Surrender Mill

A trickle of water flows down Barney Beck, or Old Gang Beck as it was known in the 19th century when the lead ming industry in Swaledale was at its peak. Then there would have been enough water to drive stone crushers housed in a small building which stood adjacent to the beck but long since demolished. Further away up the slope the remains of smelting mill still survives, a reminder of the industry. Here bouse, the lead ore, was fired to a high temperature to release the metal. Either coal, from the nearby Tan Hill colleries, or peat from the surrounding moors, was used to fire the four furnaces in the mill. The pigs or ingots of the pure lead were then transported by packhorse to sea going ships at Yarm and Stockton. A water supply would also have been required in the smelting mill to drive the bellows, carried by a wooden launder or chute from higher up the beck. The mill operated from 1839 to 1881 and replaced two earlier 17th century mills.

Surrender Bridge Map


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


What a wonderful name. Arkengarthdale, the valley of Arkil’s enclosure. Who was Arkil? An 11th century Viking chieftain apparently. The garth element of the name is from the Old Scandinavian garthe for an enclosed yard or paddock. The first record of the name was in the 12th century recorded as Arkillesgarth. The dale element is from the Old English dael and became added in Elizabethan times.

Arkle Beck, the stream flowing down Arkengarthdale, is a tributary of the River Swale .The conflux is just south east of Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales. In the distance is Calver Hill which at 480m asl qualifies as a Tump for the hill baggers.

Arkengarthdale along with so many in the Yorkshire Dales have been much exploited for lead and other minerals. There are 13th century records relating to lead mining however the discovery in the 19th century at nearby Hurst of an ingot bearing the name ‘Hadrian’ suggests the the Romans actively mined lead in the valley. Lead mining came to an end during the First World War. Coal and chirt continued until the 1940s. Chirt is a hard quartz rock that was used as an abrasive in the pottery industry.

With the closure of the quarries the valley has become quiet and secluded save for a constant flow of tourists heading up the old turnpike road to the highest inn in England at Tan Hill.




Another one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. Ingleborough. Seen from Dub Cote on the southern foothills of Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough is just a blimp on the horizon overshadowed by the great scar of Horton quarry which seems to have taken over half the mountain in its search for limestone.

Early Purple Orchids

The information board provided by the National Park says that Early Purple Orchids can be seen on the limestone meadows of Sulber Nick in the Ingleborough nature reserve. So I guess these must be Early Purple Orchids seen against a backdrop of Pen-y-Ghent, one of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

They brightened up a trog up the motorway to Ingleborough in driving rain and low cloud but on the descent the cloud level rose and the sun came out and spirits picked up.


Malham Tarn

In my posting last year of Lake Gormire I wrote that it is said to be one of only two natural lakes in Yorkshire and surmised that the other would be Semerwater in the Dales. I can not remember where I read that. What about Malham Tarn someone asked. I thought I had the answer today. On the same thinking as to the question of how many lakes are there in the English Lake District. Malham not a lake, it is a tarn. But then at home Googling I see that although some locals refer to Lake Semerwater, the Ordnance Survey have mapped that lake as plain Semerwater. So I guess that blows that theory out the window.

But ignoring the pedantries of water body names, Malham Tarn, at a height 377 metres above sea level, is the highest lake in England and the largest in Yorkshire. Apparently it is also one of only eight upland alkaline lakes in the whole of Europe with a bed of slate and surrounded by limestone country.

The photo was taken from the top of Great Close Hill, a small hill that must be ignored by both hill walkers and tourists. It is too  piddly for hardened walkers and too difficult for those strolling around the lake. But it is an impressive hill, dominating the east side of the lake with dramatic limestone.

And if you don’t know how many lakes are there in the English Lake District then you need to enter a few pub quizzes.