Date - 8th June 2008 Distance - 7.5 miles
Map - OL30 Start point - Gunnerside (SD 951982)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Black Hill 1867 569 NY 9292 0010
Melbrecks Moor 1896 578 NY 9523 0075


The Walk

"Good news" Shaun said to us. "I have just heard that Dad has arranged to walk with Uncle Bob this weekend." We all cheered!

We were destined for the Yorkshire Dales once again starting from the pretty village of Gunnerside in Swaledale, which we think is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Dales. Once Uncle Bob and Dad were ready we settled in his rucksack and walked out of the village on a quiet road, crossing the cattle grid where we headed up on to the open fell side to Knott Top and along Jingle Pot Edge.

Photo courtesy Bob Woolley (Uncle Bob)

It was for once a glorious late spring day with just enough breezes to take the fierceness of the heat away. As we climbed up lapwings were flying over, and there were many curlews circling overhead trying to draw us away from their nests on the ground. By accident Dad stumbled across one frightening the adult bird and leaving the chick on its own. He quickly moved on to prevent further disturbance, and we are sure that the adult returned soon afterwards. The cotton grass made a pleasing sight as we climbed on up.

Ploughing on over the rough ground we reached the top of the ridge we had been climbing. This is Black Hill and our main objective of the day. It was another flat topped fell with nothing to mark the actual summit, so it was necessary to use the GPS to locate the position of the spot height marked on the map. Finally a consensus was reached and we hopped out for the usual photograph. The heather etc was a bit prickly and so we were glad to get back in the rucksack.

Crossing the wall to the right of the picture, we then descended beside it down Black Brae to reach the main path at Botcher Gill Gate. Close by was a waterfall and they decided to try to reach it for a photograph. This however proved to be impossible but a narrow path was followed on down Botcher Gill. Uncle Bob and Dad were very careful, as at times there was a considerable vertical drop off the path to the right. We spotted this tree that is literally growing out of the rock – amazing!

Eventually the path edged round left and descended to Gunnerside Gill, crossing a tip from the long defunct lead mining. This was all loose shale, and although there was a narrow path across it we were a bit frightened that Dad might suddenly slide down the hillside. However being sure footed he crossed safely. Phew!

In the 18th and 19th centuries this area was extensively mined for lead and there are many remains of this now long gone industry. It would have been a long walk each day from the valley to the mines and then there would have been hours spent underground digging out the ore, just by the light of a candle. Pondering this we thought how hard life must have been and for little reward no doubt. No Health and Safety then either!!

Here are some of the remains at Bunton Hush.

The word "Hush" comes from a process known as hushing. Water was dammed above likely lead veins and released in a rush. The overlying debris was washed away exposing the ore-bearing veins. The huge scars cut into the valley sides are the remains of this process. We had been here last year too, and had walked further up the gill to view the remains of the Blakethwaite Dams once used in the hushing process.

Below are remains that may have been what was called a dressing floor where lead ore, galena, was sorted and crushed before being sent to be smelted into lead.

We spent quite a while exploring the remains while Uncle Bob and Dad were taking photographs and chatting to other walkers. Then it was back into the rucksack and off once again. A few yards brought us the signpost at the crossroad of paths.

Last time we took the path to Blakethwaite Dams but today our route was towards Surrender Bridge, up this steep rough ravine, but believe it or not there was a path.

We came across this abandoned stone breaker, another reminder of the industrial past. The nameplate indicated it was made in Leeds.

Leaving the main path we now turned due south across Melbrecks Moor, another flat top covered in deep heather. Dad manfully ploughed through this to reach the position of the highest point marked on the map. Here we are sitting on the magic carpet of Dad’s map case.

A prominent sheepfold by a small pool provided a good landmark for our continuing route.

Now the steady descent started and took us below the very impressive wall of High Scar. From the spoil below we thought that this had been a quarry in the past.

Soon now Gunnerside came into view nestling in the valley.

The descent was down the field behind the houses and then through a gate at the left end of the range and into the main street, and the Ghyllfoot Tearoom. Now that’s what you might call planning!

While we had our picnic in the car, Uncle Bob and Dad sampled the delights of the tearoom. Uncle Bob had a scone with jam and cream and glasses of home made ginger beer and lemonade. Dad had a piece of lemon cake with a pint mug of tea. Not only this but on his way home he then stopped in Hawes and went to the "Chippy" for delicious fish and chips etc – his excuse was that it would save him having to make a meal when he got home.

What a super day on this most interesting walk.


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