39. Walking in Littondale
Circular walk around Littondale from Litton Village
Scenes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, North Yorkshire, England
Littondale is a dale in the Craven district of the non-metropolitan county of North Yorkshire, England. It includes the villages-hamlets of Hawkswick, Arncliffe, Litton, Foxup and Halton Gill, and farmhouses that date from the 17th century. The River Skirfare flowing down through Littondale is fed by many small gills and becks.
Walking in Littondale: Littondale can be accessed off the B6160 road that runs south from Kettlewell. You take a sharp north-west turn south of Kettlewell passing through Hawkswick and Arncliffe. You can start an ~9-10 excellent circular walk around Littondale from the 'pub' The Queen Arms Hotel in Litton village, and there is parking space on the side of the road. The village name of Litton means the village on a roaring stream.
Walking in Littondale: Littondale seems quite remote and few people seem to be around in this beautiful glaciated valley. Walk from the Queens Arms Hotel northwest up the village to the small Litton Village Green and turn down left to the river by some fine stone houses.
Walking in Littondale: Cross the River Skirfare onto the south-west bank. Many villages are derived from ancient settlements and field systems and often located north or the northeast side of a river which enables them to enjoy longer hours of sunshine!
Walking in Littondale: Walk over the lovely lush meadow fields of grasses and wild flowers to New Bridge, which looks quite old!
Walking in Littondale: Don't cross the bridge but go virtually due west below Wilson's Pastures, Cow close and onto Dowson Close, all north of Darnbrook Fell.
A nice green track to follow in Littondale
Walking in Littondale: Looking north up Littondale towards Halton Gill. The typical lovely limestone walls of the Yorkshire Dales, some of these walls were first built in medieval times when prominent monasteries like Fountains Abbey kept sheep in these parts.
Walking in Littondale: There is a lovely green road track to walk on and in the north-west the silhouette of Penyghent Fell comes into view. It was Pen-y-ghent Fell that diverted east or south-east moving ice down to create Littondale thousands of years ago.
Walking in Littondale: To the north-east down below you can see the tiny hamlet of Halton Gill.
Littondale is a side dale to the west of Wharfedale and follows the River Skirfare and Littondale's characteristic smooth form was the result of many ice ages, especially the one 20,000 years ago. As the glacier for that age receded it left retreat moraine e.g. at Skirfare Bridge. Littondale comprises mainly Great Scar Limestone and Yoredale rock and has a number of shake holes and sink-holes that lead to underground cave systems such as at Boreham Cave.
Walking in Littondale: On the rough track and over a stream, as Pen-y-ghent gets closer, you eventually reach the road that runs north-east to Halton Gill and turn down sharp right onto it.
At the head of the dale is Pen-y-ghent, one of the great Yorkshire Three Peaks
Pen-y-ghent from Littondale
Sheep and a view of Pen-y-ghent from Littondale!
A good picnic spot in Littondale before turning for home!
Last views of the scars and cliffs on the slopes of Pen-y-ghent
An old barn in Littondale
Some of the limestone pavement in Littondale
Walking in Littondale: After a short distance you turn right onto the track which runs east above the hidden gem of the magnificent Pen-y-ghent Gill, with limestone pavements and crags in the foreground.
Littondale is rich in Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, and has been a sheltered fertile valley for 5,000 years or more. Saxon cultivation terraces (lynchets) can be seen in the valley. After the Norman Conquest, the Normans turned it into a hunting chase before the land was granted to the monks of Fountains Abbey in the 13th century, and to this day has been extensively used for sheep farming.
Walking in Littondale: The track runs north-east towards Halton Gill and comes back onto the road at a cattle grid ~500m after Pen-y-ghent House, but quite a few more pictures on after a 2nd walk in Littondale!
Walking in Littondale: Looking west back up Penyghent Gill to Penyghent Fell back along the steep sided gill.
A burst water pipe provides a spectacular water fountain show in Littondale
Just about finding the walking path in the thistles of Littondale
Walking in Littondale: Looking towards Penyghent on walking towards it along the metalled road (at last!)
Walking in Littondale: Looking south back down Littondale towards Litton Village. After another ~500m turn left onto the path to Foxup ....
... and eventually looking down onto Foxup, the tiniest of hamlets, accessed by a single road from Halton Gill village in Littondale.
The name Halton Gill is derived from the Anglo-Saxon haugh meaning Valley and tun meaning farm. Gill is a derivation of the Olde Norse 'gil', meaning ravine, therefore the whole name means valley farm by the ravine.
Foxup in Littondale, is the last settlement reached travelling up on the B6160 from Arncliffe into Littondale. The name means upstream with the foxes!
Walking in Littondale: Foxup Bridge Farm and we like the flowers on the bridge, what a good idea!
A well maintained dry stone wall in Littondale
Walking in Littondale: I liked the 'escaped' plants growing on the way to Halton Gill bridge at Foxup Bridge Farm!
Walking in Littondale: After passing by Foxup Bridge Farm, turn right onto the south-west bank of the River Skirfare.
Walking in Littondale: The path by the River Skirfare is most delightful and ...
... beautiful meadow fields on either side River Skirfare in Littondale.
Walking in Littondale: Eventually you then pass by the large Angram Barn through more beautiful meadow fields of wild grasses and wild flowers and onto Halton Gill Bridge.
Walking in Littondale: Soon after Halton Gill Bridge the path heads south-east to Heberside Barns and on to Nether Hesleden
Walking in Littondale: Halton Gill and Foxup Bridge Farm from Halton Gill Bridge.
Walking in Littondale: Sheep on pasture land near Halton Gill on the River Skirfare.
Walking in Littondale: Heading for Heber Side Barns through more sumptuous meadows.
Walking in Littondale: Meadows untouched by intensive farming and artificial fertilisers! What a difference they make!
A grand 'Dales' barn in Littondale
A sadly neglected classic Dales barn in Littondale
Walking in Littondale: Bridge east of Nether Hesleden - don't cross it onto the road up to Halton Gill, (initially we went wrong! but you can walk down the road to Litton), but go west through the farm at Nether Hesleden and cross south over the stream from Pen-y-ghent Gill and on to New Bridge and back to Litton Village following the outgoing route south-west of the River Skirfare.
The River flows down into Arncliffe a
settlement lying on the confluence of Cowside Beck and the River
Walking in Littondale: The River Skirfare flows down through the small quiet village of Arncliffe, which we called into on our way back to Kettlewell Youth hostel for the night.
Walking in Littondale: St. Oswald's Church, Arncliffe, beautifully set on the banks of the River Skirfare.
Walking in Littondale: A few sections of the much rebuilt, and restored medieval church of Arncliffe betrays St. Oswald's 'ancient' origins as the first church was built here in the 12th century. Around 1500 the old medieval church was pulled down and rebuilt with a tower, then in 1796, all again was pulled down except the tower and rebuilt to give the present 'Churchwarden Gothic' style - considered 'ugly' but that is most unfair given its setting on the banks of the River Skirfare in Littondale.
Hopefully we will walk again inLittondale
Littondale and after a great walk in good weather!
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