Sunday, 10 June 2018

Addingham to Grassington 09/06/18

17 miles, via Farfield Hall, Lob Wood, Bolton Bridge, Bolton Abbey, Westy Bank Wood, 
 Hare Head Side, Barden Moor (Halton Moor, Brayshaw, & Embsay Moor), Sun Moor Hill, 
  Rylstone, Cracoe, Swinden Quarry, & Linton.

It's been a long time coming, having had two excursions that could have been considered preamble, but the High Season is finally here, which means its time of to start pushing the mileage and to make the most of the long days that the middle of the year brings, so naturally the hot and bright days of Maytime have passed, to be replaced with conditions that are somewhat gloomier, which shouldn't come as a surprise after six years of walking. Also I'm not in the best of nick after walking last Sunday, as a haul of 16 miles followed by five days of solid work and then another long trail is never the best way to organise yourself, without factoring in necessary rest, so as the High Season comes around, my body is ready to rest, but after taxing days at work, by brain needs to exercise and so that desire wins out and I board early buses to ride out to Addingham, not the swiftest way to travel, but easily the cheapest as Metrocarding the #51 and X84 costs me literally nothing. The day starts by the Memorial Hall at 9.20am, and I've done my share of lamenting the loss of the railway between Ilkley and Skipton, so for starters today, we shall set out from where the railway station used to stand, easily located by heading south up Stockinger Lane and then switching back onto the old formation where Mount Pleasant and the old folks flats now reside on the site of the goods shed, to meet Old Station Way where literally nothing but a green space occupies the site with nothing but a name to advertise its presence. Then it's down to see where the bridge once crossed Main Street, and to find the remnant of its abutment by the gardens on Sugar Hill, a lane that can lead us out into the local greenery and on to Back Beck Lane where a substantial feature endures, Bridge 55, preserved and still looking as fresh as it did when built by the Midland Railway in 1888, and one that may one day see trains return to it if the Embsay & Bolton Abbey railway ever extend their line back to Addingham. Trot down past the Primary school and get on track as we join Bolton Road and head northwards into our tour of Upper Wharfedale, rising through the suburban edge of the village and beyond as we make our way past the High Mill caravan park and stay alert to the behaviour of the oncoming traffic on the B6160 as we pace the tree lined lane and look up to Beamsley Beacon, back in the landscape from this side of the river. Farfield Hall is the first main feature of the day, well hidden by the trees along the road and flanked by its parklands of High and Low Park (names which now make more sense in context), the house only briefly glimpsed from the road before it slips into an stone lined cutting, emerging by the Farfield Quaker chapel, incidentally providing a fine illustration of why the Dales Way preferred to come this way via the riverbank.

A Railway Ran Through It, Old Station Way, Addingham.

The Remnant of  Main Street Bridge, Sugar Hill.

Bridge 55, Back Beck Lane.

Beamsley Beacon will be our companion, again.

Farfield Hall, trying to hide from view.

We'll not take the permissive path through the fields of Lob Wood House farm either, instead sticking with the road and going against the traffic, which becomes extra terrifying when you notice that a fall over the low wall would have you rapidly plummeting down through the trees to the River Wharfe many feet below, the sort of escapade you really don't need at this time of day, not to say that any escapade is out of the ordinary, as we have a relic to seek, hidden in Lob Wood, up the gill to the west. It's a railway feature, naturally, and one of the most concealed and least known in the county, only a couple of hundred yards from the road, but well hidden, is Lob Wood viaduct, five arches wide and extremely tall as it passes over the deep cleft of the beck, surprisingly easy to take in despite the quantity of late Spring foliage, and easy enough to access to walk across and espy the trackbed heading away to Addingham and Bolton Abbey. Not so easy to get down from, but we cross the beck and complete our mild trespass to get back to the road with only the mildest of leg strains induced, back on the B6160 and heading on to the island on the A59, which appears to be closed on its passage through Kex Gill, with none of its traffic seeming to have diverted onto the local roads, thankfully. Pass over the Flat Bridge on Hambleton Beck, and move on into Bolton Bridge, away from the already present day trippers, to find a seat to take elevenses opposite the Devonshire Arms, which really wears its many vintages well, taking painkillers to ease my already aching legs before we push on along the road to Bolton Abbey, used again on consecutive trips as the riverbank path (and Dales Way route) are not viable for this trip. Passing the green, I'll allow myself a peek at the Priory church from the Hole in the Wall before sticking to the pavement to pass the tied cottages of the estate and through the ancient gate that stands on the main road, surely too narrow for many major vehicles to pass through, which takes us the start of the bridleway that will lead us across Barden Moor for the next 7.5 miles and three hours or so, taking us away from the road as we get an elevated view of the former gatehouse that became Bolton Hall and of the Priory church and the ruins beyond. Past the walled garden, we get a field walk to start with, past the fishponds and thankfully far enough away from the cattle that aren't going to be agitated by my presence, on below Stank House farm and into Westy Bank Wood, where the ascent starts in earnest beneath the canopy of conifers, burning off the only other pair of walkers on this track and switching back a couple of times before leveling off and dropping us off into the large open pasture beyond.

Lob Wood Viaduct.

The Silent A59.

The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Bridge.

The Narrow Gateway, Bolton Abbey.

Westy Bank Wood.

The rising grassy hills of Hare Head Side, and Howsber, form our immediate horizon, with the pasture thankfully providing a pretty clear route forwards when the size of the field might have brought some rather vague route plotting, taking us on a westerly track among the many sheep who graze out here, and away from the cows in the southern potion of it, mostly on the far side of a convenient ditch, as Carncliffe Top provides the only feature of the Wharfedale horizon in the initial part of our ascent. The company to the east expands above Westy Bank Wood as we rise, with Hammerthorn Hill and Beamsley Beacon joining the view as we move to enter our second plot, aided in our route finding by a sheep that stands proud and stationary at the point where the field crests to the south of Howsber's top, elevating to find a view to Skipton Moor emerging to the south and meeting what looks like an ROC shelter by the bridleway's course (later map examination has me thinking it might be an access point for the Nidd Aqueduct though, as it does lie directly between its visible portions at Strid Wood and Bolton Abbey station). At 250m up we enter our third plot, looking a lot more like actual moorland now, where a view opens up to the north as we walk alongside the boundary wall, revealing the passage of the Wharfe flowing south through the parish of Barden, with the 16th century ruin of Barden Tower at its heart, a seat of the Cliffords and amazingly visible for the very first time on my travels. It's rather rough going underfoot as we start to wander among the lumps of the Hare Heads, in the northern shadow of Little Hare Head and then on to the 300+m top of Middle Hare Head, which gives us our first expansive view over the mass of Barden Moor, from Halton Height on it's southern edge to Lower Barden Reservoir in its central declivity and beyond to the pair of 500m summits at its northwestern corner. Meet some other travellers here, cycling over or enjoying the walk up from Barden Road, a lane to be met some distance down, as the evolving views can be taken in as we cross another moorland field and observe the aircraft and Red Kites flying overhead, following a clearly defined path to meet this most likable of moorland roads, briefly blessed with sunshine and clearly a good one for the cyclists, which is why this year's Tour de Yorkshire passed this way. Then it's onwards, away from all trapping of civilization on the rough track that only exists to serve the shooting shelters on the moor, noting the signs that tell us of the opening up of the Bolton Abbey estate and the high moors in the 1990s, before the arrival of the legal Right to Roam, another reason to be thankful for the actions of the Devonshires, even if their interests were really more commercial than altruistic, if we're really being honest.

Pasture walking to the Hare Heads, and Howsber.

ROC Bunker, or Nidd Aqueduct access? Hare Head Side.

Observing Barden Tower, from Hare Head Side.

The way to Barden Moor, from Middle Hare Head.

Barden Road, with Simon's Seat and Carncliffe Top.

Far enough down the track, our view has evolved considerably to boldly add Simon's Seat to the eastern horizon, peaking around Carncliffe Top, and us roughly level with the dam of Lower Barden reservoir, with it's attendant house being one of very few actual residences on this moor, and the keen and roving eye can spot the shooting hut far off on the northern edge above Thorpe, which we visited on this very weekend, the second one in June, 5 years ago. The path hangs closes to 300m up for a while, passing in the shadow of Halton Heights as it crosses the moor, with the reservoir starting to pass behind us and the moorland sheep scattering from the path ahead as I ponder the apparent cat litter trays that sit by the side of the path before we come to some undulations that take us down to pass over the branches of Hutchen Gill, where a separate path detaches to serve other shooting shelters, that look like they haven't been used in a while. Rise again onto the moorland edge of Brayshaw, rising to another grand view to the west, and stop by the line of grouse butts to take lunch while I have a structure to lean against, sitting for longer than usual as I acknowledge the cyclists coming over the top from the east and watch as a Curlew bullies a Red Kite in the skies above, a spectacle that I've never seen before and is almost impossible to photograph. A 25 minute sit later, we hit the rising path towards Embsay Moor, gaining enough height to afford us a look back to the rise of Halton Heights and the way walked so far over Barden Moor's bulk, as well as to the southern perimeter track seen a month ago, walking on a steady rise through what seems like complete solitude until you get startled by the croaking and gurgling of the Red Grouse scuttling around in the heather. I've noted how easy it is to startle them on multiple occasions, but hearing them loudly announcing themselves from the silence is as startling as hearing a random voice out of the air telling you to 'Fuck Off', and I'll sneak pics of them as they run around as we rise on to meet a view across the moor that brings Cracoe Obelisk to the western horizon, and Upper Barden Reservoir into the landscape at the probable heart of the moor. Rising to meet the top of Embsay Moor brings a lot of loose boulders and rough outcroppings of rock to the moorland landscape, whilst not being the most engaging of sights on the day, which gets me pondering he geography of this particular moor, as it's much more self contained than some of the sprawling moors around Wharfedale, whilst distinctly being not a hill, rather feeling like a large slanted slab of Gritstone, shifted into place in distant eras of massive geological upheaval that time has since moved on around.

Lower Barden Reservoir.

Hutchen Gill.

Halton Height, and the path just walked.

Upper Barden Reservoir.

Embsay Moor top.

Which is what it is really, and going largely unseen unlike Rombalds Moor or Simons Seat, with only cyclists to be met coming eastwards over the 430+m crest, all seeming to favour coming up the sharp ascent on the western edge before taking the long and slow descent, which is completely the opposite way to how I'd prefer to walk it. Our landscape view can now shift to the west as the high ridge leading up to the Obelisk can emerge, as well as to the back of Crookrise Crags and to the tops of Flasby Fell beyond, as the path descends and even provides duckboards as it crosses the headlands of the streams that run down to Waterfall Gill, a landscape that starts to seem familiar again as we look up to the rocky outcrops to the northwest and down to the odd turf roofed shelters by the beckside. Our path splits off, with the good track heading away towards Embsay, and our bridleway continues on a rougher surface as we press west, getting more insults shouted our way by the local grouse as we appear to be descending down to the cleft of the Gill as it spills out of the moor, though the path keeps higher and away from it passing over more streams without the aid of as many bridges as are needed and noting signs that warn of bogs beyond the path's edge. Meet more sheep out here, looking about as wild as they come, wearing long and shaggy fleeces that would suggest they mostly go through life untended, and even as the moorland wall approaches we still get no real view of the landscape beyond the western edge, the part of the moor walked in my earlier walking days, under skies a whole lot brighter than we've seen today so far. So off the moorland and away from the heather and long grass, and down instead into the bracken, but still on path rough enough to give the soles of the feet a working over, descending down Sun Moor Hill to get a look over the back side of Flasby Fell and forwards into Malhamdale, where this career on foot started, losing altitude rapidly to the tune of 150m, while looking forwards to Hetton village and Rylstone church, and up to Rylstone Cross, perched on its high crag. Move around a coppice with the path, as Cracoe Obelisk adds itself to the edge of the moorland view, and find myself between two other walking parties as we return to an inhabited landscape, but not mingling with either as we find the local livestock in this field are not going to be disturbed, landing on the track of Bark Brow after three hours on the moors, almost as I'd predicted. So back into the countryside as we press on to Rylstone, looking back mostly as the forward views have been lost, making sure to note the ruins of Norton Tower on the Barden Moor edge, which I'd assume was once a bastle house, moving on in the shadow of the high crags above as the bridleway shifts away from the nearby B6265 to keep us on greener tracks as we head onto a northwards track, as 3,000 miles walked in the North Country goes down, almost unnoticed along the way.

The way to Waterfall Gill, with Turf Roofed shelters.

The western wall of Barden Moor.

The Malhamdale Reveal, from Sun Moor Hill.

The western crags, with Cracoe Obelisk and Rylstone Cross.

Bark Brow and the way to 3000 miles Up Country.

Rylstone lies ahead, though we won't be seeing most of the village made famous by the Calendar Girls on the local WI, as our path aims us directly at St Peter's church, next to Old Hall farm, and it seems far too large to serve the tiny village, though I'd guess that its actual parish is pretty extensive, and we'll track on to the north, past the ancient fishponds of the Old Hall as Chapel Lane allows us to keep off the roads and on a greener track for a while longer. It's nice to get some meadow colours in the landscape as we head on, parallel to the high edge of Barden Moor, watching the profile change as it reveals itself anew and recedes as the lane moves on towards Cracoe village, while the mind idly expects thing to be closer together now that we are off the open expanse of the moorland, which doesn't happen. The eye wanders over Malhamdale too, to spot the distant tops of Rye Loaf Hill and Kirkby Fell, as well as trying to locate the summit of Weets Top, which hides as well on the map as it does in reality, dropping with track to meet the B6265 just south of Cracoe, which we won't be entering today as we have thought up an alternative route as we've paced on, probably adding an extra mile to the day, instead pacing the road back to the junction to Hetton, and then hitting Swinden Lane for more farm track walking. This initially takes us under the former Grassington branch line, the still contemporary railway to Swinden Quarry, the single track of which has some charmingly tiny railway fixtures around it, and as we hit the ascending track beyond into the Limestone landscape of Malhamdale, the cloud finally starts to lift and we get sunshine to illuminate the meadows of buttercups. That gives the day a bit of a lift as the track gets grassier and more enclosed as it ascends, past the barn at New Laithes and on upwards to a rougher sort of pasture, kept away from the livestock interest by thick limestone walls, gaining enough elevation to see most of the western face of Barden Moor before we hit the rising track over a few rough plots in the direction of Ratts Laithe barn which overlooks Swinden Quarry. This tops out our excursion to the edge of Linton Moor, and offers a grand perspective over the rear quarter of the quarry, which has been gouging its way through its hillside for more than a century, creating a deep pit as it quarries downwards rather than outwards, thus concealing itself and not bringing any great disturbance to the landscape in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It's still mighty vast though, and will probably be providing aggregate for many years to come, and it will provide an accompaniment to us as we descend down its western edge, below the large landscaped bank of trees to meet the twisting path route as it drops to cross Eller Back and rises to meet Moor Lane.

St Peter's, Rylstone.

Barden Moor from Chapel Lane.

Cracoe Village, almost.

Swinden Lane, with Spring Meadows. 

Swinden Quarry.

The continued presence of the quarry is far more engaging than any views that Linton Moor can provide as it stretches to the north and west, a landscape thick with sheep that eventually gives us a clear and enclosed track to walk on as we descend alongside the beck and in the shadow of the quarry perimeter, while starting to feel the heat and the strain of keeping going as the day lengthens, pausing to sink most of a litre of liquid as the local dog walkers emerge onto their personal stomping grounds. Finally nab a bit of shade as we run down towards the B6265 Tarns Lane for  the final time, crossing it to continue in the shade as Moor Lane tracks over the hillside in the direction of Linton Village, returning the Barden Moor flank to the landscape and teasing views into Upper Wharfedale, with Great Whernside barely visible through the haze. Enjoy more bucolic views and drop with the track to pass over the officially former MR branch to Grassington, it last couple of miles lost since closure in 1969, via a lovely little three arched bridge, before moving on to meet Lauradale Road, which will lead us into Linton past the farmsteads around the Old Hall, and my ornithologist head can get a kick as I spot a Song Thrush sat on a wall, the first one I've seen in what must be decades (when they used to be considered one of the common British garden birds). Linton is positively a hive of activity, with many folks enjoying the hospitality of the Fountaine inn or playing on the lawn in front of the former Almshouses, and I'll divert from the road to cross the improbably narrow old bridge over Linton Beck before passing on among the country residences that I could desire a lot but never afford, departing past the Linton Institute and Reading Rooms. The elevation from the road allows us to see over to Grassington Moor, with the town well concealed below, probably because its so very small, as we cross the B6160 main road through Wharfedale to descend in the shadow of high drystone walls to the house cluster at Linton Mills, which still looks incongruous to me, while the river seems to have barely enough water in it to get the weir wet and the falls all that agitated as we cross the Wharfe via the footbridge. The way into Grassington up the path of Sedber Lane is a longer and steeper haul than I remember, as time is spent looking back to the southern edge of Upper Wharfedale and the landscape of limestone moors that will be seen in the late phase of the high season, hopefully, as we return to a populated environment and the car park around the National Park centre. We've been just a step or two too slow for the bus to Skipton, but at 4.30pm a rest in the shade is most welcome at the end of a long 17 mile trip, and the added bonus is that the next bus, the #874 Dalesbus, can take us all the way back to Leeds, and is free to MetroCard holders, thus ensuring that the first trip of the 2018 High Season costs me nothing at all, aside from the 12(!) hours necessary to complete the whole day's journey!

Moor Lane, Linton Moor.

The lost Grassington Branch Line, near Linton.

Linton Old Bridge, and the Fountaine Inn.

Linton Falls, supposedly.

Grasington Bus stand and NPC, with the free(!) #874.

5,000 Miles Cumulative Total: 3326.5 miles
2018 Total: 227.1 miles
Up Country Total: 3005.4 miles
Solo Total: ????.? miles

Next Up: The most Ambitious Trek of the Year, Weather Permitting.
                EDIT: Weather says No, so reshuffle the schedule for a Big Hill and a Train Ride.

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