Thursday 26th September 2002

Weather: Sunny & warm


Today's Walk: Fangdale Beck - Hawnby Moor - Head House - Bilsdale TV Mast

( 11 miles - Moderate )

Requires some compass skills in poor visibility


 

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Today's walk starts at the pretty hamlet of Fangdale Beck (Grid Ref. 570 947)
where there is a small, limited area of parking space on the grass verge beside the beck.
( As always, please show respect for the local residents and don't park in front of their homes )

 

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Walk up through the village then turn right where a bridleway gate tempts you out and along a narrow, overgrown track,
uphill and away from the houses.

 

The track rises steeply up a tree-lined gully, then through bracken, before emerging onto the open moor.
Here we look north-east from Wetherhouse Moor, across the lovely valley of Bilsdale towards Tripsdale.

"Like a patchwork quilt, the fields on Bilsdale western side infringe upon the moor tops, with the course of the River Seph
in the valley bottom margined by trees. A Roman road once ran along Bilsdale, and it is supposed that William the Conqueror,
when retiring to York after laying waste the surrounding country, descended by it. Tradition has it that Bilsdale may have been
named after the Conqueror, or some other 'Bill' connected with the dale.

On Bilsdale East Moors lived 'Peg Humphrey', a farmer's wife who had the reputation of being a witch. It is said that she
possessed an uncanny knack of changing into a hare and enticed local huntsmen across the far-flung moors and peat bogs
to her stone-built home where she escaped the hounds by vanishing through a hole in the wall. The frustrated huntsmen
on entering her cottage would find Peg back in human form lying on some straw, breathless and panting."

('Round and About The North Yorkshire Moors' - Tom Scott Burns)

 

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Continue up and ahead with the small valley of Fangdale Beck down to the left and the Bilsdale TV transmitter mast
on the horizon about a mile to the north-west - there are a couple of marshy areas to cross near the head of the beck.
Next follow a faint path which veers off south-west roughly following a line of concrete posts and old stone markers.

 

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At Grid Ref. 547 952 you join a good track running parallel alongside a drystone wall.
The twin hills of Easterside and Hawnby can be seen due south about 2 miles ahead.

 

The pleasant track leads us past fields of grazing sheep on the left and wild, open moorland to the right...

 

...before reaching the ruins of Low Thwaites Farm at Grid Ref. 543 945.

I was interested to find out recently, whilst researching Low Thwaites, that on 12th December 1942,
a Halifax bomber crashed somewhere on the moor in the distance, killing all seven crewmen.

( This excellent site, Allenby.Info, records details of many aircraft crashes on the North Yorkshire Moors )

 

Low Thwaites is an interesting place to wander about and explore, but do take care
as most of the farm buildings are in quite a delapidated state and therefore dangerous to enter.

 

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There's remaining evidence to suggest that it wasn't all that many years ago that the farm was abandoned
- I wonder what the last meal was that was cooked in the pan...?

( John Skinn has kindly informed me that Low Thwaites was abandoned in 1957 so whatever was in the pan has gone off!!! )

 

From the farm ruins, continue south along the track for about another mile
- at Grid Ref. 541 938, look for a small pile of stones beside the right hand edge of the track
and follow the faint track that leads west across Hawnby Moor, soon following a line of grouse shooting butts.

( In poor visibility, compass skills are essential for this part of the walk )

 

Continue across the deep heather moor (the path disappears in parts) aiming for the edge of a plantation to the left.

 

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As you descend from the heather moor and through deep bracken, a ruined barn comes into view at Grid Ref. 529 936.

( After putting this walk online I was grateful to receive the following interesting information from John Skinn...)

"The building you mention in Blow Gill intrigued me for some time. Its construction from well masoned stone
seemed at odds with a simple farm utility building. When I checked up on a historic map site on the web (1857 OS 6")
it identified the building as a Wesleyan Chapel. I know nothing of its history, even Bill Cowley's otherwise
excellent book on Snilesworth does not acknowledge its existence..."

The path here becomes quite wet in parts, but continue down to the beck (Blow Gill) at the bottom of the valley
- cross the narrow beck (there's no obvious crossing so just jump...!) then continue up a couple of fields on other side
crossing a stile then through the gate above before emerging onto a narrow surfaced road at Grid Ref. 527 936.

 

Turn left along the road for a couple of hundred yards, then turn right through a gate and along a farm access track
- this leads you past the left hand side of the buildings of Street-gate Farm and soon you're enjoying superb views
west across lovely countryside towards
Arden Great Moor and Black Hambleton (above).

 

The path continues along the edge of South Wood, then past Hagg House Farm and on towards Birk Wood Farm,
where you turn right and follow the access road steeply uphill until reaching a narrow metalled road at Grid Ref. 515 942.

 

Turn right for a few yards then left onto an excellent track which heads north and down into a picturesque valley
then alongside a drystone wall, with pleasant green pastures on your left and rough moorland up to the right.

There are good views from here looking north-west across the valley to Snilesworth Lodge.

At the bottom of the valley, cross a wooden footbridge (Grid Ref. 517 951) over a stream
then climb steeply up to Hill End Farm parallel with a stone wall on your left.
( It's very boggy near the bottom of the hill so a slight detour right is worth the extra effort.)

 

This is the view looking back from half-way up the hillside...

 

...and then from the top - Arden Great Moor is in the far distance and the track we came down is centre left.

 

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Just behind the farm buildings, at the top of the hill, a good track leads out onto Arnsgill Ridge on Snilesworth Moor.

Continue along the track for the next 1 miles enjoying the superb views all around - ignore a track going left
and gently descend to a gated cattle grid and then just beyond, you arrive at a stone building...

 

...Head House (Grid Ref. 534 971) was once a working farm on this very remote moor,
it is still in good repair and now serves as a meeting place for private grouse shooting parties...

 

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...and also acts as a welcome shelter for walkers caught in stormy weather!

 

A clear track leads south-east from Head House, crossing a small stream (Arns Gill) before ascending
the other side of the valley. Soon you'll see an array of other tracks leading in different directions
- keep going on the one towards the TV transmitter, easy to see and almost due east at Grid Ref. 553 962.

 

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The TV transmitter mast was, I think, erected in 1974 - it's supported by thick wire cables and huge steel anchors.

I've searched unsuccessfully on the internet to try to find out a few more facts about the mast's history, height, etc
- if anyone has any further information I would be grateful to hear from them...

 

The walk continues along the transmitter station's surfaced access road which leads you back down into Bilsdale
- as you descend look out for a footpath sign on the right at Grid Ref. 564 958 opposite a pretty house - 'Stingamires'.
Turn right and follow this track south-east which leads past the farm buildings of Coniser and Stone House....

 

...enjoying the wonderful views across Bilsdale before soon arriving back at the village of Fangdale Beck.

 

location map



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