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Approaching Gillfield Level & Cockhill Level lead mines in the valley of Brandstone Beck below Greenhow village
Approaching Gillfield Level & Cockhill Level lead mines in the valley of Brandstone Beck below Greenhow village

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Route No. 577 - Thursday 19 March 2015
Greenhow Geology Trail, Toft Gate Lime Kiln,
Coldstone Cut, Gillfield Lead Mine, Greenhow
6km circuit - Nidderdale (AONB) . . .

Trail Guide booklet available from Nodderdale AONB,
The Old Workhouse, King Street, Pateley Bridge, HG3 5LE

OR from Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, Old Post Office, Main Street, Clapham, via Lancaster, LA2 8DP

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer 298 Nidderdale


Toft Gate car park next to Toft Gate Lime Kiln
Toft Gate car park next to Toft Gate Lime Kiln

Gate from the car park leading to the lime kiln
Gate from the car park leading to the lime kiln


Following the path to the lime kiln

The path then dropped down to the huge stone construction of the kiln itself. There was a good information board that explained the history and process of lime making on this site. We continued along the path around the kiln to climb up alongside the stone flue from the back of the kiln. The flue is constructed of stone walls with massive stone slab roof blocks. The flue leads to a short square stone chimney.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove through Pateley Bridge and up Greenhow Bank to the little car park on the left at the Toft Gate Lime Kiln at map ref. SE129644. From the car park we followed a path south east through a pedestrian tubular steel gate heading for the Toft Gate Lime Kiln itself. The path led down hill with the massive flue from the kiln up to our right. As we reached the back of the kiln the path turned left to climb up around a small abandoned quarry next to the kiln.

Massive stone flue climbing up the hillside to the chimney
Massive stone flue climbing up the hillside to the chimney

The Toft Gate Lime Kiln
The Toft Gate Lime Kiln

The Toft Gate Lime Kiln
The Toft Gate Lime Kiln

Short square stone chimney at the top of the flue
Short square stone chimney at the top of the flue

Gate through the wall to information post no.1
Gate through the wall to information post no.1


Heading back across the field from information post no.1 . . .

Just through the gate we turned left and walked across the field to a pedestrian gate in the wall at the field boundary. Through the gate was the first of a series of information posts marking the Greenhow Geology Trail that we intended to follow.

We continued along the path past the chimney to a minor road and across the road to the gated gravel track that leads up the hillside to the Coldstone Cut sculpture.

Gate from the road to the Coldstone Cut sculpture
Gate from the road to the Coldstone Cut sculpture

Information post no.1 above the old roadstone quarry
Information post no.1 above the old roadstone quarry


. . . to rejoin the path up to the Coldstone Cut sculpture

Looking back to Ashfoldside & Nidderdalestill full of mist
Looking back to Ashfoldside & Nidderdale still full of mist

A reminder of the Tour de France 2014 at the top of the climb
A reminder of the Tour de France 2014 at the top of the climb


The second information board for the geology trail is at the view point looking over the quarry along with other information boards about the quarry itself. From the view point we retraced our steps back to the car park at the Toft Gate Lime Kiln.

The information post was set on the edge of a small, long abandoned quarry where a glacial deposit of pebbles and gravel was excavated for local road building. We walked back to the track and followed it up the hillside to the Coldstone Cut sculpture on the edge of the huge working quarry.

Entering the Coldstone Cut sculpture
Entering the Coldstone Cut sculpture

Looking down into the huge working quarry
Looking down into the huge working quarry

Looking down into the huge working quarry with information boards on the viewing level below
Looking down into the huge working quarry with information boards on the viewing level below

Returning to the car park from the quarry
Returning to the car park from the quarry


Information Post no.3

Next to the stile is information post no.3 and on top of the stone step stile is an interesting piece of sandstone that has the fossil imprint of an ancient tree fern.

From the car park we crossed the road and crossed the stile opposite to a public footpath heading straight down the hillside.


Crossing the stile from the road to information post no.3

Fossil tree fern at the stile
Fossil tree fern at the stile

Fossil tree fern at the stile
Fossil tree fern at the stile

Information post no.4
Information post no.4

The path from Information Post no.4
The path from Information Post no.4

Continuing our way along the farm access track
Continuing our way along the farm access track

Examples of crinoids can be seen on a small piece of limestone exposed at the bottom of a small overgrown rockface opposite the post. About 200m from information post no.4 we came to a farm access track and continued along this track for another 300m to a minor road at map ref. SE122645.

From the stile we followed the path down the hillside to information post no.4. Here the path bends round to the left (heading westwards) along the field boundary. This information post describes fossil crinoids (an ancient sea creature).

Fossil crinoids in a rock opposite the information post
Fossil crinoids in a rock opposite the information post

The path joins a farm access track
The path joins a farm access track

Turning right to join a minor road
Turning right to join a minor road

Gate across the minor road at the boundary of open access land next to Information post no.5
Gate across the minor road at the boundary of open access land next to Information post no.5

Information post no.5
Information post no.5


Sheep eating their way through a mountain of mangolds

Information post no.6
Information post no.6

On the edge of the old lead mining site we came to information post no.6 describing the strata exposed in the channel of the beck and noting the huge spoil heaps on the valley floor. Below the track on our right there was a small steel structure on tripod base and we wondered what it could be. The mystery was soon solved as we noticed the shattered remains of many 'clay pigeons'. The steel structure was the base of the catapult used to launch the clays.

At the road we turned right and walked along the road down to a gate across the road at the edge of open access land. Just through the gate is information post no.5. From this information post we continued along an unsurfaced track from the end of the metalled road, bending round to our left towards the site of a lead mining complex in the valley of Brandstone Beck.

Following the track down to the lead mines
Following the track down to the lead mines

Approaching the mine complex in the valley bottom
Approaching the mine complex in the valley bottom

The base of a catapult used to launch clay shooting targets
The base of a catapult used to launch clay shooting targets

Information post no.7
Information post no.7

Shortly a long crocodile of school children emerged from the tunnel, all well equipped with boots, overalls, hard hats and miners head torches. They had very obviously enjoyed their trip. Their large mini-bus indicated that they were from a local outdoor centre.

A few metres further on below the track to the right is information post no.7 with the stone arch entrance to the Gillfield Level nearby. The floor of the tunnel is flooded but as we stood looking at it we could hear voices and then distant lights appeared along the tunnel.

The entrance to Gillfield Level lead mine
The entrance to Gillfield Level lead mine

Looking back over the spoil heaps and the site of the smelt mills at Gillfield Level and Cockhill Level
Looking back over the spoil heaps and the site of the smelt mills at Gillfield Level and Cockhill Level

The short steep climb up to Information post no.9
The short steep climb up to Information post no.9

Now we turned off the broad track to climb straight up the steep hillside to information post no.9. Beyond & below the information post across the stream was the 'coffin' shaped entrance to Jack Ass Level (hidden behind Jim in the photo - Oops! Sorry).

We continued along the track across a tributary of the beck to information post No.8. In the valley bottom where there were two smelt mills for Gillfield Level and Cockhill Level respectively.

Information post no.8
Information post no.8

Information post no.9 (Jack Ass Level hidden behind Jim)
Information post no.9 (Jack Ass Level hidden behind Jim)

Looking back down the valley of Brandstone Beck
Looking back down the valley of Brandstone Beck

Following the path up from information post no.9
Following the path up from information post no.9

Following the path up towards Greenhow village
Following the path up towards Greenhow village

Approaching Greenhow village
Approaching Greenhow village

We continued along the path to the road(B6265) in Greenhow village. Information board no.11, giving information about Greenhow village, is fixed to the fence by the path as it reaches the road.

We continued along the path climbing up the hillside with the stream below us on our left to information post no.10 on top of a small round hill to the right of the path. This information post is on a line of shafts giving access to Waterhole Vein, another lead mine.


Jim at the stile on the skyline waiting for me to catch up

Information post no.10
Information post no.10

Path out to the road (B6265) in Greenhow village
Path out to the road (B6265) in Greenhow village

Following the road (B6265) through Greenhow village
Following the road (B6265) through Greenhow village

Following the road (B6265) through Greenhow village
Following the road (B6265) through Greenhow village

Water tower on the hill top
Water tower on the hill top

Information post no.12  at an old lime kiln
Information post no.12 at an old lime kiln

On the right here are the remains of an old lime kiln dating from around 1800. We continued along ther path around the perimeter of the quarry back to the car park at Toft Gate Lime kiln and the end of the walk. It had been a lovely spring day and the walk of about 6km had taken us around four hours including many stop along the way to consult the trail guide and try to understand the lead mining history of this area.

At the road we turned left and followed the road through the village, out past the cemetery on the left and up to the entrance to the Coldstones quarry. At the quarry entrance we crossed the road and took the path parallel to the road but inside the stone wall along the quarry boundary. After about 200m we came to the final information post, no.12 at map ref. SE122643.


The cemetery on the edge of Greenhow village

Continuing along the path round the quarry perimeter
Continuing along the path round the quarry perimeter

Path around the quarry perimeter next to the B6265
Path around the quarry perimeter

Gate to the minor road next to the Toft Gate car park
Gate to the minor road next to the Toft Gate car park & the end of the walk

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