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Looking south across the fields down into Wharfedale near the start of our walk
Looking south across the fields down into Wharfedale near the start of our walk

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Route No. 625 - Thursday 9 June 2016
Yarnbury, Bycliffe Road, Grassington Moor,
Old Moor Lane circuit - 11km
Grassington, Yorkshire Dales . . .

Route map from Ordnance Survey Open Space service.

Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales Southern & Western areas


Setting off from our parking spot at Yarnbury along Old Moor Lane
Setting off from our parking spot at Yarnbury along Old Moor Lane

Entrance to the adit dated 1828 by our parking spot
Entrance to the adit dated 1828 by our parking spot

As we got ready to set off there was a shepherd with his dog in a field a little way along the lane, herding some sheep into a pen at the edge of the field ready for shearing. From our parking spot we set off northeastwards along Old Moor Lane for about 100m, then we turned left off the track to follow a public footpath along a farm track at the edge of the fields. The wooden finger post at the turning indicated that the public footpath led to the Bycliffe Road after 2 miles.

This morning my friend, Jim, and I drove out along Moor Lane from Grassington in Wharfedale up to the tiny settlement of Yarnbury where the surfaced public road ends and the stony track of Old Moor Lane continues. There were a number of cars already parked there and a group of walkers getting ready to set off along a track called Duke's New Road. We parked off the Old Moor Lane track at map ref. SE 015 659, next to an inclined adit that crosses under Old Moor Lane into some old lead mine working at Yarnbury. The headwall into the adit is dated 1828.


Our turning off Old Moor Lane to head for the Bycliffe Road

Sign at our turning off the Old Moor Lane heading for the Bycliffe Road
Sign at our turning off the Old Moor Lane heading for the Bycliffe Road

Path along the field edge leaving Yarnbury
Path along the field edge leaving Yarnbury

Following the walled track towards Bycliffe Road
Following the walled track towards Bycliffe Road

Lapwing by the path probably not too far from its nest
Lapwing by the path probably not too far from its nest

I can remember as a boy back in the 1950's listening to a radio program each week about the countryside that was introduced by a recording of the cry of the curlew. Such a calming and beautiful sound.

There was a good view into Wharfedale below us to our left as we progressed along the track. As we climbed a little higher the track was walled on both sides and there were numerous lapwings and curlews in the sky above us filling the air with their lovely cries.

Looking south into Wharfedale near the start of the walk
Looking south into Wharfedale near the start of the walk

One of numerous lapwings keeping an eye on us
One of numerous lapwings keeping an eye on us

End of this walled section of the track
End of this walled section of the track

Continuing along the track towards the Bycliffe Road
Continuing along the track towards the Bycliffe Road

Start of another section of walled track
Start of another section of walled track

Grassy path across the fields to the Bycliffe Road
Grassy path across the fields to the Bycliffe Road

At the next wall the route continues as a grassy path across the open fields. After several fields the path joins the Bycliffe Road next to a small cairn at map ref. SE 005 686, where there were about a dozen ponies grazing in the field next to the track.

At map ref. SE 007 674 we came to a wall where our path continued through a gate to a walled track, and at the side of the gate was a stone squeeze stile to a path leading to Gill House. There was an Ordnance Survey bench mark carved into one side of the stile where the precise level of the bar at the top of the mark is recorded as a reference point.

Stile to Gill House with a bench mark carved into it
Stile to Gill House with a bench mark carved into it

There were large patches of cotton grass by the path
There were large patches of cotton grass by the path

Small cairn by the grassy path as it joins the Bycliffe Road ancient trackway across the hills
Small cairn by the grassy path as it joins the Bycliffe Road ancient trackway across the hills

Ponies grazing in a field where we joined the Bycliffe Road
Ponies grazing in a field where we joined the Bycliffe Road

Lady's Smock by the path
Lady's Smock by the path

A Swaledale ewe on the Bycliffe Road
A Swaledale ewe on the Bycliffe Road

There was a group of over 20 walkers coming towards us down the track on our right. They had become strung out along the track and the leaders waited at the junction for the group to reassemble. We recognised a few of them as the people just leaving the parking area at Yarnbury as we arrived. We turned right at this junction and climbed up the track past the large group descending.

We sat on a bank here for a welcome drink on this hot sunny day. The Bycliffe Road is part of an ancient trackway that can still be followed from Settle in Ribblesdale to Hawes in Wensleydale and there are the remains of a Roman fort next to this route a little to the east of Malham Tarn where the track is called Mastiles Lane. At the Bycliffe Road we turned right and walked along this ancient route northeastwards for a little over 1km to a junction in the track at map ref. SE 012 695.

Heading north east along the Bycliffe Road
Heading north east along the Bycliffe Road

Gate across the Bycliffe Road
Gate across the Bycliffe Road

Our turning off the Bycliffe Road where we passed a large group of walkers coming down the hillside
Our turning off the Bycliffe Road where we passed a large group of walkers coming down the hillside

Climbing up around an area of limestone outcrop
Climbing up around an area of limestone outcrop

Family of grouse by the track
Family of grouse by the track

We continued along the track and dropped down a very steep track to cross the little valley of Black Edge Dike, although the watercourse seems to have gone underground by this point. The path zig-zags up the other side of the valley to a large cairn at the top and a ruined building from the lead mining era below.

The track was very steep in places and one section had recently been surfaced with concrete. The track levelled out and followed the contour of the hill below a steep bank strewn with large boulders. There was a good view to our right back along the Bycliffe Road. As we were looking at the view a pair of grouse with the brood moved away from the track through the coarse grass to our right.

Steep track with a concrete surface
Steep track with a concrete surface

Contiuing along the track towards Black Edge Dike
Continuing along the track towards Black Edge Dike

We sat on the rocks near the cairn for a drink  then continued through the lead mining spoil heaps
We sat on the rocks near the cairn for a drink then continued through the lead mining spoil heaps

Track through the lead mining spoil heaps
Track through the lead mining spoil heaps

Track through the lead mining spoil heaps
Track through the lead mining spoil heaps

All of this material would have been excavated by hand, pick and shovel work with very bleak working condition on this open hillside particularly in winter. There is too much lead still in the spoil from the mines for almost any plants to grow there, but the leadwort is tolerant to lead and there were large patches of this delicate little flower on the otherwise bare landscape of spoil heaps.

We sat on some rocks near the cairn for a drink before continuing along the track through a wasteland of spoil heaps from the lead mining era. The track turned to head southwards and the sheer scale of the lead mine workings was truly amazing. There were spoil heaps over the whole moorland area as far as I could see in all direction as we descended along the track down the hillside.

Lead mining was on a huge scale on these moors
Lead mining was on a huge scale on these moors

Leadwort - able to tolerate the lead in the spoil heaps
Leadwort - able to tolerate the lead in the spoil heaps

At this crossing we turned right heading back towards Old Moor Lane
At this crossing we turned right heading back towards Old Moor Lane

Continuing through the spoil heaps
Continuing through the spoil heaps

Chimney on the flue from the Cupola smelt mill below. The ruins 
	  are the remains of a mineral recovery plant built in the 1950's
Chimney on the flue from the Cupola smelt mill below. The ruins
are the remains of a mineral recovery plant built in the 1950's

We followed the track through the mine workings to a wall at map ref. SE 022 667. We crossed the stone step site over the high wall to continue along a wide walled track, the end of Old Moor Lane.

We could see an industrial chimney ahead of us (near a settleing pond hidden in the moor) and a complex of ruined buildings (part of a 1950's mineral recovery project) to the right of the chimney. A few hundred metres before we reached the chimney we came to a junction in the tracks and here, map ref. SE 029 668, we turned right. Off the track on our left we could see down a mine shaft from the fence around it.

Deep mine shaft seen from the fence around it
Deep mine shaft seen from the fence around it

Track heading for Old Moor Lane going over the hillside ahead
Track heading for Old Moor Lane going over the hillside ahead

Track down the hillside to join Old Moor Lane
Track down the hillside to join Old Moor Lane

High stile to join the wide track of Old Moor Lane
High stile to join the wide track of Old Moor Lane

Nearing the top of the climb along Old Moor Lane
Nearing the top of the climb along Old Moor Lane

With the shepherd's kind permission I took a photo of some of the scene with the shepherd, the fleeces and the shearing equipment before we continued back to the car at Yarnbury and the end of our walk. The whole route had been about 11km and it had taken me almost 4 hours to walk. It's not the prettiest of walks but the relics of the lead mining era are fascinating.

We followed this walled track down across a little valley and up a quite steep climb along the track to the brow of the hill. From there looking down the track ahead we could see our parking spot just a couple of hundred metres away. As we walked down the lane towards the car we passed the shepherd that we had see this morning and he had almost finished shearing the flock in that field.

Old Moor Lane - a wide walled track
Old Moor Lane - a wide walled track

Shepherd shearing the sheep near our parking spot
Shepherd shearing the sheep near our parking spot

Looking down Old Moor Lane to Yarnbury and the end of our walk
Looking down Old Moor Lane to Yarnbury and the end of our walk

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