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Looking north east to Gawk Hill Ridge from Middleton Moor
Looking north east to Gawk Hill Ridge from Middleton Moor

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Route No. 474 - Tuesday 19 June 2012
Middleton Moor, Gawk Hill Gate,
Heligar Pike, March Ghyll Res. circuit - 10km
Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 297 Lower Wharfedale and Washburn Valley


The start of our walk at the trig point and car park near Langbar at map ref. SE106504
The start of our walk at the trig point and car park near Langbar at map ref. SE106504

Heading back to Moor End Farm
Heading back to Moor End Farm

Curlews on the moor
Curlews on the moor

Arriving at Moor End Farm
Arriving at Moor End Farm

Ever since we left the car park the sky has been full of curlews and lapwings. They are all making a fuss so I think that they have young chicks hidden in the coarse grass. It's a lovely sight to see and such evocative calls in this expanse of open country. Below us to our right we could see March Ghyll Reservoir. There were some dark shower clouds about and for a few minutes the weather seemed to be quite threatening. Then the clouds dispersed and we had a warm sunny day for the rest of the walk.

Today my mate, Jim, and I drove to Beamsley in Wharfedale and drove about 4km along a narrow lane from Beamsley, through the hamlet of Langbar to a little car park by a trig point at map ref. SE106504. From the car park we followed the unfenced lane back across the open grassland towards Langbar for about 1km to Moor End Farm at map ref. SE100511. Here we turned right off the lane to follow an old byway track to the northeast across Middleton Moor.

A curlew & a lapwing overhead
A curlew & a lapwing overhead

A curlew keeping an eye on us
A curlew keeping an eye on us

Starting out along the old byway track
Starting out along the old byway track

The old byway track across Middleton Moor with March Ghyll Reservoir to our right
The old byway track across Middleton Moor with March Ghyll Reservoir to our right

Old milepost marking the route to Skipton
Old milepost marking the route to Skipton

Rock outcrop with stone age markings on top
Rock outcrop with stone age markings on top

Old byway track heading north east
Old byway track heading north east

Another little flood on the byway track heading north east
Another little flood on the byway track heading north east

After another 800m we reached map ref. SE124518 where the track had just crossed a very small water course and then forked.

We continued along this track for about 1.5km from Moor End Farm to map ref. SE116516 where we briefly joined another track and then turned off to our left to continue in the same general direction.

Continuing in the same general direction
Continuing in the same general direction

Surveying the marked boulder
Surveying the marked boulder

Mink or stoat tracks?
Mink or stoat tracks?

Fork in the track at map ref. SE124518
Taking the left fork in the track at map ref. SE124518

The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate
The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate

The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate
The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate

The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate
The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate

 

Mile post on the old route from Ilkley to Ripon
Mile post on the old route from Ilkley to Ripon

We followed the track climbing gently up the moor for about 1.5km from the fork in the track, to Gawk Hill Gate at map ref. SE133530. In places the track melted away into the heather and then resumed after a short distance. There were a few boggy areas too. At Gawk Hill Gate we turned right to go through the gate in the dry-stone wall and sat on the bank by the wall for our lunch with a splendid view to the northeast over the Washburn Valley to the golf balls of Menwith Hill.

We took the left hand fork climbing steadily up the moor with a dry-stone wall about 50m away to our right. (The right hand fork in the track headed for a gate through this wall) As we made our way along the track a pair of red kites soared above us seeming to check us out before continuing their search of the moor for carrion to scavenge. Such a distinctive bird about the size of a buzzard but with a forked tail that fans and twitches to guide the bird's seemingly effortless flight.

The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate
The track heading across the moor towards Gawk Hill Gate

Arriving at Gawk Hill Gate
Arriving at Gawk Hill Gate

View from Gawk Hill Gate across the Washburn Valley
View from Gawk Hill Gate across the Washburn Valley

Looking back to Gawk Hill Gate
Looking back to Gawk Hill Gate

Tiny cairn at the start of the path to Heligar Pike
Tiny cairn at the start of the path to Heligar Pike

'Path' towards heligar Pike
'Path' towards heligar Pike

It must have been a swan's egg but how it got here so far from any open water I don't know. The reservoir is almost 2km away to the south west. We set off to try to follow the path across the dip in the ground to the rise in the ground called Heligar Pike on the map. It was rough going through the heather with some relief along strips cleared for grouse shooting access.

After our lunch we continued southeast along the ridge for about 250m to map ref. SE135529 where there is a very small cairn marking the start of a very indistinct path through the heather. A few metres beyond the cairn is an old boundary stone with a letter 'D' carved on it, now laid flat. By the boundary stone was half a large egg shell. It was white and the complete egg would have been over 100mm long by around 65mm diameter.

Path along the ridge from Gawk Hill Gate
Path along the ridge from Gawk Hill Gate

Half a swan's egg at the old boundary stone
Half a swan's egg at the old boundary stone

Path to Heligar Pike
Path to Heligar Pike

Broken cairn at the old byway route above Dearncomb Beck
Broken cairn at the old byway route above Dearncomb Beck

Track along the old byway route above Dearncomb Beck
Track along the old byway route above Dearncomb Beck


Track along the old byway route above Dearncomb Beck

After about 250m a clear track appeared a few metres away on our left that we joined. We must have missed the start of this track at Heligar Pike. We continued down the ridge along this track for about 1km to the edge of the open access land at map ref. SE130515.

From Heligar Pike we followed a track heading eastwards for a short distance looking for the old byway heading south west. There were the remains of a fallen cairn and a feint depression in the heather which we followed along the ridge above Dearncomb Beck.

Rickerty gate to the path to Hollingley Farm
Rickety gate to the path to Hollingley Farm

Path through sheep pasture to Hollingley Farm
Path through sheep pasture to Hollingley Farm

Hollingley Farm
Hollingley Farm

Donkeys at Hollingley Farm
Donkeys at Hollingley Farm

The path was through pasture land full of sheep and lambs. We followed the path down the slope to Hollingley Farm at map ref. SE129509. There was a little duck pond at the farm and two donkeys in a paddock by the farm house.

Here the old byway continues straight on across the valley of Dearncomb Beck, but we turned left to head south on a public footpath. This path was accessed over a rather rickety gate tied up with baler twine and barbed wire.

Duck pond at Hollingley Farm
Duck pond at Hollingley Farm

Leaving Hollingley Farm for Bow Beck
Leaving Hollingley Farm for Bow Beck

Crossing the wooded valley of Bow Beck
Crossing the wooded valley of Bow Beck

Footbridge over Bow Beck
Footbridge over Bow Beck

Path to West Moor House farm
Path to West Moor House farm

Entering the yard at West Moor House farm
Entering the yard at West Moor House farm

At the access road we turned left to walk into the farm, and in front of the farm house we took the path to continue eastwards. There is also a public footpath from this point heading south from the farm.

We followed the path across the fields to the wooded valley of Bow Beck. We crossed the footbridge over the beck and climbed up across the field to the access track between March Ghyll Reservoir and West Moor House farm.

Path to West Moor House farm
Path to West Moor House farm

Coming on to the access road to West Moor House farm
Coming on to the access road to West Moor House farm

Following the path through West Moor House farm
Following the path through West Moor House farm

Track out of West Moor House farm
Track out of West Moor House farm

Looking north east to Gawk Hill Ridge from Middleton Moor
Looking north east to Gawk Hill Ridge from Middleton Moor

Track over open access land to the wood yard
Track over open access land to the wood yard

About 250m beyond the wood stacks we reached the road at map ref. SE107505. Here we followed the road for about 200m back to the trig point and our car. The whole walk had been a little over 10km and including our lunch break and plenty of gazing around it had taken us about four and a half hours to walk.

We followed the track and path over the fields for almost 1km to map ref. SE115506 where we re-entered the open access land. We walked along the stone track to a wood yard where two men were using a chain saw to cut logs into firewood.

Looking back towards West Moor House farm
Looking back towards West Moor House farm

Track over open access land to the wood yard
Track over open access land to the wood yard

Passing the timber stacks at the wood yard
Passing the timber stacks at the wood yard

Approaching the cattle grid at the end of the open access land by the car park
Approaching the cattle grid at the end of the open access land by the car park and the end of our walk