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.

"Hi Uncle Bob", called out Allen. "Nice to be walking with you again."

"Nice to see you lads", he replied.

While they got ready, we sat looking south across the fields and to the woods that tower high above the River Wharfe.

"This will be the third time we have walked from here", commented Tetley. "First in July 2007 to the ascend to Carncliff Top and Simon's Seat. The final part was south on the section from Howgill to Barden Bridge. That will be the first part of our walk today.

"I remember it well", said Shaun. The second walk was in July 2008, climbing to Brown Bank Head, then returning on the opposite side of the river through Strid Wood."

"Wild remote and lonely countryside to the summit", recalled Grizzly.

Dad called out, "we're ready."

"OK", replied Little Eric, as we got settled in the rucksack."

It was to be a dry but sunless day, although not too cold, apart from the biting wind on the higher sections down to Kail Hill.

Before finally setting off, Dad photographed the bridge.

With its three high arches and angled buttresses, the bridge is a very elegant and impressive structure. Grizzly told us, "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", said Little Eric. "A true testament to the builders that it still standing over 330 years later."

Allen said, somberly, "I cannot help but think of the terrible floods in November that affected Keswick, and Cockermouth. And in Workington too, where the bridge was swept away and sadly a policeman lost his life."

We were quiet for a little while as we thought about all the people affected.

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 the path bent away from the river, beside Fir Beck to come to Howgill Bridge on Stangs Lane. Shaun instructed, "we go straight across onto Howgill Lane where we will pass Howgill Lodge Caravan Site."

As we did, Allen said, "there are seemingly a collection of chimney pots, on that building. And too, pictures of animals and birds that can be seen in the area, have been provided for visitors."

We stopped to study these and indeed this was to prove beneficial later.

Past here, soon Shaun called out, "we take the footpath through that gate on the left."

The ground was very boggy at times and led us to cross Blands Beck, by this well constructed footbridge... the hamlet of Skyreholme, with its nice stone houses. A short section on the quiet road took us through Middle Skyreholme, where we saw some alpacas.

After a junction Shaun immediately called out, "it's left here."

This footpath climbed over the shoulder of the hill to the edge of the grounds of Parcevall Hall, passing the tearoom. "It's closed at this time of year", stated Tetley.

"That's a shame", sighed Dad.

Well we all know how much he likes his tea and cake. That's why Uncle Bob sometimes refers to Dad as 'cake stuffer'.

Once again Grizzly was able to educate us, having done some research. He said, "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

Shaun advised, "We go left, cross Skyreholme Beck then immediately right over the wall, at the sign ahead."

This muddy path over pastures took us up the valley by Skyreholme Beck, towards our destination of Trollers Gill, round to the right of Middle Hill forming the backdrop in the picture.

First though we passed the remains of Skyreholme Dam.

Grizzly said, "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. "Looks like a face", commented Tetley.

Looking at the map, Little Eric said, "it is called Old Man's Scar."

Onwards, we soon reached Troller's Gill, a sinister ravine about 300 yards long and just a few yards wide, where Dad and Uncle Bob had to pick their way carefully over the slippery rocks.

Grizzly told us, "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'."

With us anxiously looking about, he went on. "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 then the steep slope to cross a fence to the track in the next valley. A short way along this Shaun said, " we go left on that path to the road."

Then soon where the road bent left, Shaun said, "it's now straight on along that track."

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, passing a these sheep.

"Oh well", sighed Allen. "There goes the sheep picture free story again."

Now joining the track Kail Lane, this led down below its namesake hill. Near the bottom Uncle Bob said, "let's sit on those fallen tree trunks for lunch."

"Oh yes", said Tetley. "I'm hungry"

"Me too", replied Allen, slipping his rucksack off. "I'm read for some warming tea, too."

Some walkers we had seen before, passed by while we were having lunch. One made quite a fuss of us! We love it!"

Lunch over, we snuggled into the rucksack, and then continued on the track to the road.

Here Shaun said, "we cross and take the track opposite. It will lead us to the River Wharfe at Woodhouse. There joining the Dales Way again turn left and follow it for about two miles or so to Barden Bridge."

On the way, Allen called out, "look there's a dipper diving in the river for food."

Then after a while Little Eric pointed, "that bird is a tree creeper. It was featured on the information boards at Howgill Lodge."

Watching we saw that 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.

So safely back, 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 Aunt Ann had said, "can you get one of his cousins for us."

So today Craig's cousin, Oscar had travelled with Dad. During the walk he had sat with Citroen and Dougal for company. 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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