Across the Barf
After parking near the Punch Bowl at Feetham 13 of us followed the bridleway up to Smarber, where a farm has stood since Viking times. Onward we walked, through Rowleth Wood (where the bushes badly need cutting back) and a number of snow covered fields before dropping down to Gunnerside via the little lane (so beloved by Swaledale Marathon participants). We walked up Gunnerside Gill, passing remnants of the the former lead mining industry and stopping to examine ruined ore storage, crushing and screening remains. It is hard to imagine the clamour in this working area with men, horses and equipment everywhere.
It was snowing quite heavily when we sat down for lunch just opposite Sir Francis Level and the pressure vessel which provided for the steam hammers used when boring the level. Just a little further along the track the leader (me) could not pick up the track which was to take us up to the right through the snow covered bracken. Instead we climbed higher up to the bridleway on the escarpment and we followed this to Winterings, an old and derelict lead mining community, now partly inhabited by holidaymakers in the summer. From here we followed footpath and bridleway across the Barf to Blades , yet another old lead mining community where 2 or 3 houses are still in use. Following the road steeply down to the Punch Bowl we enjoyed a drink and chat---must rehydrate after exercise! A good winter walk with pleasant company--about 8 miles.