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Looking down Smithy Gill leading to Dent's House

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Route No 14 - Saturday 13 October 2001
Gibbon Hill circuit, Grinton - 9 miles
Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from OS Open Space service

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central areas at 1:25000


Moorland sheep near the start above Grinton
Moorland sheep near the start above Grinton

Shooting hut near Harker Hill
Shooting hut near Harker Hill

After about 400 yards I took the bridleway on a stone track heading west to Harkerside moor about a mile away. The track turns right after a stone shooting hut and after crossing Grovebeck the bridleway leaves the track to climb Low Harker Hill. After a few hundred yards I turned left to head west again through the earthworks forming an impressive fortification to the entire hill top overlooking Reeth in the main Swaledale valley to the north.

I pottered around this morning reading the paper and did not set off for Grinton in Swaledale until about 9.40am. I parked about one and a half miles out of Grinton on the road to Redmire where there is a large gravel area off the road. The weather was overcast but the forecast held out some hope of no rain. I intended to walk a circular route around Gibbon Hill. I walked back along the unfenced moorland road towards Grinton.

Looking over the open moor towards Swaledale
Looking over the open moor towards Swaledale

Iron age ramparts around Harker Hill
Iron age ramparts around Harker Hill

Dead stoat by the track
Dead stoat by the track

A few hundred yards further on were about a dozen four wheel drive vehicles which I assume belonged to the shooting party. I noticed a dead stoat beside the track, still in its summer coat and apparently uninjured (surely, not poisoned?).

I stayed on this bridleway over the top of Harker Hill with rather misty views over Swaledale for about two and a half miles to Birks Gill. After a mile or so I met a battered ex-army troop carrier type of vehicle carrying the beaters for a grouse shoot.

Old mine workings overlooking Swaledale
Old mine workings overlooking Swaledale

Birks Gill
Birks Gill


Looking down Smithy Gill leading to Dent's House

Then descending, still in a south easterly direction, the bridleway follows Smithy Gill for about 2 miles to Dent's house. The valley of Smithy Gill is a bit stark, but interesting, with the remnants of old mine working and quite attractive in its own way. Up the valley side are several small quarries which have a narrow entrance and then bulge out to a large quarry chamber once inside.

Just before Birks Gill the navigation was a bit messy because the present route of the stone track here is not marked on the map. The bridleway follows this track all the way until a point about 300 yard before the Birks gill. There is a small cairn beside the track but it's easy to miss. The bridleway leaves the track here and heads in a southerly and then south easterly direction to follow the line of the watercourse up to the post and wire fence on the watershed.

Waterfall on Birks Gill
Waterfall on Birks Gill

Old quarry mine workings in Smithy Gill
Old quarry mine workings in Smithy Gill

More autumn fungus
More autumn fungus

At the top the bridleway turns north east for about half a mile back to the starting point where I had left the car this morning. The whole route was about 9 miles and took me four and a half hours including refreshment stops. The place names used in this description are taken from the OS Outdoor Leisure 30 map of the Yorkshire Dales Northern and Central areas.

From here I turned left onto another bridleway that heads north for almost a mile to some cairns on disused tips from the old mine workings on the shoulder of Gibbon Hill (called 'Height of Greets' on the map). As I climbed up from Dent's House the view into Wensleydale began to open up with the unmistakable outline of Pen Hill from across the valley.

Open moor on Greets Hill
Open moor on Greets Hill

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