The Monk's Road.

Start. Arncliffe.

Route. Arncliffe - The Monk's Road - Dew Bottom - Out Pasture - Middle House - Middle House Farm - Great Close - Gordale Beck - Lee Gate High Mark - Hugh Lineseed Head - Low Lineseed Head - Arncliffe Cote - Out Gang Lane - River Skirfare - Arncliffe.

Notes. Today our boot soles christened new ground, a walk we've been promising ourselves the pleasure of for years, a wander through history in the company of the ghosts from Fountains Abbey, our high ground was The Monk's Road, a high level path honed out of limestone cliffs above Littondale, supposedly used by the monks to access vast tracts of land they owned in the Lakes and Dales. Our return passed through Great Close a vast area of limestone grassland to the east of Malham Tarn, this lush plane was once used as a fattening ground for Scottish cattle on their long journey from Scotland to cattle markets in England. This was a walk rich in Bronze and Iron Age relics, Saxon cultivated terraces can be found in the valley, after the conquest the Normans turned Littondale into a hunting chase, later in the 13th century the land was granted to the monks of Fountains Abbey, who wasted no time building granges and introducing sheep.

The brief history lecture over lets go for a wander. Arncliffe a delightful Dales village, 17th and 18th century houses line the village green, also home to an ancient pump and The Falcon the local hostelry, the inn also marks the start of The Monk's Road. Next to the inn a finger-post invited us to Malham, we obliged walking between dry stone walls, we soon reached another directing us through fields, we followed this path climbing the steep slopes of Blue Scar to access a green trod running along a limestone shelf high above the valley. This path the Monk's Road guided us west over a number of stiles before swinging south to skirt the moss covered buildings of Middle House, after passing the grange we turned left, a stile and gate allowed access to the next field where we descended to Middle House Farm.

Saying goodbye to the Monk's Road, which disappeared over the hill to Malham Tarn, our route continued through a vast meadow littered with erratic boulders, this was Great Close once a fattening ground for cattle. We wandered through the field to reach a boundary wall, without crossing the stile we turned left, a well walked bridleway carried us between the limestone scars of Clapham High Mark and Proctor High Mark not forgetting poor High Mark. Over the hills of Lee Gate High Mark and Lineseed Head we traversed, several gates aided our passage, when the path became vague a welcomed finger-post directed us to Arncliffe Cote. Cote Gill accompanied our descent, with the scars and terraces of Hawkswick Clowder rising impressively to our right this was easy walking to the valley road. A short walk over tarmac followed before turning left into Out Gang Lane, signed Hawkswick. On reaching the river we headed north ignoring a splendid footbridge our route was along the south bank, all that remained, a delightful ramble through fields along river bank paths back to Arncliffe.

view route map.


Arncliffe locally known as the capital of Littondale.

A little height gained and more of the dale tilts into view, Arncliffe backed by Old Cote Moor.

Yours truly soaking up the views over Littondale.

Seen from The Monk's Road a stunning landscape modeled by the hand of man, who says we ruin everything we touch.

Striding out on this wonderful grassy trod, with views to Old Cote Moor.

From Clowder above Yew Cogar Scar views to a cloud capped Fountains Fell.

Crossing Out Pasture looking back to Old Cote Moor. there's an awful lot of cloud around today lets just hope it stays on distant horizons.

Low cloud kisses the limestone cliffs of Height.

Middle House, by the amount of moss clinging to walls, roofs and trees I guess not a lot of sunlight reaches this small corner of the Dales.

Spectacular views to the south over Malham Lings, seen from the high ground above Middle House Farm.

Seen from Great Close, Highfolds Scars.

In Great Close looking to Mastiles with low cloud hanging over Malhamdale.

Viewing High Mark and Proctor High Mark from Clapham High Mark.

Great Whernside seen over Hawkswick Moor.

Passed on our descent a long abandoned kiln adorns the hill side above Low Lineseed Head.

Stunning views from the old lime burning oven in the shot above, the deep rift of Cote Gill with the long ridge of Great Whernside seen over Hawkswick Moor.

Seen down Cote Gill the small hamlet of Hawkswick, hopefully our access point to the banks of the River Skirfare.

The delightful River Skirfare.

Riverbank erosion, something that comes to mind wandering this stretch of the dale, all the dales in Yorkshire take their name from the river that flows through them, or visa versa, not in this case, Littondale is home to the River Skirfare, it turns out the dale was originally called Amerdale, when the name change took place is unknown, anyone for a piece of useless information, the pilot episodes of the TV series of Emmerdale were filmed here, Emmerdale being a derivative of Amerdale.

The River Skirfare looking north.

Field House Barn and the cliffs of Blue Scar seen from the riverbank path.

St Oswald's Church dates back to the 16th and 18th centuries, but records show a wooden Saxon kirk stood on this land as far back as the 11th century.

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