Date - 23rd December 2008 Distance - 9.5 miles
Map - OL2 Start point - Barden Bridge (SE 052574)



Tetley and Grizzly, were having a doze, when their peace was shattered by Allen rushing in, followed closely by Shaun with Little Eric on his back.

"Whatever is the matter", cried Tetley.

"I heard Dad on the phone to Uncle Bob, and they have arranged a walk for Tuesday, in the Yorkshire Dales", replied Allen breathlessly.

"That will be just great", said Grizzly, "as we have not walked with Uncle Bob since August!

"Whereabouts are we walking from?" enquired Tetley.

"From Barden Bridge by the River Wharfe", Shaun advised.

"We have walked from there before", said Grizzly,

"Yes", replied Allen, "but this time we will be walking north up the river, so we will be exploring new ground, once we get beyond Howgill."

"Should be an interesting day, and good fun having Uncle Bob for company", enthused Little Eric.


The Walk

We met Uncle Bob, at the parking area just on the north side of Barden Bridge. We had walked from here before, and while Dad and Uncle Bob got their gear ready, we sat looking south across the fields and to the woods that tower high above the River Wharfe, and recalled that twice we had walked through these. First in July 2007 to the ascend to Carncliff Top and Simon's Seat, the conclusion of that walk being south on the section from Howgill to Barden Bridge, the first part of our walk today. Secondly in July 2008, climbing to Brown Bank Head, then returning on the opposite side of the river through Strid Wood.

By now Dad and Uncle Bob were ready, so we jumped into the rucksack and settled ourselves. It was to be a dry but sunless day, but not too cold apart from the biting wind on the higher sections down to Kail Hill. Just one further pause before we finally set off, as Dad photographed the bridge.

With its three high arches and angled buttresses, the bridge is a very elegant and impressive structure. It was rebuilt in 1676, after being washed away in the disastrous flood of 1673. Bridges further down the river at Kettlewell, Burnsall, Bolton Abbey, Ilkley and Otley were also swept away in the same flood. Well, still standing over 300 years later, it has certainly stood the test of time. [As we write this late in December 2009, we cannot help but think of the terrible floods in Cumbria last November, where the bridges were destroyed at Workington].

The route was north alongside the river Wharfe on the Dales Way, seen here with a group of walkers who were striding out ahead.

After a mile we left the river at Howgill Bridge, to make the short climb up a narrow path to Howgill Lane. Here we turned left along the lane passing Howgill Lodge Caravan Site. On a building with seemingly a collection of chimney pots, an array of pictures of animals and birds that can be seen in the area had been provided for visitors. We stopped to study these and indeed this was to prove beneficial later.

Beyond, we left the lane via a gate on the left to walk a footpath that was very boggy at times, finally crossing the beck by a well constructed footbridge, to the hamlet of Skyreholme, with its nice stone houses.

A short section on the quiet road then brought us to Middle Skyreholme, where we saw some alpacas. From there we took a path climbing over the shoulder of the hill to the edge of the grounds of Parcevall Hall, passing the tearoom, that sadly for Dad was closed at this time of year.

Parcevall Hall stands in twenty four acres of exquisitely landscaped gardens with terraces woodlands and nurseries. Early records suggest that it was first called Parson's Hall, which would seem appropriate today because the Hall is now used as a retreat for the Diocese of Bradford. Parcevall Hall Gardens - Yorkshire Dales National Park - About Us

Now, turning left along the road we crossed Skyreholme beck, then it was right over the wall, at the sign clearly seen in the picture below.

This muddy path over pastures took us up the valley by Skyreholme Beck to come to the remains of Skyreholme Dam.

The dam that supplied water for a paper mill in the village, burst in 1899 and was never repaired. The mill is said to have had the largest waterwheel in the North of England. Ahead we saw this rock formation in the hill side, that we thought looked like a huge monkey's head.

Onwards we then came to Troller's Gill, a sinister, ravine about 300 yards long and just a few yards wide, where we had to pick our way carefully over the slippery rocks.

Legend has it that this narrow limestone gorge is the haunt of the "Barquest" or "Barguest" - the terrifying spectral hound of Craven (which is said to have 'eyes as big as saucers').

The nooks, caves and crannies, are also said to be the home of Scandinavian trolls, flesh-eating boggarts, deranged goblins, predatory pixies - and perhaps even other sorts of similarly diabolical and fiendishly unpleasant beings lying in wait for the unsuspecting rambler.

Well today, they must have all gone on a coach trip somewhere, as we escaped without incident. Still you never know, if we visit again...

To exit, we climbed the wall on the left and so up the steep slope to cross a fence to the track in the next valley. A short way along this, a path going left took us to the road. Turning left, we then soon branched off right on a good track over the pastures. Up here it was windy and cold, so Dad and Uncle Bob were glad to have their gloves on. We snuggled down further in the rucksack, keeping our paws inside. The track led eventually down to Kail Lane below its namesake hill. Near the bottom we all took advantage of some fallen tree trunks to sit and have lunch.

Some walkers we had seen before passed by while we were having lunch and one made quite a fuss of us!

At the road we crossed on to a track that led to the River Wharfe and the Dales Way, which was followed for about two miles or so to Barden Bridge.

On the way we all spotted a dipper diving in the river for food. Also a bird called a tree creeper that had been featured on the information boards at Howgill Lodge. It literally creeps across the tree ferreting in the bark for food. A fascinating sight and the first time any of us had ever seen this bird.

We settled in the car and reflected on what had been a most interesting walk. Dad and Uncle Bob then drove to the Bolton Abbey Tearooms for some well earned refreshment. A pot of tea was the order of the day, together with a piece of fudge cake for Dad, and lemon meringue pie for Uncle Bob.

Last month Uncle Brian and Dad had visited Uncle Bob and Aunt Ann, in Hawes where they were staying for a few days in their caravan. Dad had taken our pal Craig, from John Lewis to visit too. They liked him so much that they asked Dad to get one of his cousins for them. So today Oscar had travelled with Dad. He sat with Citroen and Dougal for company while we walked and they were at the tearoom. Then he said his goodbyes as he sat safely belted in the front seat of Uncle Bob's car for his journey home to Doncaster.


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