A Stroll With Stu: He’s seated, so let’s begin ...

Seated Man at Castleton.
Seated Man at Castleton.

“It’s another example of the despoilation of the natural beauty of the countryside by the ‘arty farty’ brigade,” explained Mr Angry in response to the appearance of a 9ft tall statue atop Castleton Rigg.

But that is not the only objection I’ve heard to the bronze statue of the Seated Man, overlooking Westerdale.

Danby Dale.

Danby Dale.

Whatever you think of it, there cannot be much doubt that the line of parked cars along the rigg (29 of them when I passed on a Moorsbus), is a genuinely ugly and invasive consequence of this artwork.

Also, you may well agree with the “arty-farty” critique when you read that the artist responsible for the sculpture, Sean Henry, waffles thus: “The tension between the making and staging of figures that seem to belong to the real world and the degree to which they echo our experiences and sympathies” (If you haven’t slipped into a coma and actually have a clue what he’s gibbering on about, please write to the editor).

Anyway, I thought I would have a look for myself and avoided the linear car park by walking from Castleton along Danbydale.

It’s just a few miles, but be prepared to do battle with bracken of immense proportion and tenacity.

A Castleton sheep.

A Castleton sheep.

Walk up through Castleton High Street, and as the road bears left to strike out across the moors, take a path on the left through a gate and alongside a wall.

Now to avoid all that bracken, you could stay on the road for a short while, taking a wide track left after the cattle grid, leading down to a

right fork which takes you above Forest Farm.

I didn’t, and it took an age to hack my way through the triffids to reach the farm, and a path up to that track mentioned above.

Castleton village.

Castleton village.

Plain sailing now though as you divert up to the right to pass Forest Lodge, and on to Holly Lodge where a similar diversion preserves their privacy.

Drop down steps to take the second gate on your left and curl back to the right following waymarks with a wall on your right.

A water-jump cunningly accompanies a stile, then 200 yards later a gate takes you onto a road at Crag House Farm.

Very pretty it is too, with a number of cottage conversions and a cute dovecote, which you pass on your right.

Continue in the same general direction through more fields (one of them particularly boggy), eventually arriving at West Green Farm.

Keep the farm on your right and go through a little gate on your left through further gates to reach the road into Willow Tree Farm after an admirable collection of plastic bags.

Very quickly, where the Tarmac ends, you reach Plum Tree Farm.

At the very end of the buildings, go through a new gate on your right.

This is a permissive path climbing up to a second new gate to reveal a track which ascends directly to the road on Castleton Rigg.

It’s a bit of a lung buster, so pause awhile to consider your next move.

The seated man is directly ahead of you, hidden behind Brown Hill on the other side of the road.

Sheep tracks and plodging through heather will get you there, but perhaps an easier option is to head left along the road for a while, then right through the heather around the edge of the hill.

And there he is – resplendent and frankly huge!

I have to say, I was seriously impressed and don’t see a problem, (apart from the parking issues).

Some say that the moors special appeal is its desolation and I get the argument that it goes against that grain, but so long as others don’t spring up all over the place and we don’t get tea-bars and hot-dog wagons on the roadside, I think this is a thing of beauty. Another objection is its relevance, with the suggestion that if he was farmer with a sheepdog and a packed lunch, it may be more acceptable.

The seated man clutches an old wrinkled bag containing his worldly belongings (and perhaps a packed lunch) and looks like he has walked for days and is now approaching journeys end.

He looks knackered – maybe he just came through all that bracken – and is having one last sit down on his portable stool, before descending into Westerdale to upset the locals.

I like him!

The way back is easy, along a thin track down the centre of the rigg back towards Castleton.

You can dip down to the road if you want, and I did just that to catch a Moorsbus (finished for the season) up to the Lion Inn for a spot of dinner and a few pints.

I’d forgotten my own packed lunch!