Date - 16th February 2011 Distance - 6.5.miles
Ascent -
Map - OL2 Start point - Dent station (SD 764875)



It was a dark winter evening so we were glad to be inside snug and warm in our cosy home. We were gathered round with our Railway Bear pals, discussing the Settle-Carlisle railway.

"It is great that you have done all those walks in Yorkshire close to different parts of the line, as the photographs were of great use when we wrote our story about the steam train journey over the line", said Higson.

"We have been ever so fortunate as you say", replied Allen. "It was a significant day when we met Uncle Bob on Fellbarrow, because as a direct result, we have since explored all the Yorkshire Dales."

Grizzly added, "you were very welcome to use the pictures, which complemented those Dad took from the train. It must have been an exciting day, and to be honest we would have loved to have come along too. Not possible however, as it would be too much for Dad to cope with and we could not all sit and look out of the window."

Scooter said, "we wish you could have come along, so you could point out all the places of interest and where you have walked. Uncle Brian has booked again for the end of July, so we will have the pleasure of reliving the journey again."

"We are a lucky lot, to have a Dad who takes us out so much", said Tetley. "I would not want to live anywhere else."

Just then Dad wandered in. "Well Tetley, you and your pals are to get another outing tomorrow. We are walking with Uncle Eric, starting from Dent Station and crossing beneath Great Knoutberry Hill and then down Arten Gill.

"Well that's a coincidence", said Shaun, "we were just talking about the Settle-Carlisle line with our Railway Bear pals."

"We have done some of that walk before, back in 2007 when we climbed Great Knoutberry Hill with Uncle Bob, but we have not been down Arten Gill", said Tetley whose memory of past walks in prodigious.

"That will enable you to see close up the magnificent Arten Gill viaduct", said Leander. "It is said to be the most stylish on the whole line."

"We'll be sure to tell you all about it", replied Little Eric.


The Walk

Dent Station, stands high above Dentdale, and there are two routes that Dad can use to get there. Either through Kingsdale from Ingleton, or via Barbondale.

"Which way are we going"?, asked Shaun.

"Via Barbondale, as otherwise I will have to open and close the gates across the road through Kingsdale", Dad replied. "Also taking that route I will be able to call at Mr Williamson's in Barbon, and stock up on marmalade and chutney."

So we took the route up the Lune Valley, to Kirkby Lonsdale and Barbon, then climbing steeply out of the village and on through the narrow valley of Barbondale, with to the left, the steep slopes of Middleton Fell.

"We've enjoyed two great walks on that fell one with Uncle Eric and the other with Uncle Bob", remarked Allen.

"Do you remember on the one with Uncle Bob, we were threatened by that thunderstorm. The skies were as black as night, but fortunately our route took us west away from it. The gentleman we passed walking the other way would not have been so lucky", said Grizzly.

"On that second walk, I bagged the three summits on the fell, so we have all done it", said Little Eric.

Soon we were dropping down into Dentdale, and just a short way along we passed through the pretty village of Dent, with its cobbled streets. Then it was on along the narrow road through the dale, to take the narrow road up to the station. We were delayed here because a lorry was parked across the road. There was no driver in it and Dad was rather nonplussed. However he soon reappeared, and apologising moved his vehicle. Dad reckoned he had been asking directions to his destination, at a nearby house.

Uncle Eric was already there, and we apologised for keeping him waiting. We were soon ready for the off, and had timed it right to to see the 10:16 train, bound for Carlisle. Here it is standing in the station. Note that it has been painted to depict scenes from Yorkshire towns and cities. In view is the Alhambra Theatre at Bradford.

A number of passengers disembarked here, mostly walkers like us. Then the train was soon on its way speeding north round the curve.

So, thinking about the great day our Railway Bear pals had had on the Settle-Carlisle line in last July, we put best paw forward and started on our walk, on a day that was to be dry with sunny periods, mild and with little wind. Almost felt like spring. From the station we turned right, crossing the bridge in the picture above, and climbing the road that runs between Dentdale and Garsdale reaching a height of 1750ft at its summit. There were once ancient mining and quarrying industries in Dentdale and bell pits on the hillsides reveal the sites of small open cast coal mines and and as a consequence this road is known as the Coal Road. We did not have to climb all the way to the highest point, but nevertheless there was a steady continuous climb for about a mile, until we reached the bridleway going off right that curves round on the slopes of Great Knoutberry Hill. Here Uncle Eric signifies the route while kindly opening the gate.

As we strolled along we reflected on the last time we had been along this track, in December 2007 in the company of Uncle Bob.

"It was cloudy and damp on the December day when we met Uncle Bob", said Allen.

"Sure was pal, and unlike today Great Knoutberry Hill was covered in cloud", added Shaun.

Just as well that the fence we followed took us directly to the trig point at the summit. It was surrounded by a moat so we would have got very wet if we had fallen off", remarked Tetley.

Grizzly said, "we hung in there, but we got our bottoms wet. Dad could have used his map case for us to sit on."

Still it was a good day and once we reached Arten Gill and started up Wold Fell, the day was dry and clear with good views", replied Allen.

Click this link, if you want to find out more - Great Knoutberry Hill

After a few minutes walking, we paused to look across to Great Coum that stands above Dent village, and of this fantastic view of the dale. The distant hill is Middleton Fell, below which we had driven this morning through Barbondale.

We reached the gates and fence that climbs directly up the fell, and Dad told Uncle Eric that this had been where we and Uncle Bob had made the ascent. Further on a stream crossed the path dropping in a small waterfall to the ravine beyond. This is Harber Gill. It descends to the valley, there joining the River Dee that runs through Dentdale.

Again we paused here to look back to Dent Station, dominated by the massive bulk of Aye Gill Pike.

"What a day we had when we climbed that", said Tetley.

"Ooh I remember it well, replied Shaun. "All was green in the valley, but the fell was deeply covered in snow and any path was completely obliterated. Not only that we had to contend with frequent snow showers and strong winds. What a hard walk that was."

"We certainly knew we had been out that day. When was it Tetley?," asked Allen.

"March 2008, in fact Easter Sunday, and to add insult to injury the weather was dry and sunny in Morecambe!" Aye Gill Pike

Walking on, the path finally descended to Arten Gill. Beyond we could see the slopes of Wold Fell, that we had climbed with Uncle Bob in December 2007. However our route today was to descend the gill. The lane following Arten Gill, is part of an ancient drovers' route that passed from Dentdale to Wensleydale in the east. For generations the route was the main link between the communities of the western dales and the market town of Hawes and beyond.

After passing through the gate, we continued down, to find a place to sit and enjoy our lunch, out of the wind. We were sitting on a convenient boulder eating our sandwiches, when Grizzly pointed, and said, "when we set off it won't be very far to reach the magnificent viaduct."

"Can't wait to see it close up", enthused Little Eric, "but before we set off will you take a proper picture of us, to include in the story?"

"OK lads", said Dad.

Soon the majestic viaduct loomed above us, the year 1875 being inscribed in stone on either side, marking the completion of its construction.

We looked in wonder at this magnificent feat of Victorian engineering, seen in close up by us for the first time. Dad took a number of shots but this one shows the viaduct off at its best.

There are 11 spans in its 220 yards length and it stands 117 feet high. Some of the piers had to be sunk 55 feet below the ground to secure an adequate foundation. It is constructed of a local variety of stone, which when polished is known as Dent or Black marble.

We were now almost in the valley and soon we reached the road at Stone House. Here and in the Gill there was once much industrial activity, and an interesting information board provided fascinating details.

Across the Dales, kilns were built to make quick lime, that was used locally in the production of building materials such as plaster and mortar. Also it was applied to grazing land and its main use was for 'sweetening' the grass for livestock. Most that survive today are over 150 years old, being built near a source such as a limestone pavement and by a track to allow stone and coal to be transported by horse and cart. At Stone House these natural resources were readily available. The process involved limestone being heated in a kiln using coal brought from further up the Gill, along the lane we had walked. Small limestone quarries abound nearby while colliery spoil heaps on Great Knoutberry Fell bear witness to this lost local industry.

To reach the road we crossed Stone House Bridge, where Stone House marble works was located. It was the focus of the Dent Marble Industry that thrived here in the nineteenth century. Dent Marble isn't marble at all - it is a dark limestone with a high fossil content. This stone became popular and was sold far and wide, being used for making such items as fireplace surrounds and balustrades. Production waned due to competition from foreign imports and all that remains today of this bygone industry are the marble manager's house and a series of earth works.

The history lesson over, we now turned right and followed the road to Cowgill, to then climb very steeply up the narrow road to Dent Station. Pauses were necessary for Dad and Uncle Eric to catch their breath, and Dad took an opportunity to snap one last shot of Arten Gill Viaduct, with Wold Fell rising behind. To the right of the viaduct can be seen spoil heaps, from the original construction of the railway in the 1870s.

"Where now Dad?", asked Grizzly, as we settled in the car.

"To Dent village", Dad replied, "so that Uncle Eric and I can have some refreshment."

"I thought that would be the case", said Allen laughingly.

When in Dent they usually go to Stone Close cafe, and today was no exception. A scone with butter and jam, accompanied by a pot of tea, rounded the day of nicely for them.

Thank you Uncle Eric and Dad, for a very enjoyable and interesting day.


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