Stepping Stones

Quiz question: name the seven tributaries of the Yorkshire Ouse, in order starting from the North? It’s a family trivia question. This is number 4 the River Wharfe just below Kettlewell on a wet afternoon.


Lower Barden Reservoir

Barden Fell yesterday, Barden Moor today, on opposite side of Wharfedale. Barden Beck has two reservoirs; this is the lower one in bleak Yorkshire weather.

In the foreground a grit tray for the grouse. Grouse need a regular supply of grit in order to digest the hard fibrous shoots of the heather on which they feed. Naturally they can use grit from the banks of streams and eroded rock but to make life easier for the grouse grit is provided. Grouse also suffer from the strongyle worm, a parasitic threadworm which cause large annual fluctuations on the grouse population; and of course the number of grouse available for shooting. A drug called Fenbendazole killed the threadworm but the problem was how to administer the drug to thousands of ‘wild’ birds. It was then in the 80s that the gamekeepers came up with a cunning plan, coat the grit with the drug. The result was a 40% increase in grouse productivity. There are some rules: the medicated grit must not be out within 28 days of the glorious 12th, the start of the grouse  shooting season in August. This is minimise the risk of the drug entering the food chain. Most estates now use a two compartment grit tray with medicated grit one side and ordinary grit the other. A lid can be flipped over to cover the medicated grit on the appropriate day.

So if anyone is partial to a morsel of grouse choose your supplier carefully for you are entirely reliant on the integrity of the industry. Unlike other meat destined for human consumption grouse are not regularly tested. Of course if you have a threadworm problem …

SE0355 Lower Barden Reservoir map

Giant wormholes, Coney Warren

Descending off Barden Fell in Wharfedale I came across these holes in the gritstone boulders. I thought at first they were at attempt at splitting the stone but at about 2” diameter they’re too big surely. There would be no need to be that wide. And some go all the way through the rock. Anyone have any ideas? The area is named Coney Warren so maybe the baby rabbit burrows.

Barden Fell is part of the Bolton Abbey Estate who, according to their information boards, purport to have encouraged public access since the early 19th century yet there are no Public Rights of Way across it. In 1968 the Barden Moor and Barden Fell Access agreement was created, a precursor of the Countryside Rights of Way Act. Apparently the BMBFA sits outside the CROW legislation until 2018 but the rights for Joe Public seem no different to me. No doubt the BMBFA has some benefit for the Estate. Anyway the Estate have created a Permissive Footpath across Barden Fell following an existing landrover track but as dogs are  expressly not permitted I don’t see actually what extra privilege they are giving to the public. So Barden Fell will remain out of bounds for bikes, horses and dogs on a lead or otherwise.

coney warren

Kilnsey Crag

Early morning sun shines on Kilnsey Crag, a 170 foot overhanging limestone crag that dominates this part of Wharfedale.

Old Providence Lead Mine

Records show that lead has been mined in Dowber Gill in Wharfedale since 1663. There could well have been earlier activity. The village of Kettlewell at the foot of the gill was built around the fortunes of the mine. Productivity was highest in the 19th century with 192 tons of galena mined in 1838. In 1851 a large block of the ore was exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition. Closure came two decades later in 1874