A Walk to Whaw

On one of those early September days which still have something of summer, yet a touch of autumn too, we returned to the Yorkshire Dales and Arkengarthdale, to walk from Langthwaite to the tiny hamlet of Whaw – for much of the ramble following the Arkle Beck.

On the Arkle Beck (c) John Bainbridge 2015

On the Arkle Beck (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A day of good clear views and bright sunshine.

I wrote a little about Langthwaite a couple of blogs ago, so won’t repeat that here – please click back for more.

The entrance drive to Scar House, looking back to Langthwaite (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The entrance drive to Scar House, looking back to Langthwaite (c) John Bainbridge 2015

We set off early in the morning taking the footpath past Langthwaite church following the entrance drive to Scar House – a shooting lodge belonging to the dukes of Norfolk. The house looks suitably impressive though it was all shut up, so presumably his grace the duke wasn’t blasting grouse this particular week.

Across the fields then to Stang Bridge, a particularly pretty piece of river scenery. Here we left the beck for a little while to look at the buildings erected as workshops and offices for the lead miners who once worked in this dale – now converted into cottages.

The Powder House (C) John Bainbridge 2015

The Powder House (C) John Bainbridge 2015

Nearby, solitary in the middle of a field, stands the gunpowder store, a relic of Georgian mining in the dale.

Back then to the Arkle Beck before climbing a steep footpath up to Spence Intake, with a solitary cottage nearby.

A half mile of lane then, descending to the little hamlet of Whaw – a bridge and a handful of cottages, one of those English places that time seems to have passed by.

Whaw (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Whaw (c) John Bainbridge 2015

But even here there are reminders of the mining industry, a Wesleyan Chapel (now converted to a house) dating from 1840, and a Reading Room, once one of those lovely institutions provided for miners. Like the chapel now converted to a home. Not far away in a derelict barn was an ancient milking parlour which could have come straight from the books of James Herriott – the TV series was filmed in this area.

Whaw gets it unusual name from the Norse Kui, meaning “an enclosure near the fold where the sheep are milked”.

We followed the beck a little further upstream, past an ancient ford, and then up a lane to Seal Houses – lots more evidence of old mining in the vicinity. A path down through fields and between such beautiful old squeeze stiles (a curse on the head of any rambling official that seeks to have them replaced with boring old gates!) back to Whaw.

A squeeze stile near the Arkle Beck (c) John Bainbridge 2015

A squeeze stile near the Arkle Beck (c) John Bainbridge 2015

The walk returned to Stang Bridge from Whaw follows the Arkle Beck, and a very lovely stretch of water it is too as it tumbles over rocks and under the shade of trees. The path is lovely too, a field path across old meadows, mostly open ground, but occasionally narrowing to cross tiny little side becks.

After Stang Bridge we followed a path up to Scarhouse Lane up to Scar House itself, the right of way taking you up almost to the front door – still no duke in residence to come out with a cup of tea!

Scar House (c) John Bainbridge 2015

Scar House (c) John Bainbridge 2015

And then back down the Scar House drive to the church at Langthwaite and the end of what had been a very pleasant ramble. The Arkle Beck offers the walker riparian scenery of the best kind.

If you’re in the Dales do go and see for yourself.

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