Date - 5th January 2008 Distance - 8.25 miles
Map - OL30
Start point - Village Hall car park, Carlton (SE 069 848)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Penhill 1726 526 SE 0508 8673
Heights of Hazely 1814 553 SE 0374 8600
Harland Hill 1756 535 SE 0283 0430


The Walk

It was further to the start this time, so we were up and off at 07.00. The familiar road from Ingleton to Hawes again was our route. Dad had enjoyed the scenery the previous afternoon when he took Uncle Brian for a drive, but not so for us as even when we reached Hawes it was still dark. As we continued along the dale the day dawned. The first village we reached was Bainbridge where we saw that the River Bain was full and the water was rushing down. Here is a close up to give you some idea of the force.

The village of West Witton was our objective now and here we turned right along a very narrow road that climbed steeply up at first in a series of very sharp bends - we were glad that Dad is a good driver! We then crested the ridge and descended into Coverdale to the village of Carlton, our walk start point. At the summit of the road we had noticed a hill with what seemed to be a tower on it. Dad told us it was Penhill, and that we were going to climb it. As we got to Carlton we saw Uncle Bob walking along to look at the car park by the Village Hall that we had spotted as we came in. He and Dad agreed that this was the best place to park. Well we Lads know best!

After they had got ready, we jumped into Dad's rucksack and off we all went walking right through the village. Taking a footpath we crossed a series of waterlogged fields to reach a gate out on to Melmerby Moor. The official track now went across the moor to reach the road we had travelled over before turning west on to Penhill. After a little discussion however Uncle Bob and Dad decided instead to follow a line of grouse butts (the third side of the triangle thereby saving time and distance). As we walked on ahead we had a good view of our objective Penhill.

The route was to reach the wall corner at the bottom of the fell, and then climb up by the wall crossing it as it then turned left. Once over we then struck half-right to reach the tower, which we discovered was in fact a large pile of stones. Here is Dad standing by this. What a poser!

Some research later revealed that this is actually called "Polly Peacham’s Tower". A Lord of Bolton built this for his wife Lavinia Fenton, who was the original actress to play the part of Polly Peacham in "The Beggars Opera" by John Gay. It is said that when Polly Peacham sang from the tower she could be heard at Bolton Hall, 2-miles across the dale.

We walked left to reach a gate in the wall and once through followed the wall along. Soon after we arrived at the trig point marking the summit. Despite it being sunny and looking pleasant it was in fact cold in the strong wind. Dad had to hold on to us while Uncle Bob took our photograph on the trig point. The way Dad is popping up behind us made Uncle Brian laugh out loud. We thought wherever did he get that hat!!

There was a path by the wall and sensibly we followed this rather than struggle over the trackless heather and bog. We were very glad that we did too, as from here the whole of Wensleydale was laid out below us. The panorama was too large to get any decent photographs but we were able to see and identify many of the villages and hamlets in the dale. We thought you might like to share with us the names of those that we could see going west to east - Aysgarth, Carperby, Castle Bolton, Redmire, Swinithwaite, West Witton, Preston under Scar, Wensley, Leyburn and Middleham. We think that they are lovely names and quite enchanting.

In the Middleham, Leyburn and West Witton area there are a number of horse racing stables and indeed as we had driven up over the high road we saw one of the gallops. Aysgarth is famous for its waterfalls visited by thousands of people every year. If any of you are familiar with the film "Robin Hood Prince of Thieves" starring Kevin Costner, the fight sequence with Little John was filmed at these waterfalls.

Castle Bolton takes its name from the partly ruinous Bolton Castle nearby.

Now we wish to digress a while - hope you do not mind - and continue with the railway theme that was part of our last adventure in the Yorkshire Dales. Until the mass closure of the railway in the 1960s Wensleydale had its own line. Most of it was taken up, but some miles were retained to facilitate the transport of military equipment to the training and firing ranges. In the last few years a band of volunteers have got together and formed the Wensleydale Railway Association ( reopening part of the line between Leeming Bar and Redmire via Leyburn. The priority at first is to link with the town of Northallerton, and the East Coast Main Line providing a connecting service. Their long-term aims are to head further west and reinstate the line to Aysgarth then to Hawes. The old station at Hawes still stands and is now a museum.

The engine and carriage is merely a static display on a short stretch of track. The line would then continue through the dale to rejoin with the Settle to Carlisle line at Garsdale Junction. Here is a photo of what the junction once looked like. The single line in the foreground was the Wensleydale line.

Garsdale is just over 1000 ft above sea level and so prone to the vagaries of the wind. At the time this was taken there was, as you can see in the right of the picture, a wind begotten novelty here, a stockaded turntable. The story ran that some years before, during a gale an engine was being turned when the wind took it for a plaything and sent it round and round interminably. The crews efforts to stop this new-style roundabout was unavailing until they hit on the idea of shovelling ballast and earth into the pit. After this event the turntable got its stockade!

Now we bears are doing our bit to help this and other volunteer railways. Dale is a member of the Wensleydale Railway Association and here he is travelling on the railway last summer.

Dale is on the right proudly holding his membership card. He is with our other railway bear friends who are also members of a railway society. From left to right is –

Chuffer - Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway, Yorkshire

Scooter - Bluebell Railway, West Sussex

Higson - North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Dunstan - Aln Valley Railway, Northumberland

So as you can see it is not just STAG whom are active in our Hug!

Finally before we return to the walk, Dad took this photo of the train at Redmire Station.

Now where were we? Oh yes. We continued on by the wall as it turned south where we could then see down into Bishopdale. At its entrance lies the village of West Burton, from which we were destined to do our next walk. Possibly another tale? We walked on climbing slightly and then were faced with a huge cross wall that we could not possibly climb. Our hearts sank at the thought of our route being blocked, but Uncle Bob consulted the map and led us left to where the wall became a fence and then ended as it turned right. We had reached a point known as the Heights of Hazely. Not a recognised hill but having reached the highest point Dad took our photograph. Then we followed the fence where it had turned and descended into a valley between Penhill and our next objective Harland Hill. In the valley is a bridleway that links Carlton in Coverdale with Cote Bridge near West Burton in Bishopdale. Taking this in the Carlton direction was our return route but first we had to climb gently up Harland Hill. We reached a wall with a hurdle across a gap. To reach the summit a few hundred yards on, it was necessary to climb this and then negotiate a very boggy area and small lake using stepping stones. Thankfully Dad was sure-footed and we got safely across. The summit was a rather large flat area but there was a few small rocks making an untidy cairn that we considered to be the top and Dad took our photo..

You might just make out that we were leaning against piece of wood with a pointed end. Before we left Dad stood this up so making the top more recognisable for anyone else who might come here. We do not think that this top is visited very often. It was now that Dad realised that he had dropped his map. He is really not safe to be out on this own. He remembered that the last time he had it was just before we had climbed the hurdle. We had to return that way (good job) and so he duly found it. Then it was down to the bridleway and turning right through a gate we started the descent towards Carlton on a very rough and muddy track. About half way down we passed this substantial building called Howden Lodge.

It is in a good state of repair but was seemingly boarded up. After some discussion Uncle Bob and Dad decided that it was probably used to entertain parties of grouse shooters, as there was a line of grouse butts nearby. We have searched the Internet for any details but to no avail, so we will have to go with their idea. The surface of the track improved a lot from here making for easier walking. It was cloudy but there were breaks at times and suddenly the sun shafted through the clouds and Dad snapped this photograph...

Soon now we reached the pretty village of Carlton once again and we strolled along the street passing the typical houses in the golden stone. This shows some and the small church.

Another walk was under our paws and we had had another super day. Dad then followed Uncle Bob to the village of Leyburn where, surprise surprise, they went and had tea and cakes in a cafe! We had our own picnic sitting in the car. We said our goodbyes and Uncle Bob headed east and Dad headed west for home. Soon after leaving Leyburn we came to the village of Wensley. As we crossed the river, we looked up to the hill ahead. This was none other than Penhill where we had been today.


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