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Looking back up the valley to the bottom of Trollers Gill
Looking back up the valley to the bottom of Trollers Gill

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Wednesday 30 July 2008
Grimwith Reservoir, Trollers Gill,
River Wharfe, Appletreewick circuit - 16km
Wharfedale . . .

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base
View the route in Google Earth

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


Setting off along the south side of Grimwith reservoir
Setting off along the south side of Grimwith reservoir

An Oyster Catcher on the shore of Grimwith reservoir
An Oyster Catcher on the shore of Grimwith reservoir

We put our boots on and started walking at about 9.45. It was still fine but very overcast as we set off heading east along the southern side of the reservoir.

The weather forecast was not very promising but we couldn't let that stop us, so my neighbour, Jim, and I drove to the public car park at Grimwith reservoir (map ref. SE063640) this morning.

Thatched barn housing waterwoks machinery
Thatched barn housing waterwoks machinery

Old hay rake in front of a dilapidated stone barn
Old hay rake in front of a dilapidated stone barn

We followed the footpath across the fields for about 1.5km a lay-by on the B6265 at map ref. SE086635 (about 250m from Stump Cross Caverns). By this time we were already wet from a heavy shower and between the showers a light drizzle persisted, so the forecasters were right.

After just over 1km the waterside path reached what looked like an old thatched barn, but it is in fact a well disguised machinery house connected with the operation of the reservoir.About 100m beyond this building we turned right off the track to climb over a stile.

Looking back through the drizzle to Grimwith reservoir
Looking back through the drizzle to Grimwith reservoir

Climbing up from Grimwith reservoir to the little ridge by the B6265
Climbing up from Grimwith reservoir to the little ridge, called Nursery Knot, by the B6265

Climbing up the track from the B6265
Climbing up the track from the B6265 - Jim waiting for me at the top

We followed this track up ther hillside for 1.5km to map ref. SE078624 where there is a field gate on the right and a permissive path down to the old Gill Heads Lead Mine.

At the road we turned right to walk about 250m down the road away from Stump Cross Caverns to a track on our left at map ref. SE083634.

Looking back to Nursery Knot
Looking back to Nursery Knot

The old breached dam at Gill Heads Lead Mine
The old breached dam at Gill Heads Lead Mine

The mine is at the start of Trollers Gill, a narrow limestone gorge associated with many supersticious stories

There is an old breached dam next to the mine. The stone archway entrance to the mine adit is in a narrow cleft in the hillside facing onto the old spoil heap.

The entrance to the mine adit at Gill Heads lead mine
The entrance to the mine adit at Gill Heads lead mine

Gill Heads lead mine at the top of Trollers Gill
Gill Heads lead mine at the top of Trollers Gill

Going the wrong way
Going the wrong way

The valley narrowed as we progressed and the clear water of the stream vanished underground. The dry rocky stream bed soon became the path between high limestone walls.

We began to follow the stream down the valley and just below the mine Jim was halfway across a little wooden footbridge before we realised we should be going straight on down the gill.

Back on track going down trollers Gill
Back on track going down trollers Gill

The stream has gone underground in this part of Trollers Gill
The stream has gone underground in this part of Trollers Gill
Harebells in the grass by the path
Harebells in the grass by the path

High limestone walls of Trollers Gill
High limestone walls of Trollers Gill

My own theory is that an unwary traveller could be drowned in a flash flood and the body injured against the rocks. By the time the body was found there would be no water and the death with mysterious injuries would be unexplained.

In times of heavy rain this stream bed fills and flows filling the rocky bed leaving nowhere to walk between the limestone walls so do check the weather forecast before doing this walk. There are gruesome legends of all kinds of trolls and a vicious hound lurking to trap the unwary traveller in this isolated rocky gorge.

Trollers Gill could be an eerie place if your head was full of superstitions
Trollers Gill could be an eerie place if your head was full of superstitions

Trollers Gill could be aneerie place if your head was full of superstitions
Trollers Gill could be an eerie place if your head was full of superstitions
Looking back up the valley to the bottom of Trollers Gill
Looking back up the valley to the bottom of Trollers Gill
Looking back up the valley to the bottom of Trollers Gill
Looking back up the valley to the bottom of Trollers Gill

Old breached dam near Parcevall Hall
Old breached dam near Parcevall Hall

After about another 500m there is another old dam. This one was used for water supply but was breached in the 1890's and never repaired.

After about 500m the gorge opens out at its junction with another valley to the east of the gill into a steepsided grassy valley surrounded by limestone outcrops. It's very pretty.

Footpath by the river Wharfe near Howgill
Footpath by the river Wharfe near Howgill

Looking down the eroded bank of Fir Beck near Howgill
Looking down the eroded bank of Fir Beck near Howgill
Scouts canoeing on the river Wharfe
Scouts canoeing on the river Wharfe

Scouts conoeing on the river Wharfe
Scouts conoeing on the river Wharfe

Here we turned left off the road to follow a path along a rather messy farm track and then several pleasant fields to a road at map ref. SE060593. We turned left onto the road and then after about 100m we turned right off the road onto a path beside the River Wharfe.

Just beyond the dam the path reaches a minor road at map ref. SE068609, next to Parcevall Hall which is owned by the Diocese of Bradford and is open to the public. From there we walked along the road through the hamlet of Skyreholme to map ref. SE064601.

Turbulent river Wharfe between Howgill and Appletreewick
Turbulent river Wharfe between Howgill and Appletreewick
Turbulent river Wharfe between Howgill and Appletreewick
Turbulent river Wharfe between Howgill and Appletreewick
More placid river Wharfe near Appletreewick
More placid river Wharfe near Appletreewick

Village stocks in Appletreewick
Village stocks in Appletreewick

We walked towards Appletreewick past Old Hall Farm and turned left off the road at the old village stocks onto a steep stoney track at the side of the Cruck Barn at the Craven Arms pub. The stoney track climbs straight up the hillside gaining about 90m in height over a distance of about 300m (so quite steep then!).

We stopped in the shelter of the woods by the river for our lunch and when we started walking again the rain eased off and finally stopped and the rest of the day became gradually warmer and brighter. We continued along the river for about 1.3km to map ref. SE046600 where we turned right away from the river to walk down the side of a camp site to the road on the western edge of Appletreewick.

Path across Appletreewick Pasture
Path across Appletreewick Pasture

Path across Appletreewick Pasture
Path across Appletreewick Pasture

Path across Appletreewick Pasture
Path across Appletreewick Pasture

Here the rail track ended but a low embankment was clearly visible running across the field to the site of the old Gill Head Lead Mine that we had passed earlier in our walk. At the road we turned left to walk along the road for about 100m.

From the top of this climb we followed the track across high level grassland through fields of cattle and sheep to a minor road at map ref. SE063620. At the side of this road there was a short length of narrow gauge railway track from the edge of the road through a gateway and into a field.

Remains of narrow guage railway to Gill Heads Lead mine
Remains of narrow guage railway to Gill Heads Lead mine

Low embankment on the narrow gauge railway to Gill Heads Lead mine
Low embankment on the narrow gauge railway to Gill Heads Lead mine

The whole route had been just over 16km and had taken us almost 6 hours to walk including our breaks and time to admire the scenery. On the way home we stopped in Pateley Bridge for a coffee in a very pleasant tea shop by the river Nidd to round off an excellent day out.

Here the road made a right hand bend and we continued straight on along a grassy track at the edge of a field. This track took us to the B6265 at map ref.060630. We walked straight across the road to follow a track across the moorland for about 1km back to the car park at Grimwith reservoir.

The track back to Grimwith reservoir car park
The track back to Grimwith reservoir car park