Parci Gill is a tributary of the River Rye nestling between Cow Ridge and Sour Milk Hills on the moors to the west of Bilsdale. The name, Parci, sometimes written Parsi, is unusual and its etymology is difficult to explain. It has been suggested that it may predate the more usual Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon roots. Certainly, the dale has been inhabited since pre-history. There is an ancient field system and 7,000 flints have been found, the most prolific site in the Snilesworth area. In more recent times 19th-century censuses record the inhabitants. Ann Chapman farmed there in 1871, a 29-year-old widow with 5 children and helped by an agricultural labourer. The trees on the left of the photo hide the ruins of her house. It was probably built in the 17th century and by all accounts of reasonable quality. By the 1891 census, no one was recorded as living there. The fields of the farm are apparently still in use, having escaped designation as Open Access Land, an island in a sea of heather.
Back from two weeks in the Outer Hebrides and already planning next year’s trip but as John Denver sang “hey, it’s good to be back home again”. This is the eastern branch of Raisdale with Beak Hills farm below the narrow ridge of Cold Moor or, as it was once called, Mount Vittoria.
For a brief few weeks the moors are a sea of purple heather which is now at its best. Seen from Highcliff Gate, Sleddale Farm appears an island of lush green pasture. The name means a wide flat valley and was probably a meadow of summer pasture before being given to the priory to be developed as a monastic cote or grange. The valley is a favourite for bird watching which over the years Osprey, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Common and Rough-legged Buzzards, Goshawk, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Merlin, Kestrel and Red Kite have all been spotted.
Scar House was the third reservoir in upper Nidderdale to be built for the Bradford Corporation Waterworks. Construction work took 15 years finally completed in 1936 with one million tons of masonry being quarried from on Carle Fell opposite. The incline leading to the large quarry can be seen in the photo. The workers and their families lived in a temporary village on this side of the dale just off to the right complete with post office, hospital, church and cinema, to service a population of 1,250. For the bringing in of materials a narrow gauge from Pateley Bridge was used that had originally been constructed for the Angram Reservoir further up the valley. Water from the reservoir finds its way to Bradford purely by gravity. In 1930 British Pathé produced an interesting (silent) film about the construction of the dam. It can be seen on YouTube:
The ling is coming into full bloom. A few more days yet. A view across the bracken covered northern branch of upper Lonsdale to Percy Cross Rigg.
Weardale in the Durham Dales. A land of underlying sedimentary rocks of limestone, sandstone, siltstone and mudstone cut by deep valleys with wet boggy tops. And isolated whitewashed stone cottages. This is Thatch Mires above the village of St. John’s Chapel.
As the Lake District joins the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon on the list of Unesco’s world heritage sites it is easy to forget that all but the high fells are largely a manmade landscape. Indeed sheep farming is probably the main reason behind this new status not that everyone agrees with it. But mining and quarrying have also dramatically altered the landscape. A 13th century document tells of gold, silver, copper and lead mines in the Newlands valley. This is thought to be Goldscope mine and the foot of the Handscarth ridge. Yewthwaite Mine is below Cat Bells, probably the most popular fell in the Lake District. Most visitors however are unaware of the mining activity that took place on its western flank. It was operational in the later half of the 19th century working on a vein of lead. There was also a vein of copper but this was not fully developed. The galena extracted was dressed on site using a crusher with power generated by a water wheel on Yewthwaite Beck.
The high peak on the far right is Causey Pike, 637m high with a southern flank giving one of the most relentless, steepest climbs I have ever done.