Lonely Mossdale.

Start. Grassington.

Route. Grassington - Main Street - Chapel Street - Bank Lane - Kimpergill Hill - Bare House - High Barn - Downs Pasture - Kelber - Baycliffe - Mossdale Scar - Mossdale - Mossdale Scar - Baycliffe - Kelber - Kelber Gate - Dales Way - Old Pasture - Lea Green - Grassington.

Notes.To the north of Grassington high on the moors lies a lonely place, a place that once echoed the the sound of lead mining, now silent and deserted, Mossdale. To be honest I didn't quite know what to expect, what I got was a lonely walk over vast tracts of moorland, tamed only by dry stone walls and the odd land rover track. Deserted except for the mournful cry of mountain birds, lapwing, skylarks and curlew, just me a tiny dot, head down against the cold moorland wind, picking my way through Yorkshires broad acres.

The start of this walk certainly wasn't lonely, Grassington a rather busy immensely popular conurbation, alive with gift shops, pubs and various eating establishments, all closed as I wandered up the Main Street, it was early. At the top of Main Street I turned left into Chapel Street and continued walking to reach a large finger-post announcing the track serviced many destinations. The only one on my route was Baycliffe Road, I was hoping for Bare House, I studied the map. This is Bank Lane, all I had to do is make sure I followed the right route, I did, out into a vast expanse of fields and untamed moorland.

Lonely up there it was but not always so, Iron Age and Bronze Age man lived and farmed this land, the Romans arrived, and under Roman rule the settlement of Lea Green flourished. When the sun is low it is possible to make out the Romano-British field systems. I wandered through this lonely slice of history, crossed many stiles, passed through many fields as I ascended to Bare House, a deserted farmstead used only for farmers storage.

I continued up the field to High Barn to be greeted by a track running north/south, I swung north, this high wild and lonely track guided me passed deserted mine shafts depositing me at Kelber, on the edge of Baycliffe a high tract of wet land crossed by a land rover track. This is Baycliffe Road, an old packhorse route to Nidderdale, later a lead mining track, it guided me over all the wet stuff to deserted, desolate Mossdale. Heather clad moorland rising on all sides, empty except for the old mine office and a row of grouse butts. As I entered the valley I passed Mossdale Scar a 50ft high cliff, at it's base Mossdale Beck vanishes, plunging into a deep cave system, the site of one of the worst caving disasters in Britain.

On the 24th day of June 1967 six young experienced cavers entered the cave system, while underground unknown to them a storm raged, filling Mossdale Beck with flood water, the caverns had to return along a narrow 1.000 yard passage known as the Marathon Passage, this acted as an overflow for the main stream, they were caught in the passage. Consequently the cave entrance was sealed, since that fateful day pot hollers have been discouraged from entering the cave system, I talked to one who says “if you know where, there are other ways in”. It might be cold, lonely and wind swept on the surface but that's where my heart lays.

From the sad story of Mossdale the Baycliffe Road guided me back over the moorland, I was soon descending into Wharfedale, above Conistone Dib I stepped onto the Dales Way. This wonderful green trod guided me through stunning limestone scenery, passed a restored lime kiln, then through the ancient settlement of Lea Green before ejecting me back into the streets of Grassington.

A Lonely walk this was, I'm a solo walker most of the time and always feel at one with my surroundings, today I felt detached, a carbuncle tramping through a landscape that rejected me. Mossdale was sad, lonely and isolated, a cold wind whistled through the dale, again I felt unwelcome. Would I do it again, of course I would the hills to the north of Grassington are just going to have to get used to me.

view route map.


Early morning light across Wharfedale.

Bardon Moor seen over Grassington.

A path just trod, wandering through a lonely world of limestone grassland with this stunning view to look back on, Bardon Moor.

Rising to the north the giant whale back of Old Cote Moor.

An interesting feature passed en route, any guesses, it's a walled dew pond, or cloud pond or even mist pond, whatever part of the country your from the prime use is to collect rain water for watering livestock, found in areas with little surface water.

From near the dew pond big skies and stunning views over Wharfedale.

Approaching Bare House.

Striding out along one of Yorkshires green lanes looking towards Great Whernside.

The lone tree marks the site of a ruinous farmstead, the view Malham Moor.

It's a bit hazy but it's Grassington Moor a vast tract of wild windswept moorland littered with the remains of the lead mining industry, the smelt mill chimney was restored in memory of the men, boys and women who worked in the industry.

Baycliffe from the Baycliffe Road.

This is Baycliffe Road, an old packhorse route to Nidderdale, later a lead mining track.

Views into Mossdale with Mossdale Scar to the right.

Mossdale Beck and Scar.

Through Mossdale the Black Edge face of Grassington Moor.

Descending the Baycliffe Road.

Limestone pavements above Conistone.

Conistone Dib once a raging watercourse now a superb ascent route from the tiny village of Conistone.

Striding out along the Dales Way and I meet the first people I've seen all morning.

Restored lime kiln passed en route.

Limestone scenery in Old Pasture, on the skyline that lone tree we looked at earlier.

Sheep pastures above Lea Green.

Wonderful limestone scenery, no wonder the Dales Way is such a popular long distance walk.

I'm guessing here but I'd say this ancient boundary wall marks the start of Lea Green, the flat topped hill in the background was excavated sometime in the 1800s, a circular pit was opened containing a crouched skeleton, probably bronze age.

Grass Wood above Wharfedale.

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