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Grass track above Cotterby Scar
Grass track above Cotterby Scar

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Route No. 509 - Tuesday 25 June 2013
Park Bridge, Cotterby Scar, Oven Mouth,
West Stonesdale, Haw Shaws, East Stonesdale - 8km
Swaledale . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL30 Yorkshire Dales Northern & Central areas

This is another interesting walk from Ray Brown - Thanks again Ray, keep them coming!


Wain Wath Force
Wain Wath Force

There are spaces to park up to 4 cars at map ref.NY885015 near Park House by the junction of the Tan Hill road with the B6270. A short distance up the steep climb on the road north of Park Bridge we used a style on the left to follow a signpost "Raven Seat 2 miles". A short path led upwards to a grass track running west above Cottersby Scar, with the fledgling River Swale below on our left, including the photogenic Wain Wath Force.

River Swale from Park Bridge
River Swale from Park Bridge

Low Bridge over the River Swale and the B6270 beyond
Low Bridge over the River Swale and the B6270 beyond

The ruins of Smithy Holme by the path
The ruins of Smithy Holme by the path

Wild flowers above Cotterby Scar
Wild flowers above Cotterby Scar

Grass track above Cotterby Scar
Grass track above Cotterby Scar

Passing a profusion of wild flowers and crossing a couple of ladder styles and some small streams tinged with traces of iron ore, we merged with a farm track coming uphill from Low Bridge. Soon the track forked and we veered right on the Coast-to-Coast route passing, on our left, first a farmhouse set between two barns and then the long-since derelict Smithy Holme.

Iron-bearing streams
Iron-bearing streams

The Farm about 300m before we reached Smithy Holme
The Farm about 300m before we reached Smithy Holme

Heading for the marker post on the skyline
Heading for the marker post on the skyline

Whitsundale Beck from Oven Mouth
Whitsundale Beck from Oven Mouth

However whilst the C-to-C descended, we followed the contour around to the east and were soon able to follow, within 100 metres, a wall on our right. Eventually the path dropped gently and came closer to the wall as it swung north-east before descending steeply to the hamlet of West Stonesdale, once a centre of lead mining, as the humble leadwort reminded us. The absence of activity in the settlement despite some well-maintained property suggested holiday homes.

Heading gently uphill to a marker post, we reached a signpost "Coast-to-Coast" and, a little later, another pointing back to "Keld". At Oven Mouth where the walker, atop the cliff, looks down on Whitsundale Beck, we turned to retrace our steps a short distance before veering left on to a sometimes indistinct right-of-way which initially lies almost parallel with our C-to-C path.

Upper Swaledale from above Whitsundale Beck
Upper Swaledale from above Whitsundale Beck

Leaving West Stonesdale
Leaving West Stonesdale

Footbridge over Startindale Gill at NY 8884 0225
Footbridge over Startindale Gill at NY 8884 0225

Instead, we heeded our 2009 1:25000 O.S. map which showed the right-of-way to take a more gradual descent to Startindale Gill where indeed a well-hidden footbridge awaited at NY 8884 0225.

Only a single vehicle passed by on the Tan Hill road as our stomachs belatedly welcomed our sandwiches. We left the hamlet through a gate just beyond the Royal Mail box and soon a "Footpath" signpost directed us right and steeply downhill through the meadow.

Startindale Gill
Startindale Gill

Startindale Gill
Startindale Gill

Start the climb at NY 8883 0267 from Startindale Gill to Haw Shaws
Start the climb at NY 8883 0267 from Startindale Gill to Haw Shaws

Looking back from the wall stile NY 8897 0294
Looking back from the wall stile NY 8897 0294

Approaching Keld from the north on the Pennine Way
Approaching Keld from the north on the Pennine Way

Leaving the Pennine Way at East Stonesdale
Leaving the Pennine Way at East Stonesdale

Once the Pennine Way had been accessed we enjoyed fine views over Startindale/Stonesdale as we journeyed south in the direction of Keld. East Stonesdale is an even smaller entity than West Stonesdale,and it was there that we turned sharply right on to a track leading back to Park Bridge by way of a small bridge which straddles Startindale/Stonesdale Beck as it tumbles over the modest Currack Force; so modest in fact that it has obscured itself in vegetation that defies the casual photographer.

After crossing the gill we turned left on to the right-of-way running upstream from Currack Force. The next 600 metres alongside Startindale Gill offered delightful scenery: meadows laden with buttercups beyond the slab-rock stream bed. Here were orchids amongst a variety of wild flowers. Immediately after this taste of paradise came the least enjoyable section of this route; a steep uphill scramble to the Pennine Way which involved crossing some dykes. A major problem was to locate a way through a farm boundary high stone wall. Fortunately my wife's superior eyesight located the user-unfriendly wall style at NY 8897 0294.

West Stonesdale from the Pennine Way
West Stonesdale from the Pennine Way


The track leading down to East Stonesdale

Currack Force
Currack Force

Northern Marsh Orchid by Startindale Gill
Northern Marsh Orchid by Startindale Gill

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