Five days in the dales - July 2005
Wensleydale Wanderings Walks with a Camera
Walks with a Camera © Geoff’s Pages 2011
Not Wensleydale, I know... Tradition has it that we "do something" on the way to our ultimate destination. The delights of Malham are well-enough known - or so I thought. Two of my companions had never been - the third had been once over thirty years ago. At weekends, it's a place to avoid, but on a Monday before the school holidays, the honeypot was barely buzzing...
Our  walk followed the classic route - alongside the stream to Janet's Foss, then up the waterfall at Gordale Scar and across the limestone to Malham Tarn. Here we turned back - past Water Sinks, down beside the dry waterfall and along the dry valley to the top of the Cove, before descending to the well-made path back to Malham village and the car. An excellent introduction to the limestone country!
Day 1: Malham
Day 2: Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale
Day 4: Gunnerside Gill
We were in staying in Wensleydale - at Hardraw, near Hawes - but for our first full day walk, we ventured out of the dale - just - to Garsdale station, where we left the car, and caught the 10.21 to Kirkby Stephen, the next station down the line. We would walk back via the valley of the river Eden and the ancient "Lady Anne's Highway", a fine high level route on the east side of the valley, which crosses  the watershed between the Eden and Wensleydale's Ure. The area between Ais Gill and Garsdale is interesting in that the Eden flows into the Solway Firth, the Ure enters the sea via the Humber, and water falling on Garsdale flows south-west via the Lune ("that's really interesting, Geoff"). The route we followed breaks into two quite distinct sections. The first is gently rural, the path crossing cropped fields at first, though it becomes somewhat wilder as the land rises. We passed Wharton Hall, a part-derelict, part-used fortified Manor House, then a little further on the remains of Lammerside Castle, somewhat older and in an advanced state of dereliction. At this point we left cultivated ground and headed up the valley, passing yet another castle - Pendragon, one of Lady Anne's ports of call (and, according to legend, the place where Uther Pendragon, father of
King Arthur, died). A little way beyond Pendragon (and fortunately after our lunch stop) we had the only serious rain of the five day trip - a heavy shower which prompted a pause under the trees. Shortly after this point,  our route crossed the main road and climbed away from the river - truly now the "High Way". An interesting sculpture "Water Cut" by Mary Bourne marks the end of the long climb from the valley bottom. The way now follows a grassy promenade above the railway at Ais Gill summit, crossing the county boundary (Westmorland - North Riding*) on the bridge above the fearful ravine of Hell Gill, before meeting the headwaters of the Ure. The dereliction at High Hall and High Dyke (formerly an inn) serves as a reminder of the earlier importance of the highway. With Garsdale now in sight, we left Lady Anne's Highway and walked the short distance (downhill all the way) to the road junction at the Moorcock Inn, then along the road (crossing from the North Riding to the West Riding* in the process) back to the car at Garsdale station. *The old county boundaries seem more appropriate somehow...
Arcadia! The path to Janet's Foss Janet's Foss Gordale Scar Climbing the waterfall The upper fall, Gordale Scar The valley above the scar Limestone Country - the path to Malham Tarn Malham Tarn Above the dry waterfall The dry waterfall Malham Cove Talking point above the cove Malham Cove, from the path back to the village Starting point - Garsdale station ...despite the attractions of the 1951 Guy Arab Lammerside Castle Birkett Common from Lammerside Pendragon peeps through the trees Inquisitive cattle near Outhgill From the highway - southbound S&C service "Water Cut" Headwaters of the Ure High Hall High Dyke The Ure near the Moorcock Inn The Ure again - near the Moorcock Kirkby Stephen - the walk starts here...
Day 3: Semerwater and Bainbridge
A car-free day today - we took the flagged field paths across the dale to Hawes to stock up on provisions, before following the flagged way to Gayle, always a photogenic spot, where the mill is undergoing renovation, as featured on the BBC TV programme "Restoration". The path climbs steadily from Gayle to the ridge between the prominent peaks of Yorburgh and Drumaldrace, crossing the dead- straight Roman road from Bainbridge, then descending through grassland to the isolated hamlet of Marsett, in Raydale - the valley of
Semerwater (yes, another of Yorkshire's few natural lakes). Our path crossed the dale, then skirted the contours towards the southern side of the lake (a recently-cut hay meadow providing an excellent spot for lunch and, in the warm sunshine, a brief shut-eye). Water flows from Semerwater into the River Bain, supposedly England's shortest river - just over two miles before it joins the Ure. We would follow it as far as Bainbridge, where my colleagues' esteem for my walk-organising skills took a severe blow - the ice-cream shop was closed! There was once a railway through Wensleydale - from Garsdale (originally Hawes Junction) to Northallerton. The eastern part, from Redmire to Northallerton, is intact and once again sees passenger trains, operated by the Wensleydale Railway Company. Between Redmire and Garsdale the track has long been lifted, and although the long-term aims of the WRC envisage track being relaid throughout, parts provide an admirable walking route. We followed the railway trackbed for a mile and a half, before joining field paths and (very minor) roads back to our starting point.
Rainbow near Hawes Hawes yard - and the path to Gayle Gayle View to Hawes and Cotterdale The Roman road Raydale and Marsett Field barn near Marsett Stalling Busk old church View to Semer Water Reeds and waterlilies, Semer Water Start of the River Bain Semer Water Bridge, Countersett Below the lake - the River Bain Bainbridge The old railway track ...flagged field paths
No, not a young lady I once knew! This side valley, from the attractive stone-built village of Gunnerside, cuts deep into the northern flank of Swaledale, and was once famed for its lead mines. The industry collapsed more than 100 years ago - but much remains of interest to walkers in these parts. We drove to Swaledale over the Buttertubs pass - and paused for a few minutes to examine these deep limestone potholes, emphatically not what one tourist website describes as "holes in the ground made to keep butter cool"... The path follows the east bank of the beck, and climbs gradually until the first remains are found, a couple of miles upstream. As well as the various adits (and shafts, higher on the moor) and buildings, there are deep scars in the hillside - the remains of the "hushes" where small streams were dammed and then
released, to scour away the vegetation and loose material in order to reveal the veins of lead. Semerwater (yes, another of Yorkshire's few We paused for lunch at a familiar spot - beside the arches of the old Blakethwaite mill, before heading further on to the dams near the top of the gill. The lower dam has long since collapsed, though the upper dam, just a few yards higher, remains. The pool above has silted up, and forms a flat reedy area. Instead of returning direct, we now took the track from the shooting box as far as Melbecks Moor, where desolate acres of former mine spoil remain.  A path is clearly marked on the map here, heading more-or- less straight back to the village. It may be clear on the map - but on the ground, what seemed to be the path petered out into pathless heather moor. Perhaps the best way to describe our walk back to Gunnerside is to say that we exercised our "right to roam"...
Buttertubs Buttertubs Blacksmith's shop, Gunnerside Cheeky robin, on the path up the Gill Mine adit, Gunnerside Gill Looking out of the adit Mine buildings, Gunnerside Gill Blakethwaite mill Gunnerside Gill Blakethwaite dam - the lower one... Desolation, Melbecks Moor Gunnerside - aerial view... Back in Gunnerside
Evening stroll: As mentioned earlier, we made our way each evening across the fields to Hawes (adding, in the process, another 3 miles to our day's total). Inevitably, the light was best on the first evening when the camera was left behind... Here are some snaps taken on our last evening
The flagged way Evening light on Haylands Bridge Sun on the river The Ure and the field barn Clouds at sunset - reflection in the river
Day 5: Sulber
A short one before lunch, on our way home. We parked near Horton-in- Ribblesdale station and took the path
towards Ingleborough - through Sulber Nick. The intention - just enough of a stroll to work up an appetite, with some limestone scenery. In the event, we didn't find as much surface limestone as the map seemed to suggest - there was plenty in sight further to the south, around Moughton, but it was a little further than we wanted to walk - it was still a long way home. So, after the obligatory few pictures, lunch at the Crown - a good end to an excellent few days.
Horton station Horton and Pen-y-ghent Studying the scene, Sulber Clints and grykes, Sulber Hartstongue fern in the gryke Limestone Coal train and Pen-y-ghent

View Malham in a larger map

View Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale in a larger map

View Semerwater and Bainbridge from Hardraw in a larger map

View Gunnerside Gill in a larger map
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