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Leaving Kexwith
Leaving Kexwith

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Route No. 403 - Thursday 7th April 2011
Washfold, Kexwith, How Gate, Helwith - 11km
Swaledale,
Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire dales Northern & Central areas

Another fine route from Ray Brown this time in the upper catchment area of Marske Beck starting from Washfold about 4km NNE of Reeth - Thanks again Ray!


Skegdale Beck flows under a little bridge
Skegdale Beck flows under a little bridge

The bridge where Goats Road crosses Padley Beck
The bridge where Goats Road crosses Padley Beck

Passing a large barn towards a gate (NZ060042)
Passing a large barn towards a gate (NZ060042)

Immediately after passing to the left of the farmhouse we used a steel gate on our right to enter the pasture and turned left along a stone wall. We continued past a large barn on our left to a gate (NZ060042) with "veer right" waymark sign leading to moorland. After maybe 50 metres we branched left, so returning to the wall on our left where we passed through a steel gate (NZ060044) and again found ourselves with a stone wall on our left. After following this on a clear path for about 600 metres we branched right in order to pass to the left of a ruined building.

With the weather experts forecasting a fine day we set off for this area between Swaledale and the River Greta and parked by the bridge where Goats Road crosses Padley Beck in the hamlet of Washfold at NZ054027. Using the metalled Goats Road we walked initially East, keeping left at the fork at the top of the hill and ignoring other tracks on the right. The metalled road ended near a sharp right bend where Skegdale Beck flows under a little bridge. After the bend we declined to follow a bridleway sign on the left, preferring instead to use the track, a few metres further on, that leads to the farm called Schoolmaster Pasture.

Track leading to Schoolmaster Pasture
Track leading to Schoolmaster Pasture

Again found ourselves with a stone wall on our left
Again found ourselves with a stone wall on our left

Ruin before the descent to Kexwith
Ruin before the descent to Kexwith

Kexwith footbridge
Kexwith footbridge

Kexwith Beck
Kexwith Beck

Beyond the footbridge it merges with Kexwith Beck to become Holgate Beck. We crossed both minor becks to reach Kexwith Farm where we were greeted by a couple of porkers.

The path led through rough pasture to a gate on the left and thence to a farm track which ran downhill to a ford and footbridge over Moresdale Beck.

Kexwith
Kexwith

Leaving Kexwith
Leaving Kexwith

Greeted by a couple of porkers
Greeted by a couple of porkers

The signpost pointed towards a distant clump of trees
The signpost pointed towards a distant clump of trees

We stepped over an electric fence
We stepped over an electric fence

At this point we walked right along the road for 50 metres before turning left on to more moorland to head South. As on the previous stretch of moorland a GPS device loaded in advance with waypoints (in this case NZ077042 and NZ077038) was helpful and in mist would be invaluable. Now however there were signs of a used path which passed to the left of a grassy mound. After stepping over an electric fence we soon found ourselves on a definite grassy path which returned us at NZ076034 to the Newsham-Helwith road. Turning left we proceeded down to Helwith where the farm buildings make a pleasant backdrop for a picture of the ford and footbridge.

We left the farm by its service track which headed initially steeply uphill and then ran East across moorland for about 1.5km to meet the Newsham-Helwith minor road at How Gate. Here we turned right for about 50 metres before following a right of way footpath signpost on the left which pointed towards a clump of trees some 2 km distant. The next kilometre of our route lay across occasionally boggy heather moorland with no clear path. The best route (aiming towards NZ076047) curved to the right of the direct line to the clump of trees and it emerged at NZ078046 on a minor metalled road opposite the track leading to Kersey Green farm.

The path passed to the left of a grassy mound
The path passed to the left of a grassy mound

Helwith
Helwith

Leaving Helwith
Leaving Helwith

The right of way runs through a farmyard where the thick mud (I use the term euphemistically) was everywhere and in places 20cm deep. After finally ploughing through this we reached the farm's service track and mused that on future occasions we shall use one of the two alternative routes which begin on the North side of the Shaw Beck. We used the farm track for almost 900 metres until, after climbing steeply to a cattle grid, it turned sharply left.

The map shows three alternative rights of way from Helwith to Washfold; we chose that which took us across the Shaw Beck and steeply up a clear grassy track. When the path levelled we followed a stone wall high above, but alongside, Shaw Beck and were able to view the ruins of the old Prys lead workings below. When Prys House farm appeared we left the wall and made directly for the farm through rough pasture.

Ruins of the old Prys lead workings
Ruins of the old Prys lead workings

Approach to Prys House farm
Approach to Prys House farm
Holgate How
Holgate How
Joining the path down to Washfold
Joining the path down to Washfold

Entering Washfold at the end of our walk
Entering Washfold at the end of our walk

On our right we had fine views of the gentle summit of Holgate How which our walk had circumnavigated. On reaching Washfold and crossing the footbridge over Padley Beck, we turned left and followed the track back to the car - Ray Brown

Here we continued straight ahead for 40 metres along a wall on the right before turning right to join a distinct path running downhill towards Washfold.

Crossing Padley Beck
Crossing Padley Beck