Monday, 31 March 2014

Gunnerside, Swinner Gill, Crackpot Hall & Kisdon Force (Yorkshire Dales) - March 2014

Before I begin with the account of our second day in Swaledale (see previous entry for details of Day One), I must pause to make mention of our base for the weekend, the Kings Arms Hotel, Reeth.  As regular readers will know, whenever possible we prefer to stay in pubs.  This is because they're usually unpretentious, you can get an evening meal and, most of all, we like sampling different beers.  The bar doesn't have to be fancy as long as the room is clean and comfortable, the food is reasonable and the beer is good.  The Kings Arms ticked all those boxes and at a very reasonable price too.  Our room overlooked Reeth's village green and it was especially nice to wake up to see the sun rise over Fremington Edge.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and I couldn't wait to get out there.

The Kings Arms, Reeth

One epic Dales breakfast later and I was out in the sunshine, enjoying a quick turn of the village green before heading off into the heart of Swaledale.  I had to take a quick shot of one particular bench on the edge of the green.  It was here that Alfred Wainwright once sat with TV presenter and Chairman of the Wainwright Society, Eric Robson, during a programme they'd made together about the Coast to Coast Walk.  I remember AW had commented how much he liked Reeth and I had to agree.  It's a lovely little place.  There was no time to hang around though as we had a long day's walking ahead of us, with over ten miles to cover and lots to see along the way. 

Bench on Reeth Village Green

From Reeth it was just a short drive of six miles to the village of Gunnerside which, like Arkengarthdale, is very obviously Viking in origin, its name quite simply translating to "the farm belonging to Gunnar".   Our route out of Gunnerside took us immediately up a hill.  As we climbed I looked back over the village and the valley beyond.  Almost as soon as we'd got out of our car the clouds had gathered but the remaining hazy light still picked out the patterns of the distinctive Swaledale walls and barns.  It's a sight that truly epitomises the Yorkshire Dales.

Above Gunnerside

At the top of the hill we joined a track which ran alongside the top edge of Gunnerside Gill, a deep-sided valley to the north of the village.  In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries this area was the site of intensive lead mining and the hillside and valley below is scattered with evidence of its industrial past.  As we walked along the road the sun came out for a while, but ominous clouds were gathering to the north of Gunnerside Gill.  This just happened to be in the direction we were heading.

The track above Gunnerside Gill

The opposite side of the valley was dotted with farms and the remains of old buildings and I was eager to get a good photograph of them in decent light, so I slowed my pace, waiting for the wind to move the clouds, even if only for a short while.  I just needed that one perfect window of light to illuminate the hillside for me.  Eventually the clouds parted a little and I realised that this was as good as it was going to get.  Not exactly what I wanted, but at least it picked out some of the land's interesting contours.

Gunnerside Gill

I'd been so distracted waiting for the sun that I had almost missed the action going on in the ditch at the other side of the track.  Closer inspection revealed the largest amount of frogspawn I have ever seen in my life.  And not only that, but dozens of frogs all knotted and locked together in the act of...well... let's just say creating frogspawn.  It was a froggy orgy.  The ditch in question ran for almost the entire length of the track (at least a mile and a half I'd say) and it all seemed to contain frogspawn.  If my calculations are correct, in the summer Swaledale may be hit by a plague of frogs of biblical proportions.  I suppose I'll have to go back and check it out.  I do rather like frogs.

A plague of frogs waiting to happen

The track continued to climb steadily uphill before we left it to turn eastwards in the direction of an area known as Swinner Gill.  Before leaving the track though I looked across Gunnerside Gill for the last time and was struck by the beauty of the land's contours in what turned out to be the last of the sunlight we'd see for a while.  There was so much to read from this one section of landscape, with signs of quarrying, mining, watercourses and moorland.  It enthralled me for a while, before we had to turn eastwards and head into the cloud.


All the while since leaving Gunnerside we'd been climbing steadily but now the route seemed to have reached a plateau as we found ourselves on the course of the Coast to Coast Walk.  And just to confirm this, looming out of the mist and surrounded by scorched and blackened earth, was a direction sign on what must surely be one of the bleakest parts of the Coast to Coast's 192 miles. 

On the Coast to Coast Walk

It was very blustery at the top and the low cloud swirled and thickened making visibility quite poor for a time, until we began to descend and could see another group of people ahead of us on the winding track. 
Descending towards Swinner Gill

We exchanged greetings as we passed them by after which they immediately turned off the path to walk down into a gully.  This was fortunate as it made me stop to check the map and the GPS, quickly realising that we needed to be following the same route.  One of them shouted across to us "Where you going?" to which I replied "Crackpot!".  I wasn't insulting him and luckily he responded with  "So are we.  It's this way".  Because our route was now heading for the quirkily named Crackpot Hall.  First though we had to negotiate the rather precarious path down the side of a stream known as East Grain.
The path here led us downhill and it was quite steep and rocky in places.  One or two areas showed signs of erosion and had to be crossed with extreme caution.  The view revealing itself before me was spectacular but I had to be mindful not to take my eyes off the path for very long.

The path down East Grain

As the path levelled out and became less hazardous I paused for a while to watch the East Grain cascading into Swinner Gill.  Ahead of me was the first sight of the ruins of the old lead smelt mill buildings. 

East Grain runs into Swinner Gill

Not much remains of this building which somehow blends itself aesthetically with the surrounding landscape.  Dating from the late 18th century, it is believed to have been built by Thomas Hopper & Co. who leased adjoining mines in the area in 1804.  It didn't have a very long period of use though, and had closed by 1819.

Ruined Smelt Mill at Swinner Gill

After crossing a bridge over the gill, the path skirted round the hillside giving us a wonderful view of the River Swale.  Beneath the low cloud we could see a patch of watery sunlight shining on the village of Muker.  Eventually we'd be following the river down to Muker but  now it was time to visit Crackpot Hall.

Stone bridge out of Swinner Gill

The strangely named Crackpot Hall is a ruined  farmhouse dating from the mid eighteenth century.  Abandoned in the 1950s due to subsidence, it's situated in the most wild and beautiful of places and, if it wasn't for the fact that the ground beneath it is so unstable, it would be a wonderful location to live.  The view is spectacular.  Although there are tales of a wild and strange four year old child living here in the 1930s, the name "crackpot" has nothing to do with craziness or eccentricity.  It's actually thought to be a Viking word meaning "a deep hole or chasm where there are many crows". 

Crackpot Hall

We had a short break at Crackpot Hall, savouring the view.  Remarkably we had the place to ourselves although I can imagine that in the summer it can get quite busy up there.  I was hoping that if we hung around a while the cloud may lift, providing me with better light for some photography. When I realised this wasn't going to happen any time soon though, we continued on to our next point of interest.  A beautiful series of waterfalls called Kisdon Force. 

Looking down on the River Swale from Crackpot Hall

Located a short distance from the village of Keld, this is one of several waterfalls along the this section of the River Swale.  Kisdon Force drops a total of 10 metres over two cascades and although on our visit the light was subdued the lack of foliage on the surrounding trees and bushes certainly gave me a better view.

Kisdon Force

Another distinct advantage of this kind of soft and subtle light is that it enables a long exposure to be taken, which blurs the water's movement into a pleasing misty and milky effect.  Normally I'd want to use a tripod for this kind of shot, but on this occasion a rock did a pretty reasonable job of keeping the camera steady.

Closer view of Kisdon Force

There was a choice of routes from Kisdon Force down to the village of Muker.  We decided to take the lower path which led us along the banks of the Swale.  Looking back towards Swinner Gill I could see that the cloud cover was descending even further.  It was rather dramatic and moody.

Looking back up to Swinner Gill

Our path back to Gunnerside was now almost entirely on lower ground, beside the River Swale.  We decided to bypass the village of Muker, although it would only have necessitated a detour of half a mile or so should we have decided to call in there.  Again, this is a place name of Viking origin, Muker being derived from the old Norse word "Mjor-aker", meaning "narrow acre".  All the while we had been on the higher ground it had appeared as if Muker had been under a break in the clouds, lit by weak sunshine.  Typically, that wasn't the case by the time we got there, although the light was a little better as we tramped along the side of the Swale.

By the banks of the River Swale

The weather forecast for the day had predicted rain by 3 p.m.   That time had now passed but , as we climbed the last small incline of the day, the sky was darkening and a full rainbow appeared ahead of us.  It didn't last for long, so I managed a quick shot looking uphill towards a barn. 

Before the rain came

Before we descended to cross the last couple of fields to take us back to Gunnerside the sun broke through one last time, just before the rain came, and I captured my favourite image of the day.  The beautiful River Swale, hills, fields barns, walls....Swaledale in all its glory.

Swaledale from above Gunnerside
The rain very kindly waited for us to change out of our walking boots and get into the car for the drive home.  It had been a wonderful weekend of walking in beautiful Swaledale.  It was only once back home, however, that I realised that by taking the path above Gunnerside Gill I'd actually missed rather a lot of interesting old mining buildings which are situated on the opposite side.  The directions I provide for this walk follow in our footsteps.  However, I have every intention of returning to do this walk again and next time I will take the opposite path out of Gunnerside as far as North Hush (shown on the map below).

As if I really need much of an excuse to return!

Directions for this walk:

Look for a public footpath sign on a bank behind buildings in the centre of Gunnerside.  This leads straight uphill and joins a stony track which can be followed all the way along the upper edge of Gunnerside Gill until just after a bend by a waterfall.  Here the path to the left joins the Coast to Coast Walk above the high ground until descending to the top end of a gully.  At this point the path to Swinner Gill runs above the East Grain and (when we were there) care is needed in places where the path is steep and precarious where sections have fallen away due to erosion.  This path soon levels off as it reaches the smelt house ruin at Swinner Gill.  Follow the signposts for Keld which will pass by Crackpot Hall before leading downhill to Kisdon Force.

From Kisdon Force climb some stone steps to the right of the bridge and at the top turn left.  A short distance from here there's a choice whether to take the uppermost path directly to Muker, or to follow the lower path by the banks of the Swale.  Just before Muker there's a footbridge over the Swale.  Cross the bridge turning immediately right and following the public footpaths by the banks of the Swale all the way to the hamlet of Ivelet where a public footpath sign clearly points the way back to Gunnerside.  Total distance 10.5 miles.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Arkengarthdale (Yorkshire Dales) - March 2014

Just a few days after returning from our weekend in the Yorkshire Dales I began to think about a return visit.  Like many, I suspect, the Yorkshire Dales has that kind of effect on me.  A quick check through my diary soon had me frowning though.  Weekend after weekend had some kind of work or family commitment inked in.  Except, that is, the very next weekend which was tantalisingly free.  Those two blank pages taunted me.  But not for long.  A quick search on good old Trip Advisor and one phone call later we had booked accommodation  in the lovely little Swaledale village of Reeth.  The weather forecast didn't look too bad and I was keen to explore some of the area's distinctive industrial history.

The village of Reeth is situated 11 miles to the west of Richmond and is considered to be the main settlement in Upper Swaledale.  It's also located on the highly popular Coast to Coast Walk, which is perhaps why a such a small place has need of no fewer than three pubs and one hotel, not to mention various bed and breakfast establishments.  Our base for the weekend was the Kings Arms Hotel, a traditional Dales pub overlooking the village green.  On arrival we gave it a quick once over and sampled a pint of Theakston's Old Peculier before setting off on a fairly short circular walk of 8 miles, to discover the valley of Arkengarthdale.

Derelitc Barn in Arkengarthdale

Arkengarthdale.  It sounds almost Scandinavian.  And that's because its name is derived from the old Norse word for a yard "Garth",  which belonged to Arkil, a Viking chieftain who settled here in the 11th century.  The Norse invaders used much of Swaledale for summer grazing on small farmsteads which they called "saetrs". Over time this word changed by usage to "seat", "side" or "sett" and still survives in various place names today, such as Lunersett, Gunnerside and Ravenseat.  Our route headed out of Reeth and northwards into Arkengarthdale.

The day became increasingly overcast as we walked below  Fremington Edge, the three mile long escarpment which runs above the eastern side of Arkengarthdale.  Formed in the last Ice Age, the Edge is scattered with ruined buildings and old mine workings, evidence of the mining activity which had taken place in this area since the time of the Romans.

Ruined buildings below Fremington Edge

The public footpath was easy to follow across field after field and it was clearly marked with wooden finger posts.  If in any doubt about our direction we simply had to look over the field to the next drystone wall where a stile or a gate provided our bearings.  This eventually led us to a footbridge over Arkle Beck.  In Southern parts a "beck" would be called a "brook", which is to say a stream which runs along a stony bed.  Up here in the North it's a beck, from the Norse word "bekkr". Those Vikings again!  And clearly this "bekkr" was named after Arkil the Viking.  I paused for a while at the bridge, giving a few moments thought to those Nordic settlers.  I was sure that by the time they'd settled in this beautiful corner of Yorkshire they would have shaken off their reputation as blood-thirsty marauders.  Medieval chronicles described them as "wolves among sheep", but here in Swaledale they had become farmers of those sheep.

Bridge over Arkle Beck

Our route continued along Arkengarthdale in a northerly direction, following the course of the beck upstream as it snaked past us on its way to join the Swale just below Reeth.  The view to the west of the beck was dominated by Calver Hill which was to be the final and highest point of our walk. 

Arkle Beck and Calver Hill

I have to confess that many times I'm guilty of not reading very much about an area before I set off on a walk.  Nor do I study maps in advance as much as I probably should do.  However, this can lead to some surprises, and that's just what happened for the next part of this walk.  Suddenly we found ourselves faced with a footpath which led through a little tunnel in the woods.  It looked intriguing but also rather dank and uninviting.   I had no idea what it was, what it had been or why it was there.  This was a prime example of my "shoot (photographs) now and ask questions later" method of discovery.  And having done just that I understand that this was a remnant of the former Slei Gill iron mine.  Two tunnels sit side by side, the smaller one used for draining water and the larger one for the movement of iron ore. 

Abandoned mining tunnels

A short distance from the tunnel our route led us down into Arkle Town.  Evidence of Arkil the Viking again!  Except quite why this tiny hamlet bears the name "town" escapes me.  Apparently once there was a church, an inn and a workhouse in Arkle Town, but even in the 1851 census only 41 households were recorded.  The church was undermined by the beck and demolished in 1812, but as we discovered, evidence of the graveyard can still be found in a paddock through which our footpath led us down into the village.

Graves in a field at Arkle Town

I had a quick look at a few of the gravestones, which mostly dated from the 18th century, like this lonely example, for one Thomas Alderson who died in 1747.

Arkle Town

From Arkle Town we headed uphill, back along the road towards Reeth for a short distance, before turning onto open moorland and steadily climbing upwards.   The path we were following skirted round the base of Calver Hill but there hadn't really been much elevation in this walk and at just 1,600 feet it was waiting to be climbed.  The view from the top was lovely. I would have preferred better lighting but it was beautiful all the same.  Nearly all of Swaledale stretched out before us.

A hazy Swaledale viewed from Calver Hill

A fairly easy descent took us back down to Reeth.  I looked back up at Calver Hill and resolved to go up there again one day in better light, to capture that view.  But now it was time to check in to the pub and study the next day's route over a cold glass of Theakston's.
Looking back to Calver Hill on the descent to Reeth

Directions for this walk:

From the centre of Reeth follow the road signposted to Langthwaite, over a cattle grid and then look for a public footpath sign posted across a field to the right.  Follow this path across several fields in the direction of Lanthwaite before crossing a footbridge over Arkle Beck.  After climbing up a slight incline look for a footpath on the left towards Lanthwaite which follows the course of Arkle Beck until reaching Arkle Town.  Leave the hamlet by turning left onto the road back in the direction of Reeth until a public footpath sign directs a route uphill onto open moorland.  This path meets up with a stony track, follow the track for a while until a footpath leads off to the left in the direction of Calver Hill.  From this point the path can either be followed around the foot of the hill or, for a better view, the hill can be climbed to the summit.  At the bottom of the hill the route back to Reeth is clearly signposted.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Every picture tells a story - Trethevy Quoit, Cornwall

I’m rather enjoying going back through my archive of images, picking out my personal favourites or ones that I think have an element of interest attached to them. 

This one is Trethevy Quoit, a very well preserved megalithic stone tomb which sits on the edge of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, close to the village of St Cleer.

Trethevy Quoit

Built from granite, the Quoit is what’s known as a portal dolmen, the simplest form of chambered tomb, constructed from stone uprights (portals) with a smaller stone to the rear supporting a large capstone.  Standing at approximately nine feet high, originally the whole structure would have been covered with earth.  This particular type of tomb dates from the Neolithic period, between 3700 and 3500 BC, and archaeological investigation has shown that it was used as a community burial site for a very long period of time.

Trethevy is one of the finest examples of a portal dolmen in the country and, apart from no longer being covered in earth, it stands today almost exactly as it would have done 6,000 years ago.  One of the upright stones has fallen inwards, but luckily this wasn’t a supporting stone so whenever this collapse happened it didn’t bring the rest of the structure tumbling down with it.  Like many of the ancient monuments dating from this period, there’s some speculation that the Quoit is astronomically aligned and a hole at its highest point has led to the theory that astronomical observations may have taken place here. 

Locally, Trethevy Quoit has two nicknames – the Giant’s House or King Arthur’s Quoit.  Quite how it came by the name “Giant’s House” is a bit bewildering as at only nine feet high it’s a bit too small to be accommodating a giant.   A document dating from 1598 described it as “a little howse raysed of mightie stones standing on a little hill within a fielde”.  No mention of giants there!

There are many places scattered throughout the UK claiming to be the final resting place of the legendary King Arthur, who sleeps with his knights in some mystical place until one day, in the country’s hour of darkest need, they will all wake up again and come to the rescue.  Such places can be found as far afield as Scotland, Wales and even Richmond Castle in Yorkshire.  If anywhere has a strong claim to Arthur though it must surely be Cornwall, home to Tintagel Castle, his legendary birthplace.  I’ve always been fascinated by Arthurian myths and legends and all the different associated places, but I think we can forget about any future help from the Knights of the Round Table.  There have been plenty of “darkest hour” moments without so much as a glimmer of Excalibur’s manifestation. 

So, Trethevy may not be the site of the mythical Avalon, but even so it’s an impressive little ancient monument and something of an icon of the Neolithic period.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Every picture tells a story - Troller's Gill, Wharfedale

I always intended to write about more than just walking in my blog, but for the past few months the walks seem to have taken over.  I suppose this is because, having decided to write a description and a journal for each walk, I had a bit of catching up to do.  Well, now I'm almost up to date, so it's time to include some extra stuff.  Of course, I'll still be writing about my walks, and hopefully improving the maps and route directions so others can enjoy following  in my footsteps.  But I'm also going to occasionally punctuate the walks with other items.

Over the years I've taken thousands of photographs.  Many of them have been for commercial purposes (for sale via a stock agency or as prints and canvases), but a large number have also been just for the record.  These are photos simply to remind me of where I've been, taken just for the pleasure of remembering the moment.   And recently I've also been snapping away purely with the blog in mind.  Now I've decided to spend some time going through my photo archives and selecting a few images where there's something of a story to tell.  So here is the first of those "stories behind the picture".

This is the tale of Troller's Gill, an eerie gorge that cuts through the limestone above the village of Appletreewick (pronounced "app-trick") in Wharfedale. 

Troller's Gill - home to more than just rocks

There are myths  aplenty about Troller's Gill.  Its name is supposed to originate from a group of Scandinavian trolls who live here, lying in wait at the top of the ravine, ready to hurl rocks at unsuspecting ramblers as they negotiate the rocky terrain through the narrow gap.  Other legends tell of flesh eating goblins, murderous gnomes, blood-sucking boggarts, rock crunching sprites and evil criminal pixie masterminds (alright, so I made the last one up, but you never know...).  It really doesn't sound like a very nice place to go for a pleasant walk. 

The most legendary supernatural resident of Troller's Gill though is the barguest, which has been described as a monstrous black hairy dog with huge teeth and claws and fiery eyes as big as saucers.  Legends of the barguest tell that it will appear to foretell the death of a notable person at which time it will be followed by all the dogs of the neighbourhood, howling and baying in a horrifying procession.   There are several legends of barguests appearing throughout Yorkshire, including at Whitby where one is supposed to have appeared in advance of the arrival of Count Dracula.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was very interested in local myths and legends, supposedly drew upon tales of the barguest as inspiration for his Hound of the Baskerville.

In reality though, Troller's Gill is a beautiful place.  Walking through the ravine can be quite tricky and hazardous, particularly if the rocks are wet and slippery.  You need to concentrate to negotiate your way through.   So much so that trolls, barguests and evil criminal pixie masterminds are the last thing you'd worry about.

Approaching (with caution) Troller's Gill

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Kettlewell, Starbotton and Arncliffe (Yorkshire Dales) - March 2014

What a joy it is to wake up and know you're in the Yorkshire Dales and, not only that, but the aroma of bacon and sausages wafting into your room means that breakfast awaits.   And someone else has cooked it for you.

Our hotel for the night had been the Racehorses Hotel in the centre of Kettlewell.  We had a room with a view of the Blue Bell, Kettlewell's other pub (which we hadn't visited).  All in all it had been a very pleasant short stay with good food, good beer and a very comfortable room.  The only minor downside had been the car park which was very cramped with cars packed in at all angles.  We decided to leave our car in the large village car park, although this had incurred a fee.   The evening meal had been outstanding (the hotel's speciality - beef suet pudding with handcut chips) and the beer (Timothy Taylor's) was very good too.

Contentedly stuffed with a Full English (also excellent - possibly the best sausages ever), we undertook a brief exploration of the village before heading out for our day's walk.  

The village of Kettlewell with the Racehorses Hotel (white building) in the background

Kettlewell was used to represent the fictional village Knapely in the 2003 film Calendar Girls.  It's a delightful little place, very popular with tourists,  and we were pleasantly surprised to find it has its very own outdoor store, Over and Under, selling a nice range of outdoor clothing, boots, socks, maps, etc.   After a pleasant half hour's browsing and shopping (it was nice to find a small independent retailer with some genuine bargains), we struck off on our day's adventure - an eight mile circular walk heading first of all in the direction of Starbotton.

Approaching Starbotton

The first section of this walk was practically on the level.  After a short climb out of the village the clearly marked path cuts through fields along the valley for a couple of miles to the little village of Starbotton.   The unusual name apparently derives from Stauerboten, Old English for "the place where stakes are got".  That's "stakes" as in sticks, not "steaks" as in "with chips", sadly.  Although after a full breakfast it was a bit early for a steak.  But not for a beer!  The very quaint little Fox and Hounds pub served Timothy Taylor's ale and had some tables outside where we could sit and watch a steady stream of Harley Davidsons roar along the narrow lane.  Very nice.  If you like that kind of thing.

The Fox & Hounds, Starbotton

It was tempting to sit at the Fox & Hounds for a while longer and have another beer.  So that's just what we did.  But after the second we set off again, out of the village and across a footbridge over the River Wharfe.  I took a photo of the footbridge.  I'm not sure why but it suddenly seemed like the most attractive footbridge I'd ever seen.  I just had to take a photo of it which I'm rather disappointed to admit doesn't do justice to how lovely it looked on that overcast Sunday morning.

A truly beautiful footbridge (isn't it?)

Shortly after the lovely footbridge we came to a beautiful section of footpath, green and lined with moss.  I photographed this too.  I was in such a good mood.

An enchanted dingly dell of a footpath

And then the climb began.  That soon brought me back down to earth, although in truth it was a fairly steady, gradual climb in stages, the first part being through a stretch of woodland.  I took a photo, but by this point the beer goggle lens had dropped off my camera.

The path up through the trees

At the top of the first part of the climb we got a very pleasing view of the River Wharfe snaking its way through the valley below.  And then the terrain changed to open moorland, squelchy with bogs, climbing steadily upwards to a height of approximately 1,700 feet before a descent began towards the village of Arncliffe. 
The River Wharfe

At the top of the climb the sun decided to put in an appearance and the landscape lit up before us, highlighting a lonely little house on the top of the moor.

Spot the lonely little moorland house
As we gradually descended my camera seemed to find its beer goggle lens again and I was struck by the beauty of a curving drystone wall.

Beautiful drystone wall

And three trees growing out of a limestone scar.  I have a particular fondness for improbable trees.  Ones that seem to cling on in the most precarious of circumstances.

Improbable trees

At the bottom of the hill we came to the beautiful little village of Arncliffe, the largest of three settlements in the valley of Littondale, situated on the banks of the River Skirfare.  Our route was actually scheduled to bypass the village and continue back over the hills towards Kettlewell, but I'm very pleased we took a slight detour.  It's a picture-postcard-pretty village.  And home to a delightfully quirky little pub, The Falcon.  Here the beer is served in the traditional manner, from barrel  to glass via a porcelain jug.  It would have been a shame not to try this and we weren't disappointed.


The sun was still shining as we headed away from Arncliffe and, looking down Littondale, the landscape was typical of the Yorkshire Dales - hills, drystone walls, a barn and sheep.  I love this type of landscape, and that's why I've had this particular image made into a framed canvas which is going to be the prize for a forthcoming competition on my Facebook page.  Be sure to give the page a like if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning it!

Beautiful Littondale

From Littondale we had another steady climb (this time to a height of 1,500 feet) back up onto moorland.  The sky was filling up with cloud again and overhead a small group of paragliders circled and swooped.  I watched them for a while and wondered just how much they could see from their altitude.  After a couple of glasses of beer a bush or wall provides a handy convenience.  But not when a group of guys are swirling overhead.  My pace quickened in the direction of Kettlewell.

On the moorland above Littondale

Before descending back towards Kettlewell the walk had one last little surprise for us.  A short downwards scramble through a gap in a limestone crag, after which a hazy view of Wharfedale revealed itself.

Return to Wharfedale

And then there was Kettlewell again, nestling snugly in the valley below.  We could see our car from this vantage point.  And several coaches in the car park.  It was a pleasing view to savour at the end of what had been a highly enjoyable walk.  I was sorry that we would soon be leaving the Dales.  The walking , like the hospitality, is so enjoyable.  However, I knew it wouldn't be long before the temptation to return got the better of us.

Looking down on Kettlewell

Directions for this walk:

From the centre of Kettlewell walk up Far Lane to Cam Garth where a public footpath sign points in the direction of Starbotton.  This path will take you all the way to the village where you can either turn right to visit the pub or cross the road to join the public footpath to a beautiful footbridge over the River Wharfe.  This path climbs steadily uphill, through woodland to begin with and then upwards onto open moorland.  From here the route is clear all the way to Arncliffe, down the other side of the hill.  If visiting Arncliffe, leave the village by a path across the river from the church to a lane.  Cross the lane and look for a footpath over a field and uphill through tree cover which emerges onto open moorland again.  At the top of the hill turn right and follow the path over the hill and down again to Kettlewell.  Total distance is just under 8 miles with refreshment available at Starbotton and Arncliffe.