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Monday, 2 March 2009

More Visions of Swaledale. And some new holes

I didn’t nearly went to Swaledale today, I did went to Swaledale. We parked at the city centre car park at Muker (£3.50!!!) and wandered off to find a track which leads up to a little stone hut I’d noticed from a distance whilst walking on Kisdon a few months ago. (Incidentally, for non-dialect speakers, Muker is pronounced Myookah. It translates roughly as the shieling of the dirty cows wot’ll give you a good time anyway for the price of a pint of brandy. But that’s dialect for you.
Anyway, I located the start of the path fairly easily – turned out to be a pleasant grassy rake leading up through scrubby woodland of ash and hawthorn and birch and all of those natural trees of Northern woodland. This must be a fab place in high summer and I must return to it.
Eventually, I reached the little hut, which turned out to be a bit bigger than I expected, though ruinous and with well over a hundred years of sheepshit inside. Its purpose seemed obvious. It was a mine shop. This isn’t a place to buy mines or mine souveneirs, but the place where the miners lived during the week. And to prove it, there in the beck bottom, was a mine level. Some work was being carried out in restoring the arched entrance way.
Two blokes turned up just then and one explained some of the history of the place, most of which I failed to remember. But the gist of it was that it was opened in the mid eighteenth century, then closed in the early nineteenth and reopened for a mere three years in the mid nineteenth. So it had lain festering and falling apart for about 150 years.
We climbed up the gill – and shortly discovered a second entrance. I wondered whether or not the lower one was, in fact the wet level, to drain out the water, and this was the working level. A short distance uphill, behind a couple of boulders, lay the third, highest level. When the word “bugger” was shouted inside, it reverberated with distance. It’s a deep hole. I must go in it. Innit? I’ve emailed my hole-exploring pal about it.
Me and the dawg followed the path along the hillside over West Arn Gill and into Swinner Gill. This is as fab a bit of fellwalking as you could wish for. Its complicated with bits of “in”, and other bits of “out” – of gullies and scree fields, and the views of Swaledale are smashing and unusual.
We traversed the moor over to Gunnerside Gill and , in the spirit of the walk, I explored the steep Western side near Botcher Gill - and discovered a wheel pit and rediscovered scree running down it’s 50 metres of spoil heap. Very steep. Very good fun.
We walked down to Gunnerside then along the riverside paths back to Muker – thence to Richmond Co-op for more supplies for another walk tomorrow…

But then I saw the weather forecast… I may postpone for a day or so. The bananas will be OK I may have to eat the roast pork.
We did ten and a half miles by the way. Boots were fine.


Tykelad said...

Love Swaledale, it's a gorgeous valley.

kenny said...

I just love coming across remains of our industrial past tucked away in what is now a rural setting. It's always difficult to imagine how it would have looked when it was operational given that now it's overgrown and more or less integrated into the landscape. Found that post really interesting Mike.

mike knipe said...

Cheers Tykelad and kenny.

Sometimes you can see old photos of these places. Some of them don't change all that much. This mine shop is in a specially spectacular position. Its a nice surprise to find locations like this, though.