Date - 20th July 2008 Distance - 6 miles
Map - OL2/298 Start point - Barden Bridge, Wharfedale (SE 052574)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
North Nab 1047 319 SE 0847 5643
Brown Bank Head 1352 412 SE 1060 5820


The Walk

The ambition to visit with Dad and Uncle Bob all the summits in the Yorkshire Dales was coming ever closer to reality. By our climbing Brown Bank Head and North Nab today meant that we had completed all those in the Southern Dales.

We were walking in Wharfedale near to Bolton Abbey. This was once a monastery and one that was subject to dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII. The Duke of Devonshire now owns this and the extensive estate around.

We started from Barden Bridge, and walked south over the fields passing beneath this impressive aqueduct over the rushing river Wharfe. It carries the pipe taking water from the reservoirs at the top of Nidderdale to the cities of West Yorkshire.

Soon we entered beautiful woodland and climbed up high above the river that we were able to glimpse at times.

The path then descended through more wonderful woodland to reach Posforth Bridge. A short walk along the road brought us close to Waterfall Cottage where a gate gave access to open country.

The sign reads "no dogs allowed". OK for us then! The high ground ahead comprises what is known as North Nab and South Nab. Uncle Bob had spotted that there was a trig point on the former so there was nothing for it but to climb them and so bag this top as well.

South Nab was first, its cairn just visible to the right of the tree. The route was over the open ground to a stile in a fence followed by a steep climb through bracken at first. From the cairn we were rewarded with this view down to the river with the church and abbey ruins just visible in the centre.

Then an easy stroll along the ridge brought us to North Nab. There was little wind so we were able to have our photograph taken sitting on the trig point. Tetley says he likes the casual way that Grizzly is dangling his right leg over the edge.

A gentle descent brought us to Hammerthorn Gate where we followed good tracks just below Long Ridge and then over an area called Gledstones to come to Rocking Hall and the famous Rocking Stone.

This is one of the two buildings of Rocking Hall. It is used as a hut for grouse shooting parties. You might have noticed the rather grotesque face carved on the arch. Dad took it in close-up so you would be able to see it more clearly. There is little or no information on the Internet so we are unable to throw any further light on this.

Between this and the other building is the Rocking Stone that apparently is reputed to have last rocked 150 years ago. Although Dad assured us it would not move we kept well out of the way!

After the walk so far, a rest was in order, so we took the opportunity to have some sandwiches that Grizzly had made for us. The gate in the wall was our onward route then over very rough and at times boggy ground to the flat top of Brown Bank Head. A pretty uninteresting place and not one we are likely to revisit again, but seeing Rocking Hall made up for it. We now had to head for a gate in a seemingly distant wall over rough and completely trackless ground. Uncle Bob used his compass to get a bearing for the direction. It was hard going and they were glad to reach the wall. Dad unfortunately dropped his map while crossing this terrain and set about going back to retrieve it. However as it was totally trackless it was nigh on impossible to retrace the route, and he could have passed within yards of it and not see it, so he decided to abandon the idea. Well the map and case sellers would subsequently benefit.

Through the gate we were now thankfully on a clear track that brought us past the farm of Broadshawe. The occupants have to cross this ford on the track to reach the main road. Just out of shot was a little footbridge making our progress easier.

Soon after this we struck right off the main track to come to Sheepshaw Plantation that we then entered. We were not sure if this was exactly an official route but the map did show a track so off we went along this. There had been in the past forestry work so the path was very churned up and deep ruts full of water had to be negotiated. After what seemed like an age we finally came down to the wide main track. Here Dad took this shot looking back to the trees we had come through.

Turning left we passed through a gate and headed down the tranquil and lush Valley of Desolation. It owes its name apparently due to the desolation caused by the great storm in 1826.

Reaching the River Wharfe again this was followed to Wooden Bridge where, on the other side are the Cavendish Tearooms! We had seen few people so far today, but suddenly we were surrounded by seemingly hundreds. This area is very popular and not far from a large car park. Of course Uncle Bob and Dad could not bear (sorry) to pass by the chance of refreshment and for once we were able to come with them to the tearooms although we decided to stay in Dad’s rucksack, as it was so busy. Tea and chocolate cake with cream was the order of the day. It was yummy too – we pinched some when Dad was not looking! After Dad replaced his map at the shop, and while waiting for Uncle Bob, a lady asked him about us, so we were introduced – made our day.

Setting off again we immediately entered Strid Wood. We noticed that face like sculptures had been put on some on the trees. This one in particular amused us all.

All the time we were close to the river and after a while we reached a point that is called the Strid. This is where the broad River Wharfe suddenly becomes very narrow and the water rushes with great force. It gets its name from the fact that it is said to be a Stride wide, but it is very dangerous here. It is wider than it looks and the rocks are usually very slippery. In fact the Strid was formed by the wearing away of softer rock by the circular motion of small stones in hollows, forming a series of potholes which in time linked together to form the deep, water filled chasm.

Today is was not in spate by any means and Uncle Bob told us that he has seen it with the water up to the white rock on the right. In these and in fact any circumstance it is not a place to attempt to stride across!

Continuing through the woods we came across this old shed. It was very dark in fact under the trees, but with Dad’s new camera he was able to dramatically increase the "film" speed to 1600 and so get the shot.

Soon now we were out of the woodland and passing once more under the aqueduct, it was just a short walk to the cars.

Well another good walk under our paws with the contrast of the desolate and lonely moorland, woodland and the tourist trap by the tearooms.


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