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Looking back towards Lothersdale along the Pennine Way
Looking back towards Lothersdale along the Pennine Way

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Route No. 445 - Wednesday 23 November 2011
Lothersdale, Pennine Way, Pinhaw,
Fiddling Clough Gill, Dodgson Lane, Raygill - 11km
Skipton . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines


Looking along the village street into Lothersdale from our parking place off the bend at map ref. SD961460
Looking along the village street into Lothersdale from our parking place off the bend at map ref. SD961460


The village hall in Lothersdale


Leaving the village street on the Pennine Way


Climbing the hillside along the Pennine Way

We walked down the village street for about 150m past the village hall on our left to a finger post marking the Pennine Way route where it leaves the village street to begin climbing up the hillside. We followed a walled track for about 200m and then a path across the fields where flocks of Swaledale sheep were grazing.

A few weeks ago I was sent an email from Amanda at the Raygill Fishery cafe. She had noticed that I had never been walking in Lothersdale near Skipton and suggested that it's an area well worth exploring. So this morning my mate, Jim, and I drove to the village of Lothersdale and parked in an area off the main village street at map ref. SD961460.


Turning off the village street to follow the Pennine Way


The Pennine Way track above Lothersdale


Looking back towards Lothersdale from the Pennine Way


Swaledale ewes by the Pennine Way


Pennine Way climbing up from Lothersdale

Pennine Way climbing up towards Hewitts Lane
Pennine Way climbing up towards Hewitts Lane

We continued up the hillside to a minor road opposite Hewitts Lane. Here we crossed the road and walked along Hewitts Lane to a path over the fields to the edge of the heather moor.

In both of two fields there was a Blueface Leicester tupp in with the ewes. Their chests were covered with a red dye, called red raddle. The red stain on the rump of most of the ewes showed that they had been busy.

Swaledale ewes with a blueface Leicester tupp
Swaledale ewes with a Blueface Leicester tupp

Path across the moor to the Pinhaw trig point
Path across the moor to the Pinhaw trig point

Crossing the road to head along Hewitts Lane
Crossing the road to head along Hewitts Lane

Looking back towards Hewitts Farm
Looking back towards Hewitts Farm

We followed the Pennine Way route climbing up across the moor to the Pinhaw trig point.

We were still following the Pennine Way and for a few hundred metres the path was paved with thick sandstone slabs.

Flagged path along the Pennine Way
Flagged path along the Pennine Way

Crossing the moor to the Pinhaw trig point
Crossing the moor to the Pinhaw trig point

Approaching the Pinhaw trig point
Approaching the Pinhaw trig point


Leaving the Pinhaw trig point along the Pennine Way

They were the only people we had seen since leaving Lothersdale. From the trig point we followed the path down across the moor for about 500m to a road at map ref. SD939471. Here we crossed the road and continued along the Pennine Way down the road opposite for about 500m.

Pinhaw Beacon is the site of one of the national network of beacons set up to warn of an expected invasion by Napoleon's army at the beginning of the 1800's. As we left the trig point we passed two ladies walking in the opposite direction.


Leaving the Pinhaw trig point along the Pennine Way

Following the Pennine Way along the road
Following the Pennine Way along the road

Looking over the misty valley to the little town of Earby
Looking over the misty valley to the little town of Earby

Leaving the road and soon the Pennine Way
Leaving the road and soon the Pennine Way

Here a stone wall bounding the open land began to approach the track from the south and there was a low bank beside the track. There was a strong cold wind so we sat on the bank in the shelter of the wall for our lunch. Some watery sunshine was trying to break through and there was a reasonable view down the valley of Wentcliff Brook towards Earby which was just visible through the haze.

At this point the stone wall beside the road began to veer away from the road and there was a finger post showing the route of the Pennine Way following the wall away from the road. After about 100m we came to a gate into an area of open marshy land covered with coarse grass. At this point we left the Pennine Way route and followed a track across the open marsh grassland for about 1km.

Track over open marshy ground
Track over open marshy ground

Following a track across open marshy ground after leaving the Pennine Way
Following a track across open marshy ground after leaving the Pennine Way

Approaching a lane at map ref. SD923476
Approaching a lane at map ref. SD923476

The path bypassing Oak Slack Farm
The path bypassing Oak Slack Farm

Next to the farm there was a little gate through the wall into the field below the farm. We walked down the slope of the field between the reedy tufts of cotton grass to a bridge over Wentcliff Brook.

After our break we continued along the track for another 200m to a lane at map ref. SD923476. Once on the lane we immediately turned left off the lane over a stone stile in the wall to follow a path down the field to pass Oak Slack farm on our left.

Crossing the fields to Oak Slack Farm
Crossing the fields to Oak Slack Farm

Bridge over Wentcliff Brook
Bridge over Wentcliff Brook

Heading for Wentcliff Brook from Oak Slack Farm
Heading for Wentcliff Brook from Oak Slack Farm

The path climbing up beside Fiddling Clough Gill
The path climbing up beside Fiddling Clough Gill

Fiddling Clough Gill
Fiddling Clough Gill

Approaching the Fiddling Clough ruined farm
Approaching the Fiddling Clough ruined farm

There was a large flock of texel sheep in this field and they all seemed to think that we had come to feed them and came running to meet us. They were wrong and we passed on with no reward for their effort.

Across the bridge we followed a track climbing up the right hand side of Fiddling Clough Gill for about 300m to the ruined farm at Fiddling Clough. We took the path around the north side of the farm and continued to climb up the hillside across the field on the north side of Fiddling Clough Gill to join Dodgson Lane at map ref. SD929466.

Distinctive black buds of an ash tree ready for spring
Distinctive black buds of an ash tree ready for spring

Fiddling Clough ruined farm
Fiddling Clough ruined farm

Fiddling Clough Gill above the ruined farm
Fiddling Clough Gill above the ruined farm

Climbing up the hillside along Dodgson Lane
Climbing up the hillside along Dodgson Lane

Dodgsons Farm seen from Dodgson Lane
Dodgsons Farm seen from Dodgson Lane

We followed the road for about 250m. Here we turned right off the road to go along a muddy track across a boggy field full of rather weary looking beef cattle.

We walked along Dodgson Lane past Dodgson Farm where a lady with an elderly corgi dog greeted us as we passed by. Where the lane joined the road at map ref. SD932459 we turned left.

Remains of a 'Mirror' dinghy on Dodgson Lane
Remains of a 'Mirror' dinghy on Dodgson Lane


Leaving the road at map ref. SD934460


Looking back along the muddy track (Two ladies doing the same walk in the opposite direction)


The muddy track into Procter Height


Path through the garden at Bent Laithe farm

Path leaving the farm road at Bent Laithe
Path leaving the farm road at Bent Laithe

Once over the stile we headed straight down the field, there's no defined path, to a similar stile in the bottom wall. This stile led directly into a hen-run which made us doubt our navigation, but it was right. The path goes through the gate out of the hen-run and into the garden of Bent Laithe farm where the children had a trampoline. There are a couple of useful large yellow 'Footpath' signs which guided us onto the farm access road and then over a gated stile into the field beside the farm.

Climbing up the slope towards us were the two ladies we had seen at the Pinhaw beacon. It turned out that they were walking the same route as us but in the opposite direction. It has to be said that they were clearly walking a good bit faster than we were (Jim has to keep waiting for me now-a-days after my knee surgery). We continued down the hillside along the muddy track until the track turned sharp right to Procter Height. Here we kept straight on to the stone wall at the bottom of the field. There is a stone step stile over the wall which we found hard to spot.

An colourful Old English Game Fowl Cock
An colourful Old English Game Fowl Cock

Stile from the field into a hen run at Bent Laithe farm
Stile from the field into a hen run at Bent Laithe farm

Path to the road from Bent Laithe
Path to the road from Bent Laithe

Approaching the cafe overlooking one of the fishing ponds at the Raygill Fishery
Approaching the cafe overlooking one of the fishing ponds at the Raygill Fishery

Gate off the road onto Ray Gill Lane
Gate off the road onto Raygill Lane

Large trout in a tank by the Raygill cafe
Large trout in a tank by the Raygill Lakeside cafe

The site has a 'Wild life & History' trail for families or school groups as well as four large fishing lakes. After our coffee and chat with Amanda we returned to the lane along the valley and walked along it into Lothersdale village. We followed the road through the village and past the primary school where there was some congestion as parents collected their offspring at the end of the school day. We returned along the village street to Jim's car and the end of our walk. The whole route had been about 11km and, including our lunch break and cafe stop, it had taken us five hours to walk. I'm getting even slower!

From there the path led down to the road at map ref. SD940457. Here we crossed the road to go through a gate leading onto Raygill Lane down the field edge into the complex of buildings at Raygill. We followed Raygill Lane through the buildings to the lane along Lothersdale to the entrance to Raygill Fishery at map ref. SD944456. We turned right to follow the access road to the fishery office and cafe overlooking one of the large fishing lakes. The cafe is open to the public and not just for the anglers. We met Amanda, who had emailed me, and had a welcome cup of coffee.

Entering Raygill along Raygill Lane
Entering Raygill along Raygill Lane

Lane from Raygill back to Lothersdale
Lane from Raygill back to Lothersdale

Back in Lothersdale near the end of our walk
Back in Lothersdale near the end of our walk

Background Notes:
This walk is a circular route of 11km around 7 miles from the village of Lothersdale near Skipton. It's an isolated place and even today there is no public water supply to the village. All the properties rely on private spring water supplies or private boreholes which does restrict the amount of development in the village. The Pennine Way goes through Lothersdale on its way from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Cheviot Hills on the Scottish border. Our route leaves the village along the Pennine Way climbing up across sheep pasture to the open moor and Pinhaw Beacon. We came across hills called Sharp Haw and Rough Haw in last week's talk and haw is simply a variation of Howe or burial mound so Pinhaw Beacon is a beacon set up on a burial mound. In fact the beacon site just has a trig point on a low mound now-a-days but the beacon here was part of the national network of hill top beacons set up to provide nationwide warning of the expected invasion by Napoleon at the beginning of the 1800's. So intense was the fear of invasion that the beacon sites were manned round the clock. At Pinhaw there were shifts of two men from three surrounding villages who spent two weeks each in turn to stand guard at the beacon and there was a hut on the site to accommodate them. In the winter of 1805 the two beacon guards on duty were snowed in and ran out of food. One of them, a man named Robert Wilson, decided to go for supplies. He perished in the snow and there is a memorial marker to him about 150m from the beacon on the spot where his body was found. The scenery here is the rolling Pennine hills as far as you can see. Not the highest part of the Pennines but very pleasant. From Pinhaw Beacon we continue along the Pennine Way route down the hillside with a good view over the little town of Earby. Here we leave the Pennine Way to cross some open marshy land and drop down past an old stone farmstead into Fiddling Clough. This is an attractive little wooded gulley with a path along it. We follow this path past a ruined farm called Fiddling Clough Laithe. Laithe just meas a building that as well as accommodation, includes a cow house and barn. At the top of the gulley the path joins a farm access track called Dodgson Lane which leads us to a road on top of the ridge called Proctor Heights. We follow farm tracks and paths down the other side of the ridge past a farm called Bent Laithe where the path leads us through a hen run, so don't be put off when you climb the stile and find yourself looking down into the hen run. At the bottom of the valley of Lothersdale Beck we come to a hamlet called Raygill. There is a very large old disused quarry here that has been revamped with four fishing lakes, a small cafe and history/nature trail for the children. We stopped there for a coffee when we did this walk last year. From there it's a short walk out to the road and back through the village to complete the walk.

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