SE 030717. I am still not 100% convinced and differing criteria may bring somewhere else in to play but this is certainly very remote and makes for an excellent walk.
My wife and I walked from Conistone to Sandy Gate and back in glorious weather on 4/9/23. From the signpost beyond the shooting lodge in Mossdale, the thin path up the hillside is generally well-graded and distinct underfoot to Sandy Gate with the added reassurance of occasional blue-topped posts. About half way up it passes next to a large cairn / shelter and through a line of grouse butts. On reaching the stile over the boundary fence, there is little to be seen except dreary moorland and Meugher in the distance. However, the satisfaction comes from making the climb and knowing that you have been there. I would not recommend doing this in mist, and it appears that continuing into Nidderdale would be much more difficult.
Loved your comment “Meugher is…. probably the least inviting climb in England” – having ticked it off, I never feel the need to go back 🙂
Riggs Moor is certainly further from any public access road than Sighty Crag, but the ‘problem’ is that it’s a lot easier to reach Riggs Moor on foot, especially if you take the easier (not a criticism) route up from Conistone. In contrast, the longer route from Stean is across much more difficult terrain and will deter any but the most ardent seekers of solitude.
The OS definition of straight line distance from a road is maybe not a true reflection of how remote somewhere is and the difficulty of getting there (and therefore the number of people who can access it) should be considered.
I would like to try this having learnt orienteering at the age of 5. Now being 45. I believe it would be worth it.
There will always be arguments about where exactly is the remotest location, but regardless this is a beautiful remote Dales moorland with fine views towards the vale of York and the Lancashire coast. You can walk the area often without seeing another person for hours and the wildlife – particularly the birdsong – is wonderful in summer.
I did the same walk in appalling conditions 29/8/20
Having been to Sighty Crag I am not convinced either.
Fine and lonely spot though
I have been led to believe the most remote was Sighty Crag in Cumbria.
Having been it is very remote and hard to get to.
I was wondering when to get back to the Dales , this may be it.
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